MrTattieHeid wrote: It's interesting, for example, how many people are surprised by the character of Ardbeg's Airigh Nam Beist--the mere inclusion of the word "beast" (which is a word with more than one connotation) in the name leads them to make certain assumptions.
I think this is quite funny - I've even seen tasting notes for ANB that seem to have been driven by expectation rather than experience. Actually, the name means Lair of the Beast - rather implying that the beast is not at home. Still and all, I rather enjoyed it.
In terms of limited editions, I suspect they used to be quite rare. Distilleries might come up with an important milestone and produce a one off celebratory bottling. Since they sold well, some distillers have tried to cash in with a never ending stream of limited editions of varying sizes, a bewildering array of signed certificates and often at really very steep prices. The Franklin Mint approach. This will work as long as people are determined to catch 'em all. If, though, people give up on keeping pace, you'll find that limited editions stop being collectible and get treated just like run of the mill whiskies - or if the limited edition car market is anything to go by, potentially less desirable than the mainstream bottles.
For me, what is important is that each distillery tries to aim for a distinctive character of its own. I think it's just as valid, whether it is the smoky bacon of Ardbeg; the fruitiness of Glenlivet; the heather honey of Highland Park or the sweetness of Isle of Arran. I think a customer should have some idea of what to expect from the pedigree of a distillery. There should be sparing use of one offs that don't fit the mould; and obviously you would expect to see some differences within a standard range of ages. I think it is a mistake for distilleries to do a Loch Lomond and try to produce every style under one roof as they end up detracting from one another. I think it is a mistake to produce a never ending succession of flavours, finishes and other gimicks as the customer has no expectation of flavour, quality or value. And if, by chance, they hit on a good one, they'll never be able to get it again.
If I were the SWA, I'd be looking at the present boom in single malt whisky sales and asking how the industry could use it as a platform on which to build rather than trying to cash in today at the expense of the future. I wonder whether, given the chance again, the Campbeltown distillers would be of the same mind.