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Issue 101 - Supplies and Demand

Whisky Magazine Issue 101
February 2012


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Supplies and Demand

Dave Broom channels the spirit of Bertolt Brecht pictured above) and looks at some pressing issues acing the industry

There is rice down the river, Up the river people need rice.
If we store the rice They will pay more for it.
Those who tow the rice-boats Will get even less of it.
Then for me the rice will be even cheaper.
Do I know what a rice is?
Do I know who knows that?
I know not what a rice is!

I know only its price ...

Bertolt Brecht ‘The Ballad of Supply & Demand' Ah yes, price. Either consumers are complaining about high prices at the top end, or distillers are moaning about the discounts being applied at the other. It's the subject which never goes away, and for a number of reasons I suspect it will become a central issue over the next couple of years. Brecht and Eisler's song (the best version? it's a toss-up between Dagmar Krause or Eric Bentley) drifted into my mind when, pre- Christmas, the discount supermarket chain Aldi released two single malts.

One, Glen Marnoch 24 Years Old, was at the budget price of £29.99, while Glenbridge was 40 Years Old and retailed for £49.99. Yes, there is a decimal point in there.

Now, Aldi runs a low-priced luxury PR stunt every Christmas, one year it was lobsters, so this can be seen more as a one-off rather than a move on their part to further destabilise the whisky category. It's hard to see anyone, even Aldi, either being able to maintain this price point, or get their hands on sufficient juice.

That said, it does demonstrate a couple of issues. Firstly, that there was a supplier, and rumours abound as to who it was, willing to suppl...

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