Whisky Magazine Issue 12
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Today a new malt whisky distillery opened in Wales - the first for over a hundred years. Last week, Tomintoul Distillery was bought by a company of blenders and bottlers whom nobody has ever heard of, although they have been around for decades. A couple of months ago the giant Canadian corporation, Seagram, one of the world's largest drinks companies, was bought by a French media company which immediately announced its intention to sell off the drinks division - including its whisky arm, Chivas Glenlivet.
One might be forgiven for asking ‘what's going on?' Are these the first signs of ‘unbundling'? Are the large multinational owners beginning to pull out and sell their malt distilleries to private concerns? Is this a good thing for us, the consumer? Is it possible to run a distillery profitably without vast corporate resources?
Just over 95% of the malt whisky produced goes into blends yet enthusiasm for blended whisky has been declining in most markets for some years. On the other hand, the demand for single malts increases throughout the world year by year. We consumers want as many single malts as possible to be available to us. The closure of a distillery is a tragedy - not least for the local community. Yet how can distillers keep their plant operating when the bulk of their production goes for blending and demand for blends is shrinking?
Growing the malt sector is not without problems. First, brand marketing tactics are not always appropriate since only a handfu...