Whisky Magazine Issue 33
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An extended tasting area and showroom at London's Vintage House reflect how malt whisky is evolving as customers demand more choice. Dominic Roskrow reports
If you ever need proof that the whisky market is evolving fast, look no further than The Vintage House in London's fashionable West End.
It was featured in the very first issue of Whisky Magazine some five years ago – and the differences between then and now couldn't be more marked.
In 1998 owner Malcolm Mullin could boast that he stocked 700 whiskies, the largest shop range in England. Today that figure stands at a shade under 2000 – putting it up with the world heavyweights. The number of whiskies actually displayed to the customer has risen from 300 to about 1000.
Back then the most expensive whisky cost £4,000. Today several comfortably surpass that, and the top priced bottle – a 1926 Macallan from the Fine and Rare range – weighs in at a cool £20,000. Glance along the shelves today and you're struck by the sheer diversity of the whisky.
Rare expressions, cask strength bottles and unusual finishes all help to add a fresh dimension to the traditional range of malts.
When you consider The Vintage House only started promoting whisky seriously 15 years ago and that since 1998 it has tripled the number of bottles it stocks from the total it had built up in the first 10 years, then it's clear that whisky has a momentum right now.
There are less immediately obvious changes, too. More people now want to experiment with different whiskies, and while malt seems to be going from strength to strength (no pun intended) Malcolm says there has been a significant decline ...