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Issue 43 - It's all in the blend

Whisky Magazine Issue 43
October 2004


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It's all in the blend

This month we ask three master blenders where the sector fits in in respect to the rest of the whisky market

The Panel
Jim Beveridge, technical specialist, whisky, for Diageo (JB)
Richard Paterson, master blender for Whyte & Mackay (RP)
John Ramsay, master blender for Edrington (JR)
Colin Scott, master blender for Chivas Brothers (CS)

Q. In your view, do blends receive the respect they deserve?

JB: No they do not! Blended Scotch built the industry we have today – cheap poor quality blends have in my view undermined the category and this in conjunction with the growth of single malts makes it difficult for high quality blends to be accepted.

JB: But bearing in mind that most Scotch Whisky sold worldwide will be as blends, then yes, our consumers are clearly demonstrating their respect.

CS: Absolutely – premium blends especially command great respect in many parts of the world, from Scotland to Asia. For example Royal Salute 50 year old was revered when it was launched last year – in Japan people queued overnight to pay one million Yen for just one bottle. And of course, standard blends are enjoyed in high volumes worldwide everyday.

RP: That may be, but over the last 20 years I feel the reputation of blended whisky has been declining due to severe price discounting and competition from own label brands in the market. However premiums have still maintained their status particularly overseas.

Q. Is the sector understood as well as it should be?

JB: It's not as well understood as say the malts sector, but I think this is a huge opportunity. The growth in knowledge of malts ...

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