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Issue 48 - A Brecht of stale air

Whisky Magazine Issue 48
June 2005


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A Brecht of stale air

Dave Broomon the worrying trend towards ruthless discounting

On occasion, I have been known to hum a ditty by Bertolt Brecht and Hans Eisler called Supply and Demand*. Acharacter, just known as ‘the businessman', sings about rice and how he can maximise the return on his investment. The chorus goes:

“What is rice, actually?
Do I know, do you know
what's this thing called rice?
God only knows what rice is,
I only know its price.”

As a critique of capitalism it's as neat as they come. I hadn't thought of it in a long time, but a recent press release brought it to mind. It came from Netto and trumpeted the discount retailer's first ever blended whisky, McCauley's. Then came the shock. It was to retail at £6.86. Now, you're hardly going to pay premium prices in a Netto store, but this one shocked me.

There's a number of issues arising from this.

The quality of the whisky itself. I obtained a bottle which states proudly that it is three years old. You won't be surprised to hear that it tastes like it as well. Immature, slightly bitter with a finish which can only be called abrasive.

You can picture the smoke from the just extinguished candles on its third birthday cake still floating in the air as the components are quickly disgorged and bottled. But McCauley's couldn't have been four years old. If it had been it would have missed Netto's price point, which brings me to my next one.

How can you sell whisky for £6.86 in the United Kingdom and expect to make any profit? Consider this.

The tax alone amounts to £6.49. That leav...

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