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Issue 54 - All up for grabs?

Whisky Magazine Issue 54
March 2006


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All up for grabs?

Are premium bourbons better positioned to snap up new drinkers, or can Scotch and American whiskey both flourish side by side?

The Participants: Roy Evans (RE) Sazerac Jim Long (JL) Chivas Brothers Dave Broom (DB) Whisky Magazine Bill Samuels (BS) Maker's Mark

Q: A couple of bourbon companies have recently expressed the view that premium bourbon is on the edge of a major breakthrough because affluent upwardly mobile drinkers are discovering it. Unlike Scotch,they say,it has no negative baggage.

Is this a fair viewpoint or are there other factors at play?

BS: I travel over to Europe about every two years so that provides quite a good snapshot of what's happening.

Change may have been gradual but I get to see it in two year gaps and certainly I feel that in markets like the one in the United Kingdom premium bourbon is on the cusp of a major breakthrough. It's different enough to have an appeal over Scotch.

RE: I think the question is valid but I also think the prospects for both whisky and bourbon do look exciting. Though I have to say that my view on whisky is based more on instinct than direct experiences.

JL: There can be no doubt that premium bourbons are surfing on a wave of interest that has been driven by both the success of some major brands bringing people into the category, and by taking their share in the revolving trends of boutique spirits.

Many Scotch brands have also enjoyed the attention of the young and affluent and are dependent on market and brand in a similar way. So ‘baggage' is not the issue if the approach to these consumers is right.

An interesting question is wh...

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