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Issue 67 - Drink less but better

Whisky Magazine Issue 67
November 2007


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Drink less but better

Ian Buxton delves into the world of premium aged blends

It's been a mantra for the global spirits industry for some while – but at last it seems to be coming true, especially for Scotch whisky.

Single malts have been growing at around 8.5 per cent per annum for the last decade, with the trend accelerating to around 12 per cent annually in the past five years.

Premium blends are also on a roll, creating a sense of optimism and buoyancy in the whisky industry that has not been seen for many years.

Behind this lies the increasing affluence of the so-called BRIC markets (Brazil, Russia, India and China) and growth in statusdriven consumption in Central and South America and South-East Asia. There the distilling industry has been delighted to find consumers who want only the best, and are prepared to pay for it.

That's the reason for the recent development of premium and superpremium offerings, especially those attached to an established and successful brand that's seen to reflect well on the drinker.

As David King, marketing director of Cutty Sark puts it: “The market splits into those who know and those who show.” Take Johnnie Walker, for example. You might have thought that JW Blue, with a typical United Kingdom specialist price of £150 a bottle, was enough for anyone.

But in recent months Walker has launched its King George V Edition, at around three times that price. Based on whiskies and a blending style dating back to the 1930s, stocks are so limited and it's consequently so rare that only a very few specially selec...

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