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Issue 82 - All that glisters is not gold

Whisky Magazine Issue 82
September 2009


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All that glisters is not gold

Ian Buxton looks at the recent ultra premium releases.

A 40 year old Glengoyne for £3,750.

Johnnie Walker 1805 at £1,000 a glass. Glenfiddich doubling the price of their latest 50 year old release to £10,000 and, coming soon, Macallan Finest Cut in a Lalique decanter. 57 years old it must be admitted – but $15,000?

Have we all gone mad? Is this where we thought whisky would end up? Is whisky in danger of over-reaching itself and forgetting the drinkers who made it fashionable in the first place? Or, like Shakespeare's Prince of Morocco, do drinkers risk opening golden packaging to find disappointment and the moral “all that glisters is not gold”?

With the ‘credit crunch' now taking us to the edge of a global recession is the conspicuous consumption of the last decade was now at an end.

Apparently not, according to Ken Grier of The Macallan. The Macallan it was, you'll remember, who decorated a limited release of bottles of their 30 Years Old with photographs from fashion photographer Rankin.

Some controversy ensued (this was partly the point) but Macallan are unapologetic.

After all, it sold out quickly enough despite darkening economic gloom and apparently brought “new users” to the brand. Grier sees it as just one of a number of “entry points” for the brand and maintains that “Macallan is logical luxury. We offer authenticity, provenance, real quality and a real rational benefit that reassures consumers. This isn't a time to experiment and people are reverting to the tried and trusted.” Leading whis...

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