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Issue 91 - The view from the top

Whisky Magazine Issue 91
October 2010

 

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The view from the top

The premium blended Scotch market has proved to be highly resilient and has emerged from the downturn strongly. Dominic Roskrow reports

When Diageo summoned the cream of the whisky media and blogging fraternity to its new ‘super distillery' at Roseisle, it was keen to impart two very clear messages: one, that it was utter bunkum to suggest, as many of our blogging friends have, that two and two equals seven and because Diageo has built a distillery the size of several small ones it follows that it's about to close several of its smaller ones.

Two, that in actual fact it needs much more malt whisky, and any reduction in overall capacity would be ridiculous. But the company needs it not for the single malt market. It needs it for blends. Lots of it.

Indeed Diageo spent a good proportion of the day showing its assembled guests just how big the potential for blends is. From Taiwan and China to Mexico and Brazil, a burgeoning educated middle class is seeking out the finest Scotch. But while interest in single malts remains high and sales impressive, blends look set to continue to hold a market share of more than 90 per cent of Scotch sales well into the future.

But there's another trend, too. Premium blends such as Johnnie Walker Gold, Chivas 18 Years Old, Dewar's Signature and Ballantine's 17 Years Old are all thriving. So much so that they're questioning conventional thinking that holds that as a market matures it moves from home produced spirits to imported ones, then to Scotch blends, and finally to single malts.

Some markets at least are moving from blends to better and aged blends, and turning to singl...

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