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Issue 95 - Pushing the Boundaries

Whisky Magazine Issue 95
April 2011


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Pushing the Boundaries

Can the words 'innovation' and 'whisky' appear in the same sentence, and if so, how? Who's doing it, who's hindering it and how far will they go? Dominic Roskrow introduces a special report

?Read the following words about the recent launch of The Ginger Grouse – a mix of Famous Grouse blended Scotch with ginger beer: “Relative to much product-related innovation within the Scotch sector, it's so far outside the box that the box isn't even in shot any more. After all, this is the sector where it's considered daring if you launch a 14 Year Old instead of a 12 Year Old, or finish your whisky off in a Burgundy barrel for six months. Steady now.

“In mature markets like (sic) the UK, blended Scotch in particular badly needs to come up with a reason for someone other than greying men in suits to buy the product. Young people. Women. People with a pulse. And this is where I can't help feeling the extremely strict rules governing Scotch whisky production aren't doing the industry any favours.” These words were written recently by business writer Richard Woodard on the Just Drinks website under the heading 'Scotch – hoist by its own petard?' My first reaction? Here we go again. It's the old hoary debate about whether innovation and whisky are mutually exclusive, and whether the Scotch Whisky Association are sacrificing progress and evolution to maintain Scotch whisky's admirably high standards. And whether if Scotch doesn't innovate and evolve to attract ‘people with a pulse' then it will die.

Does Woodard have a point?

Let's leave aside the fact that worldwide Scotch whisky – more than 90 per cent of which is blended – is in rude good health, and mo...

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