Whisky has gone through different phases, like all things in life…some good some bad, the ups and downs of a cycle that rolls like a wave.
It’s not just the whisky but also the distilleries involved. Some thrive, some wither and some are moth-balled or totally demolished. Unfortunately the latter has happened far too often and the damage is irreversible. The moth-balling has kept at least the major part of some distilleries intact, like Bladnoch, far south in the Lowlands in Wigtown.
Raymond Armstrong bought this distillery with the idea of starting a holiday place for people to come and stay. He found the distillery virtually intact and asked UDV, who owned the distilling rights at the time, to start distilling and at the same time to start a Whisky academy, like the one at Bruichladdich.
All good…the rise and fall and rise again of distilling.
Right now we going through a phase of what I call ‘searching’. Distilleries are trying to find the best way to market their whisky. Some of them use wood finishes to give their portfolio another baby or two, others stick to the old principles and don’t apply any particular finish. Just plain old Uisge Beatha (water of life) - which in my opinion is still the basis of the whole whisky industry. There is always an exception or two when it comes to finishes, (further maturation in other barrels, which most often previously held a different tenant like rum or port), but most of them don’t add that much more, in fact they often hide a fault in a particular whisky.
Distilleries are always trying to find new sales pastures, for instance by attracting people who haven’t yet tried their whisky, or catering to those who don’t like their particular well known distillery taste. One example that jumps to mind is the lightly peated Ardbeg called Blasda, which was created to attract people who don’t like the full-on taste of smoke in their whisky. Other distilleries organize themselves into committees and member groups, with specials only for their selected members. Limited barrel releases are also a good way of attracting a group that is willing to part with their hard earned cash for these often rare items.
Distilleries are building a name with all these activities, becoming well-known and able to demand a higher price for the single malts, as supplies become scarce and demand increases.
Sometimes the ‘need’ to supply out-weighs the ‘Should I bottle this now?’ principle, in order to satisfy the masses. Product is released too young with very funky names as ‘Super nova’, ‘PC5’ and ‘PC6’ ‘Octomore’. All in essence marvelous whiskies but in my opinion released to soon without giving the whisky time to mature well enough and putting off a lot of whisky connoisseurs in the process, myself included. I realise that this opinion, (which is solely mine), might offend people. If you are one of them, please respond and let me know why you think differently.
All lot of time these so called limited editions fetch a high price which, again in my opinion, are far over prized, because they are limited of a well known distillery and one might thing (the distillery people I mean here) that the sky is the limited and no price is to high for there precious product….yes, but only if the quality matches the prize and sadly in a lot of cases this is not the case….sadly.
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