Where do we goâ...

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.

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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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  • Hippynz says
    Never tried this, must remedy this one day
  • Cindy says
    why is it that when I hear the word whiskey I think of an old man with a red nose!
  • Whiskey is nectar of the gods. The only problem with it is that after a night on it (typically whilst winning at the casino), the next day it seeps out of your pores, ensuring that everyone in your office knows that you were out drinking until the early hours...
  • Malcolm says
    I love Glenlivet Whiskey but am allways on the look out for something new!! Problem is I don't want to spend mega $$$ on something new with out tasting it first. Why don't distillers produce a minature off their new products so we can, at a reasonable price, have a taste! They might find they would sell more?
  • i think the best whiskies are one's that are allowed to mature fully and develop an essence,k most whiskies on the market that cater to the younger generations often do fall short of a quality drop in exchange for a fleeting chance of celebrity like status. I like to have whisky that is smokey and mellowed out, not sharp and acrid or overly sweet.

    I realise that it is getting harder and harder to stay competitive in the modern world of sales and marketing but if people who appreciate fine whisky are willing to wait for the elusive perfect Dram then i for one think it is all for the better, when that first sip of time honoured whisky is taken. My preference for a nice aged whisky would be something of the single malt range of the highlands.

    I can also only hope and pray that a distillery out there somewhere has already hidden away a few barrels of fine whisky to age and will bring it out in twenty five years or so.

    This is something I would be willing to start saving for now.. Because i know that something that grand would be expensive and worth every drop...

  • Peter says
    Great work Bart all the best with The Whisky Shop, I love specialist stores. The atmosphere of the 'hallowed spirit' is great.
    While I agree that from a purist perspective all single malt whisky should be left till it is aged to perfection, whose perfection are we talking about? Taste in almost every area of life, but especially those lovely (and not so lovely) solids and liquids we put in our mouths, is subjective. While age, experience, education and exposure in/to whisky has no doubt given you authority Bart. Authorities do not always agree. That being said, as I am relatively young in whisky drinking years, still developing my pellet and preferences, I would happily defer to you in almost all things whisky.Younger whiskies however do have their place, as I am sure you know as a retailer, they serve several functions. As an entry point these whiskies are far more accessible for clear economic and availability reasons. Furthermore it is availability of these whiskies that make their older Brothers and Cousins more sort after and valuable. It is in fact the limitedness of these whiskies after first bottling and the portion sent for blending, that plays a big part in the mystique of the older product. What I enjoy is to follow the development of flavour notes though the various ages. It is the rawness and potential of the younger whiskey that draws out the understanding of its aged counter parts. This gives great excitement at the realisation and enjoyment of those potentials come to fruition.

    Perhaps some innovative distillery will create some kind of pre purchased whisky stocks. Allowing you to buy whisky in the cask by bottled volume when they are deciding how much to set aside for additional years. Purchasing at the 8 or 12 year retail value allowing the distillery to use the capital to create more revenue and allowing customers to save a tidy sum by waiting on their scotch for 13 to 17 years. This could potentially see more high potential whisky see its way to maturity.

    But most importantly, whatever you are drinking ENJOY IT.
  • Hippynz says
    Whiskey and scotch are my favourite drinks,

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