Stock shortage ‘best thing’ to happen to Scotch

13th October, 2014 by Becky Paskin

Scotch whisky stock shortages and the subsequent widespread removal of age statements from labels has been described as “one of the best things” to happen to the industry.

Scotch-whisky

The rise of NAS whisky has enabled the Scotch industry to be more creative, according to one producer Photo: The Scotch Whisky Experience

As global demand for Scotch whisky increased over the past few years, more producers have opted to remove age statements from existing and new expressions to preserve stocks of older whisky.

The most famous example of which was The Macallan, which removed age statements from its entire core range under 18-years-old with the 1824 Series, which uses colour as a signpost for flavour, rather than age.

While some have shunned the widespread rise of no-age-statement expressions, Chris Morris, master distiller for Brown-Forman which produces Woodford Reserve and Old Forester Bourbon, as well as Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey, claims the situation has enabled Scotch distillers to be more creative.

“It’s one of the best things that ever happened to Scotch whisky,” he told The Spirits Business. “They have to be more innovative and imaginative.

“We do not believe in age statements in any of our whiskeys at Brown-Forman, because while there’s nothing wrong with a whiskey declaring its age, an age statement as we know specifically from the great Scotch whisky industry can be used against you. And an age is just a number; it doesn’t say the whisky’s any good.

“The consumer thinks the higher the number, the better the whisky. So by not having an age claim we are asking the consumer to try the whiskey and judge it on its flavour and not on an arbitrary note.”

Asked if consumers’ perception of age being an indicator for quality is a problem created by the Scotch industry, Morris added: “That could be the case, especially when you see these Scotch whisky brands now removing their age claim. How important was that in the first place?”

Inventories of Scotch malt whisky aged over nine years fell over 25% between 2007-12, according to a recent report by Robobank.

Earlier this year, Dr Bill Lumsden, head of whisky creation at The Glenmorangie Company, predicted no-age-statement Scotch whiskies will eventually outnumber the amount carrying an age indicator.

“It’s partly driven by the massive surge in demand and the fact there are very finite stocks out there, so by their very nature a lot of distillers are having to look to younger whiskies,” he said.

Meanwhile, Bacardi has bucked the trend by releasing a series of single malt Scotch whiskies with age statements in its Last Great Malts collection.

2 Responses to “Stock shortage ‘best thing’ to happen to Scotch”

  1. Dram Tanna says:

    The is so many things wrong with this story. Where to begin?

    1. There isn’t a shortage. Whisky sales are down in China particularly, that’s why Diageo is down 20 points.

    2. If it’s just about a consumer mispreseption the why doesn’t every whisky company that sells NAS swear, on the bottle, that there is no dye (e150) added? Answer? Because it more about company misrepresentation.

    3. I don’t mind younger whisky, as long as they are honest. Kilchoman is great, for example. They don’t chill filter, they don’t dye, they bottle at a higher %, and they tell you about the age or ages of the whisky.

    This is about quality going down the tubes to maximize profit to shareholders, and a marketing dog and pony show to hide this fact.

    46% +
    No dye
    No chill filtration
    An age statement (no matter the age)
    At a reasonable price

    That’s what gets my money. Lot of brands do it without a problem. I will continue avoiding the ones who don’t.

  2. Oliver Philp says:

    An age statement is one of the bits of information that gives you an idea of what to expect along with e.g. the abv, NCF declaration, the distillery profile and consistency, indications of cask provenance, etc. Removing it means any time I buy a NAS I may be exposed to the harsh, spirity notes of an under-matured whisky. We should be encouraging yet more disclosure, not silly names and misty marketing mumbo jumbo.

Leave a Reply

If that's interesting, how about these?

Irish whiskey sector 'fails to protect small brands'

The growth of Irish whiskey is “under threat” since the industry has a more...

Wemyss Malts appoints Asia sales manager

Independent spirits bottler Wemyss Malts has named Jason Pan as Asia Pacific more...

Arnett: Many rye whiskeys ‘one-dimensional’

Jack Daniel’s master distiller Jeff Arnett has claimed many rye-based more...

Absolut unveils lime flavour after portfolio cull

Pernod Ricard has released a new lime variant for Absolut Vodka, after last more...

West coast takes spotlight in new Scotch festival

A local retailer is to launch a new consumer whisky festival, called West Coast more...

Top 10 'top 10s' of 2016

Top tips for hangovers, the most unusual whisky cask finishes and family-owned more...

Unconventional Scotch whiskies for Burns Night

With whisky lovers' favourite night of the year approaching, SB has gathered an more...

Four Roses distilling head named KDA chairman

The Kentucky Distillers’ Association has named Ryan Ashley, chief operating more...

Scottish castle distillery gets go-ahead

A castle in the Scottish Highlands which dates back to the 13th century has more...

Unmissable spirits industry events in 2017

It’s time to make plans for the rest of the year: The Spirits Business lines more...

Experts predict top spirits trends in 2017

If you're curious about what the coming year has in store for the global more...

Irish whiskey exports 'to double' by 2020

Exports of Irish whiskey increased by an estimated 8% in 2016 to €505 million more...

Patrón TR chief: 'every brand is a competitor'

John Kilmartin, travel retail chief at Patrón Spirits International, talks more...

Buffalo Trace defends Old Charter label

Buffalo Trace Distillery is facing a proposed class action lawsuit in the New more...

Heaven Hill's Parker Beam dies

Heaven Hill master distiller emeritus Parker Beam has died at the age of 75 more...

Midleton Distillery gets €10.5m expansion

Irish Distillers is embarking on a €10.5 million (US$11.2m) expansion of its more...

SMWS releases 'first' ex-gin cask whisky

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) has released what’s thought to be the more...

Deanston unveils 'oldest' Scotch whisky to date

Distell has released a 40-year-old bottling of its Deanston single malt Scotch more...

Top 10 biggest spirits stories of 2016

The Spirits Business looks back at the biggest stories to rock the spirits more...

Plans for 'highest' distillery in British Isles

Plans to build what is thought to be the highest distillery in the British more...