Whisky Advances. No One Backs Up

Whisky Advances. No One Backs Up

Novelty and temptation are storming the old whisky castles.  Few have been able to resist such a siege.  Hence, whisky is unassumingly changing worldwide.

This progress has made wax figures of those lonely men dressed in kilts (typical Scottish masculine skirt, made of tartan wool), drinking whisky (without ice) next to the castle’s chimney.

Modernity is still uncertain as to what to do with that bagpipe gang of warriors, Scots as well as Irish, waiting for their chance to enter into play in the next room.

Bagpipers are exotic, different; they represent a millenary tradition.  Whisky will keep on using them no doubt, because they are striking and have a sound foundation, unique in style and dress in a society that seeks glitz.   They can become selfies ready to be sent to friends immediately.  


Distilleries Sprout Like Mushrooms

The whisky lover will notice this as soon as he enters the duty-free area of any airport.  Now he’ll not only find a score of renowned brands noticeably highlighting their ageing years; he’ll discover many more brands, a good number with no indication of age on the front label.

Currently there’s more Bourbon, more whiskeys from Scotland, Ireland, Canada and Japan, worldwide.

Thus appears the phenomenon marketing experts call the “Fidelity” war.  They (marketing) want faithful, undying clients, and clients have shown to be faithful “as long as they feel authentic, contented, well represented.“

In all areas, adult clients are very loyal to the brands they’ve known for years.  They only own up to certain infidelities when novelty and temptation are particularly appealing, and the price is reasonable.

Well, then, if it isn’t the faithful clients pushing the visible changes, who is? 

Here are some answers from experts:

  1. The industry itself, suffocated by the sales success of Single Malts, and costly ageing process, it has almost done away (it did in Japan) with the inventories of matured casks.
  2. Marketing Specialists that don’t want to miss the novelty train.  If “everyone is producing Premium whiskeys, are we going to be the only ones not doing it?
  3. Only “The Market” believes in the Millenials.  This means those between 18 and 33 years old.  That’s a lot of people.  However, it’s not an overwhelming consumer majority that doesn’t age.

In their typical dynamics, those who experiment never cease to invent novelties, curiosities, special bottles…nevertheless, those who buy – even by the box – are between 40 and 60 years old.

(Women also buy whisky, but as you well know, they don’t mention their age. They’re all under 40)

  1. Millenials are not a homogeneous world force, without distinctions in race, economic conditions, status, traditions, and cravings, revitalizing Scotch whisky, tequila, bourbon, gin, rum, vodka, beer, cocktails. 

It’s the induced desire that drives change, and it’s done so via advertising, film and television.

For example, the fervor for Mexican Tequila is induced by large multinational drinks companies…which are about to suffer a profound crisis in their raw material.

The zeal for artisan beer is a guerrilla war in which international consortiums are already at play swallowing up the small fish.

Rum no longer means “from the Caribbean”.  Its geographic identity has faded (at least for the savvy), and at the moment it’s produced worldwide.


Everyone advances, no one backs down.

Drink less, but better, is today’s motto.  That is, less frequency, but more quality.

Some categories avow that they are on the verge of achieving it in their market segment.

This prevailing conviction has good press coverage, pushing the “Premium” trend, the foremost word in the labels.

“Only adult, experienced consumers, can navigate smoothly through this labyrinth”, affirms Ian Kilmann, international marketing expert.

“They can do so because they’re wise handling their past experiences, as well as the geography”, he explains.  They can’t be enticed by eye-catching labels or innovative advertising campaigns.  Those familiar with the categories, know when they are face to face with something really Premium.

That might explain why albeit the fact that all brands show growth, no category grows guzzling up the bottle next to it on the shelf.

Those looking for excellence know where to find it.


Professor Alberto Soria

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