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Postby Kate » Tue Mar 09, 2004 12:22 pm

Diageo scraps Cardhu Pure
By Dominic Roskrow

Diageo today sensationally announced that it is to withdraw its
controversial Cardhu Pure vatted malt and replace it once more with Cardhu 12 year old single malt by the end of the year.

And although the company denies that the move marks a U-turn, it accepts that its decision is to a great extent due to the huge opposition from the public to the company’s repackaging of a single malt as a vatted one.

The pure version will be phased out by the end of the year and the single malt will be made available in selected territories including Spain, where it is the leading malt brand.

Diageo says that it is responding to public will but is also pre-empting an announcement on labelling in general. It has been in talks with the Scotch whisky Association and is supporting a move to clear up definitions to make it clearer for consumers. Among the proposals is a ban on the use of an existing distillery name for anything except a single malt from that distillery.

Such a move would ‘outlaw’ Cardu Pure.

Announcing the changes Dr Nicholas Morgan, marketing director for Classic Malts at Diageo, said he was very proud that the company had worked as a team over Cardhu, been big enough to listen to the industry and whisky drinkers, and acted accordingly.

“Some people may see it as a u turn and others may try and claim credit for this change,” he said. “But we are in a different place from when this all blew up last year. We have moved on and no-one made this decision except ourselves.

“The only mistake we made was to underestimate how strong feeling among the public would be. We’re very sorry we caused so much upset and we apologise for offending people over the issue.

“But we believe that we are acting in the interest of everyone by taking this decision.”

Diageo does not rule out other innovative moves in the malt sector in the future, and Dr Morgan hinted that a new vatted product would be launched in a period of about a year from now and that the company intended to be at the forefront of a sector which it believes could be massively instrumental in bringing new drinkers to the Scotch malt whisky market.
Last edited by Kate on Wed Mar 17, 2004 6:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Peatfreak » Tue Mar 09, 2004 2:54 pm

:oops: "Some people may see it as a u turn" I see it as a umm err whats the word - oh yes a U-turn

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Postby Deactivated Member » Tue Mar 09, 2004 4:52 pm

I see it as: they scratched once more behind their ears..

Good plan to remove this product and keep the name Cardhu single malt alive and kicking.


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Good news, but is there a hidden agenda?

Postby Bodemmeester » Tue Mar 09, 2004 7:01 pm

For my society's news site, I've been following the news about the Diageo Affair since last October. What I find intriging is that what once seemed like some sort of stubborness on Diageo's account to maintain Cardhu as a Pure Malt product, now suddenly is U-turned to a re-introduction of Cardhu Single Malt.

I'm glad to hear that Cardhu maintains its status as a single malt, but is there something I don't see? A hidden agenda perhaps? :wink:

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Postby WestVanDave » Thu Mar 11, 2004 5:20 am

U Turn??? This smells more like a case of "grab all the free press and marketing exposure one can get" with a knock-off of the Classic Coke / New Coke switcheroo!!! (With some caramel added to cloud the issue!!! :wink: ).


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Postby Lawrence » Thu Mar 11, 2004 5:33 pm

If you look at Diageo's track record over the last few years it's actually been very responsive towards the whisky enthusiast. Just look at all the rare expressions that have been introduced. they have not lead but they have followed. They made a serious mistake with Cardhu and they have "changed direction" which is good for the whole industry.

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Postby Peatfreak » Thu Mar 11, 2004 5:54 pm

You could congratulate diageo on all there rare expressions but they have hardly been - all out for the enthusiat there - compare the prices and quality of the Brora 30 yo and the Whisky shops Brora and the whisky shops one wins hands down.

As for the Annual release Port Ellens first there was 6000 bottles, then 12,000 and god knows how much of the third there will be!!! Also I have heard that althougth this was to be the last 3 bottlings of Port Ellen Diageo have plans to release "several" more casks. Yes following I would agree - following on the fact that they sold heaps on the back of confusing collectors.

Rant over

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Postby Bodemmeester » Thu Mar 11, 2004 6:20 pm

Still I'm curious what they will come up with for their new vattings at the end of this year (read it somewhere, I believe it was The Scotsman). I'll put my money on the new vatted expression, called Cardow ;)

Anyway, I'm glad Diageo came up with the idea to put out Rare Malts Selection. It introduced me into a few very good new insights.


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Postby Iain » Sun Mar 14, 2004 10:17 am

See "Pure Folly" for background and comment.

http://scotlandonsunday.scotsman.com/bu ... =293132004

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Postby Pot Stiller » Fri Mar 19, 2004 10:05 pm

A few thoughts on the Diageo / Cardhu thing.

Diageo made a decision to change Cardhu from a Single Malt to a Pure Malt because they were in the enviable position of demand exceeding supply.
They informed the relevant people and organizations as to their intentions.
And people got hysterical.


Then Diageo agreed to alter packaging of their product.

And people were still hysterical.


Then Diageo announce that Cardhu Pure Malt will disappear and Cardhu Single Malt will return (albeit only in certain markets)

And people are hysterical.


First things first.
Cardhu is a brand – it is also a distillery, it is also a whisky, but in the big picture it is a brand – and it is the owner’s right to do what it will with its own brand.

To the best of my knowledge, Pure and Single Malt and the differences between them are not enshrined in law, certainly not in International law, but are generally accepted, terms. If consumers do not fully understand the differences between and the subtleties of these terms, then that is the consumer’s problem (with a huge deal of responsibility lying with the Industry who actively exploits the lack of clear and defined label regulations). It is not Diageo’s problem.

It appears that the Mediterranean markets where Cardhu is most popular don’t care a fig for the differences between Single and Pure Malt. They’re buying a product and buying into a brand image. So long as it tastes good with cola or ginger ale it’s O.K..
The people who do care a fig for the differences between Pure & Single Malts know the difference, are surely aware that the change has take place, and can choose from hundreds of other Single Malts, if they only want the single malt experience. So what’s the big deal?

For those that suggest that this was just a large promotional exercise – why? Cardhu Single could not be supplied in sufficient quantities, Cardhu Pure is to disappear and Cardhu Single when it returns will not return to many markets. Where do Diageo get a benefit?

For those that suggest that if Diageo had not reversed their decision to sell Cardhu Pure that it was the end of the whisky industry, or at least the Single Malt category – why?
Will someone give one good reason why and how this could happen.
And if you have a good argument think about these points:
Are distilleries not allowed to change anything to do with their Single Malts? What about water source (Bunnahabhainn), what about barrels (pretty much all distilleries)?, what about bottling location? What about distilleries themselves (Clynlish)? Take Ardbeg as an example. General consensus is that recent bottlings of Ardbeg have lost the pungency of old Ardbegs. Should Glenmorangie/Ardbeg be made to sell these Ardbegs under a different name?
And what about MacPhails? Lovely whisky, but produced at a secret location!!

Here’s another question. Blended Whiskies. Are all the components exactly the same in every batch? I think not. Does that impact on the blended whisky market? I think not.

To summarise – what’s the big deal.

There are perceptions to do with whisky held by large numbers of people that are totally without basis. The “Industry” is happy to exploit this for its benefit. Is it fair to criticize one organization for bathing in the murky waters?

Diageo own Cardhu. It is their baby. They should be able to do with it what they will.

If you don’t like it don’t buy it!

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Postby Pot Stiller » Fri Mar 19, 2004 10:06 pm

Other thoughts on the Cardhu/Diageo thing:

No doubt, some people will see the return of Cardhu Single as a victory for the consumer – the small man in the street. I don’t believe that this is the case at all.
There’s something bigger going on. Organizations were projecting one side of the story to the exclusion of all else.


WM particularly, seemed to enjoy the “incident” swiftly suggesting new labeling schemes, and trumpeting the return of Cardhu Single.
Why were Diageo not given the opportunity to address their side of the argument in any of the issues? (Macallan have in relation to the “fakes” issue)

Yet hardly any negative comment about Glenmorangie buying the SMWS, and indeed celebrating the fact in the most recent issue – that’s also a significant impact on the Malt Whisky sector.

Surely a “Cardhu Challenge” would have been on the cards – let the experts see if they could tell the difference between the two versions.

Regularly, the theme crops up in WM that more needs to be done to introduce young people to whisk(e)y. Where was that theme in the Cardhu debate? Now Cardhu, a typical “Beginner’s Malt” is no longer available in most of Europe!

It was suggested in a newspaper article that PR companies were hired to shoot down Diageo’s ideas (Thanks Iain). Who did this? Why? Does nobody else think that this is sinister?

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Postby shane » Sat Mar 20, 2004 5:42 am

Dear Pot Stiller here is the point! Regardless of taste, The pure malt Cardhu doesn't have to contain a drop of cardhu single malt to be called cardhu. (I think thats missleading). It can simply contain loch dhu or any other scotch malt and still keep that Cardhu name. When I buy Macallan I expect a Macallan NOT a Tamdhu, When I buy Springbank I expect Springbank not a Glen Scotia, When I buy a Big Mac I expect a Big Mac NOT a Whopper thats had a name change and is wrapped in Big Mac packaging. When I buy Coca Cola I expect Coca Cola and not Pepsi in the Coca Cola Packaging. There is no Limits to where it stops.Get the point.

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Postby old rarity » Sat Mar 20, 2004 4:05 pm

I think there are different ways to look at this, and I find myself substantially in agreement with Pot Stiller's views. I would think (I don't know for sure) the Cardhu Pure Malt now to be discontinued would have contained at its heart malt from Cardhu Distillery. That it would have been the "defining" malt, to use a term from Michael Jackson's vocabulary. But even if that would not have been the case, I as a consumer would not have been disappointed if that pure Malt product contained no malt whisky from Cardhu. I would expect Diageo was telling me, this pure malt will taste like the Cardhu single malt you knew, so our new, pure malt is still called "Cardhu". I can't see anything wrong with this line of thinking. Let's say we admire a particular single malt whose products always have been matured on the distillery's site. Then, a decision is made to send the barrels for 12 years and more maturation to another part of Scotland where the atmospheric conditions and warehousing construction are completely different: no more damp granite walls and earth floors, no more salty sprays and atmosphere working on the casks.. Is this whisky still from the same distillery even though for almost all of its life it will have been aging elsewhere? I say it is, because the distillery continues to put it out under the same name. They will continue to win confidence from the consumers if it remains a quality product and what consumers "expect". If the quality changes too much consumers (whether consciously aware of the reasons or not) will move on to some other drink..

I think Diageo did not adequately explain its position when the hubbub first began. It was taken aback clearly by the furor and decided finally to retrench and "move on": fair enough, it is the brand owner and the final resolution is its call. My point is, some whisky enthusiasts, who know not a little about whisky and care for its quality no less than those who disagreed with Diageo's initial decisions, thought there was nothing wrong at all about changing Cardhu Single Malt into Cardhu Pure Malt.

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Postby Iain » Sun Mar 21, 2004 5:57 pm

Glenfiddich Target of Hit and Run Driver ?


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Postby Pot Stiller » Mon Mar 22, 2004 1:49 am

Shane, This is my point.
"Pure Malt" is a term that has come to mean a "collection of malt whiskies, not necessarily from the one distillery"
Diageo are exploiting that for their (and their main Cardhu consumers') benefit.
To roundly condemn them for that (and to further mock and belittle them when they have the good grace to .......reconsider is unfair.
That's the point.

Other distilleries have altered what some people consider to be fundamentals and where are the public outries on these?

Yes, when you buy a coke you expect a coke. A Pepsi in Coca Cola packaging is illegal under (pretty much) any country's laws.
What Diageo have done is not.

By all means clear up the grey areas.
Educate the consumer.
Educate the retailers.
Then let the market decide.

I find it highly ironic, that at a time when Diageo have released a "contraption" of some sort to identify "fake" whisk(e)y, that they are hounded in the press and specialist comment for damaging the future of Scottish Whisky. To my mind, fake products in a market such as whisky are far more important in the long run than the composition of Cardhu.

And to conclude, Shane, there are limits to where it stops.
Single Malt, Pure/Vatted Malt and blend are all standard, if slightly vague terms. If Diageo depart from these standards, then they will deserve the retribution currently being showered upon them.

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Postby Lawrence » Mon Mar 22, 2004 6:01 pm

Good comments Pot Stiller, the market always decides in the end. Diageo has really made efforts as far as the malt drinker goes, they've followed and not usaully lead but at least they've made the effort. When the company was UD it was almost impossible to pry any non standard malts out of them. Now the portfolio is improving, look at all the older Lagavulin's etc. I did not like the Cardhu affair and the reason that I was particularly upset was I felt we were losing another distillery, again. And would they do the same to Lagavulin? Horrors! However if you asked 100 malt drinkers to list their favourite malts I'll bet cardhu would not be ib the top 15 of any of them. However everybody had strong feelings about this subject and there were some interesting comments and perspectives for the forum group.

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Cardhu etc........

Postby Farquhar Miller » Thu Mar 25, 2004 5:10 pm

I posted this note on the Malts List a few days ago - I share it here as it seems to echo off some of the points raised in the earlier postings on Cardhu.

I was particularly struck by this: "When I buy Macallan I expect a Macallan NOT a Tamdhu, When I buy Springbank I expect Springbank not a Glen Scotia, When I buy a Big Mac I expect a Big Mac NOT a Whopper thats had a name change and is wrapped in Big Mac packaging. When I buy Coca Cola I expect Coca Cola and not Pepsi in the Coca Cola Packaging. There is no Limits to where it stops.Get the point."

I agree with these views from Shane - but the point of my postuing below is that many others are playing a confusing, misleading and cynical game.


Thanks to list members who replied to my earlier question about Stronachie and Octomore. I look forward to reading the promised article about these 'new' old distilleries.

In the meantime, having thought a little more about this, and spoken to a friend who was all set to buy a bottle of Stronachie, having read about this rediscovered distillery in the Scotsman, I have to express a concern, and so also raise a question.

Isn't the use of such names just misleading and cynical marketing, transparent perhaps to the 400 or so well-informed souls on this list, but not so to the generality of malt whisky buyers and collectors. Why can't Stronachie be 'Benrinnes' - if that's what it is - and Octomore 'heavily peated Bruichladdich' (like peated Bladnoch)?

I have a feeling this is nothing more than the sort of jerrymandering and hucksterism that UD were recently so rightly taken to task for over Cardhu/Cardow/Cardon't. And equally deserving of criticism.

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Postby Lawrence » Fri Mar 26, 2004 5:01 pm

It's a valid point you make but it seems to be standard practice that if you don't own the distillery then you can sell the malt to a second party who can name it whatever they want. Unless the actual distillery is listed in the fine print then I won't buy it.

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Postby Admiral » Tue Mar 30, 2004 4:32 am

The biggest problem as I see it is that now I don't know which bottle to keep as a collector's item!! :D

Six months ago I put aside a bottle of Cardhu Single Malt, thinking it would be a rare collectible one day. Now it seems I will have to go out and buy a bottle of Cardhu Pure and put IT away as a collectible instead! :)

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