Under the header "Independent bottlers at the end?" the Whisky Watch, a German periodical about whisky tells about two tendencies which affect independent bottlers.
First, it becomes more and more the custom to return casks that did not got into a blend to the distillery which produced it. Macallan writes that into the contracts when they sell their malt for blending.
Second, less and less single malts are sold to blenders in their pure state. Many have "additives" of other malts and with that change their names. A bit of research pruduced the following:
Glenmorangie + a tiny measure of Glen Moray = ‘Westport’
Glenfiddich + 1% Balvenie = ‘Wardhead’
Balvenie + 1% Glenfiddich = ‚Burnside’
Kininvie +1% (?) Glenfiddich and/or Balvenie = ‚Aldunie’
Laphroaig + X = ‚Williamson’
Ardbeg + X = Kildalton (Now that is interesting!) After Ardbeg 17 years plus young Glen Moray became ‚Serendipity’ there could be an explanation for the mix-up at last. Wrong barrels of Ardbeg and right Glen Moray and out came not blenders Kildalton but something quite different.
Glendronach + X = ‚Placemill’
Tamdhu + X = ‚Duich’
Glenrothes + X = ‚Glenshiel’
Macallan + X = 'Kintail'
Highland Park + X = ‚Whitlaw’
Bowmore are just starting to do it now. The name is not yet known to me. There are others for sure.
That means that there is a lot of say Whitlaw sold but not much Highland Park anymore. The extend of this practice is growing at the moment so it will be felt in 10-20 years time. The result could be that there is not much single single malt around in a few years.
If I were a independent bottler I´d start to wonder.
I suspect there may be more of a move for IBs to actually buy distilleries - as we are already seeing - Signatory, for example, thereby ensuring continuation of the company in some guise or other.
I think we may well be experiencing the best of IBs just now, as many of the casks they are bottling were probably off loaded on the cusp of a resurgent market.
No doubt IBs will quietly be holding back some casks for a rainy day and the prices will rise exponentially. Such is like.
I was thinking to it a couple of weeks ago just because more and more distilleries seem to get the habit to not allow IB to put the actual distillery name on the bottles, and same other even don't sell casks or dont't do it anymore.
Anyway I think is a too a big market for the industry to let IB go down and by the way IB are a big as well.
I really hope IB won't not suffer or disappear.
kallaskander wrote: The result could be that there is not much single single malt around in a few years.
It's a bit over the top to predict the end of single malt sales. Do you really think Laphroaig, Highland Park, Springbank to name just few are going to kill off their lucrative malt sales? The very reason they vatt their malts with 1% of another distillery is to protect the single malt name! All the cask that are vatted with 1% go to belending, there will always be single malts as long as distilleries are in production.
very true. But malt sold for blending with an additive is no longer a single malt but a vatted/blended malt.
That very mechanism is aplied to protect the name and brand! Protecting the brand in this way destroys independent bottling of single malts as there will be no single malts left to bottle.
Of course there will be single malts around, the protected brand names as OB from the owners of distilleries. More and more distilleries want their name treated as a brand which only they can use. The diversity will suffer, no matter what in the long term.
If they sell only pure malts to blenders which are no longer single malts that is the end of independent bottling. Not tomorrrow or next week but in years to come it could be.
Example ..... Duncan Taylor buy 100 casks for blending and 10 for single malt bottlings from a single distillery. What would stop them from bottling the 110 casks as single malts eventhough the 100 csaks may not be of the highest quality???? Therefore the 1% added prevents the possiblity as these casks are highly regulated as previous stated.
The industry needs the blenders big time as this is it's bread and butter remember 90% of all scotch is blended. And if these blenders also like to offer the odd single malt then it is in the distilleries interest to offer at least some single malts also.
Further Cadenhead seem to be able to get a good source of casks from a whole host of Distilleries. Why is that, if distilleries are precieved to be so mean with their casks????
So no I don't think that the IB is going to die out ......
let me play devil´s advocate here for a moment.
First: It is just starting. At the moment there are sufficient amounts of single single malts at the IBs disposal. But for how much longer?
Second: The definition of blended whiskies like Dimple Chivas Regal etc has to be changed. They are no longer blended from single malts and grain whiskies but from vatted malts and (vatted?) grain whiskies. A spoonful of Balvenie in Glenfiddich is as miniscule as the caramel added elsewhere but tecnically the Glenfiddich is a vated malt from thereon therefore the change of name into Wardhead which is only consequent.
Third: The distilleries do not need to sell single single malts to IBs for bottling as a single malt as long as those use the vatted single malts for their blends. In consequence of that the commercial use of single malts will be solely in the hand of the distillery. That means the brand name is the name of the malt and nobody else can use it.
Glenfarclas does that, Glenfiddich/Balvenie/Kininvie does that. And that is what it is all about. Keep total control over the brand name of any given distillery.
Fourth: The bottling of single malts by IBs is a spin-off. It started as such anyway when IBs found casks among their stock that were too good to vanish in a blend. Nowadays it is no longer a spin-off. It could mean that smaller IBs will vanish in the future.
actually I think that you strengthen my point Lawrence. It is not pure accident that more and more IBs are now owners of distilleries. The swaping of casks makes it easier for an IB to get malts. But there is a chance that the security of the own brand name will lead to swaping of vatted casks only in the future.
I do not say that 1% or 5% in a cask are noticable in a blend. But tecnically more and more blends are not made from single malts and grain anymore.
What speaks for a pessimistic view of the matter is the lack of independent bottlings of Glenfiddich, Balvenie, Glenfarclas in a way. They have put the vatting of casks into effective use to prevent IB bottlings of their malts or in the latter case rise hell if somebody bottles Glenfarclas under the true name.
Glenmoragie uses another path. They just do not sell or swap caks.
If there are only Kintails and Whitlaws one day no IB will be able to bottle a single malt named Macallan or Highland Park anymore. For blends there is obviously no need to swap single single malts. The system you describe will work for blends even if all casks swaped were vatted malts.
a bit off my own tpoic.
"The Scottish Whisky Association predicts China will rank among the ten most valuable export markets for whisky in 2006.
But a report in The Grocer trade magazine today warns that the increased demand could push up prices by 10 per cent, an average of £1 per bottle on blended whisky.
In Scotland, distillers buy whisky from each other to make their own blends, which can contain as many as 30 different single malts.
Duncan Baldwin, regional director at Angus Dundee Distillers, told The Grocer: "We have noticed there is not much whisky available to buy any more and what there is sells at a much higher price. The bigger players have realised that sales forecasts for their brands in places such as China mean they need to guard their stocks to furnish this demand. Demand from China is not losing its momentum."
Pressure is rising?
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