Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Scotch whisky market tightens in weird ways

Just got news that Diageo is pulling Johnnie Walker, Bell's Extra Special and J&B Rare, along with eight single malts (Glenkinchie, Dalwhinnie, Talisker, Cragganmore, Oban, Lagavulin, Brora, and Clynelish) off the shelves in New Brunswick.

New Brunswick, Canada, that is, not New Brunswick, New Jersey. I know most of my readers are Americans, but there's a significant Canadian contingent out there too. If you're wondering who's next, well, you're right: these brands will most likely be disappearing from shelves across the Dominion soon, probably in January. (Update, 11/6: "Johnnie Walker Green Label, Black & White Blended Scotch Whisky and Bell's Scotch Whisky will no longer be available in LCBO outlets once current supplies are gone, probably by year end, a spokesman confirmed yesterday.") They'll be replaced by Ballantines, Teachers, Famous Grouse (and the Black and 30 Year Old), Dewar's, Chivas, and Grant's. Some of those are nothing to sneeze at -- I don't mind a dram of Teachers -- but...why?

BRIC, in a word. In four words: Brazil, Russian, India, China. Hot markets all, and clamoring for Scotch whisky in rapidly-increasing amounts. More so than Canada can consume, so your supplies are getting shipped elsewhere. Welcome to globalization.

We've got a piece on this shuffling in the last issue of Malt Advocate -- about how new expressions are being created to fill the gaps -- and another coming up in the next issue, about where the whisky's going now (and where the smart aficionado can find it). The world whisky market may be looking over its shoulder, but it continues to grow, and major distillers -- Diageo, Wm. Grant & Son, Beam -- are putting a lot of money into distillery expansion.

5 comments:

sam k said...

So, can the distillers get more money in the emerging markets than they can Up North? If not, this doesn't seem to make much sense, and isn't there always the possibility of alienating an established consumer base?

As long as American distilleries don't try pulling this stuff, I'll be content, but will be looking over my shoulder regardless.

Lew Bryson said...

I think it's not so much that they can get the same money for each bottle -- I can't believe that they can -- but they have stoked a fire in the BRIC countries, and they have to keep it supplied or lose sales to something else: cognac, bourbon, vodka, wine...

Anonymous said...

So what can Maritime scotch drinkers do? This is ridiculous! I know its just business to them but there must be something we can do.

Lew Bryson said...

I'm sure their response would be, "Drink more Ballantine, Teachers, Famous Grouse, Dewar's, Chivas, and Grant's." Seems kind of short-sighted, doesn't it?

Anonymous said...

It would seem to me that anytime one can sell more volume in another country more revenue to the producer can be generated. I emerging markets there are many many individuals with more money (even converted to CDN$ or US$)than you or I will ever hope to be near.