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.