Monday, January 2, 2012

Those damn collectors, BRIC and feckin ebay

Whisky is getting more expensive, and NOONE is happy about it. Except the few thousands that lives of selling the stuff of course. So what are the reasons for this pricejump. Well I don't really know but I have some thoughts why it could be so and some are very obvious

1. More people drink quality whisky. This isn't just the BRIC countries, Brasil, Russia, India and China, entering the premium market. As money has started rolling in in these countries, a lot of people, as these countries has HUGE populations are getting more money in their hands. And they buying cheap local booze and replace it with more expensive "premium" spirits (for some reason a bottle of spirit is more expensive than a bottle of booze)
Well, this has mainly affected the blend market. Johnnie Walker is extremely popular in asia. The price of better blends hasn't really gone up where I live so if I want a bottle of Johnnie Walker Black I have no reason to complain.

But a lot more is drinking quality single malt whisky in the traditional markets, and with single malts being such a relative small part of whisky the business, a rise of consumers in this field is something that can be felt.

2. Some whiskies ARE getting rare. Quite a lot of distilleries were closed in the early eighties, Port Ellen, Brora being the most famous but also Dallas Dhu, Coleburn, Convalmore, Banff, Glen Albyn and St. Magdalene. Rosebank, Imperial, Caperdonich are later closures. According to Malt Whisky Yearbook, there is approximately 28 closed distilleries with bottles on the market. Most of these will not reopen. And their whiskies are getting rare. Some of them very rare. And some are very good and very popular. This will of course cause a price jump. Demand and availability. Add to this distilleries with large gaps in production years, resulting in big holes in stock. Ardbeg and Springbank just to name a couple.

3. Price as a marketing tool. Like it or not, whiskies are brands, just like Heineken, Nike and Levi's. And there's a bit of a dogfight being the "finest" distillery out there. It seems like they all want a "THE" in front of the distillery name and a 10000£ 50yo in a bullet proof display cabin in the visitor centre. Our whisky is the most expensive and that by all logic means its also the best..

4. We are fashion muppets. Like it or not, whiskies are brands, just like Heineken, Nike and Levi's. And consumers are slaves to fashion trends, and so are whisky consumers. Popular Names, Fancy Boxes and Crystal Bottles sells just as well as the actual quality of the whisky. I've seen people looking on a designed bottle package with the same adoration in their eyes as when they look on their newborn child. And when Highland Park release their overpriced King Cucumber the 4th special release the internet is drowning with fans moaning they can't get hold of a bottle (those feeckin ebayers bought them all). Shut the fuck up, it takes 5 minutes internet research to find a brilliant bottle from some lesser known distillery, or one of those weird german independant bottler with home made labels, that is a lot better whisky, cheaper, but unfortunately doesn't come with any bragging rights.

But in the end I have a painful suspicion that the main reason for whisky getting more expensive is

5. Drinkers, like me, hoarding. I buy a lot more than I can drink. I got "a few" bottles in my stock (IT*S NOT A COLLECTION). I have continuesly bought more than I can drink. So have more or less everybody I know in the world of whisky. The amount of bottles stocked up on the shelves of whisky drinkers outnumbers the numbers of bottles that collectors have in their collections. Tenfold. I bet you!
Off course the limit between drinkers and collectors is blurred, but I tell you something. The next whiskycrash will come the day us drinkers decide to drink what we have in our cabinet and stop buying!

Me and a whisky collection. Not mine though!

That said, I don't like ebayers making profit of releases from last week. It's just bad whisky karma !. But hey, we live in a capitalist society and they only take advantage of the fashion slaves, don't they ?

Every Year I make a new year resolution not to buy more whisky bottles and drink less. I did so this new year. It didn't go very well, I allready ordered three bottles. But now it's over. No more purchases!!

Until I get one more whiskycupboard, I am out of space

Happy New Year. May your drams in 2012 be as good as the ones I had in 2011 :-)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Mortlach - hit or miss?

Mortlach is a distillery that has caught my eye with some excellent bottles in the past and also caught my eye with some, well, not so excellent bottles. I know several whisky enthusiasts who have Mortlach among their top distilleries, but for me so far it's been either hit or miss. It's been a while since I had a Mortlach - time to put that right with one of the most popular releases from the Flora & Fauna series, the 16 year old Mortlach, which I actually never tried before. I bought this bottle in 2010 at Blair Athol Distillery and at the time they had plenty. Those days are surely over... For good measure let's oppose it to another youngish Mortlach, a 1991 from Gordon & MacPhail.
Mortlach, 1991/2004, Gordon&MacPhail, 10th Anniversary bottling for Danish wine shop Vinens Verden, Slotsgade, cask 7863, refill sherry, 43%
Ok, the colour suggests that it is indeed a sherry cask. Unfortunately caramel has probably been added so nothing to read from that and besides, what does colour tell us about the quality of a whisky? You're right, absolutely nothing!
Nose: boiled fruits, lemonade and figs. Then comes some dark notes of sweet cherries. Add to that orange peel and apple pie and you have an entertaining albeit not spectacular nose.
Taste: Again boiled fruits, also dried fruits and some citrus. Not really complex and fades a bit fast but hey, it's well made and has no flaws.
Rating: 81
Mortlach 16yo, Flora & Fauna, 43%
Nose: starts on candied apples and apple juice, peach and walnuts. Orange notes of dried oranges, delicious fruits at full speed forward. Very confident and lively. After a few minutes coffee and sugar join the party. Let's see how this one tastes.
Taste: first some sherry followed by dark coffee and a little unexpected peat! Dried fruits, orange chocolate and prunes. Gets drier in the medium length finish that ends in dark chocolate, flint and bonfire smoke.
Surely a fine dram which I' sure would have hit a couple of extra marks had it been bottled at, let's say, 50 %.
Rating: 87
Concluding comments: These two Mortlachs are not in amongst the best I've tasted from this distillery, nor are they in the hat with the not so good Mortlachs that have come my way. Let us say that they are in the group of the interesting and entertaining Mortlachs which is not bad.