I have often commented on the Scotch industry’s current obsession with “multiple expressions”. That is, producing ever more variants of the same whisky. In the past, there was simply one Glen Splash malt or one Grey Mare blend. Today there can be up to a dozen variants of either.
Few established distilleries in Scotland have undergone such radical transformation in the past few years as Tullibardine, at Blackford just off the A9.
Many distilleries claim to be historical—the oldest in Scotland, the first licensed distillery, or whatever. However, a Fife distillery that opens this week/month stands on the site where whisky distilling was first recorded in Scotland.
It is a fact that governments, in the UK and elsewhere, are increasingly attracted to what one might call “consumption taxes” instead of direct ones such as income tax. And in Britain, arguably the number one consumption tax after VAT is the excise duty on alcohol.
Although the rest of humanity yearly becomes more appreciative of Scotch whisky, it seems the Scots themselves are becoming yearly more addicted to vodka.
One of the recent big developments in the global drinks market is how producers want to create a “total range portfolio” – of wines, beers and spirits, with one or more good named brands for every spirit: whisky, gin, rum, vodka, brandy and others.
Two distilleries in the Courier area are undergoing major changes, yet neither is making the kind of headlines one would expect.
What never fails to amaze me is the enthusiasm for Scotch whisky I see in other countries. Indeed, Scotland sometimes seems to be the one nation that is losing pride and passion for its national drink — whereas, go overseas and in many places Scotchmania rules the roost.
Whisky has now become not just a popular drink, but also a major field of study. From whisky appreciation weekends to in-depth whisky tours to university courses, whisky knowledge has almost become an industry in itself. And, year after year, new books on whisky are published that have to jostle for shelf space with those already there.
One unappreciated and unsung link in the chain between distillery and your local supermarket or off-licence is the distributor. And the big distribution name in the whisky world, and indeed the spirits world generally, is Gordon and MacPhail of Elgin.