The Tasting Panel magazine

August 2010

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Page 24 of 104

SCOTCH REPORT The Age Game J CHIVAS BROTHERS LAUNCHES “GUARANTEED AGE” CAMPAIGN by Ian Buxton ust how important is the age statement on a bottle of Scotch? Well, until recently, no one would have questioned that it was a vital part of many a brand’s image. After all, old is better, right? For years, the industry parroted that message, stressing that greater age justified higher prices. But in the last year or so, that’s been called into question as Glenmorangie Signet, Macallan’s 1824 range (exclusive to travel retail but due for wider rollout), Dewar’s Signature and others launched luxury non-aged expres- sions with a new mantra. Apparently, the qual- ity of these whiskies (and they are good) was due to exceptional wood management, rigorous cask selection and the outstanding skills of the blender. Age alone didn’t guarantee quality. Malt mavens and cynics scoffed, suggesting a shortage of aged stocks might account for this miraculous conversion, but consumers seem to have accepted the message. Now the traditionalists are fighting back—with the research to back up the magic age statement. Chivas Brothers, Scotch whisky arm of international powerhouse Pernod Ricard, have just released the opinions of over 2,000 whisky drinkers asked about age and Scotch whisky. Worldwide, a resounding 94% of respondents agreed that “age is an important indicator of quality” (93% of U.S. drink- ers concurred), 93% (94% in the U.S.) considering that “older whiskies were better quality” and a staggering 97% (an equal number in the States) agreeing that “whiskies that claim to be aged should state that clearly on the bottle.” Of course, the age statement on any bottle of Scotch refers to the youngest whisky in the bottle, not the oldest or the average—a mere 10% of drinkers had got hold of that message. So, with work to do, Chivas Brothers has launched a campaign across its entire Scotch portfolio with the slogan “Guaranteed Age Whisky” appearing on-pack, in point of sale and through PR initiatives. They hope that competitors will also embrace the message, with the look of the campaign having a distinctly generic feel. That may be a big call, with the industry having rejected generic marketing in the past and the suspicion being that competitors’ warehouses are distinctly light on aged stock. If that’s so, and the research is reliable, Chivas may just have attained a valuable marketing edge. 24 / the tasting panel / august 2010 A Word from Ireland If readers will excuse a quick word on Irish whiskey, not Scotch, I’m happy reporting the launch of Kilbeggan’s Distillery Reserve Malt, produced from the oldest pot still in the world, dating back to 1830. The distillery fell silent in 1957 but was revived by the award-winning team from Cooley Distillers, who have produced the first new whiskey to be distilled at Kilbeggan in over 53 years. The U.S. market will be given priority, through importer Gemini Spirits & Wine of Chicago.

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