The Tasting Panel magazine

April 2014

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24  /  the tasting panel  /  april 2014 SCOTCH REPORT Poles Apart D iageo has released further details of the forthcoming luxury single malt expressions from the Mortlach distillery on Speyside, first reported on our website in December. The new products are Rare Old (43.4%, non- age), Special Strength (49%, non-age, non- chill-filtered, travel retail exclusive), 18 Years Old and 25 Years Old (both 43.4%). Mortlach is to be positioned as premium and aspirational. A company spokesman described this release as seeking to "define luxury for single malt, becoming the next great luxury brand." While the packaging is certainly distinctive, details of European pricing have led to furious debate—and criticism—on internet forums (U.S. pricing has still to be announced but is unlikely to differ significantly, as Diageo seek a consistent global positioning for the brand). Based on an unusual 500-ml. bottle size (again, U.S. bottles will be the standard 750 ml.), European consumers are faced with prices that are certainly in the luxury bracket, ranging from the equivalent of around $125 for a full standard bottle of the entry-level expression to a thumping $1,300 for the 25 Year Old style. Such a level of pricing was, it's fair, to say greeted with some scepticism by whisky fans. The launch will be a global one, with prior- ity given to high-end bars and liquor special- ists in "core metro markets." That means London, New York, Paris, Shanghai, Moscow and so on. The highly distinctive packaging, said to be two years in development, was created by New York–based Laurent Hainaut of the Raison Pure design house and pays hom- age to Scottish engineering and Alexander Cowie, founding father of the distillery. But only today I was looking at Glen Garioch's 25 Year Old expression (the 1986 vintage bottling); at around $250 a bottle for a stylish if little-known Highland distillery (rather like Mortlach, in fact), it has made me won- der whether Diageo hasn't set a very high bar for their new releases. Yet the release by Berry Bros. & Rudd of their second introduction from the Extraordinary Cask Collection of single-cask bottlings of The Glenrothes single malt forces me to think again. The Glenrothes Single Cask 1969 #11485, bottled in a hand-blown lead crystal decanter and housed in a leather- bound carrying case is priced at $7,000. Just 28 of the worldwide total of 133 will arrive next month in the U.S. According to David King, President of Anchor Distilling, the U.S. importer, "Very old and rare whiskies are becoming as valuable and sought after as pieces of art." If that is art, then I suppose 2 Gingers Irish Whiskey must be, at $19.99, a comic book. But a fast-growing one, as the brand, now part of the Beam Inc. portfolio, takes its founder and CEO, Kieran Folliard, in a customized 2 Gingers trailer to meet with bartenders, distribu- tors and consumers in stops from coast to coast. So how will the market develop in 2014? Super-luxury or completely accessible? Everything is shaping up for a fascinating ride as whisky/ whiskey polarizes on pricing. Watch this space! WHISK(E)Y PRICING WIDENS THE GAP BETWEEN SUPER-LUXURY AND EVERYDAY VALUE by Ian Buxton 5 5 9 . 6 7 3 . 6 3 7 2 / 2 0 1 4 6 R O A D 2 1 / M A D E R A , C A L I F O R N I A Serve the Wine that Won the Heart of San Francisco The 2014 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition is now completed, with a record number of 5,825 entries from over 1,500 wineries from over 25 states in America– the LARGEST competition of wine in America. We are quite proud to have been recognized as Best of Class among such an amazing group of wine competitors. Less than 900 cases of this fine vintage remain. Buy our wines online at www.cruwinecompany.com Mortlach Rare Old is the entry-level expres- sion of Diageo's new luxury single malt. TP0414_001-33.indd 24 3/21/14 11:53 AM

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