The world of whisky is fluid – both literally and figuratively. What is popular now may be knocked down from the top tier by the up-and-coming. Personal favorites go from reasonably priced to well out of the reach of most whisky drinkers. Products are made available to certain markets only, UK vs US, etc. (This is a rant to be blogged soon titled Whisky Envy!) Mega-corporations swoop in and capture distilleries, re-market, scare the consumers, and keep on swallowing-up and ballooning their portfolios. Whisky writers, tasters, update their “guides”, and often influence what we are inclined to buy next, or squirrel away, or avoid altogether.
Those coming of legal age to drink eventually mature and if wise turn their interest to sampling whisky – and not just those mixed with Cola. In the time these newcomers mature and begin purchasing whisky to stock their bar, the tide of whisky superstars may have ebbed and flowed and fallen off the radar screen. How many of us dig back five or ten years when doing our research on whisky that meets the flavor profiles that we enjoy most? How many of our favorites have slightly changed or been adjusted to meet current markets or have lost their age statement? Should we be looking backward, thinking forward? What to do?
A well known common term states: hindsight is 20-20. Wonder how it relates to whisky? This brings me to a Sunday afternoon of tweeting and scouring whisky magazines and “guides” that date back to 1994. I want to be fairly conversed about whisky and I need all the help I can get. So I scour. What does hindsight tell me?
1994 – Bruichladdich, Islay
Michael Jackson, Complete Guide to single Malt Scotch, 3rd edition -“A good single malt for the newcomer to Islay.” The distillery was closed at the end of 1993. Jim McEwan era begins with re-opening 2001
2015 – Jim McEwan retires
Three major ranges: Bruichladdich – with many expressions, Port Charlotte – bring on the peat, Octomore – knock me over with the peat!
1989 – Cooley, Ireland
David Broom, writing for Whisky Magazine, June 2008. 1989 – John Teeling purchases Cooley, “to see whether his theory of taking on a monopoly (Irish Distillers Limited) was possible. The fact that Cooley is still here suggests he was right.”
- 2011 – Beam purchases Cooley
- 2014 – Cooley now owned by Beam Suntory
- 2015 – Teeling Whiskey Distillery opens it doors
2009 – Here today…Springbank 11 YO Madeira Wood 1997
2015 – Gone! (I have one – a personal favorite.)
Show me the money! 2010 – The Whisky Shop Whiskeria Magazine. The Whisky Shop for sale: Glenmorangie 1975 Cote de Nuit: £650 ($1017) (I had one, a left over from the Club of Five. Didn’t care for it. Gone now.)
2015 The Whisky Exchange: £1000 ($1565)
Lastly – 2008 – The Macallan Amber
There is the just completed tweeted conversation about flavored whisky that took a turn to my tweeting about The Macallan Amber – a liqueur of single malt with maple and pecan, at 25% – and as I did not know, only available for the US market. After a short stint on the market it was pulled off the shelves. I saw the price jump immediately and the bottle vanish from local stores. Sleuth that I am, I hunted, got way-lucky and found six bottles at the regular price of $26 at an out of the way “mom and pop” store. Is it worth more than the given price now six years later? Not really – but two bottles still grace my back closet. The others given to friends. Sometimes it is the thrill of the hunt!
These examples of hindsight are but a miniscule portion of the ever changing world of whisky. We are sadly seeing the disappearance of some fantastic whiskies and retirement or passing of whisky heros. But who’s not to say some of the new whiskies will become the rare and special expressions of the near future. Should we change our drinking habits – collect more, read more, drink a wider variety of whiskies? For me, awareness is the key. I know what I like and always have an extra on hand if I believe/know a bottle is a special release. I attend a few whisky events a year, and keep in touch with others who have a like interest and who keep growing their knowledge and subsequently mine. At the end of the day, my whisky is for enjoying, exploring and most importantly sharing.
That’s all I got today – and a glass of Bruichladdich Laddie Ten. I raise a glass in honor of the past, savoring the present with eyes toward the future of great whiskies to come.