All is not well in Scotch Whisky.
The fastest growing whisky making countries in the world do not include Scotland.
They do include Ireland, Japan and Canada.
So Scotch Whisky chooses to attack these countries in a series of articles and posts across various media platforms.
The common thread in all these articles revolves around the fact these countries manufacture and market their own whiskies in a manner not compliant with Scottish Whisky Association (SWA) rules.
Now I don’t know about you – but I must have missed the meeting when it was decided SWA rules applied worldwide. It shows a complete lack of respect for those countries indigenous rules, customs and practices.
The fact customers are seeking out those countries whisky products obviously means it has nothing to do with the rules – it must be something else.
Whisky from it’s very inception has never been about the rules.
Whisky has a long tradition and rich historical vein of tales involving illicit poitin & moonshine distillation, smugglers avoiding the gaugers on Highland trails and bootlegging during prohibition to name a few. It’s in the very DNA of what whisky is and has shaped the development of the spirit to this day.
Perhaps it’s about the taste?
Perhaps Scotch’s strict adherence to the rules comes at the expense of new and exciting tastes?
Perhaps those customers boosting non-Scotch making expression sales are seeking out those new tastes and the rules are not as important as they are made out to be?
I know I certainly am.
But there is an even larger threat looming round the proverbial corner. It’s a threat not of Scotch Whisky’s making.
Now the Scotch Whisky juggernaut needs a lot of space to manoeuver. It’s a cumbersome beast with it’s own inertia and inflexibility. It may not be able to negotiate the tricky corners ahead.
The Irish, Japanese and Canadian vehicles are smaller, more adaptable & nimble. They might be better equipped to handle the twists and turns thrown up by Brexit – as well as the US tariff fiasco.
The irony of Britain leaving Europe – and Scotch Whisky’s biggest market too – as it did not want to be dictated to by Brussels whilst Scottish Whisky tries to dictate to some of it’s competitors.
I think I’ll have to have a glass of Brexit Whiskey – a proudly non SWA rule produced very tasty Austrian Whiskey – and ponder over Rabbie Burn’s famous words;
‘O would some power the giftie gie us to see ourselves as others see us.’
From where I’m sitting it isn’t looking pretty.