Wednesday, 30 June 2010

#381 - Age Statements Before Beauty?

Due to some micro-mismanagement from an interim manager on a project I'm currently involved with (well, I don't think he initially planned to be 'interim', but the aforementioned mismanagement took care of that ;-) I've had to spend a lot of extra hours on work during the past week.Those were hours I didn't get to spend updating this blog as often as I wanted to - sorry...

Nevertheless, I've managed to finish the refurbishment of the 'Distillery Data' section of Malt Madness just before the second half of 2010 kicks off. The profiles of all active malt whisky distilleries are now expanded with sub-sections with a small selection of recent developments. So, I'm enjoying a stiff dram of the Glendronach 15yo to celebrate while I write this...

Meanwhile, Pernod Ricard / Chivas Brothers launched a large PR & publicity campaign a few days ago. A bunch of 'whisky web publishers' among the malt maniacs (Serge, Mark, myself, etc.) were invited last week to interview a senior Chivas Brothers spokesperson about a certain 'very interesting' topic. However, the invitor was unable to give more information about the topic at that time. Being the skeptic that I am, I figured this was the equivalent of a shop trying to sell me 'an interesting whisky' in a closed cardboard box, so I politely declined. 

However, as it turned out this PR and press campaign wasn't about the oldest or most expensive whisky ever sold, or a new packaging or yet another 'brand extension'. In a time when more and more whiskies are released without an age statement (so that younger - and therefore cheaper - whisky can be used to fill the bottles), Chivas Brothers is now launching a campaign to point out the age statements on whisky bottles to consumers. 

The interests of the larger members of 'the whisky industry' (Diageo, Pernod Ricard, William Grant, etc.) are often similar in nature, so when the industry moves, most members usually move in the same direction. The SWA's introduction of new whisky classifications like 'blended malt whisky' may have been a miscarriage of logic, but at least it was supported by most whisky producers. With this campaign Pernod / Chivas seems to be taking a stand against producers of whisky brands like Ardbeg, Bruichladdich, Bunnahabhain, Glenmorangie and Jura, that have released a handful of new bottlings without an age statement lately. It seems that it's mostly the (relatively) smaller whisky producers that have launched expressions without age statements. Could it be that the drop in demand for malt whisky worldwide gives the larger players an advantage because they now have larger stocks of maturing whisky, so they can 'play the age card' for a long while to come?

So, that's interesting food for thought, but typing all of those thoughts down is a little pointless because Serge beat me to it on Whiskyfun. Check out Serge's entry for June 28 for a bunch of interesting thoughts and observations about the new Chivas campaign. On the whole I tend to agree with Serge's thoughts, although I've always felt that the 'older = better' rule of thumb should be taken with a few grains of salt.  

OFF TOPIC: Meanwhile, here's a little update for the international audience of this blog: the Dutch politicians have made no progress whatsoever in forming a coalition government yet, three weeks after the elections... Many of us that grew up in 'the free west' during the 1960's and 1970's have been indoctrinated with the idea that our form of parliamentary representation was the best form of democracy we could hope for. As I'm growing ever older and wiser, I'm starting to have my doubts. Since I've learned that in Holland the severely mentally handicapped get to vote as well, I'm starting to believe that the politicians can't have a lot of respect for the voters. After all, if that 'solemn responsibility' can be given to somebody who can't even go to the toilet unsupervised, how important can it be? 
Pffft.... I needed to get that off my chest. 

So, that's already 'it' for this report - more news about the work on MM in my next post.

Sweet drams...