The End of Whisky is nigh. There is no hope. Board up your houses and lock your doors.
Ok, so maybe it’s no quite that bad. But there is a coming Single Malt shortage that we should all probably brace ourselves for.
See the issue is that long ago, in the 80s and 90s, no one in the industry really foresaw the current boom of interest in Single Malt that they are now experiencing.
In fact in the 70s it was blends that were booming, and accounted for around 98% of the market share. That statistic has now flipped and is the complete other way around.
So unpredictable was this shift in the market that blenders would scoff at the very thought of single malt overtaking blends. But it happened, and that scoffing has got us into the mess that we’re in today.
Again, maybe not as bad a situation as I’m making out.
You see the thing about Single Malts is that they often rely on an age statement. And those age statements have to reflect the actual age of the liquid in the bottle.
Every Single Malt has to be aged for a certain amount of time, in fact the legal minimum is 3 years.
So while all that scoffing was going on and the industry didn’t see the rise in demand for Single Malts or just Whisky generally, they weren’t able to prepare their warehouses for it.
As such the demand has grown and the producers haven’t been able to keep up with that demand, resulting in a Single Malt shortage.
Many of the products that were part of core ranges and were released every year are now being moved to more limited edition releases.
No product is going off the shelves, but there has been a low point in supplies and how available they are on the mass market.
Of course to counter this there has been a No Age Statement movement within the industry of late, with brands disregarding the need to print an age at all.
This has been born out of need more than anything else, since without any 12-Year-Old, how can you write 12-Year-Old on the bottle?
Distilleries are having to be smart about they sell their shortening supplies and when they are able to release new ones. The only way they can deal with the supply vs. demand issue is to calculate how much they have against how much they can produce in the next few years.
So if they have a 15-Year-old that will only be ready for sale in five years, then they must weigh up how much they can release of the 15-Year-Old they already have in that time period
For you the consumer this simply means rationing your own supplies and embracing newer and younger expressions, which isn’t a bad thing at all.
This gives you the chance to discover new brands from both the independent and commercial markets.
Investing some time and energy into finding your new favourite can always be fun and it allows you to support up and coming producers at the same time.
All in all the shortage really isn’t that bad at all. Distilleries are learning more about how to cope with emergencies and consumers are now free to embrace new things.
You never know what good can come of disaster! (But again, not really that big of a disaster.)