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Saturday, 12 October 2013

Scheming Barstewards

Somewhere in an alternative reality, we'd like to think a story like this has hit the British press this week.

---Friday 11th October---8.00am---News Report---City Focus---RSS Feed---

It has been on the cards for a while: the steady rise in whisky prices over the last decade has seen bottles previously in the £30 zone rise into the £60 region and £60 whiskies move up into the three figure arena.  

Prices are becoming eye-wateringly expensive, especially for the first time buyer, previously able to start their malt journey with a full sized bottle of Lagavulin 16 year old, that they're now often forced into a corner where the only available bottles within their budget are small, cramped miniatures of standard expressions which offer no room for growth and little investment potential. 

It is these increasingly expensive barriers to entry into the single malt whisky market that has prompted Chancellor George Osbourne into the unprecedented step of launching the Government's 'Right To Buy (Whisky)' programme. 

The programme, which offers a substantial contribution to the deposit on whisky purchases aims to help those who are looking to upscale their current dram. Under the scheme, financial help is available on purchases from £60 up to £350, valid at both regular retail outlets and at specialist online whisky auctions. 

It is hoped that the 'Right To Buy (Whisky)' programme will bring a greater number of consumers into the marketplace who have previously only been able to sample and effectively 'rent' single malt whisky by attending festivals or setting up blogs, in the hope of being sent examples of the distilled spirit. 

However, experts have warned that Scotch stocks are currently at an all time low and with an increased number of upwardly mobile consumers in the market, it could cause a significant 'whisky bubble' as buyers rush to make their new purchases.

'I'm desperate to buy,' said first time buyer Keith Peters 'but at the moment i'm just renting space off the Scotch Malt Whisky Society annually and sampling their bottlings.  I've resigned myself to never actually owning a bottle, but with this new scheme, it looks like i'll be able to afford the new Macallan 18 year old.' 

Elsewhere, Whisky Real Estate Agents, the traditional brokers for the more desirable end of the market have predicted the 'Right To Buy (Whisky)' programme will create a two-tier system: those with a huge whisky portfolio, who will simply cash in on their investments and those consumers who have reached a certain 'empty nest' stage in life and are looking to downsize from sort after 'listed' whiskies to more accessible, easy to maintain, less premium offerings. 

Hitting all the right buttons -
Boom time is predicted for whisky auction sites
'We're also going to see whisky owners have a complete change of heart and even consider moving abroad from the spirit,' thinks Angus McCormick, Head Investment Agent for Whisky-On-Demand.'You're potentially going to find some owners just upping sticks altogether from whisky and even migrating to Armagnac, Cognac or, maybe even as far afield as the Caribbean rums.'

So far, Government ministers have been reluctant to issue any statement as to the likely repercussions of the new scheme, which was rushed out ahead of schedule to coincide with the spate of new online auctions currently running. But drinks business analysts, such as Glen Hilowry at Drinks Only have issued a stark warning.

'The business is potentially on the brink, with limited resources, a large, opportunistic and enthusiastic new consumer base and the possibility of an explosive future for other spirits,' pointed out Hilowry.  'Im not going to be sat down watching this one unfold, that's for sure.' 


Until the scheme takes hold, we'd advise uncorking something special from your cabinet, pouring a large measure and holding on to it for dear life... ;-)