Limited edition whisky of how many?! Yeah, that’s still pretty limited.

let’s begin

I’m truly a sucker for a limited edition whisky from any of my favourite distilleries, whenever I hear they are releasing something limited I practically part water to be near my laptop in order to buy it. 

Why? I like the notion of limited edition whisky, it has given so much to our industry over the last twenty years but it also comes with baggage and a lot of misunderstanding. 

I chat to a lot of whisky folk, naturally, and at a recent event I was discussing the notion of how a limited edition of 23,000 could be classed as limited edition. 

The person I was speaking to claimed it was ridiculous and devalued the benefits of obtaining and stockpiling this whisky for future auction sales. 

Obviously I countered and did so with a rationale that seemed to make sense to all concerned. 

The limited edition whisky release may be 23,000, but that is 23,000 bottles globally and with most ‘big’ brands spanning 100 territories or more that means that the average volume of bottles in any given territory is 230. 

So in your country that is very limited edition! 

Granted that was a random set of values and did not account for any market prioritisation i.e. UK / US / Scandinavia / Poland / France likely to get a larger proportion of bottles vs. Latvia or Belgium but the point still stands. 

Say liberally that 60% were consumed and 40% retained for the secondary market that means 9,200 is the actual ‘limited edition’ figure after the initial release. 

As I said, this is a very rudimentary set of equations but they illustrate how even a large run limited edition is actually very limited indeed, especially when you consider that some brands ship hundreds of thousands of bottles of a single product.

Others, limited to the low hundreds like any release from SMWS for example, are truly unique, these are never to be created, released or in many occasions tried ever again. 

But they are also special as you have to buy a membership in order to buy the bottle whereas Highland Park Valhalla releases such as Highland Park Odin you don’t have to do that. 

Limited edition whisky is as special as you want to make it.

As I said I love a limited release whisky, it creates a talking point when I’m entertaining guests and fancy whipping out a few special drams, but at the same time ‘mainline’ releases that you will always see in stores are not to be sniffed at, you never know when they are going to be taken away from you.

Tags: bottlesdistilleriesDrinkWireLimited Editionlimited releaseWhisky
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My name is Greg, and I’m a brand strategy consultant, writer, speaker, host and judge specialising in premium spirits. My mission is to experience, share and inspire with everything great about whisky, whiskey, gin, beer and fine dining through my writing, my brand building and my whisky tastings.

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3 thoughts on “Limited edition whisky of how many?! Yeah, that’s still pretty limited.”

  1. Hi Greg, you might be right with the split to several countries, but limited is for me one to a few casks. Next level would be a (small) batch. I‘d go for a single cask from a Indie instead a limited release of 23.000 bottles.

    • Thanks Peter, and totally see your point too and I often buy single casks instead of regular ‘limited editions’ tho you’d be surprised how small a number of people get any limited editions that are released due to global allocations and people buying multiples etc.


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