Now, I am by no means a fortune teller and definitely am not professing to know what will happen but I’m willing to take a punt on what I think might happen in 2016 (or rather, what I hope will). We will revisit if I’m right in December 2016.
This could go one of two ways; either it shows I know my stuff and my ‘fancy a flutter’ mindset pulled it off or it will invite a bunch of banter and heckles from readers… I can’t wait!
1. Scotch whisky will reinvigorate itself
Still licking its wounds from its rather disastrous showing in Jim Murray’s proclamation of Yamazaki Sherry Cask then Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye being the best whisky in the world 2014 and 2015 respectively, Scotch will realise that it needed that kick up the posterior in order to reconnect with consumers and not to rest on its laurels.
2. More focussed limited edition releases
Two Islay distilleries released no less than seven limited editions between them this year, I think that as a whole we will see more limited editions on the mass market, but hopefully they are all truly unique from others released before to create interesting experiences or series of experiences.
There will be more GTR (Global Travel Retail) releases to notice globetrotting travellers, and bulk up the secondary market, but there will be a renewed focus on building the volume and brand awareness of mainline SKUs (Shop Keeper Units, essentially – the core range).
3. A plethora of refreshed brands from logo to packaging
With over 60% of whisky sales being as a gift, brand and packaging have never been more important in the purchase decision.
I think there will be a minimum of five mega brand redesigns in 2016 that will include packaging, colourways, logo tweaks and bottle enhancements. Mark my words. (Last year I predicted five also and was right – Glenfiddich, Wild Turkey & Ballantine’s Prestige being amongst them).
Long shot this one but I’d love to see it come to fruition. There is so much chat about NAS (No Age Statement) not being up to par or at least a negative perception towards the marrying of old and young whiskies for what is assumed to be business and financial reasons.
The long and short of it is that NAS is a result of increased demand far outstripping rates of increased supply over the last few years and decades so it is allowing producers to experiment and have a bit of fun with their whisky creation.
One thing that would help this is a little more transparency on the label as to what went into the bottle. i.e. percentage of 7YO, 12YO, 21YO that went into creating a lovely limited edition. SWA won’t currently allow this but after the whole This Is Not a Luxury Whisky debacle, I think the winds of change may need to be blowing a tad stronger to keep Scotch’s long term competitiveness strong.
Remember, Ardbeg only have one permanent product in their range that has an age statement and they do pretty well with relatively little negativity so hopefully everyone can calm the hell down and enjoy these whisky experiences.
Something I’ve long battled with when working with whisky brands is the perception of blends being second tier to single malts and this just is not true.
A victim of Glenfiddich’s success since launching the first single malt on the market in 1963, blends have slipped to b the Pepsi equivalent in the cola market when you ask for one in a bar. Surely we have all had that “Ah, well, sorry but we only serve Pepsi, is that ok?” moment?
I truly hope we can move past that in 2016 and that blends are given the credit they deserve for their craft, consistency and the way they can be truly experimental such as Compass Box and The Remarkable Malts ranges. The only way this one can be a success is if the mainstream blends reach that status, not just the super premium blends.
There you have it, GreatDrams whisky predictions (or maybe hopes?!) for 2016. What are yours? Do you think I’m right or way off? Let me know in the comments!