Friday, 22 July 2016

No so wee dram

If the only way you could get to drink your favourite beers at home was by buying a case of 12 identical bottles costing over £20, you wouldn’t be too impressed. Yet that’s the situation that drinkers of premium spirits are faced with.

I enjoy a drop of good whisky (mainly, though not exclusively, single malt Scotch) and in the past would buy a bottle from time to time. However, I realised that I was generally drinking it as well as beer, not instead, and reached the conclusion that it was something best reserved for Christmas, birthdays and special occasions.

Yet you’re pretty much entirely restricted to full-size bottles that are likely to cost the best part of £30, if not more. A handful of products are available in 35ml or 20ml bottles, but the choice is limited to a handful of the top-selling brands, and you’re generally expected to pay a hefty premium in terms of price per ml. Or you have selections of miniatures aimed squarely at the gift market that are even worse value for money.

No doubt the spirits companies would respond that concentrating on full-size bottles is a strategy that has stood the test of time and works for them. However, I can’t help thinking they’re missing a trick, especially if they want to attract new and younger customers to the sector.

It’s even more relevant now that distillers are venturing into “craft” territory with different “expressions” of their core product, for example matured or finished in different woods. It would be interesting, say, to get three versions of the same whisky finished in plain oak, sherry and port casks, but you just don’t get that opportunity at an affordable price.


  1. That's what whiskey bars are for.

  2. There are a lot of single malts available in 50mL miniatures at prices comparable or less than buying a double in a pub or bar.

    I suspect that the logistics of stocking all these would be beyond the resources of all but a few specialists companies

  3. Point rather comprehensively missed there, folks...

  4. I get the point. Committing 20-40 quid or more on something newcomers to good whisky (or whiskey) may not like and will end up in a cupboard gathering dust is only going to put them off buying the stuff again. Some sort of introductory pack without the price premium for smaller container volumes would work. I'd certainly be interested. I dare say the marketing people would point out that doing that might erode their existing margins but I'd say the extra volumes would generate more cash in the bank.

    1. Nail hit firmly on the head there. It's about both providing a lower-price entry point and broadening choice.

      I'm sure that when single-bottle PBAs were first mooted, there were many naysayers who reckoned they would never catch on.

  5. I found a reasonable selection of smaller bottles at The Whisky Exchange. Not cheap, but not a total rip-off either. Doesn't really answer the basic point, though.


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