About this blog:

This blog will feature tasting notes, reviews, distillery visits and whisky news with focus mainly on Scottish single malts. This will sometimes be accompanied by politically incorrect (whisky) opinions. You have now been warned! :-)
The views expressed here are entirely my own, unless otherwise stated.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

NAS BASHERS AND WHISKY COMPANIES - AN OPINION PIECE

All right, its back in the trenches of the No-Age-Statement (NAS) mud slinging contest... or rather war this past day, when Diageo's Nick Morgan in this piece on March 25th 2015, speaks out on Diageo's approach to NAS whisky with statements about NAS-bashers being 'intemperate' and suffering from 'hot-headed ignorance'...

Really? Come on!!??!!
Needless to say this has sparked quite a few comments on social media like Facebook and Twitter already...


Before I go on, I'll like to clarify a few things...
  • Not all NAS whisky is bad whisky - there's some good ones out there too!
  • I do occasionally drink NAS whisky myself
  • If the price/quality ratio is right, I'll have a nip or two... hell, maybe even get an entire bottle!

But back to the statements from Nick Morgan...
I actually think the article is an attempt to put a sock in the whole NAS debate from Diageo's point of view. However, what its achieved is something entirely different and it has so far sparked comments on Facebook like:
"I don't see how anyone with half a brain can take the industry spin seriously no matter how much one admires the integrity and personal decency of the spokesperson. They are peddling a corporate line."
"It's all about profit. Use the barley strain that produces the most litres of alcohol per tonne instead of the strain that will produce the best quality spirit and then bottle it before the angels can garner their full share."
"What pisses me off is that I have no problem with NAS whisky as such, what annoys me is the spin put on it and the price. Two reasons whisky costs as much as is it does is evaporation and storage costs, yet younger whisky is still being sold at aged prices and it's not right."
"To be fair the Whisky Exchange are a great shop but they're hardly going to knock a major supplier are they? I won't be buying any NAS Single Malts, my choice."

I've called this post an 'opinion piece', so I'd better get started with some of my own and some from a few (many, even?) of the whisky drinkers I know:
  • Most of us are aware that whisky is a business! Not philanthropy!
  • Most of us are not hotheads - we're just passionate about your product!
    There
    is a difference! If that isn't brand loyalty, I don't know what is!
  • No, you will not be taking the piss, with younger whisky being sold to us at higher prices while at the same time claiming quality remains the same as its older aged versions...
and yes, I'm aware that I'm with my last bullet here, I'm also here stating that older is better... hell, even in the industry, Diageo's biggest competitor, Pernod Ricard, had a campaign back in 2010 that was called 'Age Matters'... 

Here's some interesting figures from that campaign:

• 94% of consumers believe that age is an important indicator of quality
• 93% believe that older whiskies are better quality
• 92% prefer to buy whisky with a clear age statement
• 97% agreed that whiskies which claim to be aged should clearly state the age on the bottle
• 89% look for an age statement when buying whisky
• 86% expect to pay a price premium for whiskies with an age statement

I doubt the numbers have changed much in 5 years and assuming the numbers are the same for Diageo customers, now suddenly the opinion of almost 90% of customers doesn't count when it suits your business plan? and you say you haven't got enough supply to meet demand?

The reason for your current jam you can find in your companys predictions for the future. It sure sounds like the people in strategic planning department have failed... I know I'm pointing fingers back at you here, but since I can't offer you a solution to force mature your existing stock, its what I do...

I also know that passing the bills for their incompetence on to the consumer is the way all companies, hell - even governments deal with bad decisions, but it doesn't mean we have to like it...

I, for one, like to get kissed before I get screwed!

Looking in from the outside, it looks and sounds like a maximisation of profit is taking place at the moment. Whisky companies have probably recognised that brand loyalty among new spirit drinkers is a fleeting thing and that you need to cash in on these newcomers when you can...

Picture from wondergression.com

You are, however, doing so without regard to loyalty from existing and long term customers who have supported you through hard times earlier on when whisky wasn't as big as it is at the moment.

You can only hope these customers will stick by you when hard times return - because hard times will return at some point, but right now you are alienating them with underaged and overpriced whisky... and with name-calling!

Me? as often as possible, I'll stay clear of NAS whisky except for research purposes... which, in reality means I'll not be spending my money it except for when there's price/quality ratio match. 

It's often been mentioned elsewhere that there's only one way to get rid of NAS and that's not to buy it. Well, I agree... Money talks in the world of whisky and shareholders want their dividends  - and if they don't get it, strategies change...

So are we down to a campaign now like the one that swept through the beer world? CAMRA (http://www.camra.org.uk/)

Only it'll be CANAS then... Campaign against No Age Statement

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