Whisk(e)y musings read by tens of people worldwide.

Monday, September 25, 2023

All Of This Ends When We Say No

I’ve had full-bodied whiskies before, but this was different.  It was as though warm wax was being poured on my tongue.  Thinking an intruder had invaded my mouth, my salivary glands sprung into action.  But this was no intruder, this was the best whisky experience of my life.

-  Ryan, moderately popular whisk(e)y essayist, on trying Clynelish for the first time.

A relationship ending on good terms leaves you in emotional no man’s land.  You don’t hate the person, nothing really triggered the break up, you just grew apart.  Every serious whisky drinker understands this all too well.  The more you drink, the less you love the stuff you used to love.  My first crush was Cragganmore 12.  I won’t get into how we first met, I’ll save that for another day, but that whisky truly changed my life.  Sadly, that Ryan no longer lives here anymore.  Truth be told, I’ll probably never drink it again.  We’re no longer a good fit, but the feelings still remain.  Cragganmore 12, and the rest of the Classic Malts of Scotland range (Dalwhinnie 15, Lagavulin 16, Oban 14, Talisker 10), showed

“Wait, you forgot Glenkinchie.”

“I know what I wrote.”

As I was saying, the Classic Malts of Scotland range showed me how drinking could be more than just a holiday from my worries.  Each year, when Diageo announces their Special Releases lineup, I can’t help but think back to those early days when everything, except Glenkinchie, was exciting and new.

The Diageo Special Releases have been around since 2001.  At first, it was just a spattering of offerings.  A couple Taliskers and a Port Ellen.  They sold out in hours.  The following year, they released a 12-year-old from Lagavulin.  The 12 was whisky in its purest form.  Refill American oak, no water added.  In 2019, everything changed.  That’s when the marketing department stormed the capital.  The classic, iconic Lagavulin label was ditched for an image that looked like it belonged on the cover of a children’s book.  I get it.  People buy with their eyes.  That logic though, in this instance, is flawed.  People don’t buy $200 bottles of booze because they look “nice.”  They may buy $30 bottles for that reason, but not $200.  You know what type of person buys a $200 bottle of booze?  You.

This year, the bottle that excited me most after seeing the Special Releases list was the Clynelish 10.  It ticked off all the right boxes (for me anyway).  It was simply matured (just ex-bourbon), and presented at cask strength (no water added).  Like the Lagavulin 12 from days of yore, it was whisky in its purest form.  The best part?  The age.  10 years.  There’s no way it’ll be over $150 dollars.  How could it?  It’s only ten years old.  Last week, the Diageo Special Releases were made available for purchase in Canada.  Are you serious?  $250?  For a ten-year-old?

“I can’t.”

“You have to.  It could be one of the best whisky experiences of your life.”

“That price is ridiculous.  After shipping it’ll be $300.  For a ten-year-old.”

“That’s just the way it is now.”

“I can’t.”

I wasn’t alone.  It didn’t sell out in seconds.  If it was $100 cheaper it might’ve, but it wasn’t.  It was $250 ($300 after shipping).  Days later, it was still available.

“C’mon Ryan, you’ve spent $300 on a whisky before.  Aren’t you curious?”

“Of course I am, but not at that price.  I just can’t.”

We, as whisky buyers, are at a fork in the road.  We can accept these prices and just keep on keeping on, or we can stop buying (and start drinking our stash).  Demand for whisky has never been higher, and whisky, especially scotch, has never been more expensive to make.  I understand the economics of the situation, but all of that will change if we just say no.  One last thing.  There’s no way 29-year-old me would’ve taken a chance on Cragganmore 12 if it would’ve cost me the equivalent of a day’s worth of work.  Even if it had a flashy label.

Happy dramming,


Instead of dying she shall merely fall into a profound slumber that will last a hundred years. -  Charles Perrault,  The Sleeping Beauty in ...