1. More people drink quality whisky. This isn't just the BRIC countries, Brasil, Russia, India and China, entering the premium market. As money has started rolling in in these countries, a lot of people, as these countries has HUGE populations are getting more money in their hands. And they buying cheap local booze and replace it with more expensive "premium" spirits (for some reason a bottle of spirit is more expensive than a bottle of booze)
Well, this has mainly affected the blend market. Johnnie Walker is extremely popular in asia. The price of better blends hasn't really gone up where I live so if I want a bottle of Johnnie Walker Black I have no reason to complain.
But a lot more is drinking quality single malt whisky in the traditional markets, and with single malts being such a relative small part of whisky the business, a rise of consumers in this field is something that can be felt.
2. Some whiskies ARE getting rare. Quite a lot of distilleries were closed in the early eighties, Port Ellen, Brora being the most famous but also Dallas Dhu, Coleburn, Convalmore, Banff, Glen Albyn and St. Magdalene. Rosebank, Imperial, Caperdonich are later closures. According to Malt Whisky Yearbook, there is approximately 28 closed distilleries with bottles on the market. Most of these will not reopen. And their whiskies are getting rare. Some of them very rare. And some are very good and very popular. This will of course cause a price jump. Demand and availability. Add to this distilleries with large gaps in production years, resulting in big holes in stock. Ardbeg and Springbank just to name a couple.
3. Price as a marketing tool. Like it or not, whiskies are brands, just like Heineken, Nike and Levi's. And there's a bit of a dogfight being the "finest" distillery out there. It seems like they all want a "THE" in front of the distillery name and a 10000£ 50yo in a bullet proof display cabin in the visitor centre. Our whisky is the most expensive and that by all logic means its also the best..
4. We are fashion muppets. Like it or not, whiskies are brands, just like Heineken, Nike and Levi's. And consumers are slaves to fashion trends, and so are whisky consumers. Popular Names, Fancy Boxes and Crystal Bottles sells just as well as the actual quality of the whisky. I've seen people looking on a designed bottle package with the same adoration in their eyes as when they look on their newborn child. And when Highland Park release their overpriced King Cucumber the 4th special release the internet is drowning with fans moaning they can't get hold of a bottle (those feeckin ebayers bought them all). Shut the fuck up, it takes 5 minutes internet research to find a brilliant bottle from some lesser known distillery, or one of those weird german independant bottler with home made labels, that is a lot better whisky, cheaper, but unfortunately doesn't come with any bragging rights.
But in the end I have a painful suspicion that the main reason for whisky getting more expensive is
5. Drinkers, like me, hoarding. I buy a lot more than I can drink. I got "a few" bottles in my stock (IT*S NOT A COLLECTION). I have continuesly bought more than I can drink. So have more or less everybody I know in the world of whisky. The amount of bottles stocked up on the shelves of whisky drinkers outnumbers the numbers of bottles that collectors have in their collections. Tenfold. I bet you!
Off course the limit between drinkers and collectors is blurred, but I tell you something. The next whiskycrash will come the day us drinkers decide to drink what we have in our cabinet and stop buying!
Me and a whisky collection. Not mine though!
That said, I don't like ebayers making profit of releases from last week. It's just bad whisky karma !. But hey, we live in a capitalist society and they only take advantage of the fashion slaves, don't they ?
Every Year I make a new year resolution not to buy more whisky bottles and drink less. I did so this new year. It didn't go very well, I allready ordered three bottles. But now it's over. No more purchases!!
Until I get one more whiskycupboard, I am out of space
Happy New Year. May your drams in 2012 be as good as the ones I had in 2011 :-)