Friday, February 8, 2013

Prestige Distilleries

There's a few distilleries out there that is considered prestige distilleries by us, the whisky drinkers.

Then there is some distilleries that is considered prestige distilleries by investors/collectors

There are also some distilleries that are considered a prestige distillery by themself!

These three catagories are mostly overlapping but not always.

In my opinion prestige distilleries are based on performances in the past. The following 5 distilleries are what immediately springs into my mind

Bowmore, Ardbeg, Brora, Port Ellen and Springbank

Who didn't wish they stocked up on 60's Bowmore and 70's Ardbeg? A lot wish they bought more Springbanks in the 90's and early naughties when they had several legendary bottlings out. I do for sure.

Port Ellen Pagodas

These distilleries have one thing in common. What they bottle now is no way as good what they bottled 10-20 years ago. They might have one rare bottling occasionally at an astronomical price, but we just don't see them spitting stellar bottlings out as they used to do. There are perfectly good explanations for this. Stock and demand is the main factors here, but also change in production methods.

Nothing wrong with what they bottle today, but these distilleries has more or less gone from legends to distilleries more or less like all the other (a little above average at least, in my opinion, I'll give them that much)

The two other distilleries I mentioned are closed distilleries and we are simply just slowly running out of casks available. But again, a lot of good whiskies bottled/made in the past, not so much today!

So what is the prestige distillery or distilleries of the tenners ?. I have a hard time picking anyone out in particular. For a distillery to be a prestige disillery in my opinion they need to bottle something extraordinary regularely. Some would say that "extraordinary" and "regular" are paradoxial if used in the same context, but if we look at the five distilleries mentioned I hope you can see my point

Balvenie is a good candidate, with their tun 1401 series! Glendronach and Benriach maybe, with their semiprolific single cask bottlings ? Maybe, maybe not

A lot of big distilleries has a huge amount of casks, maybe they just choose not to bottle 50 supreme single casks a year, I suspect a few of them could...

Another good candidate is Buffalo Trace with their van Winkle and BTAC series

(Sku think they might be in a decline : Is the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection in Decline)

There is a bottling series out there which I know will get legendary status in a few years from now. I have chosen to keep quiet about it (at least online) We all know what huge mistake it was telling everybody how great Ardbeg was 10-15 years ago. I can't get it anymore now that everybody wants it :-)

But end of the day, I think the whisky market lacks bottlings that are the legends of today. There are many good bottlings out there, but they seem to be random and not particular attached to certain distilleries.

Just recently we had a "huge" stock of Caperdonich 72's and old Karuizawa, but these are also dissapearing and examples of something available in the past

I still have to search my mind to think of any distillery that can be named the "legend of today." Well, maybe the future will tell what I don't see/miss today

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