CHRISTMAS is a time for gift giving. And few gifts have been as enduringly popular down the years – especially in Scotland – as a good bottle of whisky.
Christmas is the perfect time of year to drive purchases of Scotch whisky, according to Pernod Ricard UK, which says sales increase 68% in the eight weeks ahead of the big day, as shoppers look to trade up and select the perfect present.
The supplier has put five of its best at the heart of its Christmas campaign for 2017. The ‘Expertly Selected’ range includes five of its top-performing premium Scotch whiskies: The Glenlivet Founders Reserve, Chivas Regal 12 YO, Scapa Skiren, Aberlour 12 YO and Ballantine’s Finest.
Pernod Ricard advises retailers to begin ranging these products from early November to ensure maximum visibility throughout the season, ensuring they are front of the mind and store of choice when it comes to important purchases in the following weeks.
Channel director for impulse James Middleton said: “Our message is simple: ignore premium this Christmas and you will miss out. We are seeing success within the on-trade, where premium accounts for 50% of all spirits sold, which tells us consumers are willing to spend more on premium spirits.
“In comparison, 18% of all spirits sold within the convenience channel are premium, so for retailers, it’s about upping volumes to make the most of the obvious opportunity.
“Malt whisky experienced a strong uplift of 90% last year, however, only 51% of shoppers have a brand in mind when they enter a store. So, we’ve created ‘Expertly Selected Whiskies’ to help them navigate between brands and pick the right whisky for the right occasion or recipient. The campaign calls out helpful flavour cues, ratings and reviews.”
The months leading up to Christmas are usually when the whisky category sees a flurry of activity, with distilleries across the country unveiling their latest premium expressions. This year is no exception, with a number of new bottles (at various price points) already announced.
Malt whisky experienced a strong uplift of 90% last year, however, only 51% of shoppers have a brand in mind when they enter a store.
Among these is the Benromach Chateau Cissac Wood Finish 2009.
The latest edition to the Benromach Distillery Company Ltd’s Wood Finish portfolio, the single malt whisky is said to offer a unique flavour profile as a result of a final finishing period in wine casks from the French wine region of Haut-Médoc near Bordeaux.
Benromach Distillery manager Keith Cruickshank said: “It certainly has plenty of character so I’m sure this new single malt will be appreciated by new and existing Benromach fans around the world.”
RRP is £39.75.
• Released last month, The Balvenie Peat Week (2002 Vintage), is a single-vintage bottling, limited and rare by nature, reimagining a classic Speyside-style whisky with a peated expression.
The Balvenie’s malt master David Stewart MBE said: “The new Peated Week bottling is a result of our continued efforts to innovate and trial flavours not typically associated with The Balvenie. The expression is testament to the freedom we enjoy as a family company, and shows The Balvenie in an unexpected way, yet still remaining true to the distillery style our drinkers enjoy.”
RRP is £60.
• Campbeltown whisky distillery Glen Scotia has unveiled the latest expression in its collection – Glen Scotia 18 Year Old Single Malt.
Master blender for Glen Scotia Michael Henry said: “Glen Scotia distillery is one of only three surviving Campbeltown Scotch whisky distilleries and much of the original design has remained the same over that time, with the stillroom, dunnage warehouse and fermenters all dating back to the 19th century.
“Glen Scotia 18 Year Old is bottled at 46% ABV, natural colour and is non-chill filtered ensuring the whisky’s rich smooth taste and distinctive flavours are preserved. A true taste of Glen Scotia and Campbeltown.”
Glen Scotia 18 Year Old is priced at £85 for 70cl.
• Jura Single Malt Whisky has unveiled a new limited-edition expression created in celebration of Jura’s community and the team of distillery workers who craft the whisky.
Named One And All, it is non-chill filtered and natural in colour, raising a glass to the distillery team and island community who make the whisky what it is today. The small batch release (51% ABV – cask strength) is available with an RSP of £120.