Stateways March-April 2012

StateWays is the only magazine exclusively covering the control state system within the beverage alcohol industry, with annual updates from liquor control commissions and alcohol control boards and yearly fiscal reporting from control jurisdictions

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Scotch: Blending the Old and the New Balancing tradition and innovation, Scotch producers are offering more interesting and complex products than ever before. By Robert Plotkin hile dwarfed by the relative size of the bourbon and Canadian whisky markets, Scotch remains one of the identifiable standard bearers of the urbane consumer. Its cache of quality, breadth of expression and dynamic range of flavor has made Scotch a global heavyweight. A closer look at the numbers reveals some inter- esting trends. According to the latest statistics in the just-released Handbook Advance 2012, published by the Beverage Information Group, the Scotch market dipped 1.4% to 8.47 million cases in 2011, roughly half the depletions of bourbon and Canadian during the same period. While the overall Scotch category shrank marginally, the sales of single malts grew last year a robust 8.4%. Value brands of Scotch—both domestic or imported—continued to lose ground. Even though Scotch is not the largest of the whiskey markets, the category still manages to carry more gravitas than other whiskeys. Single malts have been offering more expressions, superb marketing and packaging and a strong academic/educational bent. Collectively, they're positioned in a sophisticated, upscale way, lending an importance and weight that's disproportionate to case sales. And, despite the difficult W ROBERT PLOTKIN is a judge at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition and author of 16 books on bartend- ing and beverage management including Secrets Revealed of America's Greatest Cocktails. He can be reached at or by e-mail at StateWays s s March/April 2012 economy of the last several years, Scotch distillers have been anything but complacent. To the contrary, they have been working to raise the bar and improve on what they've offered in the past. And great examples of this quest can be found throughout the often overlooked and unheralded category of blended Scotch. Blended Gems y their very nature, these blended Scotch whiskies are artistic endeavors, the combination of dozens of spirits varying in ages and compositions, produced at a number of distilleries. B For retailers, selling these products requires focusing their efforts on educating consumers. Hand- selling and personal recommendations can be immensely helpful when it comes to selling Scotch. As such, the retail trade is the single most important entity in the education of consumers. Retailers and their staff are perceived as experts and the more knowledge they can impart to the consumer, the more they will enjoy and experiment within the category. These are certainly the best of times for devotees of exceptional Scotch. The biggest names in blended Scotch have extraordinary line extensions. Here is a brief list (not comprehensive) of some blends with their characteristics that you can use to help educate consumers. • BALLANTINE'S —One of the world's most famous and successful brands of blended Scotch. The brand's 30-Year Whisky is highly aromatic with a light silky 29

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