Sadness on the scotch front

This bit of news makes me terribly sad:

Whisky-loving Maritimers face a crisis of the spirit

High global demand for single-malt Scotch puts Nova Scotia at risk of running out of key brands, draining the rest of the East Coast dry

November 7, 2008

HALIFAX -- The province may be named for Scotland, but that's not enough to bump Nova Scotia up the queue as demand outstrips supply of the world's most popular single-malt whiskies.

And aficionados won't be able to dodge a looming provincial shortage with a quick road trip. Hugely popular single malts could soon be unavailable across the Atlantic provinces, a trend retailers blame on booming demand for premium spirits in Russia and China.

With little new product expected to come in, liquor corporations are warning they could run out of such iconic Scotch brands as Talisker and Oban.
"No Lagavulin? No Talisker? Those are staples," Sasho MacKenzie said last night as he sampled at a tasting event put on by the Nova Scotia Liquor Corp.

He said he's been drinking single malt for only about five years but was "thoroughly addicted." A fan of strongly peated whiskies, he struggled to think of a label that could replace his usual choices.

Kyle Carpenter called the news "devastating," but added he's well stocked to ride out the shortage. He's got a case of his drink of choice set aside.
Maritime aficionados of the so-called Classic Six whiskies - Cragganmore, Dalwhinnie, Glenkinchie, Lagavulin, Oban and Talisker - are soon going to be out of luck if they don't plan ahead. And for some unhappy drinkers, the end is already in sight.

"If you love your Lagavulin, break out your credit card and go get it," warned Rick Perkins, spokesman for the NSLC, who said they had fewer than 50 bottles of the 16-year-old product in the province.

Others he cited on the critical list in Nova Scotia were the Lagavulin Distiller's Edition, two whiskies from Oban, a Talisker and a Dalwhinnie, all distributed by the global giant Diageo.

"There are no ready substitutes that have the same characteristics," Mr. Perkins said. "These are the top of the top; these are brand names in the single malt world. There's a reason they're so popular."

The retailer has not been allocated any new Lagavulin or Oban through all of 2009. They will get a few hundred bottles of the 10-year-old Talisker, most of it in the spring, but none of the 18-year-old. In the last quarter of the year they expect to receive no single malt at all from Diageo.

New Brunswick is facing shortages of many of the same whiskies, as well as the labels Brora and Clynelish.

On Prince Edward Island, there's enough Talisker and Oban to tide them over until spring. That is, under normal circumstances.

"I'm sure if Nova Scotia and New Brunswick have a shortage we'll be out in no time," said Brooke MacMillan, CEO of the island's Liquor Control Commission. "We're just a short drive away."

Liquor corporation officials in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick believe they are suffering from Diageo's desire to divert stock to more lucrative markets overseas.
The company makes no bones about its unhappiness with profit levels in Canada.

"In Canada, the taxation levels and markup structure in place, render the profitability of scotch (and all spirits) to be significantly lower than the majority of other countries around the world," according to information provided to one of the Maritime liquor corporations.

"When there is pressure on stocks due to high demand ... companies take into consideration factors such as value generated when deciding where to sell."
That information referred to reduced supplies of blended whisky but insiders at the Maritime liquor corporations say they have been told by senior Diageo officials that their single-malt access is falling victim to the same logic.

Diageo spokesman Bob Paling acknowledged "there will be some markets that suffer" since these products are manufactured in limited quantities, making it hard to meet the demand.

He said that the surge of wealth in China and Russia has prompted new thinking in the premium spirits world but denied there is a direct link between Scotch shortages in the Atlantic provinces and these booming markets.
He said that this is just the normal ebb and flow of the business and that the situation could always change.

"There will be more Lagavulin in the future," he said.

All of that said, any and all of you are welcome to serve as whisky mules if you're passing through the region from the "have" provinces, or from the US. In the meantime, I may be forced to roll my nickels and pennies to buy one last bottle of the good stuff before it's all gone from local stores. Speaking of which, I still have to post about the bottle of Peat Monster that I finally tasted.

Posted bythemikestand at 8:06 AM  

3 stepped up to the mike:

Brianna said... 1:02 PM, December 16, 2008  

am i incredibly naive to think you could buy your booze online? said... 4:48 PM, December 16, 2008  

Saddest. Post. Ever.
Will you be all right? No. I am not patronizing... Well, maybe a little.

OperaWife said... 5:49 PM, December 19, 2008  

Hey I nominated you for an award over on my blog.

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