Today is an exciting day - I have finally managed to get my hands on some of the new Springbank Local Barley! Now, I must admit, my expectations are fairly (unreasonably?) high for this one as one of my favourite drams of all time is the 1966 Local Barley, which I first tried way back in 2003 at the Vienna Whisky Fair when the lovely chaps from the Austrian Whisky Society very kindly gave me a dram from their bottle in the bar after the show. I remember being absolutely blown away, not just by the whisky, but by the fact that a group of people I had never met before that weekend would share such an old, rare whisky with me, just because they thought I would like it and be interested to try it.
Released this month, this is retailing at around £95 a bottle, although I have seen some bottles sell at auction (yes, already!) for more than double that. Which brings me on to a rant that I have now and again when the subject of escalating whisky prices comes up. As consumers, we often complain that whisky is too expensive, that prices just keep rising. Which is true, but look at it from the producers point of view. How annoying must it be to see someone (or many someones in this case) buy your bottles, not to drink and enjoy, but to immediately flip at auction, making themselves more money per bottle than both the producer and retailer combined? If the market is willing to pay that higher price, then it is totally understandable that the producer would want to increase their share of the profits to allow them to reinvest in the business.
Using this Springbank Local Barley as an example, if Springbank were to charge an extra £20 a bottle (equating to an increase of about £50 on the retail price I would think) they would net themselves an extra £180,000 on a limited release of 9000 bottles such as this one. That’s a whole lot of man hours or casks or tonnes of barley that they are missing out on. In a way then, I think it is quite admirable that Springbank are only charging £95 a bottle for their latest Local Barley Release. I never thought I’d see the day when I considered £95 quid a reasonable price for a bottle of 16yo whisky but considering the price they could be charging (at least if auctions are anything to go by) and the increased costs associated with the local barley releases (small batch, lower yield, higher production costs etc) I think they’re doing pretty well.
Whisky Impressions is run by Kate Watt. Previously at Springbank and then Glenfarclas, I now design some whisky related stuff and write about it, and anything else that takes my fancy, on this blog.