People

Tomorrow's world

We recently teamed up with The Glenlivet for a readers' evening to discuss the world of whisky. We asked them about the future
By Dominic Roskrow
Chairman
Dominic Roskrow, Editor, Whisky MagazineThe participants
Pieter Badenhorst (PB) Teacher,Waltham Cross, 29
Svat Buchlovsky (SB) Consultant, Basingstoke, 52
Brendon Humphreys (BH) Development manager, Loughton, 29
Ian Kendal (IK) Teacher, Loughton, Essex, 34
Barry King (BH) Retired, Cheltenham, 67
Rae Sorensen (RS) National account manager, Bristol, 38
Steen Sorensen (SS) Buyer, Bristol, 44Q: Is the trade was doing enough to attract younger drinkers?BK:Well one idea would be to offer better value and discounts to attract a younger generation. However I don’t think people should just buy on price. I do not want to see a compromise on quality.SS: This is right, if the industry understands that the quality of the product is what people are looking for, they should protect it. If not the craft will disappear. We should take pride in this craft. If it disappears then malt whisky itself will disappear. New blends can pay the bills but I want the quality as well. Manufacturers must not undermine their own product.IK: I have to disagree, you must have bigger pockets than me. Discounting is a way in to the whisky for some people so the occasional cut price does grab people. This gives you the chance to try malts and once you do you are hooked. This happened with me.SS: It is the retailers who are driving the reductions, and sometimes the quality of the product they are offering is not the best. I agree with doing some promos, but I don’t think we should be going down the road where the price is the driver. I come from Denmark and my view is different of the United Kingdom markets. The quality of what we are putting in our mouths is going down as the industry needs to pay its bills. It might go so far as to say that if this trend continues whisky may as well end up as a factory product.BK: There is a need to keep it special and let the public know they are getting better value for money through a good product.SB: The main issue here is the blended whisky market.SS: Many blends are like a toothpaste and the public buy them because they are always the same. What we are talking about is different to that. I buy whisky because of the flavour, this is what really got me started off. Searching after all these flavours has become my passion now. It is like a hobby but much more than that. I could have bought a train set but I bought a subscription to Whisky Magazine instead.BK:We need to educate newcomers and younger people so they know what they are buying – perhaps the companies need to give their labels proper flavour descriptions.IK:Yes but these should tell it how it is not be some flowery tasting notes.SS: The French wine producers do this well with the names of grapes, so perhaps we could try something like this.BH: The industry should use the same words to describe whisky, this will help educate someone who does not know anything about whisky. It will let people recognise what they want and like.SB: The new world wines have done things differently, and it has worked really well. One way of saving whisky is that we could be making efforts to marketing it as an aperitif drink, before meals. We are talking about the blended whiskies. Also we could look at the digestif market where there is definitely a place for the single malts. This should be the main aim of the industry.SS: It should not only be treated as a before and after a meal drink. It works well with food, and I think it is especially good with certain cheeses, and this could help change its image if the marketing companies were to push it with food a bit.BK: Of course there are wines that go well with meals, but I am also happy choosing a whisky for a meal as well.SS:We have to look at it like a ring in the water, this starts with us and then will spread out.BH: I feel that the food association issue will not get an audience, people will always say that red wine goes with cheese and food before whisky.IK:The issue is about rules and we need to get away from the rules with whisky. There is something about breaking the rules, like having Laphroaig with coke as the peatyness comes through, and pairing whisky and food does not conform to these rules. This should be a message coming from the industry not just consumers.BK:This issue has to split both ways, we need to attract younger people but we also need to respect the opinions and tastes of established drinkers.SS: I sincerely believe that people want to try new things and will look out for them.IK:But we like tradition, and I do not believe that new things are the way forward.BH: I think it has to be a fine balance though, but what is certain is that whisky has to remain as it has been in the past.. We have to bring in new ideas as just that…new ideas, not on the back of any brands which might be tarnished by them. Some tradition has to remain.SS: I think there is a good future for whisky in general, but for Scotch whisky the next three years could see some big changes. Will we see more Indian whisky coming into the market?BK: There is definitely a big future. But I totally agree that Scotland needs to be aware – the industry has to be on its toes as there are big things coming out of Japan as well.