Photo credit: Danny Nicholson via Foter.com / CC BY-ND

Whisky lovers are definitely at their game by getting as many bottles of aged Scotch that they could get their hands on. But is all this love for the Scottish nectar draining the world’s supply? Merchants are saying that they are trying to catch up. But why is there so much demand? What makes whisky a good option instead of beer or wine? And why are supplies dwindling?

Whisky and its rise to fame

Whisky earned widespread popularity today because it is multi-faceted. The drink is no longer limited to Scotland with over 20 countries now producing their own. Sales have also seen a steady growth thanks to an increasing demand in global travel retail, and it also has an emerging market in a growing middle class in South America, Asia, and Africa.

Over the past decade, Scotch whisky has definitely enjoyed an impressive growth on a global scale. This is evidenced by the total value of exports going up by 74% since 2004, while single Malt skyrocketed to a whopping 159%. Whisky has gone so popular and very much preferred that it even overpassed vodka sales in the US. The success can be largely attributed to several trends around the craft, its revivalism, and premiumisation, which has driven the cultural shift on the public perception of the drink and their attitude towards it.

Another leverage for the popularity of this drink are mixology trends and mainstream pop culture. Bartenders have learned to stretch the beauty of the whisky thanks to the revival of bartending as a craft, and this is evident in the biggest trend in contemporary mixology we are seeing today. Along with that, TV shows and movies like Mad Men, The Great Gatsby, Horrible Bosses and Ron Burgundy Anchorman introduced whisky and golden age cocktails to new audiences. This gives whisky brands the ability to contemporize and be more relevant to a wider group of consumers today.

So why is there much love for whisky?

It can be said that whisky has a broad appeal and usage. It gives drinkers a wide spectrum of price range and taste profiles, which is why it is not only limited for those with deeper pockets to enjoy. In fact, a large chunk of the middle class is burgeoning to be the largest consumers, and they can get even the best quality without breaking the bank. Whisky has proven itself to be a reliable staple.

Another reason why it also gathered a huge gathering is because it also appeals to the younger drinkers. Several brands have already taken the effort to take the younger generation on board. It shows this younger market that whisky in not just an old gentleman’s sip. Whisky can also be mixed, it’s a shot, and it can be a very titillating drink.

With so many appreciating its taste, whisky now becomes an industry that is struggling to distill enough to meet the global demand it faces today.

Is the world really running out of whisky?

Singapore is among the biggest Scotch whisky drinkers in the world, as the country was said to ship in nearly 13 bottles per capita every year. Beyond the lion city, the demand has reached fever pitch. CNN Money reports that in the US alone, the annual sales almost tripled between 2002 to 2015. China has also warmed up to whiskies, particularly the 30-40-year-olds. Hong Kong is also following suit as it was also reported that the world’s most expensive Scotch in the country. This shows that 20% of all Scotch exports are going to Asia.

The global demand for whisky consumption triggered a shortage in aged Scotch. This caused distilleries scrambling to meet the demand. With the shortage now upon us this also translates to price jumps. And this can definitely rob many whisky lovers of their joy, especially when it is expected to double or even triple as it could take several years to recover.

Why is there a shortage of whisky?

The reason for the shortage is the fact that the production of Scotch whisky is a lengthy process. It is required by law to be aged for at least three years, and if you are talking about the great ones, it takes much longer. This implies that way back in the 80s and 90s distillers had to already guess how much Scotch they would be selling this year. And it may be hard to tell it then because those were the days when Scotch was something old people drink, and not some beverage cool hunks of today toast with. They are blind-guessing, to say the least.

Today, distilleries are quickly trying to catch up with production. Charlie Whitfield, a brand manager for the Scotch whisky firm Macallan, told CNN that they are working “full capacity – seven days a week, 24 hours a day. We just need to be patient and allow those casks to work their magic.” There are approximately 20 million casks that are currently maturing in Scotland warehouses today. But it is also expected that the shortage can last up to 10-15 years which could push prices up considerably.



Photo credit: marsupium photography via Foter.com / CC BY-SA

It’s interesting that the ultimate challenge of the whisky industry is in predicting how much a company sells or unable to sell by the time that Scotch whisky matures. Distillers cashed in for research into how they can predict their production to match customer consumption. The challenge is on how to balance how much is produced, the company’s ability to sell it. Another reason why distillers came face to face with this bump in the road is because they never expected whiskies to be as successful as they have become. Even American distillers who are churning out bourbon whisky is facing a similar situation.

So for now, it is best that you get your hands on a good bottle of whisky right away before prices start to shoot up exponentially. With Singaporeans having a big appetite for the grit and heavy taste of good whisky, the experience is definitely worth every penny. But we might as well brace ourselves that these cravings just might be a little heavy on the pockets for a few years.

If you are looking for good wines or Scotch whisky in Singapore, The Standish has a wide selection of vintage brands for you. Visit our store today and get your fill of the best stuff!