How the Scotch whisky industry is shaking up preconceptions of a centuries old drink
Hear from Cristina Diezhandino our Scotch Category Director and Managing Director Reserve.
Feature 08 FEB 2018
If I asked you to picture someone drinking Scotch, what image comes to mind? For a long time, this question used to bring up images of a living room, perhaps with a fireplace, chesterfield armchairs and someone, often alone, nursing a glass of Scotch whisky, possibly on the rocks. Whether this pictured a private members club or a high-end bar, the person most people imagined was male.
The reality today however is changing from that picture and is changing fast. Scotch is growing, buoyed by a diverse fan base of both traditional and new age drinkers, showing their appreciation for this amazing liquid in every corner of the globe.
From China, where over a hundred new whisky bars or Collectors Clubs have opened in the past year, to Russia where legions of fans are taking to Scotch, attracted to the provenance of the drink which has been made in Scotland for over 500 years. Chinese fans are showing their love with their wallets: Scotch whisky exports to the country rose by 45% to £27 million in the first half of last year. Meanwhile ‘Scotch tourists’ visiting Diageo’s distilleries across Scotland reached a record high of 440,260 in 2017, the highest figure reported to date and an increase of 15.2% on the previous year.
Growing international popularity has made a clear impact on Scotch’s performance. Just a few weeks ago we reported global organic net sales growth of 3% in Scotch whisky sales – with the world’s favourite whisky, Johnnie Walker, growing 7% and Black & White net sales soaring by 42%. It’s easy to understand why: no other spirit drink can offer the same range of tastes, textures and flavours as Scotch, from everyday versatile liquids to mix and drink on ice or with some garnish, to high value bottles for Whisky investors.
Haig Club, a single grain whisky which we launched with football legend and style icon, David Beckham, is a prime example of this versatility. With his very cool yet friendly style, David provides a new perspective of a whisky drinker today. He is someone to whom thousands of men and women can relate, and in partnering with him we inspired a whole new generation of Scotch drinkers to find their own way to enjoy the drink.
Global events like International Scotch Day are a crucial part of this collaborative effort to bring Scotch to new, diverse audiences and spark for those who might still see Scotch as off-limits. The Industry must strive to reach new audiences, through providing consumers with experiences that bring to life the wonders of Scotland, its incomparable artisanship in whisky making and the diversity of flavours this results in.
I feel very proud of being one of the guardians of Scotch’s history and traditions, and I know my passion is shared by hundreds of thousands across the world who delight in being part of a growing community. As the new generation of drinkers finds their own way of enjoying this great drink, whatever you think about Scotch, I invite you this International Scotch Day to sample, experiment, and find your favourite way to enjoy the taste of Scotland.