Whisky (or other distillate) Snobbery?
Sorren Krebs over at OCDwhisky.com has written this post, which criticizes the whisky snobbery of many distilleries. And I can understand this cri de coeur without completely supporting it.
Look - I do find value for money brands great. I find it alluring, that some brands care about the fact, that their products to be consumed, instead of being traded - or being showpieces in rich men liquor cabinets. However - we are living in a capitalistic world, where the market just determines decisions of brands and companies.
But is it sustainable to hype your product and "premiumize" it?
There are many factors which determine, if a business survives on the long run. At this point (if in question) I would rather put my money onto The Macallan than on Glen Moray, when it comes to survival.
It is important, that we look at it not solely from the perspective of a seasoned and knowledgeable consumer (on-trade / off-trade) - it is important that we are looking at it from a business standpoint and an average consumer standpoint (market segment).
While a lot of "us" are complaining, that e.g. The Macallan is unrealistically expensive (and that the original style fades), most of us will rush to any event of the brand - and if we have got the cash, we are buying their products. This is madness.
Hence I can absolutely understand The Macallan why they are doing, what they are doing: it is a business and they are selling. Most wealthy customers are more brand focused than knowledgeable and it is a who's who game.
Good marketing is changing our behavior is deceiving us to buy products, which we are not necessarily need. We can also benefit of it - when we are using it for our advantage.
Let's not hack on one brand (which has excellent marketing) - let's compare Heaven Hill and Jack Daniel's.
I can say for sure, that both brands are competent whiskey makers. Whoever knows me, can tell to which brand I am more gravitated towards... However this doesn't mean, that I don't have respect of the men of Jack Daniel's (ups - it is out).
In fact, JD showed a lot of promise in the last couple of years, when they introduced Rye - and lately even some experimental series.
But let's also see, that Heaven Hill is the company, which "insiders" love to see as "role model". They are prioritizing their product first, second and third - even though they increased their prices, their products are still a great deal less expensive than the products of their competition. However I believe firmly, that for most people (other than insiders, experts and some connoisseurs), Heaven Hill isn't a name, which convinces with quality (even though their awards are multitude). Which casual whiskey drinker knows Elijah Craig, Evan Williams, Parker's Heritage or Rittenhouse?
Compared to this, who knows Jack Daniel's? Everyone. In a bar or club, people would buy shots (or a bottle) of JD. Even though you get a far more mediocre product and you possibly pay far more.
Jack Daniel's are heavily investing into Marketing and Heaven Hill is mostly investing into their quality and value for money.
While I am sure, that HH will just do fine in the future (their rye is legendary - and they don't even have sufficient quality for the global demand) - you know that Jack Daniel's is doing far better - even with their premium offerings Gentlemen Jack and Single Barrel and "God forbid" - Frank Sinatra Reserve .
So... instead of complaining about the status quo, I would rather shout out to insiders, craft-bartenders and connoisseurs to talk more about the Heaven Hill's or the Glen Moray's - which offer amazing value - spread the gospel instead of complaining about unaffordable products - and vote with your wallet!