Comment - Spirits - Buxton: Banging the Dram
By: Ian Buxton
Augmenting our spirits coverage, Ian Buxton will be casting his eye over the brown side of the sector on a monthly basis.
This month, spirits commentator Ian Buxton ponders the conclusions bandied about following the publication of Scotch whisky export numbers for the first six months of 2016.
As just-drinks white spirits commentator, Richard Woodard, noted earlier this month, we are experiencing a latter-day Gin Craze. But, here in the 21st Century, this is no Hogarthian excess: This boom in small batch spirits is a further manifestation of the global development of craft distilling. Far from slowing down, the craft distilling movement appears to be gathering pace and attracting ever greater interest from consumers and industry giants.
Although the global sales of Scotch whisky may have declined by around one quarter in volume terms in the past decade - slipping by 3% in 2014 alone, if you believe the optimistic statements of industry leaders, you'd be forgiven for thinking that all is for the best in this best of possible worlds.
Earlier this month, at the annual CAGE conference in London, LVMH CFO Jean-Jacques Guiony presented an eye-opening look at how the luxury goods category operates. What can the spirits category learn from Guiony’s observations? Ian Buxton takes a look.
Considering the disparity of performances from Cognac brand owners in China, I've been looking at what's really happening within the country, and have been talking to some brands about their varying strategies and view of future prospects. First, let's look at the numbers.
The news that Hunter Laing & Co has committed GBP8m (US$11.4m) to move from independent bottler to full-blown distiller by building its own, brand-new distillery on Islay got me thinking: What makes the place so special? After all, it's hardly the only Scottish island with a distillery.
Much has been written recently about the impact of the boom in craft distilling on the spirits sector. Depending on your point of view it offers colour, variety and innovation or possibly is nothing more than a minor diversion of little long-term significance and trivial volumes.
Much has been made of the effect that the rise of the craft spirits segment has had on the broader spirits category. Ian Buxton, however, believes that effect isn't quite as powerful as some have previously feared.
The brown spirits category continues to see segments rise and fall in popularity. This month, Ian Buxton looks at rye, which has surprised many with its recent return to form.
Ian Buxton has just returned from Cognac. Much as he expected to see a gloomy fug over the region, he was surprised by the upbeat air among its spirits producers.
The clamour in recent years to enter the Irish whiskey category suggests that the segment is poised to become the next big thing. But, with one brand dominating the sector massively, are the prospects for growth really all they're cracked up to be? Ian Buxton considers.
In the battle for consumers' hearts and minds, are drinks companies overlooking the widely-held definitions of words and phrases? Is there leeway to argue that certain terms may not mean exactly what consumers perceive? Ian Buxton considers the evidence.
A storm appears to be brewing in the spirits category and it's a storm borne out of marketing. Can spirits companies settle the terminology tiff before things get out of hand, or is it too late? Ian Buxton investigates.
In spirits, the craft segment is making hay, with consumers buying into the category's more artisanal, less global approach. But, where is the line drawn between craft distilling and mass distilling? Ian Buxton investigates.
The Scotch whisky category appears to have hit a tipping point. What does the future look like for the until-recently booming category? Ian Buxton voices his concerns.
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