Blog: Chris MercerWill Aldi give Scotch whisky a headache?

Chris Mercer | 22 November 2011

Aldi has set a few hearts racing in the world of whisk(e)y by daring to sell a bottle of 40-year-old Scotch for just GBP49.99 (US$78), a sixth of its market value.

What an audacious marketing gimmick and what a walloping corker of a move for the Scotch industry to swallow. Obviously, not everyone thinks Glenbridge 40-Year-Old is a bad idea, because somebody has given Aldi the liquid - although we're not quite sure who, yet.

There are, though, going to be people out there who think this is beyond the pale. German discounters Aldi and Lidl have introduced a new dimension - a no-frills, cheap dimension - to food retailing in several countries, including the UK. This is much to the chagrin of some in the industry. Aldi's expansion into discount Scotch, then, will be greeted with a certain amount of suspicion, if not outright annoyance.

For a start, it asks all sorts of difficult questions. How much is 40-year-old Scotch really worth on average? Does the age matter, or does the marketing matter? Some of the early reviews of Glenbridge have been really rather positive. That said, it's hard to know whether this is the result of sound whisky-making or the reviewer's light relief at not imbibing something akin to 40-year-old battery acid. Expectations are everything in this game.

This is clearly a gimmick from Aldi and we're not about to see an influx of 40-year-old Scotch hitting its 450 stores on a regular basis. Only 3,000 bottles will be released this time.

In that context, I don't see the launch as negative. It might even do distillers a favour by giving consumers a glimpse of something better. Maybe, after trying this, they'll be more willing to spend a few more quid in the future.



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