Blog: Chris Brook-CarterSpirited away

Chris Brook-Carter | 29 November 2004

I was up in Speyside in Scotland last week to be briefed by Diageo on the global roll-out of its Johnnie Walker Green Label, a pure malt blend that the company hopes will deliver some well-needed innovation into the category. While there, our group of journalists got to visit the Cardhu distillery, the production location of the now infamous Cardhu Pure Malt brand.

The distillery is now the only place in the UK where you can buy the pure malt version of this Scotch. It was taken out of production when much of the Scotch industry rounded on Diageo because it felt that by turning a brand that was once a single malt into a blend of different malts, Diageo had undermined the malt category and was confusing consumers.

Whether you sided with Diageo or not, and few did, it is hard to argue against the fact that this was an original solution to a growing problem in the Scotch industry. While the malt category is providing all the real momentum for the industry, the limited production of single malts is hampering the potential to leverage that momentum.

The moral issues aside, it was also interesting to hear that a number of journalists actually preferred the taste of the pure malt to the original single malt.

The trip north of the border was particularly well-timed for me as we launch the first of our annual reports into the global malt whisk(e)y market this week. The dynamism of this category is demonstrated in our estimations that that by 2010 the value of the global market for malt whisky will rise by over 70% to around US$1.2bln - great news for Scotch if it can exploit this growth to the benefit of the whole industry.


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