I’ve had a few jobs over my working life, from construction to retail, and they have all had one thing in common at some point and that is the customer is always right. In the times where I’ve had to deal with the customers information has been key. This could be anything from knowing exactly when construction would be finished down to the minute, to being able to tell the customer all the ingredients in a cake being sold.
Now I’ve been drinking whisky (to be precise Scotch whisky) since I was old enough to ask, like most children from the 70’s I was sneaking a dram or two under the watchful eye of a relative from a early age. Having been involved with whisky for so long I’ve seen the industry evolve. In my opinion from an industry that cared more about its profits than its heritage and the consumers were of a similar mind, to one where the consumers now care about the history behind their favourite brands. Consumers now having much more access to information and a better knowledge of the products as such they are becoming the new experts. This has had the benefit of making the distilleries think about how they market their products and incorporate the heritage behind them in this process.
We would be up in arms if certain bits of information were withheld from us, who would buy the new Mini car if you could not find out what the service interval was or what MPG it got.
Now I know that this is a bit extreme but the principal is the same, we all know we can buy our dram of choice and it comes from X distillery or is blended using X&Y distilleries.
We also understand that the age statement is not necessarily the true age of the components that make up the whisky but just the youngest.
So why is it wrong for a company to be open about the components used to make its whisky expressions, to give us the consumers access to information we should be interested in.
Yes I’m talking about the recent furore about Compass Box Whisky and their last two releases, with them giving us the complete brake down on the whiskies used in making them. Including the distilleries used to the type of cask each was matured in, the age of each and what percentage that is in the make up of the expression.
Now to me the law they have broken just doesn’t fit in with the society of today, we have access to vast quantities of information and to have a law that forces companies to withhold it. Well it just seems so out dated in our modern society and that’s before you even start to look at how ludicrous it is, for example Diageo can not gives a concise break down of any scotch whiskies it owns but it can give us a break down of its bourbons. Their latest release “The Gifted Horse bourbon” in their press release gave a complete break down, including distilleries, age and type of whiskies/bourbons used and the exact percentages used.
So in an age where the customer wants as much information as they can get, why do we have a law that prevents this and feels like it’s doing more harm than good to the industry. Now I know that the law was created to help protect the consumers from unscrupulous companies that only wanted to release the information that suited them, but if a company wants to be completely transparent then why shouldn’t they be allowed.
So with that in mind I’ve registered my support with Compass Box Whisky by signing their “statement of beliefs”, I would also like to say thank you to the distilleries that have given their support to this campaign. With the support of Bruichladdich, Glenrothes, Arran, Tomatin and the public, I feel that it’s showing a maturity within the industry and whisky society to evolve. So with talks between Compass Box and the SWA in March, we will hopefully see the start of something that will lead to a more transparent and better industry.
I’ll also be doing my extra little bit of supporting by purchasing some excellent and very tasty whiskies from Compass box and the rest of the supporting distilleries.