We whisky bloggers have been looking at the Ardbeg mania with some bemused wonder. One must hand it to the Glenmorangie marketing department for creating this craze, much of it reminiscent of the Tulipmania which gripped the Netherlands in 1637.
Two recent incidents come to mind, the first this past April surrounding the Ardbeg Auriverdes gold bottle release. The official price for the release is £80, so this is the baseline, and the story goes like this: The marketing people at Ardbeg sent a few “whisky celebrities” a full 700 ml gold colored bottle of Auriverdes , in lieu of the normal 50 ml sample bottle. Two of those bottles “mysteriously” made their way to whisky auctions where they fetched around £2400, or enough to buy 30 bottles of the green variety.
And the second one:
This past week, Ardbeg announced a new version of the Supernova. I reviewed the 2010 version here. A new version is out, and Ardbeg sent bloggers world over a sample of the new elixir. Ardbeg heads have been going crazy trying to get hold of a miniature, prompting, no doubt, some bloggers to sell it and driving one of the most respected whisky bloggers, Oliver Klimek of Dramming to this:
Now, that’s probably going a bit far to make a statement, but from where I stand, collectors and whisky speculators are a clear and present danger to the industry, and while distilleries like Ardbeg can gain short term benefits from such tactics, in the long term, the product is being removed so far from its intrinsic value, that no word other than bubble comes to mind. I have more to say about this, and will do so in a post dedicated to the whisky bubble in the near future.
In more than one way, Oliver is doing a service to industry. Yes, it’s one person’s action – but if the craziness isn’t made to stop and the silly money stop being funneled into bottles that will never be opened, the crash will come – sooner rather than later. In 1983, that meant closing two dozen distilleries. Ironically, two of them, Port Ellen and Brora, are in the forefront of today’s bubble. Oh, how the world turns…
The main lesson for Ardbeg? Enjoy the craze while it lasts, for it won’t last forever.