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Indie bottlers provide value for Master of Malt

Published:  02 October, 2023

A year after its independent bottling series relaunch, Master of Malt released 149 labels from 99 distilleries, delivering 20,000 bottles to its customers.

As a result, the last 12 months provide a valuable barometer for market trends for independent bottlers, during a time when whisky investment is booming.

According to its Independent Bottlers Whisky Trend Report, Master of Malt customers prioritise value. The most affordable bottle in the series, Secret Speyside 10yo (RRP £25) was the third highest-selling whisky in the series, behind the Royal Brackla 11yo 2011 (£50) and the Craigellachie 11yo 2011 (£50).

In the same vein, while it didn’t reach the top three, a notable standout includes the Girvan 32-Year-Old (£85). While drinkers are looking for affordable options, it’s not just about the price, but also about the value, and resale value of the whisky in question.

While it’s no surprise that the most popular bottles are from Scotland, the other top bottles may come as a surprise. Israel took the second podium courtesy of its Milk & Honey 1 Year Old 2017 Single Cask release, finished in a cask that previously held pomegranate wine. Though it’s not technically a whisky, it’s further proof that consumers are seeking innovative new releases from new world whisky countries.

Commenting on the report, Sam Simmons, head of whisky at Master of Malt, said: “Old single grains have sold really well because they’re yummy and undeniably fearsome value for whisky that has matured for 30+ years. The 30 to 40-year-old blended Scotch whiskies, which are just as yummy, don’t tend to do as well. We have had success with obvious suspects (Macallan, Springbank, Laphroaig and any closed distillery, including Karuizawa) and Caroni in rum. Meanwhile, respected but more ‘drinking grade’ (if I may) malts like Ledaig, Glengoyne, Balmenach, Mortlach and Caol Ila have also gone live and swiftly sold out.

“What has been most interesting (and encouraging) to me is that great whiskies that are admittedly a bit of a risk (but that I really believe in) have been enthusiastically hoovered up. Yes, they’re priced to make that leap of faith easier, [for example], £20 unnamed Speysiders, high abv single Canadian, Scotch or Irish grain whiskies as well as world whiskies or Campbeltown Blended Malt all under £50 have all had multiple batches, all sold out.”

Moving away from whisky, Master of Malt anticipates that cask-aged gin could catch the eye of consumers. While mainstream gin is reaching a plateau, Master of Malt’s Cask Aged Gin remains popular, with each new batch selling out. This could be showing gin in a new light, providing a point of difference in a saturated market.

Similarly, Master of Malt’s Caroni 22-Year-Old 1997 rum was in the top three bottles from its exclusive indie series, suggesting that rum might be moving in the same way as whisky, as a viable premium asset suitable for ageing.