Monday, December 31, 2007

Last Night's Tipple

Another dram of Macallan 10 year old Fine Oak. The bottle is almost gone, and that's fine. This whisky is tasty, with lots of sherry, but it's really not anything special. I wouldn't exactly turn this down if someone offered it to me as a gift, but I doubt that I'll be buying it again. It's over $30 a bottle, and it's possible to find any number of Scotches that are more interesting than this one at a similar price point.

In the United States, Macallan's regular range begins with the 12 year old. Why did they decide to bottle a 10 year old when they came out with the Fine Oak line? My sense, just from viewing the Scotches that are and have been available, is that anything younger than 12 years old is a bit of a marketing challenge, at least for mass-market single malts, which Macallan unquestionably is. Laphroaig, Glenmorangie, and Balvenie all have 10 year old expressions; but the emphasis for Glenmorangie and Balvenie is and has been on the 12 year old expressions. I would imagine that Macallan is trying to do the same thing with the 10 year old Fine Oak that Balvenie does with the 10 year old Founder's Reserve and Glenmorangie does with their 10 year old expression: get something on the market at a slightly lower price point that can serve to pull consumers into the line, where they will spend more on the older bottlings. The standard 12 year old bottling is nearly $42 a fifth, while the 10 year old Fine Oak is around $32. Somebody who has never had Macallan before might hesitate less to spend $32 than $42; and once he spends the $32, he's more likely to move up to the $42 bottling. At least, that's the only thing that I can come up with.

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