By Jason Johnstone-Yellin, Guid Scotch Drink
This Thursday, November 24, the German discount supermarket, Aldi, will launch an exclusive bottling of a 24 Year Old Speyside single malt across its 450 UK stores. While there’s nothing remotely surprising about a supermarket launching an exclusive whisky release (at least, not in the UK) it’s the price that will most likely have Aldi’s discount shoppers rubbing their eyes in disbelief: £30! That’s $47 at today’s exchange rate, which puts it in the same price range as entry level Speysiders like Cragganmore 12 Year Old, Balvenie DoubleWood 12 Year Old, and Glendronach 12 Year Old. While early reviews suggest that Aldi’s 24 Year Old Speysider isn’t even close to the quality of the 12 Year Old’s mentioned above at least it’s priced in a way that allows the consumer to discover this for him or herself.
What’s even more remarkable, though, is that the 24 Year Old Speyside bottling isn’t the only exclusive from Aldi this year. On December 8, Aldi will launch a 40 Year Old Speyside (named Glenbridge to hide the identity of the actual distillery) for the shockingly low price of £50 ($78). This is the oldest supermarket exclusive ever released in the UK and early reviews suggest that those Aldi shoppers who are able to get their hands on a bottle will enjoy quite a merry Christmas. However, since only 3000 bottles are available across all 450 stores some shoppers are going to be left holding lumps of coal instead.
With the recent passage of I-1183 in the state of Washington one wonders whether deals like Aldi’s will come to the larger privatized liquor stores over here. Will we see a Kirkland Signature bottling of 40 Year Old GlenMac for under $100? What will that mean for liquor sales across the state? The concern is that while consumers will see cheaper prices for their spirits the selection and availability may diminish. What, on the face of it, looks like a wonderful development for consumers may end up costing those same consumers opportunities to explore the whisky world beyond GlenMac and shut the door on locally or nationally produced craft spirits. That would be a wicked shame and would certainly take the luster off competitively priced, well-aged Scotch exclusives.
About Jason Johnstone-Yellin: Guid Scotch Drink
Born and raised in Burns country (Ayrshire, Scotland), I have lived in the US since December 2001 (currently residing on the top of a cliff overlooking the Puget Sound in the beautiful Pacific Northwest).
I've been blogging about whisky since 2009 and started the Guid Scotch Drink blog in April of 2010. I've been recognized by Whisky For Everyone, Connosr, and Malt Whisky Yearbook 2011 & 2012 editions as a worthwhile whisky blog. I'll lift a dram to that!
I regularly lead whisky tastings, plan and run whisky dinners, and have led private whisky tours of Scotland since 2009. I'm also the co-founder and Vice-President of the Jewish Single Malt Whisky Society. Watch this space for more information on that side of things.