Whisky Advocate

Your predictions for 2010?

December 14th, 2009

Okay everyone, get out your crystal ball. What do you see happening to the whisky (and whiskey) industry in 2010? I’ll start the discussion by making a couple of predictions myself.

More experimental American whiskeys
The American whiskey industry was very slow getting on the experimenting bandwagon (relative to Scotch, Japanese, and Irish whiskey). But with the likes of Woodford Reserve’s Master’s Collection whiskeys, High West’s “Bourye“, The Party Sources “Wheat on Rye” Experimental Whiskey (in association with Buffalo Trace Distillery), and the blossoming small, artisanal distilleries, I think (or at least I hope) 2010 will see more different kinds of experimental bourbons and other American whiskeys on the market than ever before.

More Scotch whiskies without age statements
Across the pond in Scotland, I think more and more distilleries will continue abandoning age statements. It gives them more flexibility in what goes in the bottle. It will also help them blend in younger whiskey coming on the market with existing stocks of older whisky and still command a fair price for it.

Now it’s your turn. Tell us what you think will happen in 2010. We can come back to this one year from now and see how well we did.

32 Responses to “Your predictions for 2010?”

  1. DeanSheen says:

    I think Bourbon producers will continue to test the upper end of prices to determine how far they can go without affecting sales.

    I look forward to the new Irish releases and I hope to get more Japanese.

  2. WHISKYhost says:

    I hope that more Japanese whiskies appear in the US market.

    I hope rumors that some distillers will begin bottling new spirit are true.

    Finally, and this is more a Xmas wish than a prediction, I hope a 2010 Lagavulin 21 Year Old gets released by Diageo.

    All the best for 2010!

  3. Peter Benkoczki says:

    I see that all single malts will made without chill-filtration and caramel. Let’ hope so.. 😉

  4. bgulien says:

    The return of Knob Creek..
    Hopefully prices will keep being reasonable.
    The silly limited editions will keep on coming. Only to appeal to Russian bankers and Oil barons.
    I will be happy if the bread and butter whisk[e]y we drink will stay available and affordable.

  5. bgulien says:

    Oh and I support Peter Benkoczki in the hope of finally putting spirit caramel and chill filtering to rest.


    “Every-man’s” whisky prices stabilize or dip a little.

    Prices on the elite releases soar higher still.

  7. John Hansell says:

    two-bit, is that something you predict, or hope for?

  8. Mark says:

    1. Age statements go, and we have to deal with a further period of sorting through some silly names for whiskies.

    2. But, we learn that master blenders can use those younger whiskies very well, and are thankful.

    3. Diageo drops the “master of whisky” title for their brand ambassadors. (Prediction for replacement title: Those with whom you absolutely must deal.)

  9. Jim says:

    I predict John will continue to infuriate me with what he’s currently tasting 😉

    But definitely more new spirits bottled, and more Japanese whiskey in the US market!

    I also predict a lot of young whiskeys being released by the flood of new distilleries popping up around the US.

  10. Luke says:

    A genuinely exciting year for Irish Whiskey (at last?)

    Starting with the second edition of Redbreast 15 Year-Old in February, later, alas, in the States. This is due to years of incessant demand/pleading by enthusiasts. The really good news is that Irish Distillers seem to be listening at last!

    Cooley’s stock was sufficiently mature this year to issue 17 Year-Old releases of Tyrconnell and Connemara, both single cask admittedly. 18 Year-Old releases should be possible late next year.

    Whilst Bushmills has been very quiet for the last while we hear on the grapevine that the company has definite plans. We’ll cross our fingers and await developments (as if we had another option…)

    Kilbeggan is a functioning distillery once again, and new make spirit is now available.

    Finally, construction of the Dingle distillery is proceeding – a brave decision given the times we’re in you’ll agree!

    P.S. I second WHISKYhost’s wishes for a new release of Lagavulin 21. If you haven’t tasted it you missed one of the great Islay releases – even the 25 can’t touch it, alas.

  11. I know for sure there will be different styles of whiskies coming out in 2010. I should have 3 new whiskies that have never been made before!

  12. Neil Fusillo says:

    The lack of age statements in an increasing number of whiskies is pretty much a given. I expect the names of said whiskies to begin being generated by uninvolved marketing teams the way they do with cars.

    Something I do expect to see in the coming year is a bit of a shakeup in naming because of the new sharply-delineated demarcations of the whisky regions in Scotland. We may see a few ‘Highland’ whiskies being forced to call themselves Speyside or Lowland.

  13. Mark said: “3. Diageo drops the “master of whisky” title for their brand ambassadors. (Prediction for replacement title: Those with whom you absolutely must deal.)”

    Perhaps, Mark, but no matter what you call them, I predict they will be NO better at answering their mail!

  14. John Hansell says:

    Jim, I hope to get back to reviewing more “down to earth” whiskies in the future.

    Luke, et al: Yes, I am also hoping for a good year for Irish whiskey.

    And I just don’t understand why there’s a log-jam with Japanese whiskies here in the U.S. I have been asking Suntory to bring in Hakushu now for several years, and I have urged various importers to bring in whisky from the other distilleries. (Sigh…)

    Marko, looking forward to your new releases.

  15. Louis says:

    My prediction is that bourbon, as well as Japanese, Indian, and other American
    whisk(e)y will put pressure on the ‘daily dram’ single malt scotch market segment. A certain 15 year old malt come to mind, bottled at 40% ABV with an $80 price tag. Compare that to, the Jefferson Presidential Select 17 year old for about the same price, higher proof and a 96 rating, and you know where my money is going. And then comes Amrut from nowhere to gather favorable reviews and also at reasonable prices. Scotland had better start doing something other than raising prices, fancy packaging, and removing age statements.





  16. Hey John,

    I think the full effect of the world recession will finally trickle down to the distilling industry in 2010. I think we will see some distillery closures in Scotland, further production cuts backs and some changing of hands. I hope this will slow down the trend of price increases throughout the industry.

    As far as whiskies go, I think there will be a slowdown in the Super-Premium market as stocks of exisiting bottlings in the system don’t get purchased as quickly as was forethought.

    Key markets will be flooded by selection as distilleries and independent bottlers try to cash in on what left of the boom in single malts. This is positive for consumers but may hurt established brands in particular those who’s brands are tired.

    In general I think the trends look good for consumers on the retail level, and negative for producers in short term. In the long term it may also be negative for consumers especially if distilleries close.


  17. John Hansell says:

    Louis, Andrew: you make some good, sobering points. And Andrew, I appreciate your perspective as a specialty whisky retailer. We’ll see how it all plays out. It will be an interesting year for sure.

  18. lawschooldrunk says:

    After deftly(!) winning the nobel peace prize, Obama still will not receive his most sought after award: Keeper of the quaich. That’s a prediction, and certainly a hope.

  19. Maltakias says:

    Prices going up up up

    Quality going down down down

    And we ,as always, buy buy buy

  20. Quentin says:

    A grass-roots uprising leads to loosening of liquor laws allowing the importation of 70cl bottles into the US.

    And pigs will fly…

  21. John Hansell says:

    Quentin, yes, I can already imagine the pigs flying.

  22. Gal says:

    jason, i am joining your wish, and adding one more : that i would have the money to afford the Laga 21.

    happy Hannuka

  23. Dave Pickerell says:

    I predict that new micro distilleries will begin to spring up all over the US … with many interesting expressions to sort thru … and that several of them will start making downright tasty whiskies that we will get to experiment with in years to come.

    I also predict that straight rye whiskey will continue to have a re-awakening both from limited new expressions and from its application to traditional cocktails.

  24. Kevin says:

    Dave – what are you up to these days?? You left Maker’s just days before I was headed out to visit the distillery – I was bummed but plenty of bourbon got me over it. 🙂

  25. John Hansell says:

    Dave, it’s great to hear from you. Please chime in more often! And of course, I agree with you. I think some of the new microdistillery stuff will be great–while others not so, or perhaps even unpleasant. But either way, it will be fun.

  26. sam k says:

    I’ll thank Mr. Pickerell for showing up here, too! I also echo his prediction of an expanded rye category. John, you know my history with rye, and the past couple of years have been the most euphoric for me since the 1970s! Thanks to all the distillers who stayed the course (when there was little course to stay), and to those consumers who have finally found America’s “True” Native Spirit.

  27. John Hansell says:

    Well spoken, Sam. And I hope we see more of Dave here at WDJK in the future.

  28. Todd says:

    I agree with the prediction that we will see more no-age statement SMSWs attempting to capture the void left by affordable older SMSWs that were widely available to Everyman until just a few years ago. And I predict that slow inventory movement of SMSWs will force bargain sell-offs at all levels from entry malts on up to super-premium SMSWs, at least in some markets accustomed to higher sales volumes in less lean times.

  29. Gary says:

    Being a big American Whiskey fan I eagerly anticipate an explosion of “micro-distillers” in the US. It was good for the beer market and I think it would be good for the whiskey market as well. More regional distillers would be interesting as well.

  30. Hopes:
    – More respect and higher availability of American whiskey in Europe.
    – Less releases of Scotch, and a focus on quality instead of quantity.

    – Less age statements
    – Higher prices
    – More marketing nonsense

    – Me buying more American stuff than last year
    – Me spending less money on whisk(e)y, since last year was rediculous…

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