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Allocations, limited releases, bastards, speculators and gobshites

Allocations Yamazaki

Right.

We last talked about this when we knackered up the release of the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection back in November, but, well, there have been quite a lot of comments on the product page we’ve set up for the Yamazaki Sherry Cask Release Japanese Whisky (we don’t censor these, remember).

First things first – before you read any of the below, please take the time to familiarise yourself with our stockholding policy. This has been in place for many years, and is unchanged since we published that post back in 2013. Every single bottle of this that hits our warehouse is made available for sale immediately, not hoarded.

Now – a brief precis of the ‘situation’.

Yamazaki Sherry Cask is a hotly anticipated release, which we absolutely love. We first reviewed it back in 2010, and in 2014 Jim Murray voted it the world’s best whisky. This led to incredible demand for this particular expression for 3 reasons:

1) Whisky Lovers want to try it

2) Whisky Collectors want to own it

3) Speculators want to flip* it

If you fall into category (1) above – we like you, and you can be in our gang. We want to do everything that we possibly can to help you try the whisky.

If you fall into category (2) above – we do like you – you’re just richer than us, and we’re a bit jealous of you.

If you fall into category (3) above – good luck to you, but we’re not going to go out of our way to help you make easy money.

This is an aside, but for what it’s worth, we don’t really believe that Category 2 exists. It’s long-term parking for categories (1) and (3).

Now – this year – we’ve been given an allocation of one case of six bottles of this release. It’s a very small allocation. We’re not going to whinge about this – it’s an ultra-limited product, and we’re very grateful. However, we’d be very, very confident that we could sell 6,000 bottles in a few days if we had it. This leads to a pretty big problem. Roughly 999 out of every 1000 people are going to be very disappointed.

We’ve spent a lot of time thinking (arguing) about how to deal with this, and in the end we’ve come up with a solution that we believe does the most good. It’s also, and please see the paragraph above for the reason, very definitely a “least-worst” option, rather than a ‘good’ one per se.

The solution is this:

We’re going to split up the allocations of all the super-hotly anticipated releases into three ‘piles’:

A) Stock that we send over to Drinks by the Dram to turn into 3cl samples (drams) so that as many people as possible can try it

B) Stock that will be sold via lottery on the product page

C) Stock that will be sold via auction on the product page

In the instance of this particular line, we’re going to dram 4 bottles, auction 1, and lottery 1.

Given that each bottle we split into drams potentially allows 23 people to try the whisky – we’re going to try and satisfy demand for this first and foremost – especially as it caters massively towards those of you in category (1).

We also want to make some stock available via lottery, as, well, it’s something that a lot of you seem to want. It’s only fair to say though, that we’re not huge fans of this ourselves, as we don’t really agree with the whole lottery model for reasons we’ll go into shortly.

Now, almost everyone (actually, make that everyone) says that they just want to try the whisky and they’d never ever consider selling it on at a massive markup. Oh no sir. Also, unrelatedly, would you like some butter? I have some here in my mouth, unmelted.

Ahem. Anyway, it turns out some people are horrible filthy liars and what they actually want to do is make a fast buck and keep the money in order to buy scratch cards and a yoda-dog-suit for little Tigger.

So, in order to filter out everyone but the people who really do want to try it, we’re going to be writing the following all over the back label of the bottles won at lottery:

“I, [your lucky winning name], hereby swear not to sell this bottle – but to drink it with my chums. May my taste-buds and olfactory bulb shrivel and die if I should break my word.”

See category (1) – told you we liked you.

 

And so, finally, to auctions.

 

Ya see, auctions are wonderful things because they’re really really good at doing one thing – revealing the true market price for something.

People can (and indeed love to) argue all day about what the right price for something is, but, while that’s a fun way to pass an afternoon, it really isn’t necessary because all you need to do is auction it. The price it sells for is, by definition, the market price. Yes, yes, we know markets aren’t perfect and there are lots of little things which can nudge the hammer price up or down on the day, but you know what – even with all those wrinkles it’s still damned close to the true market price.

When something is released for £200, and immediately shoots up to £1000 on the secondary market, you know what isn’t the true market price for that product? £200.

£200 might be the RRP (recommended retail price), it might be the price in the press release, it might be the price at which the shop you tried to buy it at sold it to all their favourite customers (or employees, or friends) before you got there, but it’s not the market price.

Also, just so we’re clear on this (because it’s really important) – there is absolutely no obligation on a retailer to sell any product at any particular price – it’s up to them to price things as they see fit. Moreover, it’s downright illegal for any supplier or brand owner to attempt to exert any influence over the price at which a retailer sells – there are serious consequences for complicity in price-fixing or breach of competition law.

We hope you agree that the status quo, where a product walks out of a shop one day for £200, and up onto an auction site the next at 5 times that is nothing short of eat-your-own-hands-off-insane.

Now – this said – there’s an inherent problem with us as a retailer using our best judgement to determine the price at which bottles such as this should be sold – and we’re sure you’ve all guessed it – there’s often serious disparity between the price at which a producer (be it a distributor or a distillery) releases a whisky, and the actual value of that bottle at retail. The reasons for this are open to interpretation, but our guess is that the producer’s reasons/motivations broadly fall into three categories:

1) Those that apply a ground-up pricing model (using their cost price and a fixed margin). That Boutique-y Whisky Company is one example of this. There are many more.

2) Those that got the demand projections wrong, and are in the process of closing the gap to correct the disparity. Diageo’s Special Releases are a great example here. Have a look at the prices of the Special releases Port Ellen over the last few years. This whisky (Yamazaki Sherry Cask) is, we believe, another example of this.

3) Those that are playing a very clever game – intentionally undervaluing the product in order to create a buzz around the release, which generates huge publicity, and a ‘halo’ effect around the rest of the range. We’ll stop short of mentioning any names – you know who you are.

In all instances of the above, it doesn’t make us particularly comfortable re-pricing the bottles at £1000 a pop ourselves and pocketing the difference just because the market’s broken.

So – what to do… Well, the sad fact is that someone is going to pocket the difference between the release price and the market price before the bottle gets to you because, sadly, many (if not most) people who get their hands on a bottle at the RRP are going to flip it.

When we’re operating the auction, the possible beneficiaries are:

1) The producer (obviously not – they mispriced it in the first place, or have already priced the difference in as marketing exposure)

2) The retailer (probably not – as discussed above – it makes us feel uneasy**)

3) A worthwhile charity (this one – it’s this one isn’t it?)

And that’s what we’re doing for the auction. All the profit above and beyond the bottle’s RRP will be going to our nominated charity***.

So. That’s our reasoning. And if you take only one thing away from reading this post, please let it be this – if you want a bottle of this you’re going to have to pay the market rate for it. Someone is going to make that margin between the RRP and the market price – your choice isn’t whether you pay a premium, it’s to whom you pay it. It can either be a flipper, or it can be a charity, or it can be a greedy greedy retailer, but if you want a bottle it has to be one of them. We’re sorry – but that’s free-market economics for you.

We think that giving the difference to charity is, very much like democracy, the worst possible system, except for all the others.

We know many of you won’t agree with all of this, some of you will like it, some of you will be absolutely incensed, but our sincere hope is that all of you will see this for what it is – a sincere and earnest attempt to fix a system which is badly badly broken.

Let the comment deluge commence.

 

The Chaps at Master of Malt

 

* Buy it at the primary market price of £200-ish, then sell it at auction for loads more.

** In this case “uneasy” is code for “fucking greedy”.

*** For this specific auction, our partner is Malaria No More UK – see this post for a brief insight into our reasons for choosing these guys. It’s their highly intelligent approach not only to problem-solving, but critically to using the money they raise to try and leverage government policy that we admire the most, and, well just look at the results.

 

Update #1: What’s happening with the Drams?

We’re going to be allocating the drams by lottery (all the drams).  We did think long and hard about whether we should auction half of them, but on the basis that the drams are inherently less collectable than the full size bottle, we think that most of the flippers have probably already been filtered out and most people entering are likely to just drink it rather than re-sell it.

Yes, we know some people will probably still sell them on, but we think the balance is far enough towards the drinkers.  Of course, if that proves wrong then we can look at scribbling all over those as well in the future.

Update #2: When’s all this going down?

The new functionality should be live mid-next week (it’s still being written and tested, it was going to be ready about 3 weeks ago but you know what software development is like…) and we’ll start with the dram lottery, then we’ll do the bottle lottery, and finally the auction.

There will be plenty of warning and we’ll make a big fuss about it when we have firm dates so don’t worry, you’re not going to miss it.  It’s definitely not going to start before Tuesday, and at the moment Wednesday is looking like the most likely day.

 

Update #3: Lottery and Auction Timeline

All of this will happen on the Yamazaki Sherry Cask 2016 product page:

3cl Drinks by the Dram Lottery: 16:00 (GMT) Thu 25th – 14:00 Mon 29th February

Bottle Lottery: 16:00 (GMT) Mon 29th Feb – 14:00 Thu 3rd March

[Auction Registration will then begin at 14:30 (GMT) Thu 3rd March]

Bottle Auction: 16:00 (GMT) Thu 3rd – 14:00 Wed 9th March

 

We’ll shout about it on tweetface and Googlebook too.

Categories : Japanese Whisky, Whisky

112 comments on “Allocations, limited releases, bastards, speculators and gobshites”

  1. Ian Buxton says:

    Fine work and all power to your elbow. All this whisky 'investment' nonsense is going to end in tears before bedtime. If you love whisky, drink it! End of…

  2. Alan Kendall says:

    I don't envy you with this, you'll never make everyone happy but it seems to me to be a logical and unselfish approach. Giving the most people a chance at at least trying it is a noble cause, as is your charity auction. You have my support.

  3. Laura Clark says:

    This is a truly fantastic approach – you are right, people will complain regardless but with such limited stock and demand you've a balance of lesser evils. Sign me up for a lottery ticket – and you should absolutely insist the winner posts pictures of it being drunk, or turn up at their house and help them drink it!

  4. Jessica R says:

    and THIS… This is why you are such an amazing company. Super transparent and concerned about the people that are your customers. Pricing is SO interesting as I have been learning over the last year. 1- what people are willing to pay 2- what a retailer is asking. It varies so much and when you have something so rare, how DO you put a price on it? Do you work with the producer to come up with something fair? Seems like you guys all have great heads on your shoulders. I am happy to be a customer!!!

  5. Richard Croasdale says:

    Good solution to a really tricky situation. Particularly approve of the charitable donation and sale-by-the-dram. Get it into the hands of many people as possible. Top work.

  6. Andrew Popik says:

    Well thought out and well done. It mirrors in concept how Bob Kramer distributes his work (Kramer Knifes) with the necessary differences. I am even more impressed with an operation that has already impressed me.

  7. Simon Brown says:

    All this fuss over a horrible whisky!

    (Only kidding, I'm just (inevitably) jealous! Well played chaps, well played.)

  8. great idea – more power to you and your charity

  9. Cavalier says:

    by the dram by far the best solution – so the most people possible will get to try it (which is the bloody point).

  10. Neil Ridley says:

    Gentlemen, thank you for raising a fine point. A difficult situation here, but I applaud your approach. Having tried said whisky, it would be a shame for the majority of it to go unappreciated (from a flavour perspective), sitting on the shelves of a very dull, unimaginative few indeed.

    There will always be those who like to speculate, collect and invest. Whisky is currently having its moment in the sun- and why shouldn't it?

    But remember the Goldrush? Who were the REALLY successful few?

    The folks who sold the shovels, that's who. Beware those who think that a fast buck is the route to true success.

    My question is what sort of price point will you be offering the DBTDs for?

    Right… i'm off to prise open all those vintage Star Wars figures from their pristine packaging that i've been hoarding…

  11. Bill Jennings says:

    There's no right answer, just as there is no wrong answer.

    I do wonder whether your auction, which will possibly attract more attention than any other auction for this bottle, compounded by the fact that it's for charity, will jump "market" for the other couple thousand bottles. There are "lots of little things" that affect prices at auction, but what you're doing is one single large thing, and if your auction closes well above other auctions (which I guess it will), then flippers will be more than happy to point at your auction results as the true market price.

    It's not.

    It will be the true market price for when a single bottle is publicized for auction by a massively popular global retailer who is giving the proceeds to charity, but that will be ignored.

    I've never seen a market where a single transaction, regardless of context, can shift every other result going forward quite like whiskey. Bourbon is more susceptible. But still. This bottle is up there.

    There's no "fixing" the system here. Just moves and countermoves which will result in who the hell knows what. Anyway, it will be interesting to see what happens.

  12. Lionel says:

    Seems fair. I respect your way of handling. Like many other people , I wish to taste this 'famed' sherry whisky

  13. @Neil Ridley

    An absolutely great question – we should've covered that in the post.

    The price of the drams will be based on the RRP (and not – as I suspect you were alluding to – the 'market price') – in this case, each dram will be priced at £12.59 each.

  14. Bobby Stern says:

    Very respectful way of doing business!

  15. Andrew says:

    I think is a reasonable well thought out response to a very tough situation. But you really, really should be careful before opening up Pandora's box on "Market Value". There are scores of products on this site and many others that are simple WAY ABOVE this true market value that you refer to. Should we start bidding you under the retail for these products?
    The decision has been made and I'm sure the intentions are good. In any event we have to respect it. But seriously, I would drop this Market Value nonsense before you undermine your whole business model.

  16. Shane says:

    The title of the article is first rate!

    The point is that this fine liquid was made for consumption, whether that be in 3cl measures or more. As someone who enjoys the Japanese contribution to the world of whisky it has all got rather out of hand.

    Purchase, savour and drink – end of.

  17. Gavin Cochrane says:

    I'd like to see the lottery scheme used more often.

    I'm probably in the 99% of people who has no chance at winning an auction, and I have no interest in buying drams from a bottle to have at home. Seems like a waste to me!

  18. Luke Bros says:

    Not an easy situation to be in MoM,
    As being said before and I think you dealing with this hot potato really well!.
    I would like to see both A and B options but with 6 bottles only…super hard!
    I would go for the lottery as I think its the most fair way of making 6 people actually winning 1!
    Either way, one day we will look back on this with nostalgia

    GL

  19. Blair Bowman says:

    Hear hear!

  20. Liam G. says:

    @MoM
    "So, in order to filter out everyone but the people who really do want to try it, we're going to be writing the following all over the back label of the bottles won at lottery: …"

    Not sure if serious with that statement or just joking?

    So you are actually suggesting that the one person who will get the chance to buy it (the one that will have to pay £200 for it) you are gonna intentionally deface the bottle so they have no chance of flipping it?

    So the store I go to buy my whisky or any shop I can potentially buy something of high value has the right to intentionally deface and effectively devalue the product I am buying so that I don't have the chance to potentially sell it on for a profit? The very item that I bough with my OWN money?

    If you are serious about that statement and do intend to follow through with that, then that's despicable.

    If experience has taught you anything from selling whisky all these years you would know that the people that spend the most money on high-end whiskies expect to add a flawless product in their collections (regardless of whether they'll drink it at some point or take it to their grave).

    What stops you from doing this again and again and again. Who are you to take that decision.

    Other than that, I am in agreement with the rest of the blog post.

  21. Jean carlo says:

    I love the idea of you guys writing the winners name on the label. I have no problem with that. I'll be drinking and maybe pouring a little for one of two friends if and (positive thoughts) do get it.

    Now, can we get the lotto started??

  22. Michael says:

    Not sure if this is legal, but why not do it this way?

    Have people buy raffle tickets (all proceeds go to charity) or directly set up a charity funding page where $[X] represent 1 ticket.

    This way everything is luck – no rich guy is going to win 100%, and at the same time you probably raise more proceeds for the charity than an auction. I assume there is a cap on how much someone is willing to pay whether that is $2, $3 or $4 thousand.

  23. Rob says:

    The comments on the product page and this blog post have made fascinating reading for the last two days. Certainly can't fault MoM on the logic and rationale behind their decision & well articulated as usual.

    [quote] "… we don’t really believe that Category 2 ([i]Whisky Collectors[/i]) exists. It’s long-term parking for categories (1) and (3)." [/quote]

    This was a real revelation & I'm in complete agreement – you are either collecting it to drink (later) or collecting it while it (may potentially) appreciate in value. In order to realise this value the "asset"or stock must be sold on – hopefully at a profit. Short term / quick turn around is now somewhat derogatively referred to as flipping or speculating and longer term, investing. Fundamentally, no difference?

    I for one have accumulated a modest whisky collection over the last few years but have never thought of selling any. I want to drink it all – I just can't manage it all at once![i][/i]

  24. Steven Fallens says:

    Sounds fucking good to me…giddy up!

  25. Jason says:

    BRILLIANT – I love you. If only every other retailer would do this the craziness might subside.

  26. Richie main says:

    Ach bollocks, rip the labels off and crack the seal then sell em off. Get me signed up

  27. Stuart says:

    Very interesting reading …

    So lets park the relative legalities of holding auctions and running lotteries in the UK as I will assume you guys are all squeaky clean with UK law in these areas.

    Lets deal with the harsh reality, the whole system/market place is broken. On that we can agree.

    The rest is open to debate and clearly there will be be quite a lot of this.

    So lets look at fact, an auction of just one bottle does not highlight market value. It just exposes an individual who has lots of money. If all 200 bottles for the UK were auctioned this may be statistically significant but that will never happen so no point in discussing.

    In 2013 several people with not so very deep pockets bought this product. They paid a fair price and were looking forward to the next release. Since then someone rated the whisky best in the world and overnight the regular consumer was dealt a fatal blow. Who's fault is that? Its a nonsense review anyway but its fact and we cannot avoid it.

    The makers of this product have kept the SRP reasonable, and allocated stock around the world to try and allow genuine fans to buy and drink in spite of the awards.

    Unfortunately the world is not fair, and people will see this as a chance to make a fast buck as they say. It leaves a bitter taste in everyones mouth who loves the true amber nectar.

    However, I really do not see that this is the solution. A single retailer cannot fix this problem and to me this is just a nonsense approach. What we have is an auction, lottery and a sell by the dram. No clear direction because there is no clear answer.

    Lets look at fact on the drams, MoM promise dram prices will be based on RRP. Fine in this case but just look at their website. This is not always the case. Just look at Old Pulteney 21 and do the sums, by the dram is nearly 2.4 times the price of a bottle. So a cynic would suggest splitting by the dram is a good money earner. Lets not even look at Van winkle bourbon samples as that scales to over 1k per bottle.

    Now lets look at auction, nothing more to say than 1 bottle is not significant so here the auction does not prove anything. It may prove a point because you can make statistics prove anything if you want to. So yes, auction a few bottles and you get silly money, auction 100 and you get more realistic figures. I know what you are thinking, there is not 100 to auction. I'll cover that later.

    So we are left with lottery based systems. Lets look at numbers. 6 bottles on a lottery will surely result in some bottles going to flippers. Nothing you can do about that, but thats life. Even if just 3 bottles went to genuine drinkers they would be opened, enjoyed and probably shared. Defacing bottles won on lotteries is an odd approach. I can see the logic to some extent but it does also make the purchase feel odd. can you imagine winning a car in a lottery and then having it defaced? Some people may not mind but to others its so poor, suppose I wanted to gift it to a friend. Sorry, its just not on.

    There is no real answer to this, a single retailer cannot act as policeman to a broken system. Its not their roll.

    The only fair way in my opinion is to sell 1 bottle a day over 6 days at RRP but not to not tell anyone when its listed. If you are lucky that's great, if you are a drinker even better. If you are a flipper then you just made some cash. List some daytime and some night time so those who work for a living have a chance too. Proper pot luck. By telling the world when its sold you just add to the hype. People set up multiple accounts, get their friends to try and buy etc. Fuel to the fire.

    One retailer cannot fix this problem. In truth its with the manufacturer to make sure enough product is released. If there is not enough tank it and wait. There should be enough released to allow everyone a fighting chance (answer to auction issue).

    You will never stop the flippers and secondary markets. Its a fact of life on everything. But it should be for the lazy to spend extra and buy at auction. Your genuine drinker should have the chance to buy, share and enjoy at a reasonable price.

    As for the language used in this post. Not big and not funny. We can all fucking swear and call each other bastards but thats just ignorant.

    I have not mentioned sales overseas so far. My view is UK allocation is for UK and the same for all other countires. That is decided by manufacturers and should be respected.

  28. Keith Holt says:

    I agree with your comments . Let us true whisky drinkers have a sample. And let all those flippers and collectors fight for whats out there. Good work masters of malt let hope I can get a sample.x

  29. Liam G. says:

    @Stuart
    I am with you on this, especially with the part about defacing the bottle, as I also mentioned previously.

    The lucky folk who will shell out his hard-earned £200 to buy the bottle they expect to receive the product in the same condition it left the distillery.

    That goes for any product really. When you go buy a limited edition Ferrari of only, say, 20 cars the manufacturer doesn't go like "oh by the way we are gonna have to make a few scratches on the car (or write on it) to prevent you from flipping it later on for a pretty penny".

    If packaging, boxes, labels and seals didn't matter in whisky bottles then I am sure distilleries would sell their whisky in cheap plastic bottles. Everything adds to the presentation. Yes it is just liquid inside that once you consume it the packaging and labels won't matter anymore but until you do, it DOES matter. You pay for all those in the final price. Their cost is factored in.

    As for those that say bust open the caps, tear up all labels etc this is just non-sense.

    I am not sure of the mentality of @MoM on this one. It is just plain wrong.

    Also, in the spirit of what's legal, right/wrong etc…I am pretty sure @MoM has no right to use someone's name and write it up (anywhere really) without prior permission…just saying @MoM.
    Respect your customers.

    IF you care so much about spreading the love and having as many people as possible actually tasting the whisky with zero chance of anyone buying to flip then forget all the lottery and auction shambles, split all 6 bottles into sample drams to try and allow international buyers even. This way everyone is happy, you squeeze way more money out of those 6 bottles and if you feel so generous you can give away for charity a percentage of those earnings.

    But no, let's write a witty blog post about it instead (with some kewl profanity) explaining how an ordinary whisky store/site took it upon itself to police how their customer should enjoy the product they bought and what they should do with it.

    Today is Yamazaki tomorrow it's some other whisky.

    @MoM, Master of Controversy rather, you never fail to disappoint.

  30. lewis mcintyre says:

    Olfactory bulb shrivel XD please someone give the author a medal. Impressive post and thank you for not being the common greedy marketing people.

  31. Liam G. says:

    @lewis mcintyre

    More like Lewis McImpressed then…

    Fancy words with a dash of sensationalism tend to impress people like that. No doubt.

    They deserve a medal because unless you buy the 1 bottle through the auction (which will undoubtly fetch upwards of £1000) they will deface the bottle you might get the chance to buy through the lottery system because they are nice chaps choosing not to sell it over RRP.

    Because if they can't profit from it, no one will.

    That's essentially the gist of the blog post above, for those who fail to read beyond the fancy words.

  32. Stuart says:

    @Liam G

    The only reason we are having this debate is because last years BTAC allocation caused the MoM website to melt not because MoM realise the system is broken.

    Up until then rare releases like Pappy Van Winkle were listed at stupid money if available and sample sets still are online for 261 quid which is just bonkers.

    Also look at the prices for the drams, they are all over the place. We know there are 23 drams per bottle and with a bit of basic maths you can soon work out the bottle prices and they are all over the shop.

    The Old Pulteney 21 is 2.4 times the bottle price, as is Elijah Craig BP and yet Old Pulteney 1989 is less than 2 times the price of a bottle and I have checked some bourbons and the dram prices are as low as 1.7 times the bottle price (smooth ambler contradiction). Either way its still a massive mark up. If I had the time I would look at more to make this statistically significant but I cannot be bothered. On average it seems to be twice the price as drams than by the bottle.

    This is a reaction to an event from last year and not a sudden moral road trip. Other retailers that did not have a melt down have just advertised and sold their bottles as normal and moved on (Royal Mile for example).

    I am not a Japanese whisky fan, I know it is great stuff but my thing is Bourbon and Rye so in some ways I should not get annoyed by this, but its just the principle that has my hackles up.

    The title of this blog could apply to MoM in equal measure to anyone else in my opinion and I think comments like this should be kept in check. Debate are not about personal insults. I do understand there is a desire to be seen to do the right thing here but lets not kid ourselves, each of us has our own agenda.

    No matter what happens here today, a bottle of this will end up on an auction site in a few years time for more than twice the price paid now regardless of auction or lottery. We need to get over this fact and move on.

    Complicated debates, complicated auctions and the pretense of having the moral high ground are irrelevant.

  33. George keeble says:

    Furry muff, chaps. Six bottles is six bottles. Bravo for the sampling and charitable consideration. I'd be tempted to just sample up the lot, just to wind up the muppets squawking for a bottle. Great post, fine points.

  34. Neil Atkinson says:

    Good reading MoM chaps. I can see you all debating this in the boardroom in my mind's eye. SGD.

  35. Paul says:

    Sad really that this has caused so much bad feeling and argument.

    You all know what will happen right ?
    One bottle will get sold for +£1000 and sit on a shelf for a few years.
    And (if the PVW give away is anything to go by) one bottle will go to someone that doesn't even drink whisky. Open lotteries will attract thousands of entries from all over the world, mainly from people trying to win some "money" rather than a bottle of rare whisky that they know little about other than it can be re-sold for loads of money.

    People should spend their time, effort and money on seeking out the delightful whiskies that Jim Murray hasn't destroyed for true fans via his annual hype. There's loads out there, we all have different palates, find something that YOU like rather than just like something Jim has decided to give a turn in the spotlight.

    Just walk on past the freak-show auctions that are these rare, over-hyped bottles.

  36. Ben says:

    There will always be people who complain about these things, but the simple fact is there is no easy answer to this, and at least this gives us a chance (albeit minimal) to try this whisky, which is more than can be said for any other British retailer.

    @MoM In terms of practicalities – when will the lottery system go live?

    Thx

  37. A very fine approach to this problem. Well done. Totally for !

  38. Andy says:

    @Liam G

    If you don't want to own a 'defaced' bottlethen don't try and buy it. As long as people are made aware of the condition prior to purchase then there isn't an issue (unless you're a flipper of course).

  39. [quote]"… we don’t really believe that Category 2 (Whisky Collectors) exists. It’s long-term parking for categories (1) and (3)."

    This was a real revelation & I'm in complete agreement – you are either collecting it to drink (later) or collecting it while it (may potentially) appreciate in value.[/quote]
    It made me read twice as well. Then I remembered another article from a few days ago:
    https://scotchwhisky.com/magazine/my-world/the-collectors/marcel-van-gils/

    [quote]I am enough of a businessman to know when it’s time to sell; collecting is dangerous.[/quote]
    Even taken out of the full context, the proof is in the pudding. Collectors do not really exist. If they die before they can drink/sell, then someone else does it for them, with the same long-term effect.

    Other than that, selling by the dram is an odd approach, despite the good intentions. Samples get sold off at auction too, these days. With so few bottles available, it is likely to happen even more.
    Auction for charity was done by TWE last year. It didn't prevent sister bottles from being auctioned and the one for the cause didn't reach a much higher price. Seems like a reasonable middle ground all the same.
    I like the lottery idea. As for defacing the bottle, I suspect numbering it would be sufficient.

    Ultimately, the following comment nails the issue.
    [quote]By telling the world when its sold you just add to the hype. People set up multiple accounts, get their friends to try and buy etc. Fuel to the fire.[/quote]
    Internet has plagued almost every shopping experience.

  40. Pedro Romero says:

    I really like the idea of engraving the bottle that may stop some people going for it.

    I believe that this should be a standard practice for limited bottling in order to protect the real whisky lovers.

    Thumbs up

  41. Nice work guys! I fully understand and support what you're doing.

    Whisky is for drinking and I can help you out 🙂

  42. @Bill Jennings

    Well… That is a very good point indeed. We hadn’t really considered the fact that our little auction might have any significant effect on the secondary market, but I think you’re right – it could have an impact (if it sells for a particularly high price, otherwise not so much).

    It’s difficult to imagine what we do as having a potentially significant effect on the market because we still think of ourselves as “the little guy”. Even though we’ve grown a lot in the last few years, we’re still just a bunch of chums who have known each other for the last quarter of a century and who were, only 5 years ago, working out of what could charitably be called “a small shed”.

    So yes, perhaps in this case the hammer price will be different from the general secondary market price but the auction method (in general) is still the best way to find the market price of something. In this case I suppose we’re finding the market price of a charity auction rather than a straight auction of the bottle, but I suspect as the number of bottles of a particular thing we have to auction increases, the price is likely to converge the price that bottle is going for in the rest of the market.

    As you say, it’ll be interesting to see what does actually happen – I think we’re probably as excited to find out as you are.

    – The Chaps at Master of Malt

  43. @Andrew

    Well that’s a really great point, but I think it actually makes the case for the market value argument perfectly! If we’ve got bottles which no one is buying because they don’t think they’re worth the money then the price they’re being offered at absolutely *isn’t* market value.

    The market price is established by the price something actually sells for on the open market so you’re totally right to say that if it’s not selling, the price it’s being offered at isn’t market value.

    Now, to your second point – if you think something is for sale at more than the market price should you make us an offer? Yes! Absolutely! Chances are that we’ve simply bought a parcel of stock from a private seller and paid too much for it. If it’s been hanging around for ages and hasn’t sold then we might well be able to do a deal to get our money back and into something new.

    Was that the answer you were expecting? 🙂

  44. ALAN SASSOON says:

    A classic damned if you do and damned if you don't scenario. There is no way to make everyone happy but I for one am satisfied with Master of Malts "solution"to this issue…Good work guys!

  45. @Liam G

    Oh Liam, we never joke when it comes to Whisky… Ok, that’s bollocks, but we are actually serious. This is an actual thing. We are actually going to write all over the label in Sharpie (I have a heliotrope coloured Sharpie in my pocket right now as I write this).

    What you’ve said exemplifies the issue we’re trying to fix here perfectly – you want to be able to buy a bottle for £200 when the market price is probably several times that, let’s say they’re currently changing hands for £800 or so.

    The problem is, that most people who want to buy it want to flip it and make the £600 for themselves, and, well, we don’t really want to help them do that.

    So we want a way to discourage all the people who just want to flip it, while still making it available to all the people who actually want to drink it – the only way we can think of to accomplish that is to scrawl all over the label. That destroys the value for the people who want to flip it and make some easy money, but it doesn’t make any difference to the people who just want to taste it.

    The other answer (and this one is a little more brutal) is that it’s our bottle– we bought it for cold hard cash – and we can do whatever we damn well like with it. If we want to cover it with glitter and give it away free with a pack of Findus Crispy Pancakes then we bloody well can. Anyone who doesn’t like their bottles glittery and with pancakes is free not to click the buy button.

    So, the price of the monogrammed bottle is £200 and the price of the pristine bottle is, well, whatever you can buy one for – loads more. But, if you’re prepared to pay “loads more” then you can hoard it for years and then sell it for thousands more than you paid for it without ever having to taste the nasty stuff.

    Ya pays yer money and ya takes yer pick. Etc.

  46. @Michael

    Well that’s a fascinating idea… In fact I thought it was so interesting that I ran immediately down to our “law pit” (it’s where we keep the lawyers. Ok, fine, it’s where we keep our one lawyer).

    I threw him a couple of raw trout (his favourite) and he eventually settled and listened to my question.

    I’m glad he’s chained up, because as soon as I’d finished he leapt at me hissing something about the “Gambling Act 2005” and insisting that “they hates it”.

    I fled, but I guess from his behaviour that the answer is that it’s probably not so much for the being legal. Sorry ☹

  47. Alan Kendall says:

    Hey, don't forget findus crispy Pancakes are going to be discontinued, so maybe they'll end up at auction too! We don't want to over inflate the secondary savory pancake market now!

  48. Kavey says:

    You'd are fucking brilliant!
    I'm category 4) though; I don't drink whisky but I love love love to buy / find special ones for my husband (petedrinks) to enjoy, that gives me enormous happiness. He, by the way, is very category 1)!

  49. Shane says:

    This is such a contentious topic and looks likely to run more than Mo Farah. It will be best for all concerned (god help the likes of poor Sarah on the chat service) when there is finality to it! The bottom line is MoM are trying to be equitable and actually do the right thing for many of its customers. How many boys and girls out there are gonna need counselling if they don't get a bottle??? This is a devise health/social issue that could massively impact an already pressured NHS.

  50. Jean carlo says:

    Are you guys going to post another blog regarding a specific date and time as to when the 3CL samples will go on sale? I'm refreshing this page every 30 minutes while I'm at work M-F for 10 hours and my girlfriend is getting really upset with me because I keep checking on my phone even when at the movie theater during the movie! I expect those to sell out fast as well and given the time difference, I'd hate to be asleep at 2am when the samples go on sale..

  51. Kwun Chan says:

    Thank you MoM. This is probably the fairest way to distribute such a limited stock. Respect to you!

  52. @Stuart

    Let’s start by clearing up the drams issue – they’re priced on cost rather than RRP, SRP, ERP or any other RP (sorry for introducing that error earlier).

    Obviously margins on bottles vary, but you’ll usually get a dram of a £50 to £60 bottle for between £5 and £6. Sometimes it’s higher, which indicates that the margin was very low on that bottle, either because it’s just a very low margin line, or because it’s been discontinued and we’ve bought it on the secondary market for too much money. In either case the cost is a greater proportion of the retail price than usual so the price of the dram is a higher proportion of the retail price.

    We also make mistakes, so if something looks really silly then the chances are we’ve just ballsed it up. Looking at the Old Pulteney 21 it looks like we’ve done just that because running the calculation through myself I get a dram price of £8.58 instead of £9.58. Oh, I see what’s happened here…. Doh. Fixed.

    You’ve described the producer SRP as “reasonable” but for an awful lot of people £200 for a bottle of whisky is far from reasonable. You’ve also characterised their approach as intended to ensure that the whisky gets into the hands of people who are going to drink it, but it could equally be a terribly clever way to drive up the price and generate halo benefit for the brand. We just don’t know what’s in their minds, or at least, I don’t – perhaps you’re much closer to this than we are and have the inside track? (genuine question).

    On auctions, yes, we agree a single bottle charity auction might not be indicative of the market price, but the real point we’re making is that auctions *in general* are a very good way to uncover the market price of something.

    On scrawling all over the bottle, well, as above – if you don’t like it don’t buy it. You say maybe half the bottles would go to flippers without this measure, we think it’s closer to 99%. It’s not that *some* of the bottles will go to flippers it’s that *almost all* of them will do. We’re sorry, but essentially no one who is actually going to drink it is going to be able to buy it at the release price. Removing the value of the bottle for the flippers is the only viable way we can think of to make it unattractive for them to try and buy it, and crowd out the drinkers. With the flippers gone, it has a real chance of going to someone who is actually going to drink it.

    We know sometimes it’s easy to by cynical and think that it’s not possible to change the world, and it’s a totally valid to question whether one small band of technology-loving-whisky-geeks can have any impact on a massive multi-billion-pound industry.

    There’s a quote we like from The West Wing, and we think of it often when someone puts this challenge to us, it goes like this:

    President Bartlet says “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Do you know why?” and Will Bailey says “Because it's the only thing that ever has.”

    We believe that’s true. And it’s why we’re in business – because it’s the most powerful tool we know of for changing the world.

    It doesn’t mean we’ll succeed, but we’d rather fail at something we believe in than fail to try, because sometimes, just sometimes, the world takes notice and an idea which seemed impossible yesterday catches fire and does change the world for the better.

  53. Paul says:

    @ The Chaps at MoM

    So following your logic.
    I'm happy you mark the bottles / break the seal, whatever you like. I'm just going to drink it so that doesn't bother me.

    Also, splitting into smaller samples I can understand.

    But there's plenty of auctions going on out there right now for this very whisky – sitting at about £1400 as I type this with over 6 hours left to run. All of them will give an indication of what very small volumes might sell for. So why do you need to run your own auction ? Don't quite get that bit. Just trying to understand, that's all.

    Also, on a completely different note. I guess we are all concerned about the increasing number of "fakes" that are appearing with valuable empties being re-filled and re-sealed. Inevitable when there's easy money to be made I guess. Some of the fakes are (allegedly) impossible to spot unless you want to open and sample it. I didn't realise that some of your stock is sourced from the secondary market. Do you think this should be made clear on the product description ? I for one would like to see this made clear.

  54. Alessandro says:

    Last night I red your post.. The odds to get it are pretty low and I'm quite sad about it since I want so badly this bottle.. to celebrate the birth of my son which will happen the next days… However I really want to congratulate with the MoM chaps to have chosen a fair, intelligent and ethical method to allocate this amazing whisky. Your post shows clearly how You took seriously all comments for your customer and the dedication to this business for you and a passion for me. I'm constantly buying great products from your website, even if I'm doing that form Italy so with shipping costs and not always a great exchange rate… But all this event about the realese of the Yamazaki sherry cask 2016 and how you managed it raised totally my loyalty towards this website which will be my most favourite source to purchase whiskys, gins and all Great things.. Alessandro

  55. @Ben and Jean Carlo

    We’ll be running the first lottery (drams) mid-next week. We’ve added an update to the bottom of the post to let everyone know – thanks for the reminder…

  56. Ed says:

    MoM's solution to the demand for this product is both amusing and fair. That people are so bent by all this hype for what is, frankly, a pretty mediocre sherried whisky (all sour oloroso notes with only Yamazaki's weak malt and little underlying wood influence), makes for an entertaining spectacle. I've had the 2013 several times and, as with several other picks by Jim "82.5 points for Scotch in a can" Murray, I have no idea WTF that hack is on about (really Murray, Crown Royal Northern Harvest?!!???).

    For the money (both srp and auction) there are a whole bunch of Macallan, Glenfarclas and Glendronach expressions that are far more enjoyable.

    That said, this is just my humble opinion, so feel free to blow your money on this whisky; I think MoM has provided two fair options for you to potentially waste your money on this grossly overrated crap.

  57. Stuart says:

    @MoM

    Thanks for reading my comments and taking the time to respond.

    As with most debates, I agree with some of your points, disagree with some and I am afraid struggle to still understand others.

    Firstly, lets deal with your question first, as its polite to respond to that sooner rather than later. Sadly I do not have inside information on how manufacturers determine prices or if they are trying to create 'halo' effects.

    What I can say is this, I can understand how an SRP of 200 quid could be a reasonable retail price. If we assume a standard barrel can hold around 250 bottles thats asking about 50k per barrel. Sounds kind of plausible for limited release. If it was priced at 1000 per bottle thats 250k per barrel which frankly sounds bonkers. But in truth I really do not know so I am just speculating.

    Personally I base my maximum price on what I have to pay to drink regular drams in my local pubs. So on average its 5 quid a shot, 30 shots in a bottle, so in a pub I am paying 150 quid a bottle. So I could drink average whiskies in a pub for 150 a bottle or find something a bit special for 150 and enjoy at home. As with all things you have to allow a bit of variance and I would go as far as 200 for an exceptional bottle but no more. So that should explain my thinking.

    Using this rule I have found and enjoyed some fantastic whiskies, some of which are now subject to massive hype and some of which are not. Afraid I am not going to turn this into a review session and start naming them. Suffice to say that as someone who has been buying these since before all the hype I am very sad to see the hype will now push them out of my price range if all retailers opt for the auction approach.

    Speaking from experience, and as you will know from my posts here and emails directly to you, I am happy to speak my mind. So I have exchanged emails with distilleries and distributers and have found some of them to be very supportive of the genuine drinker and have helped me get hold of some limited release bottles at retail prices. So there may be some halo effect, but I am not fully convinced. I shall not name names but I expect they are following this debate with interest.

    I find your assumption that 99% of bottles sold will go to flippers very interesting and a little hard to believe in some ways, but plausible in others. If you just put limited releases on your website as you did standard releases genuine fans would find them and buy them. I accept that in this case some purchases would end up with flippers but law of averages says a decent percentage would end up with drinkers. Any bottles that find their way to drinkers at RRP is a good result in my book.

    However, limited releases have not been handled like that have they? The date and time of the release has been published and tweeted to the point that every investor, flipper and drinker across every continent knows its happening. They in turn tell their wife, girlfriend, mother and lover and before you know it everyone is trying to buy the stuff. The result is crashed websites and scenes of online chaos as everyone argues and complains over the resulting farce. One question you have not answered is this, if your website had held up during last years BTAC would we be having this debate now?

    Genuine drinkers know when releases are coming, keep an eye open across the web and via their local shops and will find it. Speculators just set up a few web and twitter searches and the news comes to them. Far too easy.

    I accept the fact that you have made up your mind on how you will deal with these releases, thats fine. I cannot agree with your approach and feel I have to at least submit those thoughts to you guys directly. If I did not then I could not justifiably criticise your approach to anyone.

    I am not going to stamp my feet and storm off into the internet and send lots of hate mail via twitter or other online forums. I have had my say and I'll leave it at that.

    I am not your biggest customer I am sure, and I am certainly not saying that I will boycott your site as that would be churlish of me and frankly be daft. For standard releases your service is excellent and I applaud it. But I will be avoiding any auctions and lotteries and I will hope that common sense prevails sooner rather than later.

    As a few others have mentioned, there is a whole world of whiskies out there that are just superb and as yet have not been awarded the Jim Murray death sentence. I'll just drink these until my old favourites go out of style and I can return to them … unless I find I like something else better in which case I will stay where I am. Thats now the risk these 'rare' releases run. As we all know, anyones favourite dram is only their favourite until they find something better. Now is that time by the look of it. As mentioned before, this release is not on my wishlist, I am commenting as I have issue with the whole principle surrounding it. But I am of sound mind and I will move on and look for newer and better whiskies. There are way more out there than I can ever hope to buy or drink so I am just going to move on, with one eye kept on the lunacy that has led to this very debate.

    I encourage everyone to do the same and to have a cerimonial burning of the whisky bible each year as a hommage to true whisky/whiskey drinkers.

  58. Mark says:

    Let's not forget that market value is mostly bullshit and people only believe something is worth something because someone has said that it is or said that prices are going to go up (houses anyone?).

    The whisky is, at best, *worth* about £100. People say it's now worth double and that prices will go up and it's also worth more at auction, therefore people believe it is now worth £200 and are happy to pay that. Part of the problem is the consumer basically being an idiot and paying what they are told by hysteria and false market prices (houses anyone?).

    Not that it makes any difference, or will be able to do so, but I vote with my feet. In recent years I've specifically avoided any "special" releases. They aren't special. I refuse to be part of the problem and I refuse to help push up prices further by buying silly bottles at silly prices. Plenty of other good whisky out there for decent money and as long as people are prepared to pay these prices then they will continue to be released, hoarded and flipped…….and I've never once felt like I've missed out.

    ….but you know what they say about opinions….

  59. James Saxon says:

    I have been reading the comments pinging in with real interest. This comment thread has bucked the trend for most on the internet that extend beyond 10 contributions and remained lucid and restrained. I'd like to thank every single commenter for their level-headedness and reserve, you folks are awesome.

    There are a many comments I could highlight for praise, but the three above (@Ed, @Stuart, @Mark) pretty much sum everything up. Mark in particular is spot on with the confected nature of 'special' releases. Unless you are putting liquid from a closed distillery into a bottle, it ain't 'limited', and any subsequent releases in the same vein will quickly make it less than special. What, I ask you, is so special about this whisky? Is it the provenance, Japan? If it is, there are other, cheaper Japanese whiskies. Is it the cask type? Buy a bottle of a'Bunadh and save yourself a packet. Is it the age? Umm, maybe let's not talk about the age… Is it the strength? We have so little information to go on with this release, other than that there plainly isn't enough of it.

    I won't go quite as far as Ed and criticize the liquid as I haven't tasted it or previous Sherry Casks (I did have a Dram of Hakushu Bourbon Barrel from 2012, though, lovely stuff). Going back to the quality of 'specialness', though, it's entirely manufactured. Yamazaki have chosen how many butts to disgorge, from what ages and flavour profiles. Whether this hysteria has stemmed directly from Senor Murray or not, the demand is there for Japanese malts from Sherry casks and a release of 50,000 bottles would not satisfy it all. The fact remains, though, that Yamazaki could – and in the future will – release more malt spirit aged in Sherry casks.

    Does the demand make the whisky any tastier? Of course not, it just makes it more expensive. Like Ed, I have no interest in trying this particular expression (and like Mark, I tend not to get FOMO), but like every whisky fan I am very curious to see how this frankly ludicrous situation pans out. I want hype to be based on the outstanding quality of the juice, not the meagre facts that 1) it's from Yamazaki 2) there isn't enough to go around. Call me a dreamer.

    As a final point maybe, as Stuart says, not creating such a hullaballoo about when and how you're going to make these bottles available would help to inconvenience the flippers a little more. Softly softly.

    Cheers.

  60. Don Barry says:

    Excellent solution Gents!! I tilt a glass of Hibiki 21 and a good Padron cigar in your general direction!! Cheers!!

  61. Thomas Lee says:

    I would love to sign up for both the auction and the lottery…..I love this system. It's as fair as it's going to get.

    How do I sign up? Please send details so we can be properly prepared.

  62. willp2003 says:

    When I first read about this lottery and auction system I was very disappointed. However, upon reading the facts and only 6 bottles are available then this is probably the fairest solution. I love the fact you'll mark the winning bottle. Who wouldn't want a personalized bottle!?
    If I was lucky enough to win, then I'd post a picture with me an my mates enjoying said bottle.

  63. Ed King says:

    I was dubious about the auction as it will just put it in the hands of a speculator/hoarder, but having read that one will be in a lottery and the rest will be samples I think it's very hard to argue with that logic!

  64. @Paul

    The primary point of the auction isn’t to show people what the market price is – it's to make sure that the money goes somewhere worthwhile.

    Our secondary point was that auctions in general were a fantastic way of establishing / revealing the market price for a thing.

    The reason we’re running an auction, and it’s getting half of the stock which isn’t getting drammed, is because we think it’s actually the way we think things like this should be sold. We’re free-market economists at heart and to be honest, this whole idea of selling something way below its market price just doesn’t sit right with us.

    The fact that in order to actually get a bottle you’re (almost certainly) going to have to pay approximately market price means the issue isn’t so much how much is it going to cost, but rather “who’s going to make that additional margin”. We’d just rather it went to Malaria no More than a speculator, that’s all.

    So the conversation internally was more along the lines of “should we do a lottery as well?” rather than “should we do an auction?”.

    To your second point – our buyers are very, very good, and we individually evaluate every single bottle we buy to make sure they aren’t fake, and if there is any question whatsoever we don't buy it. But… your idea of putting a note on the product page is actually a really good one, so that’s going on the dev stack to implement – thanks for the suggestion 

    In the meantime, you can actually tell whether something is primary or secondary market just by looking at the price – if it’s at or below the release price / RRP / SRP then it’s primary, and if it’s way higher then it’s come from a collection or similar. The only reason anything would ever be priced high is because we bought high – we *never* buy stock on the primary market and then just sit on it until the price goes up. Some people do. We think it stinks.

    Hit the link at the top of the article to see our stockholding policy or just Google “master of malt stock holding policy” and it should come up.

  65. @Stuart

    Ah well, never mind, we thought you might have been on the inside of all this 🙂

    The 99% going to flippers is a bit hyperbolic, but the proportion is shockingly high – over the last couple of years we’ve seen people using increasingly sophisticated approaches to try to secure a valuable bottle at a price they can sell on for a profit. We’re constantly being scraped by many many different people, we see clever attempts to buy several bottles by people using different email addresses, cards and delivery addresses but having the same IP, and more and more people are using proxies to mask even that. We’ve still got some tricks up our sleeve to detect them, but it’s a technological arms race which is getting tougher by the day.

    It this disparity in the effort and resources being deployed by the flippers (who are treating this as a business) and the individual whisky lover which we’re trying to overcome with approaches like this one. If we were to just put the stock up on the site without announcing it the first people to respond would be the people who are monitoring those pages constantly with software, not the private buyers.

    Publicising the release is done, at least in part, to level the playing field and remove this technological advantage (and of course we are running a business and it makes sense to shout about stuff like this when we have it!).

    We think there's probably also a bit of disparity between the way that the majority of whisky fans see flippers, and the way that we see them. Make no mistake – it's our contention that these people are serious, organised and are running pseudo-businesses that are in some cases worth a *lot* of money (in the hundreds of thousands of pounds per year). They have been allowed to proliferate because of the way that the whisky market is broken, and their very existence is what we're trying to 'fix' here by demonstrating one (and we certainly don’t claim it’s the only) model for how the arbitrage opportunity can be eliminated. There are, of course, opportunists as well, but they're not the ones that are posing the serious problem.

    The question about whether we would have chosen this solution were it not for what we internally refer to as “Buffalo Trace-Gate” is a fair one, and the honest answer is that it probably precipitated this happening sooner than it would have, but that it would have happened very shortly thereafter anyway. We’ve been talking about how to deal with hotly contended releases for years, and every time there is one the debate sparks up again.

    For what it’s worth, the chain of events which actually brought the site down was nothing short of remarkable – it was like the sort of thing you’d see in a film where someone shoots a bullet which bounces off about 7 things before splitting a rope which sets the damsel our hero is trying to rescue free. If any one of a whole chain of very unlikely things hadn’t happened, we’d have been fine.

    We’ve made sure that it can’t happen again, at least in that way, but of course it’s impossible to protect against everything. It’s very unlikely that traffic of that ten times that magnitude could take us offline again, but if we get 10,000 requests a second or something else impossibly unlikely happens, then who knows. At any rate, it seems safer to do this in a way which doesn’t rely on technology working perfectly…

    We couldn’t agree more that there are hundreds of incredible whiskies which are no and have never been in the public eye, and represent absolutely great value – there is definitely no need to get caught up in this in order to get your hands on a great dram.

    And one last thing – while we appreciate that you and others don’t necessarily agree with the specific approach we’ve taken here, we’d like to echo James Saxon’s observation about how civil this has all been. We’ve been really impressed with the earnest and honest way this discussion has unfolded. It has been an honour to be able to debate this issue with people who really care about it, without it degenerating into the sort of flame-war all too common on the internets.

    Thank you 🙂

  66. @Mark

    Well, absolutely… We would certainly never suggest that there was a market “value” because a thing’s value to each person varies hugely, even more so when that value is measured in money and depends so much on how much you have But a market “price” can definitely be established.

    As you quite rightly say, there is no need to get involved with whiskies which have caught the public attention if you don’t want to – there are plenty of options out there which are utterly fantastic and don’t cost anything like £200, let alone £1200.

    In some ways this part of the whisky market is like finding a nice place to go on holiday – you’re always looking for the places most people *haven’t* found out about yet.

    Have you tried anything from Paul John?

  67. Paul says:

    One thing I totally agree on is that a sure fire way to flippers out of the game is to sell the stuff at a price that removes their profit – and an auction will certainly do that. Unfortunately, I fear it will also take out some regular drinkers like myself.

    As much as I applaud the idea of donating to charity that will not improve (a) the quantity of supply nor (b) the quality of the product so it matches the ridiculous prices reached. For that the distilleries themselves need to be charging prices that take the flippers out of the game so they can re-invest in the production. And normally they don't. I'm not sure why – halo effect, fear of the backlash when the bubble bursts, who knows.

    Of course the other way to take the flippers out is to deface the bottle / break the seal, etc.
    I'd happily buy a defaced bottle at RRP from a trusted source but I'm never going to be paying auction prices for special releases when things like this are going for +£1400

    Totally agree the civilised debate has been nice. Clearly on a topic that is so contentious and where there are such strong feelings, we are never all going to agree. But that doesn't mean we need to throw insults around.

  68. @Thomas Lee

    It’ll be live in a couple of days, don’t worry, we’ll make a hullabaloo on the blog and twitter before it happens – you’ll have plenty of time to sign up 🙂

  69. Johnny B says:

    @MOM

    Hey everyone , been having a great time reading all input from all you guys! A lot of thought and consideration has gone into this forum and you guys all seem to be driven by your passion for good whisky! I just received my bottle of the 2016 Sherry cask which still remains unopened in the box. I am personally a collector who has no interest in flipping bottles for profit. I just enjoy good whisky and building an exciting collection to grow with me ! So with that being said I might be willing to exchange or do a trade for a rare bottle if you guys are interested!

    I think MOM is a great way to connect the whisky population.

    Johnny.

  70. Stuart says:

    I think the debate is almost at its conclusion now and as several people have already mentioned its been a good healthy debate and managed in a really mature and sensible manner.

    That in itself is some achievement so thanks to everyone for keeping it sensible and allowing so many points to be raised and addressed.

    So its no secret that I will not be taking part in any auctions, I may elect to enter lotteries for defaced bottles at RRP.

    I will for sure keep an eye on all of what goes on as I have a genuine interest.

    Maybe the last comment should be directed towards the manufacturers if any are reading this.

    I think we are all agreed there are a few ways to make flipping less appealing. Auctioning is one for sure. Splitting the bottles up and selling defaced bottles should do but does removing bottles from the market just makes the ones that remain rarer? So could this in fact drive up prices?

    It certainly makes it less appealing as the easy money is gone, but in this case we now know there are 5 less bottles left in the UK. If all retailers were as open and followed a similar model then you could almost work out how few untouched bottles now exist in the UK. I am not sure if this is a problem or just hypothetical scenario that has no real impact as not every retailer is going to be as open and not every retailer will auction or dram or deface bottles.

    However it does lead on to my final point for the manufacturers to consider. Rather than MoM or any other retailer defacing bottles why not number limited release bottles and print a space on the label for the retailer to enter the name of the purchaser and the retailers name?

    The retailer could then note the bottle number and keep a record of the purchaser if the purchaser agreed (and why would a genuine person refuse). Then if the bottle appeared at auction it can be traced and verified. This could also be used to stamp out fakes on the secondary market too as what would people put on the labels of any fakes they tried to copy ? Also, if an empty bottle was refilled a quick check could easily identify it as a fake. Bottles auctioned by retailers for charity could have the label left blank but would need to be registered in order to allow them to be verified as genuine in any future auctions. Then auction sites would need to state if a bottle was verified or not and potentially only sell on verified bottles.

    Clearly there would be lots to consider here, and maybe registering individual bottles is too hard or seen as overkill. But personally I would be happy to register my bottles just like I do for any electrical item.

    This suggestion would need much more thought than this and would cost money, but if the secondary market is as big as is being suggested here then I think we need a proper solution to keep it sensible for genuine people.

    Some people will read this and think its nonsense and a 'Big Brother' approach. Thats fine, its just a suggestion. I do not know for example if most fakes are targetted at cheaper mass market brands or the premium rare stuff. I would think the rare stuff but not sure. But really this is a whole new debate …. so …. I think thats it from me on this.

    Lets see what happens.

    Thanks again for reading and commenting.

  71. Jamie says:

    I really admire this approach. I have been guilty in the past of flipping one or two special releases – but purely so I can afford to buy whiskies that I otherwise could never try. I was fortunate enough to own an unopened bottle of the Yamazaki Sherry 2013 before it won the award. When it did and I saw the auction values I could not justify drinking it. Instead I sold it (wish I had held on longer) and made enough profit to buy an independent bottle of Port Ellen and the 2014 Rosebank special release. Both of these I shall enjoy DRINKING with my whisky buddies. In a way, I am gutted that I never got to drink that Yamazaki – but I would never have got to buy a Port Ellen otherwise. As a huge whisky fan (I run a whisky appreciation club) for me it is all about whisky making it into my glass and the glasses of others – so I am extremely impressed with the approach that MoM have decided to take. Well done chaps.

  72. Largada says:

    Ive been a customer for years because I've never been dis-satisfied with your service, its always been 1st class, A difficult decision gets my support, and as much as i'd love to win the full bottle i'll be more than happy if I just manage to get a wee dram to savour. In fact i'll probably istavideo the moment for all prosperity 🙂
    I think all the politics have been said within previous posts and as i have a lovely collection of whisky i won't be entering the auction, i'll leave that to people with deeper pockets than mine!
    Now lets hope i don't miss the email on the lottery!!
    largada

  73. Take my hat off to you boys and gals. Not many of you moralistic people still in business!
    I will definitely try to get a dram when it's available, but if no luck, good luck to those that do.

  74. Rob Maxfield says:

    Got to agree whisky is for drinkers, get it split up, well done Masters of Malt!

  75. J-P says:

    What I remember from working at Oddbins some years ago was that we were always able to discover truly wonderful things at incredibly reasonable prices. And we were always happy to share this knowledge with anyone who showed an interest. For every over-priced product, there was always an excellent alternative of similar quality but at a much more reasonable price. So from my perspective, expensive limited stuff is almost intentionally targeted at flippers, and I'm perfectly comfortable letting them fight over the stuff. While I get loads more bottles, which I enjoy loads more, for a lot longer, with lots more friends.

  76. Carol Manson says:

    A well-considered decision, kudos to you. I admit to being personally pleased as well, as I am one of those who merely wish to taste it, and hope to be able to purchase one of your wee drams.

  77. Brian says:

    don't worry about what others might do with something you sell them, you can't control it, so what's the point in trying. If you don't like the idea of someone buying a bottle of whisky, then reselling to make profit, your in the wrong job. Just sell all your whisky for whatever you can get and keep the money, pay off your mortgage, take the family on holiday, buy some nice bottles of whisky, enjoy yourself. Don't overthink stuff.

  78. Chris says:

    Fantastic article and the best approach to the issues.

    Well done!

  79. Lucky says:

    Lucky I was able to buy plenty. Losers.

  80. Keith B says:

    I am an American. And that will color (colour?) much of my comments.

    I think individuals’ personalities are informed by their surroundings, and in what nation they live is a significant part of that. How a nation is formed or how it develops provides much of the national personality. The United States of America was founded in revolution and formed in rugged individualism. To this day, less now than in the past, we still chafe at authority and want to make our own of the world, not exist as pets on handouts. Unfortunately our European cousins in recent generations (since the second World War) seem to be less interested in rugged individualism and more interested in a safety net. Just my observation.

    How does that fit into the Yamazaki Sherry cask? While the discussion has been a little amusing, it has been mostly horrifying. Here in the United States we are seriously entertaining electing a socialist to be the President. Taking from those who produce and giving to those who do not has never been a successful national policy ever in the history of the world. It has always left misery and want and suffering. Looking objectively, capitalism – or free markets, or freedom to make your own economic decisions – has always led to greater prosperity for the greatest number people as compared to any other national economic model. This is of course self-evident and anyone who evaluates history objectively will confirm this.

    The key to a free productive economy is freedom. That means the only two people who should be able to decide how to pursue a transaction are the two people selling and buying. Regardless of what one is selling, he can sell it for a penny or for a million dollars. Whether it’s a home or an apple or a bottle of scotch. In a free system, the buyer is free to buy or not to buy.

    It’s when a third party gets involved that trouble starts. If apples are too expensive, you can pass a law that says apples can be sold at no more than a penny a piece. That seems good for buyers but terrible for sellers. But it is terrible for both – someone not involved in the transaction is making rules. Why is it terrible? What will happen to apples? The buyers will be overjoyed. Until the current batch runs out. Will the growers work hard in the orchard to provide the best apples? Of course not. Not at a penny an apple. So the quality of apples – which is good now – will go down. What about the good apples? Will the growers sell those? Of course not. They will consume those apples themselves, give them to friends, or sell on the black market. Will the growers grow apples? Of course not. Not at a penny an apple. They may dig up the field and use it to develop offices or homes. They may dig up the trees and plant orange trees. Will anyone else build new orchards? Of course not. So not only the seller loses, but you will see what ALWAYS happens every time the government or another third party intervenes and distorts the private free market – you will see decreased quality, scarce resources, and a black market. For a real world example, this is exactly what happens with rent control.

    In terms of the people who commented the “market value” is 200 GBP, that’s just silly. The market value is what people pay. Is a baseball player worth $10M per year? You may not like it, but yes he is. How am I so sure? Because someone with a free choice how to spend his money paid him $10M last year. If you let free people spend their time and effort freely, you get exactly the fair market price.

    The problem of course is a lot of people want this bottle. And unfortunately it will mostly sell for silly money on the secondary market. Is that fair? I’d like to drive a Ferrari but I’d like to pay $50K. Is it fair a millionaire can drive a Ferrari but I can’t? I can. I just have to come up with a quarter million dollars. And that’s crazy.

    I think people are just upset that whisky was undervalued for so long we could buy good old whisky for very little money and now it is unfortunately probably valued more accurately.

    The bottom line is, if someone will pay $100 for the bottle and someone else will pay $2000 for the bottle, it is worth $2000 even if the person unwilling to pay $2000 really wants to drink it. The “chaps” were clear and I think every honest person agrees – the bottle will sell for let’s say $2000. Yamazaki is not going to see that money. It’s either going to flippers or to charity. So if you’re honest with yourself the real question is do you want the flippers to make that money or do you want the Malaria charity to receive it. We aren’t getting these bottles for 200 GBP.

    Unfortunately increasingly people don’t live in the real world. They want something great but don’t want to pay for it or want someone else to pay for it. We see this unfortunately in our last two elections here in the States and all over Europe where people vote for generous health care and retirement programs but have no way to pay for it. Eventually you run out of other people’s money and we seem to be there today. There is no free ride, as everyone in the world has been finding out these last 5-10 years.

    Anyway, I’ll take two bottles please, at 200 GBP.

    Be well,
    Keith

  81. Lucky says:

    Keith, you are a tool. Capitalism is not the answer. When that 14 trillion debt doubles and triples, the Chinese will rule the world. God help the world if we get President Trump.

  82. R Craymer says:

    My initial dealings with MoM have been excellent; from on-line availability to service and condition of bottles/packaging on arrival! I thought I would add that I feel your solution to this quandary is most acceptable.

    If only more companies genuinely strived to find a better balance between customer satisfaction and maximum profit!

    Oh and Keith (above), you have a point to some extent but the problem with your idea is that not everyone starts from a level playing field do they? If everyone had exactly the same educational/ occupational opportunities etc, then I think your way might be fairer. As it is, there is gaping financial inequality world wide – your view would ultimately lead to elitism and a wider financial gap that would make it very hard for 'poorer' people to even sample the finer things. Yes, they should be worked/paid for but not everyone has that chance (or as good a chance as others) as it stands! Well done MoM

  83. R. Morris says:

    I guess its the least problematic method applied. With that said, the odds of me winning are slim to none, and the odds of actually being able to afford to by a bottle is nil.

    I'll thank myself for playing, (for nothing) and see myself out.

  84. John Forbes says:

    I bought my wife a Diamond ring which she adores. Cant see it myself, I deal in rocks big bloody rocks, granite that is. Now granite is a world commodity just like copper, zinc, iron etc etc. My argument here with you guys is that you think that only Whisky drinkers should buy Whisky. Bullshit, I have done my 50 hours this week and earned my money. I can buy what I want with my hard earned. If it wasn't for people like me Whiskey would still be an old mans drink for Cardigan wearing rosy cheeked fellas to sip whilst complaining about the price of toilet roll.
    I love the fact that Whisky has become a hyped up exploded investment, you see I am from Scotland and any Whisky (without the 'e') making waves is fine by me. The biggest issue I have with this Japanese stuff is that it not even real Whisky, it a copy and for Jim Murray to be such a traitor making it No 1, the guy should be packed off to England never to return. Anyway entered the draw, still like to taste this crap dram, if only to spit it down the sink…. I am not going to suck up your arses thou. x

  85. Keith B says:

    Hi. Not planning on continuing a political discussion but you realize that capitalism is merely the system of free trade between entities right? It is not a scary monster as portrayed by the left. It's only the Application of freedom in the marketplace. Next you understand that it is governments distortion of the market that results in trillions of dollars of debt. Not capitalism. Next you realize that people truly have different capacities and abilities. Some are smart and some less so. Some tall some short. Some hard working and some lazy. This is human nature. Capitalism accepts human nature and thrives from it. It's when you ignore human nature and say "from each according to his ability to each according to his need" that you bring poverty and want. Final point – however much you may dislike what you think mean when you use the word, there is no financial system that has brought more prosperity to more people ever in the history of the world than capitalism. To the extent the system is closer to capitalism, acknowledging human nature and working with it not against it and allowing freedom in financial transactions, the more prosperous the most people are. To the extent the government controls or alters the marketplace and removes freedom (communism, socialism) the less prosperity for its citizens and the greater scarcity. Look at North Korea for an extreme example of government control, China and Russia before they had marketplace reforms as slightly less, France as less, and us as less.
    One reason I think we are in this financial crisis is because the government distorts the market too much (trillions in debt) and also because citizens are so poorly educated as to what capitalism and free enterprise is. There will always be rich and poor. People have different abilities. The question is do you want the rich to be people like bill gates who brought extraordinary productivity to the world or people like party apparatchiks from the dominant government party who produce nothing?
    My two cents.

  86. Ian Hucklesby says:

    Good work lads! If I had my way I'd dram the lot and invite everyone who bought it to a nice warm room with lots of perfectly cooked red meat to sample the stuff on mass!

    Whisky is for drinking not to be kept in the box as an expensive bookend!

  87. Mick says:

    You can use two different colours of sharpies on the full fecking bottle for all I care. I could do without the glitter tho and would take a package of "Prawn Cocktail" TAYTO(the pink bag) in place of the pancakes.

    Mick(category 1)

  88. James says:

    I'm a tad confused –

    Will the extra over raised from the dram lottery go to charity (i.e. MOM keep the £200 RRP and the rest raised goes to fight mosquitos)?

    Secondly, will entry to the dram lottery mean automatic entry to the bottle lottery?

    Apologies if I am being thick, but it's Friday afternoon, been a long week and very much looking forward to a well deserved dram (or five)!
    🙂

  89. Devout Cynic says:

    I may be rowing against the tide somewhat, but I beg to suggest that within any market, there are three separate retail prices for Whisky, wherever it originates.
    1) The price offered to market by the producer / distributor, in this case £200 RRP
    2) The price realised at auction immediately after the release, which will often be considerably elevated over RRP.
    3) The price realised at auction some months later when the initial hype, and perceived 'scarcity' premium, have been largely discounted.
    I would opine therefore that the real market value lies somewhere in between 1) and 3) but certainly NOT 2) as this is simply a short term valuation, which is generally unsustainable.
    I would cite the recent rather ordinary 'limited' release of the Glenmorangie 'A Midwinter Night's Dram', which hit the shelves at about £40 per bottle, and then went on to make £160 at auction immediately after, before falling back to around £50 currently (this being a more realistic guide to 'market value' than £160 ever could be)) – all of this taking place whilst said bottle could be easily obtained from various sources, for £40, unless purchased from Sainsbury's on offer, at £35!
    Whilst this latest release of the Yamazaki Sherry Case is undoubtedly a very fine dram, clearly, without the aid of Jim Murray's 2015 Whisky Bible, coupled to a limited quantity being released by Yamazaki, there would be little, or no, over hyped clamour for this particular offering, excellent though it may be!
    I would contend therefore that this 'manufactured' situation has created an artificial demand, for which no one in their right mind should be prepared to pay very much over the release price of £200.
    Master of Malt are creating, and capitalising on, marketing hype, much as Diageo did at the tail end of 2015, with their annual release of Port Ellen & Brora, after they saw punters making a killing on the immediate aftermarket on previous releases, and decided to have some of it for themselves – it's called 'market forces', or taking the Micky (or something like that).
    I normally respect MoM as a reputable supplier, but in all honesty, I think that over this issue, someone within those hallowed walls, is winding the whisky community up, and frankly having a bit (lot) of a laugh!
    Could this be where 'whiskysponge' plies his trade, by any chance?

  90. That's how the cookie crumbles says:

    The problem is not the flippers here.

    And believe me when I say this but I am not trying to defend them neither do I hate them though. I just like to keep a critical view from both sides of the coin and something irks me in this case.

    All of you (including myself) so called "whisky lovers" are just bothered that the whisky you so badly want to try is not easy to get and you want to grab it for cheap. Yeah I'd like that too.

    Flippers find a market with enough potential and take advantage of it. And that goes for everything whether it is Japanese whisky or Jamaican condoms.

    If there was no demand there would be no flippers. Who created this hype over Yamazaki?
    And I don't mean just this particular whisky but pretty much all Yamazaki whiskies. Have you seen their prices when they sell out?

    Also if the argument is "we want to make sure only whisky drinkers get it" then let me ask this.
    When a flipper flips something who will buy it?

    A collector or person that wants to drink it or another flipper? Hardly the latter one.
    There is zero profit margin after it gets flipped to be flipped again. So that argument goes out the window.

    As much as @MoM motives make "sense" at first glance I call bs. The only reason they worry about who gets it is simply because the can't make that profit themselves. They'd be out of business in no time if they did that. Also charity? Why not do that for all hard to get whiskies? Again they'd be out of business in no time.

    God forbid if all whiskies (or any expensive product wherever) only went to auction/charity/scribbled over (pr whatever else) just so that the next guy won't flip it.

    That's hypocritical at best.

  91. Ash says:

    I'm really glad that speculators ruined my chances of buying and driving a Porsche 964 and now stopped me drinking this even though I have the original release and the 2013 release which are half empty (I'm a pessimist) 😥 Cheers!

  92. mike says:

    Even though I did not win the dram, I respect your attitude about letting more people get to try the product, and knowing that almost 6000 individuals tried for the 90 drams, makes me feel like your efforts were well done!! Good on you MOM, I have total respect for your approach and your company. Keep up the great work! And keep shipping to the USofA and especially Hawaii!

  93. @James (re automatic entry into the bottle lottery)

    Ya see, if we’d thought this through more thoroughly we’d have had an option for people to enter both lotteries at the same time wouldn’t we… Balls.

    What we ended up doing was including a special link in all the emails we sent out to the dram lottery winners (and the not-so-winners) which allowed anyone who entered the dram lottery to enter the bottle lottery in a single click.

    Thanks for pointing that out – I know it’s taken us a few days to respond but it was your comment that made us think about this and do something.

  94. @Devout Cynic

    I think what you’re recognising here is that market prices change with time, and of course you’re right – we’re definitely not suggesting that the market price is some fixed arbitrary static thing, it’s just the price at which it’s changing hands at that particular time.

    We’re not ones to speculate on future prices – but if one of our chums was buying this up at auction because it was “bound to go up in value” we’d have no hesitation threatening to slap the taste out of their mouth.

    A few people have mentioned how much we’re benefiting from all the hubbub, and I guess that’s true, although it wasn’t actually the purpose of what we’re doing (nor this blog post). It’s not clear how we talk about something like this without fanning the flames – and I suspect we both appreciate the irony that even this discussion about it is in and of itself contributing to it.

    We’ll take your last point as a complement – the Cognac Loofah may well work for “a” whisky retailer, just not for “this” whisky retailer 🙂

  95. Simon says:

    Completely agree with your approach to this. In addition to whisky, I'm also a consumer of records. It really pisses me off when you get to a record shop at 6am, queue up and find that what you were after is gone – because some dick has bought it and stuck it on eBay to turn a quick profit.

    People like that need some hairy side.

  96. McAlba says:

    I was enjoying Stuarts post until he used "roll" and not "role "or even better "rôle".
    Athough in hindsight , he may have bap envy.
    Chin chin

  97. R. A. says:

    So where are the winners being listed on the website? Does anyone have a link?

  98. ALAN SASSOON says:

    currently there is a bottle of this in a London based online auction ending in 5 days….the bid is currently an astounding 2200 pounds…that being said I am prepared to forego the money and drink this with my family should I be fortunate enough to win

  99. Jon says:

    Just wanted to add my voice to the rest of the folks who like how you are handling this. I additionally find it funny how many people are whining about not being able to buy and flip the bottle. They scream that it's their right to charge whatever they want for it after they buy it… but they'd probably also be the first to complain about you "gouging" them if you charged $2k as a retail price. LOL

    I've been a customer for years from across the pond, and it's always been a pleasure to work with you. Keep up the great work!

    Cheers!

  100. Karlson says:

    From MoM words;

    So, in order to filter out everyone but the people who really do want to try it, we're going to be writing the following all over the back label of the bottles won at lottery:

    “I, [your lucky winning name], hereby swear not to sell this bottle – but to drink it with my chums. May my taste-buds and olfactory bulb shrivel and die if I should break my word.”

    See category (1) – told you we liked you.

    So from what I've understood… the person who win the bottle via lottery will get it for free?? Right??

    And also as I've understood that you don't like,AS YOU named your customers 3) Speculators want to flip* it, Right???

    Oh,Jeez I've so many questions regarding what you've wrote in this article..

    Thanks

  101. @R. A.

    We’re not actually going to post up the names of the lottery winners publically, but people bidding in the auction have the option to either show or hide their name. If they choose not to hide it then you’ll see who won 🙂

  102. @Karlson

    The lotteries are for the opportunity to buy a bottle at the £200 (rather than whatever they’re selling for in the market at the moment – thousands it sounds like). So while you’d get to buy it at a tiny fraction of the current market price, it’s not free.

    The next bit is a bit confusing so apologies if we’ve misunderstood – it seems like you’re saying we don’t like speculators / flippers. That’s absolutely not the case – some of our best friends are flippers, why, we even used a toilet which had been previously used by a flipper just the other week!

    Seriously though – the message here is not that the flippers are doing anything wrong at all – it’s that the *system* by which whisky like this is released onto the market is fundamentally broken. You can’t blame someone for taking advantage of a broken system, but you can try and fix it, or at least demonstrate one potential way to help fix it, and that’s what we’re trying to do here.

    If you’ve got questions, fire away, and we’ll do our best to answer ‘em!

  103. @Johnny B

    Thanks 🙂

    Absolutely – we’d love to! We’ve dropped you an email – assuming all goes well we’ll dram it and run another dram lottery to allocate them so it’ll be going to a good home (well, 23 good homes).

    In fact, and we probably should have said this sooner – if anyone does have bottles they would like to sell, please drop us an email (hello@masterofmalt.com) – anything we buy we’ll dram so as many people as possible can try it.

  104. @That's how the cookie crumbles

    The argument isn’t “we want to make sure only drinkers get it” at all, it’s “if you want to be able to flip it you’re going to have to pay market price”.

    A bottle can be sold on many times without being drunk, just like any other investment – the investor speculates on it going up in value over time – there’s no rule that it can only be flipped once. Of course at some point it’ll probably be cracked open and drunk (if it hasn’t been broken or met another untimely end) but all the margin in that transactional chain will accrue to people who traded it.

    So the question is, who would you like to get the margin from at least the first of those trades? We prefer a charity, and we think Malaria no More is a particularly good and effective charity (they’re saving a *lot* of lives).

    Everyone’s free to choose though, if you don’t like the auction giving the over-RRP margin to charity then other auctions are available 🙂

    You suggest that we’d go out of business if we just auctioned things like this off and kept all the money, but lots of retailers do pretty much that – you’ll notice that not all (sometimes none) of their allocation goes up for sale initially, but pops up later on at a much higher price. It certainly doesn’t seem to have sent them out of business, yet… Now, as far as we’re concerned that’s fine – it’s their property and they can sell it for whatever they like – but we definitely wouldn’t be comfortable doing it.

    As for your suggestion that if we did it with all hard to find whiskies we’d be out of business, I just don’t see how that works – we make the same margin whether they go out via the lottery or get auctioned. In both cases it’s as if we’ve sold it at the RRP.

    In fact, this is *exactly* what we’re planning to do with every limited release – if we think something is likely to sell out in a few hours or less then we’ll send a load of it off for dramming, and split the rest of the stock between lottery and charity auction.

  105. Ian says:

    I like your stance on this. An excellent non-elitist approach. It's such a shame when things that should be the small pleasures in everyday life are held out of reach by greedy opportunists. I have seen the same thing happen with nice guitars – bought by collectors at inflated prices, and stored in sealed boxes and not played. Where is the enjoyment in that?
    Remember what your mums said folks – it's rude not to share.

  106. Mark Malby says:

    Did you draw the lottery for the Drams and the bottle yet?

  107. Ian says:

    No I haven't yet.

  108. Martin Smith says:

    I have just read the blog – a bit late! I think that this blog has shown that you guys have a good and honest approach to your business which I applaud, and I will certainly be purchasing all my whisky from you from now on. Good on you.

  109. Michelle says:

    Thanks for house keeping. Sounds more than fair.

  110. Richard says:

    Anyone who is going to drink it does not give one shit about you scrawling over the label. Flippers would probably brag about it for an extra buck anyway, wankers. Don’t you dare back down from that part of your intent, MoM!! I just wish they’d do the same for those Feis Isle bottlings, too.

  111. WhiskeyHoarder says:

    And what exactly is wrong in buying whisk(e)y as an investment?? All these people banging on about how “It’ll end in tears”. I buy 3 bottles of George T Stagg each autumn, without fail, for around the £120 mark (plus VAT) and I could flip them the next day for around £400 but I don’t. I’ve probably got more George T Stagg in my cupboards than anyone except the distillery but I’ve kept hold of every last drop because the price increases by a higher % each year than I could ever hope to get in a bank in my wildest dreams. Also, there’s a reason I buy 3 bottles specifically… Anyone? 😉

  112. The Chaps at Master of Malt says:

    @WhiskeyHoarder

    Absolutely nothing wrong with buying whisky as in investment, and we’re certainly not against it – we’re just not going to go out of our way to sell stuff below market price. We would rather sell at the current market price and give the difference to charity because think that’s a better use of the money than it either going to an investor or keeping the additional margin ourselves.

    Everyone is free to do what they like though, and we’re certainly not against other people doing investing in whisky if that’s what they want to do – this is just how we deal with our allocations here at MOM.

    Very jealous of your Stagg collection, let us know if you’d like any of it drammed 🙂

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