Today industry veteran Ian Buxton peers into the future to see what the wide world of drinks will bring in 2020. Warning, it’s not worth betting your house on his predictions.
In looking into my crystal ball, I determined for this final column of 2019 to seek out the views of senior and influential industry leaders on the prospects for the spirits industry in the coming year and publish a range of informed and authoritative views on what the future holds for all of us.
Then I thought, ‘sod it, that’s a lot of work and they’ve no more idea than I have’, so here, in a spirit of frivolity entirely unsuited to the impending environmental apocalypse that’s about to engulf the known universe / fantastic economic Boris Boom as we ‘get Brexit done’ (delete as applicable), are the predictions to be found in Old Buxton’s Almanack (price several large ones at a PR junket, sorry ‘media briefing’, near you).
The following article contains forward-looking views and opinions. Master of Malt accepts no liability for any decisions taken on the basis of this ‘information’. In fact, Master of Malt doesn’t accept any liability for anything. Frankly, you’re on your own.
January: Mystery Egyptian collector Mustafa Dram pays £1m at auction for a piece of paper with ‘Macallan’ written on it. Ken Loach announces filming to start on Angels’ Share 2, starring Charlie MacLean as himself and Jacob Rees-Mogg as Dr Dick Horgan, would-be PR exec. Two new craft gins launched this month.
February: American craft distillery Ultimate Spirits launches Ultimate Monster Peat Whiskey (also available in herring barrel finish). Pernod Ricard buys the distillery. Four new craft gins launched.
March: Not to be outdone the folks at Bruichladdich reveal their ultimate peated whisky, The Peat Behemoth. Distilled by their peat master Peter ‘Peaty’ Peterson in peat-fired stills and aged in casks buried in a peat bog, each bottle contains a peat widget that releases a concentrated burst of phenols when the bottle is opened. “It’s verra peaty,” says Peterson “but ah just keep mine in the safe. We’re hoping Mustafa Dram will visit soon.” Eight new craft gins launched.
April: Mystery Egyptian collector sells piece of paper with ‘Macallan’ on it for £1.5m to Cayman Islands based ‘whisky investment fund’, but pays £5m for bottle of Macallan 10 Year Old. “It says Macallan on the label,” says Dram. “Look, I can see it here.” 16 new craft gins launched.
May: Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon raises stakes on Boris Johnson with unilateral declaration of Scottish independence and reveals ‘Resource Tax’ on distillery water supplies. “It’s Scotland’s water,” she cries into her Irn Bru. 32 new craft gins launched.
June: Chivas Brothers cancels Chinese project and announce £200m investment in new Carlisle distillery. SWA commences legal action against the estate of deceased country singer Glen Campbell for ‘passing-off’. 64 new craft gins launched.
July: Greece leaves the Euro. The New Drachma immediately devalues by 50%. Greek spirits market collapses. Scotland applies to join the EU. Construction begins on Boris’ Wall along Scotland/England border. English Whisky Association applies for GI protection for ‘English whisky’.128 new craft gins launched.
August: Nothing happens in August. Everyone is on holiday in Greece. Greek spirits market recovers. New Scottish currency ‘The Bawbie’ immediately devalues 50%. No-one notices. 256 new craft gins launched.
September: Macallan launches £10m Ridicularius with label by Banksy; only bottle bought by Geneva-based whisky investment fund Fleece, Ewe & Runne which outbidded Mustafa Dram. 512 new craft gins launched.
October: “Rum is the new gin,” claims rather pompous PR hack Dr Dick Horgan. No-one tells consumers as gin craze continues unabated: 1,024 new craft gins launched.
November: Diageo re-opens Port Ellen and Brora distilleries in a move to “restore authenticity to single malt”. Whistleblower reveals leaked internal email reading “can you believe what they’ll pay for this stuff? I mean – seriously.” Banksy Macallan self-destructs; shattered bottle now worth £20m. 2,048 new craft gins launched.
December: Geneva-based whisky investment fund Fleece, Ewe & Runne files bankruptcy papers. Macallan launches limited edition £150m Absurditas, each bottle comes with a free distillery. Gin consumers notice they’re drinking mostly flavoured vodka; 4,096 new craft gins launched; Pernod Ricard buys them all. Master of Malt rebranded as Master of Gin.
Enjoy your passionate handcrafted artisanal journey to 2020 and I’ll see you in the New Year. Slainte!