The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has previously shared the results of a survey conducted in 2022 showing that over half of all Scotch Whisky distillers have seen their costs double in the previous 12 months and expected further increases in 2023.
The survey found that 57% of distillers have seen energy costs increase by more than 10% in 2022, with nearly a third (29%) seeing their energy costs double. Despite rising costs, the industry expected to continue to invest in operations and supply chain.
These rising costs have resulted in an expected increase on the shelf price that UK consumers can find at their local brick-and-mortar stores or online, whether looking to purchase a Single Malt Scotch whisky at entry level (10yo-12yo) or a more premium variant of the same brand (18yo-21yo).
However not all increases have been equal and this is visible on pricing available through the public domain, such as online via Amazon UK. For the purpose of this quick pricing review, I have taken only products listed directly online via Amazon UK (not via 3rd parties) over the last 4-6 years using price tracker resources such as Camelcamelcamel.
Information on pricing history such as the graph above for Glenfiddich 18yo single malt scotch whisky is available and it shows the pricing history for the sku (stock keeping unit), in this example since 2013.
As the table shows, the price variation for Premium Single Malts (18yo-21yo) varies significantly depending on the product, and it is worth highlighting that this is likely to include a mix of base pricing and promotional pricing.
The premium sku showing the main variation of current pricing vs. lowest ever pricing is GlenDronach 18yo which seems to suggest a repositioning of the base price for this product. Glen Grant 18yo on the other hand seems to have been less variable in price and in fact, experienced a base price reduction according to the sample data found.
On average, the 16x products selected within the Premium Single Malts list have an average current price of £111.06 currently (data taken in December ’23), showing a 68% increase vs. its lowest price position and a variation of 103% between its lowest and highest price points.
The entry level variants (10yo-12yo) of the same brands were selected for the Entry Level Single Malts list, as per the table below. The average current price is £36.85 (corresponding to 33% of the Premium Single Malts current price), showing a 37% increase vs. its lowest price position and a variance of 67% between its lowest and highest price positions.
Ledaig 10yo shows the smallest variance between its highest and lowest price points with an increase in its base price position mid way through 2022, whilst Glenmorangie 12yo’s current price is within 10% of its lowest price point and probably a promotional price as the brand seems to be actively promoted in price (the base price seems to have been shifted to over £50).
Talisker 10yo has shown a greater variation between its highest base price and its lowest promotional price, and it looks to be on promotion currently which would be expected given the time of the year.
Old Pulteney 12yo seems to have stretched out its base price whilst lowering further its promotional price, as the graph above shows.
Clearly the approach for Scotch whisky producers will vary depending on the company, the brand, their promotional strategy and where the brand is situated in terms of price point/ positioning within the Single Malt category (entry level x premium) as the price elasticity will probably be higher at the premium end (i.e. premium products are more likely to be able to shift up in price without impacting negatively on demand in comparison to entry level products which tend to be more price sensitive, although to what extent remains to be seen).
The lesson for consumers is to become more savvy by shopping around, actively looking at promotional deals for their favourite brands and products (using price tracking and price alert tools online for example) whilst being open minded to widen their repertoire and trying other brands which may offer better value from time to time.
On a personal level, I would always suggest for consumers to support their local independent and speciality stores as these can offer a wide variety of curated products whilst providing a level of support and knowledge difficult to find at your local supermarket or even online, which is just priceless.