A recent visit to a normally well-stocked liquor emporium in Minneapolis in search of an excellent midrange single-malt brought this writer nothing but frustration—the stuff wasn’t available at the distributor level, a clerk explained, thanks in part to a booming Asian market with a seemingly endless thirst for good brown liquor.

That anecdote connects nicely with a Telegraph story about obscenely expensive bottles of old Scotch being “snapped up” by superrich customers in China and the Gulf States.

Whether the Scotches (which, unlike fine wines, don’t age once bottled) are worth the asking price or we’re witnessing another Rockefeller Center–style fleecing of the East by the West is up for debate.

From the Telegraph: “Dave Broom, contributing editor to Whisky Magazine: ‘The whiskies don’t have to be this pricey. I get the feeling sometimes that it’s more about lovely boxes than lovely liquid. That’s not to say malt whisky can’t operate in the luxury category, but some distillers are pushing things too far in my view.’”

Distillers, of course, take a different stance:

“David Robertson, head of the Dalmore brand, which released twelve bottles of The Dalmore Sirius 1951 vintage last month, said all of them had been bought within a week. ‘These are very limited editions of very old whiskies. There just isn’t much 50-year-old whisky around any more. We are lucky enough to have some,’ he said.”

If availability of great whiskey is a sign of civilizational power, the West may want to play some catch-up. And if it’s not, it’s still dashed annoying when Zipp’s is out of Highland Park 18.

Image source: Flickr member sashafatcat under Creative Commons

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