The Glenlivet 12 Discontinued In Mature Markets
You may or may not have picked up on this, but there have been some rumors floating around about the discontinuation of The Glenlivet 12. These rumors stem from a couple different German websites. On Whisky.de for example, there is a short but clear statement: ‘Wird vom Markt genommen’, which translates to ‘Is taken from the market’. That’s quite the message, because The Glenlivet 12 is arguably (perhaps only trailing behind the 12yo Glenfiddich) the biggest single malt in the world.
To make matters worse: it was suggested on reddit that The Glenlivet 12 would be replaced by the new The Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve. So not only would the 12yo disappear, its replacement would be a No Age Statement-whisky. Sad news from a company that not that long ago launched a global campaign called The Age Matters.
For the last week or so I’ve been in contact with Pernod Ricard, the company that owns The Glenlivet, trying to get some answers. They’ve mostly been very helpful, although their initial answer left me with a lot of new questions. And Pernod Ricard has decided not to answer my follow ups because ‘that would require them to release competition-sensitive information’. But before I get ahead of myself, let’s start at the beginning.
Discontinued: yes or no?
This first answer is a short one: no. Which means that yes, the 12yo is and will stay part of the portfolio of The Glenlivet. Or in the exact words of the spokesperson from Pernod Ricard: “The Glenlivet 12 Year Old remains, and will remain, the biggest reference in The Glenlivet portfolio globally and the core reference for the brand.”
But as with a lot of things, this is a little bit more complicated. Because why then would a reputable retailer like Whisky.de announce that The Glenlivet 12 will disappear? The easiest way to explain this is to just show you the rest of the answer I received from Pernod Ricard.
“Founder’s Reserve will roll out in countries where whisky knowledge is strong, consumers are becoming more familiar with new concepts, are by far the most developed in their tastes and have the greater thirst for new products.
Whilst not all countries will stock both and some countries may stock one or the other, this is about us having an opportunity to explore The Glenlivet with a new expression that focuses on a key element of the brand and its heritage. We feel that the time is right to bring something brand new to our consumers.”
So to recap: The Glenlivet 12 will stay, the Founder’s Reserve will replace the 12yo in some countries and will be sold alongside it in others.
So now what?
So I had my answer, but I wasn’t really satisfied. I wanted more information. Below are the first questions that popped into my mind.
1. You’re saying that not all countries will stock both. Obviously Germany will be one of those countries. Is there a list of countries that will lose the 12yo, so to speak?
2. Does Pernod Ricard decide what countries get the 12yo, the Founder’s Reserve, or in some cases both? Or is that decision being made by local importers?
3. Looking at this worldwide, will there still be the same amount of 12yo available? Or does the introduction of The Founder’s Reserve mean there will be less? And if so, how much less 12yo will there be?
4. Regarding the previous question: if there will be less of the 12yo, is that because stock of 12yo Glenlivet is running low?
These are the exact questions I sent in reply to the initial response of Pernod Ricard. They replied to my first email within 24 hours, but after I asked my more in-depth questions things quickly went silent. It took over a week (along with some gentle pushing on my part) to get a final answer: “Sadly we can not provide you the exact details of the new launch because of competition-sensitive information.” Which was quickly followed by the company line: “The Glenlivet 12 Year Old remains, and will remain, the biggest reference in The Glenlivet portfolio globally and the core reference for the brand.”
I can understand that the people at Pernod Ricard don’t feel an obligation to provide a tiny blog like mine with all the information I asked for. But it is a shame though, because all I can do now is speculate, instead of providing you with facts.
What we now know is this: some countries will lose The Glenlivet 12. Germany is one of them, the others will remain a mystery for now. It is fair to conclude that although the 12yo will not be discontinued, it will be at least partly replaced by the Founder’s Reserve. So an Age Statement-whisky loses ground to a more profitable Non Age Statement-whisky. And 99 out of 100 times, that means that stock of 12yo whisky is running low at a distillery, in this case The Glenlivet.
Which is nothing to be ashamed of really. It is something that almost every distillery has to deal with right now. The good news: The Glenlivet have upped their capacity in 2010 by 75 percent, so it should be a matter of time before they have enough stock to bring back the 12yo to every corner of the world. On the other hand the Founder’s Reserve might turn out to be highly profitable. So the question that lingers most though is: will they?
UPDATE (February 7th 2015): Not long after I posted this blog, The Glenlivet sent out an email to their Guardians in the UK, announcing that the Founder’s Reserve will replace The Glenlivet 12 in the United Kingdom from March 2015. So that means we now know of two countries that will lose the 12yo: both Germany and the UK. If you read this and you know of other countries where the 12yo will be discontinued, please let me know in the comments below this article.
Thijs is a spirits writer and accredited liquorist from The Netherlands. He runs the blog Words of Whisky and contributes to a number of Dutch and international publications.