Rumour Mill is a new section in which I’ll occasionally write about persistent rumours in the whisky industry. Rumours that either can’t or won’t be confirmed by the distillery or company they concern, but are still substantial enough to be mentioned and discussed. Today’s rumour: the Longmorn 16 and Scapa 16 will soon disappear from the shelves.
I’ve tried to get confirmation from Pernod Ricard, the company that owns both Longmorn and Scapa, regarding this rumor. But over the course of several months it became clear that they weren’t willing to tell me much. Which probably means that yes, there are changes coming and that it might mean that the Longmorn 16 and Scapa 16 will be replaced. Otherwise they would’ve just given me a hard ‘No!’, right? Let me take you through the process.
First of all: where did this rumor start? That is not too difficult. It began on the Scotch Malt Whisky Forum about three months ago. A user posted an excerpt from an email he received from his local branch of The Whisky Shop. The language couldn’t be more clear.
“Scapa 16yo (21035) is being discontinued by Pernod Ricard, with immediate effect. There will be a replacement product but details have yet to be confirmed.
Longmorn 16yo (21034) is being discontinued by Pernod Ricard, we should get some stock on the next order which is due in early April but this will be the last of it. There will be a replacement product by details have yet to be confirmed.”
I never like to get my news from a secondhand source, so I asked the forum user if he/she was willing to forward the email to me. I never heard from him/her again. That meant it was time to contact Pernod Ricard. I won’t bore you with the details, but suffice it to say that it took them some time formulate their answer. Here it is:
“Innovation remains at the heart of Chivas Brothers’ strategy for continuing to lead the dynamic growth within the single malt Scotch whisky category. As part of this, we are seeking to broaden our ranges, including those of Scapa and Longmorn, and look forward to announcing the full details in due course.”
What conclusion can we draw from this statement? First of all, they are careful not to use the word discontinued or replaced. They talk about broadening the ranges of Scapa and Longmorn. If you’re inclined to optimism, it might mean that both the Scapa 16 and the Longmorn 16 are here to stay, AND there will be new expressions of both distilleries.
This is not very likely though. Don’t forget that Pernod Ricard is the company that discontinued the Glenlivet 12 in key markets in favor of the Founder’s Reserve, a NAS whisky. The scenario of replacing an age statement whisky with a NAS whisky seems much more likely to me. (UPDATE: on whisky.de it is stated that the Scapa 16 will be replaced by a new 14yo. Thanks to Christopher Hayn for pointing it out)
What we can state with almost certainty is that there will be new expressions of both Scapa and Longmorn, and maybe even other distilleries. When will that be? Probably sooner than later. Why do I think that? When I first contacted a spokesperson at Pernod Ricard Netherlands, he told me he would be able to tell me more in eigth to ten weeks. We’ve passed the ten week mark some time ago, but I take his remarks to mean that we won’t have to wait another ten weeks.
So how likely do I think it is that both the Scapa 16 and the Longmorn 16 will be replaced? Very likely. I think it is just a matter of time before Pernod Ricard will come with an official announcement.
UPDATE 19/01/2016: Pernod Ricard just announced a new Longmorn: The Distiller’s Choice. First thought? This must be the replacement for the Longmorn 16. But in the final paragraph of the press release it was stated otherwise: “Longmorn 16 will remain part of the range with more information available in due course.” Interesting, right? So the Longmorn 16 is still going strong… for now.
If you have any information regarding the replacement of the Longmorn 16 or Scapa 16, please let us know in the comments.