‘Tis the season of liquid gold! Salim Heleiwa, whisky enthusiast and general manager of The Malt Gallery, tells us all about this fine spirit and the trends to look out for.
What should consumers pay attention to when purchasing whisky?
Color is an important indicator of the quality of a whisky. If a whisky is young and is dark, it means that artificial color has been added. Only old-age whiskies are naturally dark. So it is better to go for whiskies that state on the label that there has been no coloring or filtering.
In your opinion, how is whisky best enjoyed?
Whisky is a spirit that can be enjoyed in so many different ways: neat, on the rocks, with a glass of water on the side, with soda, in cocktails, to name a few.
Personally, I prefer my whisky neat. I find that this is how to best taste all the aromas, and I do not like to water it down in any way, to chill it or to mix it with anything. But this does not mean that other ways of drinking whisky are less valid.
What can you tell us about the current whisky trends?
There are many trends in the whisky industry nowadays, including:
- No-age-statement whiskies
As whisky has grown in popularity, producers have experienced shortages in the availability of older bottles. Thus, a generation of younger whiskies has entered the market.
- Whisky auctions
Collectors have started selling their own bottles, so a new market for collector bottles has developed, one where producers no longer play a role.
- Technology and e-commerce
- Craft whiskies
Demand is growing for craft spirits, especially whisky. In Lebanon, Glenbey Scotch whisky is an excellent example of how a local product is making an impact.
What brands are making an impact and why?
Asian brands continue to have a big impact on the market, not only Japanese brands, which have been successful for over 30 years now, but also newcomers like the Taiwanese brand Kavalan or the Indian brand Amrut.
What can we expect from the industry in the coming year?
Climate change and environmental concerns will impact the whisky market in the coming year. International brands will be boasting zero-emission whiskies, environmentally friendly ways of production, organic production and more. Moreover, transparency in declaring the origin of ingredients will also become increasing important. In the case of Japan, a new law came into force in January 2021 to ensure that the label “produced in Japan” actually means that the whole production, not only the bottling, takes place in the country, which is an example of such transparency. Finally, the “terroir” approach, which was more related to wine, will be increasingly important for whiskies.