This morning the BBC News Web site ran a story about 2014 being the first year in a decade in which the export of Scotch whisky fell. The decline was 7%, and sales to the United States fell by 9%. I appreciate the date on which this story was filed, but I do not think it is a joke. Most of the point made in the subsequent analysis make good sense. Indeed, the only problem I had was that I think those who prepared the report overlooked one interesting change in the American market.
I have developed a keen taste for Scotch whiskies for some time. It began back in the Eighties, when I was working for a French company where everyone was trying to be a wine snob. I decided that, rather than compete, I would develop an alternative speciality; and a business trip to Scotland helped me make that decision. Now that I have retired, I am spending less on my personal collection; but I still like to check out bars to see what sorts of alternatives they offer.
What I have discovered here in San Francisco is an increase in the number of choices but also an increase in the number of sources. There has been a rise in artisanal brewing and fermenting in the United States that now goes far beyond beer and wine. The greatest variety these days seem to be in rye, and for one option there is even a distillery here in San Francisco. The United States may not yet have come up with competition for a good peaty single malt, but there are still a generous number of alternatives. Perhaps the Scots should come over for a visit to learn a bit about their competition.