By Philip Morrice
When this book was published in 1983, the Scotch whisky industry was very different to what it is today, as, indeed, were some of the drinking habits of the whisky enthusiasts of the time.
It was still very much an environment dominated by the blenders and their colourful but sometimes confusing palette of brands. A number of the distilleries extant at the time disappeared shortly thereafter and most of the smaller blending companies, along with their brands, have also been wound up either as a result of corporate reorganisation, as in the case of Diageo, or because the market developed in a way which no longer favoured them.
The industry profile of today reflects the wants of a more discerning public, better educated and more demanding consumers and the opening up of emerging markets into which Scotch had barely penetrated at the time of writing. Thus, we have witnessed the rise of the single malts within an overall expanding production base and the emergence of numerous craft distilleries to add an exciting ingredient to the mix of what Scotch whisky has become as the world’s leading spirit in terms of reputation, consumer acceptance and value relative to volume.
Ownership of distilleries and brands has seen some quite significant changes and on the regulatory front there has been both progress and regression, depending on whether one is looking at market liberalisation or the burden of taxation.
The Guide was relatively successful with a print run of 12,500 copies. Most of these were the standard hardback, but there were about 500 paperback versions and 200 of a special leather-bound edition which was destined for the special customers of Schweppes.
Making the book available nearly 40 years after it originally appeared has the intent of giving whisky enthusiasts an opportunity to enjoy a detailed insight into the Scotch whisky industry as it used to be. Recent favourable publicity for the book and an increased interest in the history of Scotch whisky has led to a surge in demand on the alternative market, as reflected in current prices.
We plan to up-date the Guide and republish it in a way that will aim to give a similar detailed insight into the industry in its present form.
My only regret is that the person to whom the original book was dedicated – my lovely former wife, Gillian – has recently passed away.
Further details of the background to the creation of this book are revealed in the interview which the author gave to the well-known whisky website malt-review.com on 26 June 2021 at (link).