Glenfiddich takes throne as best-selling malt

FOR more than a decade it has held its position as the best-selling single malt whisky in Scotland.

• A coppersmith samples a Glenfiddich single malt whisky, which has overtaken Glenmorangie as the nation's favourite Scotch

But after 13 years at the top, Glenmorangie has lost its title as the nation's favourite to its rival Glenfiddich.

Latest figures show a massive jump in sales of Glenfiddich and a parallel drop by Glenmorangie.

According to market analysts Nielsen, sales of Glenfiddich in the UK have rocketed 24 per cent to 27.1 million while Glenmorangie has plummeted 24 per cent to 17.5m over the past year.

Neither firm was available last night to comment on the figures but whisky experts expressed their surprise that Glenmorangie had been dethroned.

The report, in trade magazine The Grocer, said that while it was already the leading single malt in the UK market overall, taking the top spot in Scotland had previously eluded Glenfiddich.

James Stocker, marketing controller for premium dark spirits at First Drinks, the distributor bought by Glenfiddich distiller William Grant & Sons in 2006, put the success down to continued investment in the brand.

He said: "Despite the tough market conditions, we have continued to invest in Glenfiddich when other people have decided to cut back.

"William Grant is still a family-owned company and see Scotland in particular as a key market. The fact that we continue to invest in our Scottish distilleries and employ Scottish people is very important."

In 2004 Glenmorangie was bought by Mot Hennessy Louis Vuitton and Edinburgh-based whisky writer Charles Maclean said they had upped their game to improve their "premium position". He said Glenmorangie had ceased chill filtration to improve the texture.

Mr Maclean said: "It's difficult to understand why this change has happened. I would think it comes down to advertising and pricing. From a taste perspective, Glenmorangie have upped their game. It's little things like filtration that have enhanced the flavour, and that can be influenced by a whole range of factors in malt whisky.

"Generally distillers don't like to change the flavour of their produce because customers don't like it. And 90 per cent of whisky goes into blends.

"But I think Scots are shopping around a bit more. Both Glenmorangie and Glenfiddich are relatively light styles of malt whisky compared to McCallum's, for example."

Ken Storrie, owner of The Pot Still in Glasgow, renowned for its large whisky collection, said the reported sales figures do not match those of his customers.

He said: "It would be nice to start shifting some Glenfiddich. For every seven or eight cases of Glenmorangie, we sell one bottle of Glenfiddich. Glenmorangie has always been more popular.

"I think customers are getting more sophisticated and we get a lot of overseas visitors and they can get Glenfiddich anywhere. They look for something more unique.

"Taste is more relevant than anything when customers have flown over and spent money on hotels and food. They're not looking for cheap malt of the month.

"Glenmorangie is something people flock to and has different expressions, where Glenfiddich is just the same old, same old 12 and 15 year old. People can explore more with Glenmorangie."

Earlier this year, Glenmorangie announced it had found a new home for its headquarters in the centre of Edinburgh. The company said it would move from Broxburn, West Lothian, to The Cube building in the east end of Edinburgh by September 2010.

In 2008, the top brands in the UK were Glenfiddich, followed by Glenmorangie Original, Glenlivet, Glenmorangie 10 year old, Laphroaig, Highland Park, Aberlour, Glen Moray, Isle of Jura and Talisker.

More than 2,500 brands of Scotch whisky are sold around the globe, with as many as 200 available in the UK. In the first nine months of 2009, more than 807 million bottles were shipped abroad, a growth of 1.5 per cent on the previous year.

WATERS OF LIFE

GLENMORANGIE

Founded: 1843

Location: Ross-shire

Owner: Mot Hennessy Louis Vuitton

Water source: Tarlogie Springs in the Tarlogie Hills

Fame factor: Enjoyed by Christopher Lambert in the film Highlander

History: A former distillery manager, William Matheson was granted a licence to distil in 1843 and the Glenmorangie Distillery Company was established with two second-hand gin stills on the Morangie farm.

Whisky writer Charles Maclean describes it as: "Light, more chewy, more oily texture, sweet to start and drier in the finish, fruity, particularly mandarin, even milk chocolate."

On the web: www.glenmorangie.com

GLENFIDDICH

Founded: 1876

Location: Dufftown

Owner: William Grant & Sons

Water Source: Robbie Dhu Springs

Fame factor: Glenfiddich was the favourite drink of Inspector Morse

History: The Glenfiddich Distillery was founded in 1886 by William Grant. The Glenfiddich single malt whisky first ran from the stills on Christmas Day 1887.

Whisky writer Charles Maclean describes it as: "Light, grassy, sweet to taste, almost like Rice Krispies and with apples and pear drops."

On the web: www.glenfiddich.com