I have read much about Islay and it’s whiskies in recent weeks.
Looking back, I can remember very vividly how difficult it was to educate the world’s drinkers to accept and enjoy Islay Malts.
This was especially the case (from my perspective) in late 1960’s thru’ the 1970’s and in to the ’80’s.
The Scotch Whisky industry relied on their traditional blends by an overwhelming at least 92% to approx. 7/8% Malts.
In the intervening years up to today, not a lot in ratio terms has changed. Of course total sales have increased by a large amount, but the ratios have been stubbornly stuck for the past 10 or more years at around 89% (Average) for blends and around 10/11% for malts.
This gets back to my original statement in line 1.
When I went to Laphroaig in early 1970, annual sales of this iconic brand were at 20,000 x 12 bottle cases world wide.
Lagavulin was well known, but not nearly as much as Laphroaig.
Bowmore’s case sales were miniscule….almost non existant in fact.
Port Ellen’s were virtually non existant
The same could be said of Caol Ila, Bunnahabhain and Bruichladdich.
Ardbeg was barely in production, and indeed closed completely for a not inconsiderable period of time. Also, cased sales were negligible.
Laphroaig was the one main beacon of hope in the gloom that was Islay bottled Malts in those days.
It is still the best known of All the Islays imo!
However, none of these Distilleries Brands could (indeed would) survive at all without a good strong and robust Blends business across the world.
This should never be forgotten, as we get caught up in the euphoria of malts.
They are in effect, a by product of the bigger Scotch Whisky picture.