Why is Australian single malt expensive and will it change?

With their arrival on the world whisky map in 2014, Sullivan’s Cove showed the potential of Australian single malt however it would be a very brave man who stated that the average Australian malt was of a higher quality than the average Scotch. So why is it so expensive and what does the future hold?

Traditionally, the two clearest price drivers of quality individual Scotches are age and scarcity. It is an impressive achievement that the fledgling Australian industry has successfully challenged the perception that older means better (domestically at least) and to achieve this they have focused on scarcity.

For example, in Australia it has become accepted that single cask releases should command a higher price than vatted (multiple barrel batch) single malts. Releasing and selling whisky a barrel at a time is the only option for the smallest Australian producers but for larger players it can be a strategy to justify very high prices due to scarcity.

 Also, perhaps underestimated, is the passion of the Australian consumer for local products and their willingness to pay a premium for them. However, the sector is gathering momentum and many larger professional players are now entering the arena. The domestic market for Australia single malt is set to become incredibly crowded and there is only so much room on the Australian whisky enthusiast’s shelves for expensive, one-off whiskies.

The result will inevitably be downward pressure on prices and distilleries will need to decide on where to make their stand. Interestingly, some have decided to increase price in the face of the coming storm and position themselves as super-premium. Tasmanian whisky hopes to create an overarching geographical style appellation and carry a super-premium status onto the international stage.

However, for most small players achieving sales at home and successfully generating interest abroad will be about sharing an authentic brand story and providing solid justification for their chosen price point.

The underlying reason for the sustained and ongoing growth of small alcohol and spirit producers world-wide is still consumer's appetite for handmade products with provenance. The expression ‘craft’ may have been so stretched as to become meaningless, but consumers have not stopped searching for the same traits the term used to signify.

For small owner-led teams like Kinglake Distillery the focus should be demonstrating to the consumer at every opportunity, the handmade nature of the product and the care and attention that goes into every bottle. The huge economies of scale available to larger corporate whisky producers come at the expense of individuality and character. By continually reinforcing this not only will customers understand a higher price but also pay it gladly.

Kinglake Distillery Single Malt is RRP $110. Priced not for age or scarcity but for the quality of our ingredients and our attention to detail whilst making our handmade single malt. Created using the very best ingredients we can find and sold at the best price we can afford.

Each batch is married together from a number of different barrels. Whisky age will always be clearly marked and whenever possible we aim to avoid selling out.


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