“Prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future,” Nobel Prize–winning physicist Niels Bohr reportedly said. Or as Suntory shill Keanu Reevesput it more bluntly in The Matrix, “I don’t know the future.” Still, it’s worth a guess. Scotchwhisky.com’s Matt Evans recently asked nine industry heavyweights what they think lies in store for 2019.
Ian Chang, master blender at Kavalan Pure Taiwan, wagers that more whiskey makers will realize age is just a number. After all, no-age-statement (NAS) whiskies are having a moment, and switching to them would loosen up supply. “Portfolios are set to swing more to NAS, and to fill some of the space left by age statements I believe distilleries will invest in greater releases of limited editions,” Chang says.
Less is more
Watch for more personalization and smaller batches, predicts Cara Laing, director of whisky at Glasgow-based bottler Douglas Laing & Co.: “We are well aware of the fact consumers want bespoke, unique offerings that are smaller volume, higher value.”
In Finland, Kyrö Distillery Co. founder and CEO Miika Lipiänen wants his peers to get serious about embracing diversity. His bet for 2019? “We’re going to see the Old World—for example, Scotland, Ireland and the U.S.—starting to do our take on the New World style of whiskies,” says Lipiänen, whose distillery specializes in rye whiskey and gin.“That means we’ll see more rye and bourbon-type whiskies coming out of Europe.”