Glenlivet Founder's Reserve to replace 12 Year Old by summer
The newly-launched Glenlivet Founder's Reserve will replace Glenlivet 12 Year Old as the brand's entry-level expression in the UK by June.
The Whisky Shop has a three-week exclusive on the new whisky before it will be rolled out across the trade in March. Brand owner Pernod Ricard will stop supplying 12 Year Old to the trade, and expects stocks to run out by June.
Whisky lovers have despaired at the news that the iconic 12 Year Old will be phased out in the UK and will be made obsolete in all but a handful of international markets.
But Glenlivet's brand ambassador launched an impassioned defence of its whisky and said the Founder's Reserve is more vibrant than the 12 Year Old, and that the new expression will lead the brand to new heights.
Ian Logan told OLN: "People judge whisky by age, but you should judge it by taste. Age statements only tell you so much. It's about offering something new to the consumer.
"We are taking out the much-loved 12 Year Old but [to replace it] we are bringing in something much more vibrant.
"I don't think it's a risk. I would be more worried if I didn't think the whisky was good.
"But I am delighted with what our distilling and blending teams have done.
"I don't see any reason why this couldn't be the number one single malt SKU in the UK and in the world."
At a briefing earlier this week Alexandre Ricard, the new chief executive of brand owner Pernod Ricard, said he was excited by the innovation displayed by the Glenlivet team in producing Founder's Reserve, which will retail for the same price as the 12 Year Old.
Glenlivet is enjoying 7% volume growth in the off-trade (Nielsen, year to January 2015) and it has gone from a 275,000-case business globally to breaking the million-case mark since Pernod Ricard's Scotch arm Chivas Brothers bought it from Seagrams in 2002.
Chivas Brothers chief executive Laurent Lacassagne said Founder's Reserve would help Glenlivet continue its impressive growth figures.
Rival Glenfiddich told OLN last month that a lack of aged stocks would drive more innovation in the malt whisky category, and Logan said that the new ageless expression of Glenlivet would help the brand "plan for the future".
He said: "The whisky map is changing so quickly and it's becoming more and more difficult to stay ahead of the game.
"Different tastes are coming through and we are trying to cater for the future. We don't want to be constantly reviewing what we do forever. It's allowing us to plan ahead.
"It's going to keep the interest in the brand. If you have the same thing all the time consumers don't give it the respect it deserves."
Scotch whisky struggles to attract younger drinkers and women in the UK, but Logan believes this will change, with younger, fresh entry-level whiskies leading the charge by helping win over consumers put off by the challenging flavour profiles of the older, more complex expressions.
He added that retailers should encourage new consumers that have struggled with Scotch to try it with water.