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The Competition of Private Casks 

 The fad of private cask is booming in Taiwan. The demand is from everywhere… whisky associations, corporate, whisky retail shop, individual, etc. There are some private casks allowing customized label design which are extremely demanding which were even put out to tender. 

The tender works like this. The sole agent asks for a certain quantity of samples and then invites potential buyers in their VIP client list, who gather and taste the sample. 

The agent makes a public offer to all VIP buyers. When there is a conflict between buyers, it will be settled by lot. 

The sales model is not only convenient to the agent, but able to provoke further sales as well. In the viewpoint of buyers, it is also fair in the sense that no whisky is sold at a premium. 

Certainly, the process which intensive tasting prior making decision has triggered hot debate among whisky connoisseurs. It is natural that they concerned about the variation of quality. As the tasting samples are actually unfinished product in the cask, they have to take the risk of flavor variations. The risk become even higher if the tasting was conducted long before the whisky was bottled. 

The craze of private cask encourages innovation which in turn offers more choices to the public drinkers. To survive in the market, it is now the critical moment for the private cask buyers to seize the treasure in the knock-out competition. There will be elimination but it’s good for the consumers. In the keen competition, the private cask buyers tend to make choice regarding of the palate of drinkers rather than the label, the price or the story behind a brand. At the end of the day it is the content inside that counts for the quality and in turn drives the sales. 

包桶的競爭

 

 臺灣近年來威士忌的包桶風潮持續的增長,有威士忌社團的包桶、企業的包桶、酒專的包桶、個人的包桶,有些包桶還可以完全的客製化自行設計酒標,讓許多人都想要擁有自己的專屬桶或是獨家販售,而最近更是發展到公開搶奪競標的包桶時代。

公開搶奪的包桶方式,是由臺灣總代理邀請有潛力的買家方式進行,總代理會先與上游合作通路洽談以及爭取樣品的數量,再邀請有興趣包桶的超級VIP客戶,將這些VIP買家齊聚一堂共同試飲後,當下便會統一公開報價,讓所有買家自行決定是否包桶,如遇同一桶一人以上屬意購買時,則採抽籤的方式決定買家,並非以競標價格的方式來決定買家。

站在總代理的角度來看,這樣的銷售模式可以說是較省時省力之外,同時還可以炒熱現場的買氣多銷售幾桶,而站在買家的角度來看也是較為的公平,沒有誰先挑選外,也沒有誰可能買貴買低的問題,這個方式可以說是兩全齊美。

當然,在這樣短時間內的一次性的品飲選桶方式也在威士忌玩家之間引起討論,主要也是因為威士忌玩家的品飲方式以及對威士忌的風味要求有所不同,自然而然會覺得這樣的選桶方式會有較多的疑問也無可厚非,但其實任何的選桶品飲方式來說,都會有著一定的風味裝瓶前後差異風險存在,最簡單的原因就是威士忌還在橡木桶裡,只要威士忌還在橡木桶裡,風味就會有改變的可能性,當然通常不會這麼快就發生風味上的變異,但只要抽取樣品到最後裝瓶時間上相隔太久的話,這風險就會被逐漸放大。

而這一波看似白熱化的包桶趨勢,對於飲用型的威士忌玩家來說是一件值得開心的事,畢竟這讓威士忌玩家有更多元的風味選擇,但對於選桶要做為商業銷售的話,現在可以說是進入搶奪貨源同時也開始進入了市場淘汰賽,淘汰賽看似相當的殘酷,但這讓人樂觀其成,因為這些商業性的選桶者為了要能生存下去,就必須選出讓市場認同的酒質與風味,各個選桶人互相比拼的情況下,無疑價格的競爭不再如以往重要與絕對,而是逐漸會趨向於威士忌本質風味好壞的競爭,這都是相當值得期待的,畢竟所有的一切,只有消費者願意買單或是開瓶品飲才是真的,一瓶酒的故事再好或是一瓶酒的酒標再美,這都只是加分的效果,威士忌最終還是要回歸到喝的本質,只有本質才是真正的一切。