Thursday 20 January 2011

Bulk or bottled?

Something else caught my eye in the report on The Local's new whiskey that I discussed yesterday: the whiskey will be shipped in bulk to the United States and bottled locally.

Another new Irish whiskey for the US, Barton's Irish Whiskey, is also being bottled in that country. It's a budget whiskey intended for bars, for use when the customer doesn't specify a brand in his mixed drink.

For both The Local's 2 Gingers and Barton's Irish whiskey, the motivation is to save costs. Not shipping glass and air across the ocean must help. A few grams of carbon less per bottle too, no doubt.

The efficiency of this appeals to me but not to all distillers. Jameson is only bottled in Ireland, for example. I'm sure this is a desire to keep quality control entirely in house but even within that limitation Irish Distillers has been trimming shipping costs. For example, they export their bottles of Jameson wrapped so tightly together that there is no need for padding between the bottles.

If I was shipping a million cases a year to the US though, I'd be tempted to partner with a trustworthy local bottler, or even to set up my own bottling line over there. How long can a multinational resist leaving that extra profit margin on the table?