Whiskynomics How the world conspired to bring us single malts


maltIf you heard the episode on microshiners you’ll know that there is something of a boom in small-scale distilling. And you might be worried that every boom seems to be followed by a bust. One distiller, however, told me that it was an economic bust that kickstarted the malt whisky boom.

For most of its history, the only malt whisky most people ever drank was as a component in blended whisky. The stockmarket crash of 1973 and subsequent oil crises meant that people had no cash for whisky, which was costing more as a result of higher oil prices. Distilleries were shut and mothballed, and, desperate for a bit of cash, the big whisky blenders started to market single malts, which had all gone into blends before.

That seemed worth investigating in more detail, so I did just that. And I discovered that the story is a little bit more complicated. Booms and busts, however, have definitely played a part in the history of malt whisky. Will the draft distillery story end in tears? Some say no, others yes. Me, I just want to try some of their products.


  1. Mark Reynier’s Waterford Distillery looks absolutely fascinating. One to try and visit next time I’m in Ireland, for sure.
  2. Whisky Max, Charles Maclean’s website, is a great source of information about whisky and how to enjoy it.
  3. If you want to go deep, very deep, into scotch whisky, you need Alan Gray’s Scotch Whisky Industry Review.
  4. I learned an amazing amount from Scotch Whisky: History, Heritage and the Stock Cycle, a journal article by Julie Bower.
  5. If you want a personal tour of Scotland, Alastair Cunningham is your man.
  6. Aeneas Coffey is easy enough to run to ground. Aeneas MacDonald, the great whisky writer, maybe less so.
  7. Banner image © Glenfarclas Distillery, seen here

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