For the refined drinker of single malt scotch whisky, quality, rather than the price of the bottle, matters.
This drinker will pay any price to experience the expression of flavours, the pride of savouring the finest product in the market, and the heritage that comes with it.
It is against this background that Glenfiddich last week unveiled a rare new collection of 50, 40, and 30-year-old whiskies for the high-end market.
With prices ranging between £900 (Sh123,000) and £35,000 (Sh4.8 million), the drinks in this collection, aptly called ‘‘Time Re: Imagined’’, are only available in select bottles globally, the company says.
Are these available in this market? And can Kenyans buy them?
Mulunda Kombo, the Glenfiddich national brand ambassador in Kenya, says these whiskies are only available in limited quantities.
‘‘As these are the rarest in the series, there are just 220 decanters of the 50-year-old expression globally. In the 40-year-old category, there are only 1,600 bottles,’’ he explains.
The 30-year-old whisky will, however, be ‘‘more widely available’’ in days to come, according to Mr Kombo, adding that the company is working on availing them locally soon.
So, what factors drive the purchase of the 50, 40, and 30-year-old whiskies? Mr Kombo says the Time Series is a study into the craft and distillation of whisky, and an ode to the three master distillers who oversaw this process.
These are Hamish Robertson (1960-1974), David Stewart (1974-2008), and Brian Kinsman (2008 to date).
According to him, lovers of Glenfiddich, and whisky connoisseurs in general, would make a buy of the trio of whiskies because ‘‘they are the pinnacle of Glenfiddich’s unique Speyside whisky making style.’’
‘‘Collectors and investors would purchase them either to simply expand their own collection or to turn in a tidy profit after a while,’’ he adds.
In recent years, the Kenyan market has been attracting premium whisky brands from around the world, with many of them setting up distribution channels in Nairobi to serve Kenya and the region.
Ardbeg, Glenmorangie, The Macallan and Glenlivet have become popular among high-networth individuals, with their dealers acknowledging good business.
‘‘Glenfiddich is one of the most recognisable brands in Kenya that has been enjoying a healthy uptake by both traditional and new drinkers. It is today the best-performing single malt scotch whisky in Kenya,’’ he says.
On demographics of drinkers, Mr Kombo notes that the brand is consumed by both men and women, and specifically those in the age bracket of 25 to 55.
There are multiple single malt scotch whiskies in the Kenyan market, which has made drinkers more discerning. So, what is driving the growth of Glenfiddich in this and other markets on the continent?
‘‘For many years, Glenfiddich has maintained its single malt credibility by never compromising on the quality of the liquid. Consumers can see this and are willing to pay for quality. It has also spruced up its image by modernising it, thus attracting new consumers.’’
But where is Glenfiddich drunk the most? Mr Kombo calls Glenfiddich ‘‘a bar staple.’’
‘‘The drink is perfect for sipping neat, on rocks or enjoyed in many cocktails. It is also enjoyed in the comfort of consumers’ homes. Some people purchase the drink to stock their home bars for own consumption or entertaining guests on special occasions,’’ he says.
In recent years, several global companies have been seeking a share of Africa, with some premium drink makers setting up operations for East Africa in Nairobi. Meanwhile, the drinking population in Kenya has been on an incline.
How is Glenfiddich attracting younger drinkers?
Mr Kombo says Glenfiddich is constantly pushing boundaries, innovating and embracing the unknown, qualities shared by the new, adventurous whisky consumer.
‘‘Our ‘Artist in Residence’ programme is a good example. We invite artists to the distillery where they draw inspiration from the different sights, sounds and smells of Glenfiddich. Closer home, we collaborated with Kenyan artist WiseTwo to reinterpret the sleeve of our luxurious Grande Couronne whisky last year,’’ he says.