Demand for (Very Expensive) Customizable Whisky on the Rise

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Did you think that bottle of Johnnie Walker Black Label at duty-free was expensive? Well, think again. Diageo PLC, maker of Johnnie Walker, can create a customized blend of whisky tailored exclusively to your palate for $130,000, according to The Wall Street Journal. Now that’s expensive.

The man behind the operation at Johnnie Walker is the master blender Jim Beveridge. This is his 14th year on the job, but given the fact that “there have been fewer Johnnie Walker master blenders than British monarchs” in the past 200 years, it doesn’t seem like a long time. 

Beveridge travels to China or South Korea multiple times a year to meet with prospective clients and guide customers in creating their own blend of Johnnie Walker whisky. From the flavor profile to the bottle design, everything can be customized. The catch, of course, is that each bottle costs at least $6,500, with a minimum order of 20 bottles. 

Despite the recent rise in illicit, counterfeit products from India and China, scotch exports have hit an all-time high in 2013. At $7.2 billion, scotch is responsible for nearly a quarter of all British exports of food and drink. The international demand seems to be rising as well. Between 2008 and 2013, sales of luxury scotch ($80 or more per bottle) rose 41%. 

Beveridge is responsible for blending all products from Johnnie Walker, probably the most internationally recognized brand of the mammoth scotch industry. One of 12 blenders working for him will eventually succeed as the next master blender. “One day,” says Beveridge, “one of them will be chosen.” [The Wall Street Journal] [Photo: Flickr/Roger]