When is a “Limited edition” really limited?

Limited-Edition-Round-Stamp-LogoThe latest Highland Park ‘Elsa and Anna’ Edition (or “Ice edition” as some refer to it),  ignited an old discussion thread that always resumes when some whisky maker announces yet another “limited” edition, that is not very limited (say a few 10,000s of bottles or so). There are always the ‘industry house trained person’ that starts explaining to us that since this batch of whisky is only less than 2% of the total sales of the whisky brand, this is essentially a “limited” edition, and there are of course other cynical whisky lovers who explain that “Limited” is of course “Limited to the number of bottles we can sell…”. You know the drill.

While limited edition bottlings are fun for everyone . The whisky lover (it’s always nice knowing that you and only a small number of people have in your possession a very special bottle) , the whisky investor (as in “I am so going to flip this one for 500% profit in a week”…), some whisky shops (here’s another fine expression to be making an extra hefty profit on”), and so forth.

I love limited editions, and they do really add some pizazz to the whisky scene  and are fun, as long as they are either :

  1. Really limited (i.e : not everyone who wants a bottle can have one) for example Red Breast sherry (which was limited to a few 100’s – but was not cheap..)
  2. Not greatly overpriced (again, who is the one to decide what is overpriced and what is not, and again we dive into a discussion to market forces, and supply demand and pricing theories, thank you – not now).

It was kind of funny getting an email from HP telling me to rush and get my hands on the latest “limited” edition, which is limited to 30,000 bottles as they can not secure one for you if you do not order it NOW. As much as I love HP (I own quite a few of their past bottlings), this sort of email is doing them disservice, and is not really helping the brand, IMHO.

Comments, are welcome, and so are opinions . I am really interested to hear your take on this Limited editions issue.


7 thoughts on “When is a “Limited edition” really limited?

  1. Limited Editions are the distillery’s answer to batch variation. By labeling these bottlings with different names, and calling them “limited”, it just make it easier for the Master Blender. In the past, the Master Blender was tasked with maintaining a specific profile. Now they vat x number of casks without worrying if they’ve kept the standard profile, slap a name on the bottle (with a ridiculous back story, in many cases), call it limited and raise the price! By putting different names on every release, they can argue that it is limited because next year there will be a new bottle with a new name.

  2. Totally agree! It seems all whisky is “limited edition” as the producer could decide at any point to stop making even one of their standard expressions should they wish. What gets me is that in every other collectable industry anything declared as limited usually comes with a certificate or label authenticating this claim and stating the items number out of the production run. This is more than feasible as it is a system employed by many independent bottlers e.g signatory. It’s time the SWA started enforcing this and stopped unscrupulous marketeers from sticking Ltd Ed. on every label as it is currently meaningless hype.

  3. Why is it “always nice knowing that you and only a small number of people have in your possession a very special bottle”?

    If it’s something great, wouldn’t you prefer it be readily available to anyone who wants it? Why do you value excluding others from the pleasures you enjoy?

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