Love it or hate it (and it is usually one or the other), it is an undeniable fact that whisky has become more popular than ever in the last decade. In many ways this is fantastic news for whisky lovers such as ourselves, as it means a bigger whisky community to be a part of, a greater selection of drams in retail/bars and an abundance of whisky-related ’stuff’ for us to consume.

This boost in popularity has of course led to an increase in demand, and with the increasing interconnectedness of modern society through technology, it can almost be said that anyone can buy any whisky from anywhere. With whisky being a slowly-matured, lovingly-crafted product however, we have found ourselves in a situation where demand has comfortably outstripped supply, leading to brands overhauling their product portfolio to replace age statement expressions (such as the classic 12, 15 and 18 Year Old range) with ’no age statement’ bottlings which can be brought to market much quicker, in an attempt to satisfy this extra demand.

Despite these efforts, the secondary market for sought-after bottles has been flourishing, with demand for blue-chip brands like Macallan, Bowmore and Springbank reaching new heights. Unsurprisingly, auction prices for the most popular malts have been increasing year on year, a trajectory only helped when some madlad decides to actually open and drink a bottle.

Towards the end of 2022, things started to change. A combination of several factors ranging from the war in Ukraine to the cost of living crisis have made many whisky buyers unable (or at least hesitant) to be as carefree in their bidding as before. Indeed, the rate at which new expressions are released and the number of new distilleries and bottlers being established has led to whisky fans almost having too much to choose from, and their sense of FOMO ('fear of missing out’) is dwindling. This cooling off period has also made life much more difficult for flippers, who are finding that market interest in their super limited single cask Glenwhatever has waned by the time it appears at auction. Will they bother buying Glenwhatever in future if they can’t make a quick profit on it? Probably not.

Whisky is a quality product, and will always be enjoyed and collected by thousands of people across the world. However, the events of the last few months have shown the fragility of this bizarre ecosystem that surrounds it, that sometimes feels like it can collapse at any moment like a pack of cards. In terms of bubbles bursting though, this would appear to be more akin to a slow puncture in an over-inflated tyre, rather than a devastating pop of a soap bubble.