It was early evening on Friday 7 June when an email pops into my mailbox stating that Laphroaig’s Cairdeas 2013 Port Wood Edition
whisky had just been released. I casually clicked through to the site, was delighted that this year I could buy up to three bottles (which I did), decided to add an 18yo for good measure, and made my purchase.
Little did I know that the Cairdeas 2013 would literally sell out within hours of the email.
And thus started what was to be a bit of a customer backlash on social media against the Isle of Islay distillery with many unhappy Friends of Laphroaig. For a start many people weren’t at their computer when the email came in and found out too late. There were those who had registered with work emails so were completely unaware for some time it had arrived. And others simply had the email delayed by plain old internet machinations because, let’s remember, there is no *guarantee* that email is instantaneous.
But while I got lucky, many others did not. The criticism of Laphroaig on forums and their Facebook page ranged from mild to harsh though thankfully there was also some pragmatic comment too. Though what would have rubbed salt into the wound of the unlucky folk would have been the sighting of the Cairdeas on the German eBay site which still allows the selling of alcohol (eBay as a general rule in other countries does not).
I do think, however, that Laphroaig’s online management via Facebook was quite good even in the face of some pretty unkind comments. Other brands out there could take note of their handling of the situation in remaining calm, polite and respectful of people’s concerns and opinions.
Anyway, how was this different to the Cairdeas 2012 release? Well last year when Laphroaig released the Cairdeas 2012 Edition they were already pre-packaged, limited to one per customer and no option to buy other expressions to pad out the postage. This meant for people like myself on the other side of the planet in Australia, buying a £45 / $70AUD whisky meant the additional £17 / $27AUD postage represented 28% of the overall purchase of £62 / $97AUD (conversions done at June 2012 exchange rates). Ignoring currency vagaries from last year to this year, by buying a total of four bottles this time around the postage is down to 16% of the value saving me somewhere around $40.
So what is Laphroaig’s move next year for Cairdeas 2014? In my humble opinion the sensible option would be to go back to a release of one bottle per customer, but given the option to buy other expressions or even Laphroaig merchandise at the same time. Not only does this give more people a shot at a limited release, I would actually think it makes better business sense for Laphroaig to allow additional purchases at the checkout.
As to the fate of my three bottles, well sorry but they won’t be for sale anywhere. I plan to open one in the very near future, save one for a little while down the track, and the third will take pride of place in what I hope is the start of a collection of limited release whiskies.
Keep an eye out for a review:-)