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Oban pub ‘may have to stop selling’ the town’s whisky due to rising costs

Daniel MacIntyre of The View and Mantrap says he may have to stop selling Oban whisky. Picture by Sandy McCook/ DC Thomson.
Daniel MacIntyre of The View and Mantrap says he may have to stop selling Oban whisky. Picture by Sandy McCook/ DC Thomson.

An Oban publican has warned he and others may have to stop selling the town’s much-prized whisky due to rising costs.

Daniel MacIntyre, who owns The View and The Mantrap, said that his supplier Diageo now charges £70 a bottle for Oban whisky.

That means a dram that at the moment costs £7.50 – may have to almost double in price to nearer £15 a measure.

To buy a bottle from wholesalers, other than Diageo, it is £82.87 a bottle for the 14-year-old.

While he and fellow publicans can buy it over the counter locally for £40, the problem is the sales support of the distiller means the “extras” to help promote the spirit are missing.

The distillery in Oban was opened in 1794 by the Stevenson family. It predates the town, and is one of the smallest distilleries in Scotland.

The brand is popular – and it sells as a 12-year-old, an 18-year-old, a Little Bay and a Distiller’s Edition.

The Oban Distillery.

Oban whisky may have to go altogether

Mr MacIntyre, who with his business partners recently reopened The Mantrap bar, claimed the situation has become so dire that he may be forced to remove the whisky from his stock altogether.

He said: “Don’t get me wrong, there is a workaround which means we can go to the distillery and buy whisky over the counter for around £40 a bottle.

“But that isn’t really the point. This is Oban, we have built up a town around the distillery, it is a brand that is known throughout the world and many people come here to taste the whisky in the place where it is made.

“With the best will in the world, the distillery can not keep up with the demand for tours and tastings and the local whisky shops don’t have the space for tastings of Oban, and other local whiskies.”

He continued: “We are maybe 100ft from the front door of the distillery and we have space to do tastings. At the moment we have a whisky flight from Oban and Mull.

“We work really well with the suppliers of the Mull whisky – both the Ledaig and the Tobermory. But when it comes to Oban, and its owners Diageo, they just don’t seem to want to put in a similar effort.

Price will be too high

“I want my staff to be knowledgeable about the whisky they are selling, and I want to be able to display Oban on a plinth that shows that we sell it.

“But Diageo don’t offer the same that other distilleries in the area do.

“We’ve been sent lots of Johnnie Walker and asked for help with Oban, Talisker, Caol Ila.

“They don’t have field sales representatives covering the town so can’t help with product knowledge and training as support is only available to larger multiple groups unless an individual operator meets a high level of volumes across their portfolio.

“I am at the stage of feeling that Oban whisky may have to be removed from our bar. That will hurt us, but unless Diageo start to support local business with local product the price for a dram will just be too high to make it viable.

“I have taken my complaint all the way to the top of Diageo, but I feel we are still not being listened to.”

A Diageo spokesman said sales representatives were working with Mr MacIntyre, and offering him the support he needs.

He said: “Oban Distillery is one of our smallest, producing premium single malt whisky that’s in very high demand around the world.

“The pricing of the brand reflects its premium quality, status, and popularity.”

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