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Who’s tried Aldi’s whiskey?

I’ve got a massive objection to supermarket chains doing this sort of thing. The Whisky will probably have been purchased from a distillery or a bonded warehouse and then bottled under Aldi’s label. It’s almost like a ring-in in horse racing.

PS: If you’re wondering why I have such strong objections there’s a bit of history. Many years ago in Australia a winery supplied a supermarket chain with wine to be re-labelled and sold in their liqour department. That wine was then entered in competion and ended up beating the winemaker’s own wines. The winemaker was Peter Lehmann and in my early days of drinking wine I learnt more from drinking his wines than any other winemaker and for that he is a legend in my eyes.
 

The Knize

Moderator Emeritus
Great question. I am a big Aldi fan. I found this statement on-line: "The whiskey is available at some locations in Australia, in the UK, and parts of Europe (link in German). It is unclear if it’s offered in the US." Another link indicated that Aldi does not sell liquor in the US, but that link may have been older.

It would be interesting to me to nail down whether Aldi sells liquor anywhere in the US.

One heck of a lot of whiskey in the US--at least bourbon and rye--is bought from large distilling companies and bottled and labelled with one or another sometimes famous label. I sure do not see a problem with places like Aldi and Costco getting into the act. Competition and unrestrictive commerce seems like a good thing to me in virtually all aspects of the economy. I do not understand how we are in 2018 with highly restrictive state laws establishing multi-tiered distribution systems for liquor, wine, and beer that are intended to benefit only entrenched companies to the detriment of consumers.

I am guessing that what the Aldi situation is telling us is that excellent Scotch whisky (and gin) is really not all that expensive to produce. (Wine seems different to me. I can see how truly excellent wine is expensive to produce!) On the the other hand, I am somewhat skeptical of these tasting competitions. Even if they are not rigged somehow, and I have no reason to think that they are, I think it is difficult to do a truly discerning tasting in a competition environment.
 
I don’t get the rub. A manufacturer had the unintended consequence of their rebranded product outperforming their flagship products in a competition, so what? They still got the good press. No one forced them to sell the wine to the supermarket. Heck it probably means that they can negotiate a better price next go around.


Same thing with the whiskey. It’s a win for the distillery, or they would not sell it. A win for Aldi’s, the stuff will be flying off the shelf. A win for consumers, getting a very highly rated product at a modest cost.


Also, what does ring in horse racing mean? I don’t follow racing and don’t get the analogy.
 

The Knize

Moderator Emeritus
A ring-in in horse racing is to fraudulently substitute one horse for another, so that whatever is on the racing forms is not going to match the horse actually running and the odds are going to be have been calculated on incorrect information. I do not quite get the analogy. I do not think anyone thinks Aldi is distilling its own spirits!

Nothing I said is intended to indicate that I do not think Peter Lehmann is a legend!

While I am ranting :) , why is it with all of the retail expertise in the US which probably has the largest economy in the world and vast agricultural resources that three different grocers from German have to come to the US to show us how it is done--Trader Joe's, Aldi, and Lidl. Why aren't we reading about a US firm selling inexpensive but awarding winning rose? Or great scotch for $17 a bottle?
 
Well, I went to Aldi in Bryan Texas and all they carried was wine products. What a bummer. Maybe a Texas thing?


Mike
 

73mountaineer

Moderator Emeritus
A ring-in in horse racing is to fraudulently substitute one horse for another, so that whatever is on the racing forms is not going to match the horse actually running and the odds are going to be have been calculated on incorrect information. I do not quite get the analogy. I do not think anyone thinks Aldi is distilling its own spirits!

Nothing I said is intended to indicate that I do not think Peter Lehmann is a legend!

While I am ranting :) , why is it with all of the retail expertise in the US which probably has the largest economy in the world and vast agricultural resources that three different grocers from German have to come to the US to show us how it is done--Trader Joe's, Aldi, and Lidl. Why aren't we reading about a US firm selling inexpensive but awarding winning rose? Or great scotch for $17 a bottle?
I’m guessing you would agree that Costco is an American retailer, and their house-branded spirits are pretty good (their bourbon, for example, was sourced from Beam last I checked).

Aside from Aldi, have Trader Joe and Lidl won awards also? That’s an honest question, I don’t actually know, though more than one bottle of 2 buck chuck has been emptied at our house, lol.
 

The Knize

Moderator Emeritus
I certainly agree that Costco spirits, and Kirkland wines, for instance are excellent. The VO Cognac is a fabulous deal. I would say, though, that every Costco spirit I have had has been excellent.

A lot the the Trader Joe's wines seem pretty bad, although some have seemed very good to me. They are always priced well, though. I doubt that any have been award winners, but I could be wrong. I have never been in a Lidl. They have not reached near me yet.

I was really thinking of food store stuff generally and not specifically wine and beer. I am a big Costco fan and for that matter Wegman's. I am not sure whether or not Wegman's does great things with wines or ever has liquor. So maybe I am being unfair to American retailers. But to me, Trader Joe's, Aldi, and Lidl have brought very high quality, but very well-priced goods in reasonable sized packages, to areas long served by large America grocers, who do not seem very innovative or competitive. No doubt that Costco and Wegman's deserve major props, though. Maybe even Whole Foods. For that matter, Rodman's in the Washington, DC area is amazing.
 
I haven’t and don’t intend to because I like lagavulin

The cynic in me can see a rebrander taking a high quality product, bottling it, winning an award and then cutting it with a lower quality products and saying “hey look our bottle has won this many awards” (small print at bottom - “contents may vary due to seasonal availability”)
 
Haven't tried it, but have a bottle of each of the two in the picture in that article waiting for me until I arrive in the UK next month. Looking forward to trying them out.
 
Aldi sources their supplier all over the world, the firm that I am with work with them extensively(Not F&B just in case you wondering). Their formula is actually quite simple and direct, they find the top 2-3 players in the category and release an annual bid, similar to the a military contact for a new rifle. Everyone in the "race" will have the same brief(product spec, limitation, price ceiling, 3rd party testing, ethnic, CTPAT, audit, countries law and regulation, etc).

The local sourcing office will then release their recommendation, along with pricing and sample to the senior buyers and the senior buyer will make release down to their regional buyer. Some product in some country might have different pricing and different spec. For example, our product going to Germany will generally have a better build and spec than the one going to UK or Belgium. Similar because the local law are tougher for Germany(TUV) for certain product, but the pricing or packaging will not shown such information. Some local sourcing office is better that other due to the regional expertise, for example, their APEC office is very well versed in consumer electronic, garment, hardware and accessories simply because the source most of them from China/Vietnam/Bangladesh where the network of manufacturing base are quite well developed.

You are getting a great bargain for their in house brand product most of the time, they leverage all their sale volume globally for the supplier/manufacturing like us for a costco/walmart price.

For some of the folks still questioning, yes, our product for Aldi is being made in the exact same factory/staff/machinery as our high end client which you will pay 4-5 times more at retail. We don't lower our quality standard just because it's low margin, it doesn't work like that. A failed inspection will held up shipment which will be followed by CAP action and hefty penalty. Some of the product looks a lot like the expensive one because it's being design and made by the same group of people under the same roof. We just can't tell you that because the premium retailer will be pissed off.
 
There is a long tradition of distilleries selling whiskeys to merchants who bottle under their own name. In Scotland, merchant trademarks like Johnnie Walker, Chivas Regal, Cutty Sark, The Famous Grouse, Ballentines, Buchannans and others were well known around the world long before anyone became aware of the of the identity of any of the individual distilleries who provided the spirits. Due to the lengthy storage times required to mature whiskey, many of the smaller distilleries could not afford to hold their product until it was ready for sale. The merchants provided the cash flow the distilleries needed to continue operating.

Many distilleries today operate as part of conglomerates like Diageo, United Spirits, Pernod Ricard, Beam Suntory, and Bacardi, etc. who provide cash reserves, but if they can sell their product by the truckload rather than by the case, marketing and distribution costs are much reduced.
 
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