Would plain packaging hurt Scotch?

There is call, and if you look closely there has been one for some time, to make alcoholic drink producers put all their product in plain packaging, possibly with health warnings, the same way cigarettes are in this country, in this lengthy and pointless ramble I’m going to look at two questions;

1. Would this hurt sales of Scotch?
2. Could this actually be good for consumers?
Now, one thing that would make this rule hard to apply, at least initially, is that there is loads of whisky kicking about not just on supermarket shelves but in personal collections which change hands all the time and I can’t imagine the Government being so belligerent as to force me to cover up all my existing bottles with big white stickers or what have you but let’s just suppose that from tomorrow every new bottle of whisky had to be in the same shape of bottle with a basic logo on the bottle and a sticker providing the relevant information.
A very basic approach to packaging.
I would be surprised if there is no one reading this who hasn’t at some time or another bought a bottle because the bottle looks nice or the presentation box is well made or whatever and I’ll guess that at least a few of us have received bottles bought by a well meaning friend who has bought the bottle because it looks expensive, agreed?
A bit flashy?
But if there was a blanket ban on advertising spirits in this way what would happen? Whiskies would no longer allowed to be covered in flashy designs, no more marketing shit either, no more “founder’s choice” or “exclusively produced” and the old favourite “limited edition” would have to actually mean something a little bit more stuck on than “limited to as many as we can punt”.  I can’t see Scotch being overly effected by this to be honest, I still believe that most people buy whisky to drink it whether that be to get wasted in a night on the cheapest bottle in the shop or to savour a rare Glen Grant or Balvenie and that collectors like me would still buy bottles galore because you know it’s all about the liquid, aye? Right.
Sales would suffer a bit I suppose, companies couldn’t give us bottles in wooden long boats or shiny black bottles but then if they stopped this never ending quest to supply us with nonsense then maybe they’d go back to just making money by offering us decent whisky, just a thought.
But what about us, the punter? Well, I think there is a lot of positives which could come out of this, imagine if companies had to be a hundred percent honest about their product, the colouring added, the level of chill filtration, the exact make up of each bottle, surely we’d see an increase in quality? Perhaps, but at least we’d know exactly what we were buying and companies could no longer rely on trying to be clever and blind us all with marketing bullshit.
Some companies kind of do this now, the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, Wemyss Malts and Balvenie bottles all sort of look the same with the odd exception and the Johnnie Walker range is pretty much just colour coded for ease of purchase so I don’t see why this would hurt consumers and of course the collectibles currently doing the rounds would sky rocket in price because the old style labels would make them even more unique, win win then.
So let’s embrace it, let’s sort out the men from the boys and of course we can all finally see if all the smoke and mirrors bullshit “craft” production stands up to the test when there is no swan riding a Penny Farthing on the bottle and no Hipster advertising campaign to punt it either.
The Captain.

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