I read on Wikipedia once that disruptive innovations tend to be produced by outsiders—those observing a particular business model from afar who see a way to displace current industry leaders by creating an entirely new market.
Whether or not K&L can be disruptive to the current single malt market may depend on whether you see us as an insider or an outsider within our industry. While we definitely have strong relationships within the mainframe of wine and spirits distribution, we simultaneously skirt (or circumvent) the limitations of that three-tiered status quo to eliminate those restrictions from the equation. While we work to maneuver successfully within the system, you could say we're also committing an equal amount of effort to evade its confines. It's the yin and yang of our business, so to speak.
My personal research at K&L for the last year has revolved around the stability of the single malt market and the associations I've made with my own real estate search. Some people I've talked to think Scotch is dead. Played out. Saturated. Gentrified. I disagree, however. I think the way consumers feel about buying whisky these days isn't all that different from the way they feel about buying a home; it's just a matter of getting a return on your money and feeling excited about that investment. No one wants to overpay for anything, especially when they're unsure of the quality. But nothing's more exhilarating than feeling like you're getting more than what you've paid for. Just like I think thousands of people would move back the Bay Area if houses dropped down to more reasonable prices, I think thousands of frustrated whisky drinkers would drink tons of Scotch again if there were more delicious, straight-forward, mature whiskies of quality with real age statements and no BS.
Do you think I'm right? We're going to find out this August. We're not going to be selling Port Ellen for $100, but we are going to play around with the math. It should be fun to watch.