Discount supermarket chain Aldi has sensationally sliced $200 from the retail price of one of the most expensive bottles of Scotch whisky that Australians can buy from liquor stores.
From Saturday, the German discount retailer will offer bottles of Johnnie Walker Blue Label King George V as an online-only special for $399, one-third cheaper than the next most affordable examples that Executive Style could find.
Both Dan Murphy's, the big-box alcohol retailer that prides itself on having the market's lowest prices, and Nick's Wine Merchants offer the same 750ml bottle for $599, while the World of Whisky store in Sydney's Double Bay prices it at $980, or $890 for store members.
Late on Friday afternoon Dan Murphy's pledged to match the Aldi offer. "Dan Murphy's will honour its lowest liquor price guarantee. We are currently selling Johnnie Walker King George V Scotch Whisky for $499.90. If it's advertised cheaper elsewhere, we'll beat that price," a spokesperson says.
The super-premium King George V offering from Johnnie Walker was created to celebrate the Royal Warrant bestowed upon the Walker family in 1934 and is packaged in a crystal decanter.
Aldi Australia declined to comment on how many bottles of the King George V variety it has in stock. “We are confident that we have enough stock on hand to meet the demands of our customers,” a spokesperson says.
“We can keep our prices low because we concentrate on selling a select range of brands and can therefore negotiate good prices when buying in large quantities.
“We try to work smarter, refining our business model and streamlining our operations to enable us to bring hard-to-beat value to our shoppers.”
Ivan Myers, the co-owner and manager of World Of Whisky, says the discounting will damage Johnnie Walker's exclusive Blue Label brand.
"It does tend to commoditise the product, there's no doubt about that," he says. "A brand like Blue Label has some premium products inside and perhaps Aldi and Dan Murphy's don't quite appreciate that."
Myers says the price being offered by Aldi and Dan Murphy's is well below wholesale cost. "I'd buy some from them at that price myself and save some money. But I don't think I'll be selling any King George V for a while, it looks like.
"The problem with Dan Murphy's is that they have to match the lowest price in the market. If I decided to sell the same bottle for $100, they'd have to take a huge hit and match it."
David Halliday, the commercial director of Diageo Australia – the global spirits company that owns Johnnie Walker – declined to comment on whether the aggressive discounting would damage the Blue Label brand.
"As a supplier we can only recommend retail prices to our retail customers. It's up to the retailer to decide how much they want to charge the consumer for a product,” Halliday says.
“Johnnie Walker King George V Scotch whisky is a world-class liquid with an uncompromised, super premium quality that our consumers continue to aspire to.”