Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Americans are so fortunate, but is it over ?

Whisky Prices has gone up considerably for special bottlings in the last few years. Right now the american bourbon scene is the best value for money scene without a doubt, but is it ending?

Van Winkle products and  A.H. Hirsch are becoming the Port Ellen and Brora of bourbons with prices raising, but these are examples of whiskey from closed distilleries

(Provenance of van Winkle?, look HERE)

But highly sought after products like the BTAC series are available in the 75-100$ range. This is extremely cheap and demand and supply are not in synchronisation.. I wonder how long this price level will last ?

Will the Bourbons see the same premiumisation as we have seen in the field of Scotch Single Malts ?

I think the first sign of this is the 18yo Elijah Craig. It's just been discontinued. It was around 60$. It is getting replaced by 20yo Elijah Craig at 130$

The reason for this ?. There are several reasons.

First: Marketing strategy. Having a high end expensive front will make you brand appear "Exclusive". It will also make your "lower end" products appear cheaper (Oh, Elijah Craig 12 is soooo much cheaper than the 20yo...)

"It's expensive it must good"....I only have to mention Dalmore, Glenfiddich, Highland Park, Macallan to point at companies following the same strategy...especially Dalmore :-), someone spelled it Da£mor€ on facebook the other day!

Second: The supply/demand situation. High End Quality Bourbons popularity is raising. With low supply there is enough people willing to pay the higher prices. And what happens when bourbons become popular outside USA ?

So just last year (it seems) you had to look real hard to find a bottle over 100$. Soon you have to look real hard to find a bottle less than 100$

Just as a curiosity I can mention that the standard price of George T. Stagg in Denmark is around 350-450$. A return trip to London and picking one up at TWE for around 100£ is considerably cheaper, 100£ would be twice the price I paid for my bottle in Utah :-), but somehow it suddenly looks like a cheap price

George T. Stagg
Review coming one day, I got an open bottle!


  1. Nice post! I too get the feeling that Bourbon is getting more and more pulled by the same marketing strategy as with the Scotch Malts like you mentioned. And nothing wrong with higher prices as the quality is equal high and that is the problem i.e. the Thor is pretty good but 150euro for a 16 year old HP is nuts! I found a new line of American Whisky from Benjamin Prichard which looks very promising for prices around 50 euro's

  2. This trend might be good news for microdistillers like Prichards. A $50 bourbon from a small distillery looks a lot better next to a $150 bourbon than a $20 bourbon.

  3. That's what happens when you get a taste for something Steffen ! ;-)

  4. Yeah, I think you're right, salad days are coming to an end as far as bourbon goes. While I'm sure the "superpremiums" like the BT Antique Collection and older, 15yo+ expressions will go sky high, I'm more interested in what will happen to the Elmer T. Lee/Buffalo Trace/Weller Antique/Evan William SB/Four Roses/etc. For years these have been incredible values coming in under $30 in most cases. I wonder if the market will support a big jump in price for these core expressions.