People are paying way too much for whiskey these days, especially if it’s a limited release or just really old. Consider Pappy Van Winkle; or rather, let’s not consider it. No one can get their hands on it, and when you can it’s at least $500 a bottle (for the 10 Year, it goes way up from there). It’s good but not as good as its reputation, and there are so many better, cheaper options available. The backlash to the backlash to the backlash to the backlash has begun. But this type of pricing isn’t limited to bourbon. Esteemed single malt scotch brand Glenmorangie recently sold the last of five 1970s Collection five-bottle sets, each priced at $50,000. Each set consisted of the last drops of Glenmorangie liquid distilled in the 1970s and bottled at least 20 years later, so once these are gone, presumably, they are gone for good.
But still, $50,000? And all of them sold? Who is buying whisky at this price point? Is it fanatical collectors with deep pockets who will treat it the same way a comic book fetishist might and never open the wrapper for fear of devaluing the product? Or is it someone who will actually drink the whisky – some of which, especially the ’71, was decidedly but appealingly funky tasting (I got to sample the collection last fall).
Glenmorangie is a fantastic single malt brand, one of my favorites. They certainly don’t shy away from premium, limited-edition bottlings. Consider the brand-new Milsean expression, a wonderfully sweet (but not dessert-like, as some have called it, in my opinion) whisky influenced by the flavor of “old-fashioned sweeties,” as master distiller Dr. Bill Lumsden described it at a recent tasting. Milsean, the seventh expression in the Private Edition range, is priced at $99. Also, there’s the excellent, rich, and complex Signet, even more expensive at $230, but well worth the expense.
These are expensive bottles but not exorbitant; they’re worth a splurge if you can afford it. Which brings us back to… $50,000? If nothing else a release like this gets people talking – which is exactly what I’m doing here – so it’s damn good publicity. And maybe, ultimately, that’s what jacking up prices for any whisky (or whiskey) anywhere in the world, is all about.