How Much Will You Pay

How much are you willing to pay for your whisky? How much extra are you willing to pay for an incremental gain in flavour and quality?

I ask because whisky pricing is something that leaves me completely baffled. I can identify a number of factors that might contribute to what might be charged, from the practical to the cynical, but no formula to explain what we are willing to pay. It is probably something I will come back to when someone sets up a Macallan tracker fund but in the meantime here is a small anecdote.

When I drive to a distillery visit I manage the samples by being taking small bottles, a little funnel and some labels. In the evening I lay out what’s been gathered during the day and sample them. This year my brother in law was with me, so we took could compare our impressions. From Oban there were three whiskies: two from the tour, the 14 year old and Little Bay, and a dram of the distillery-only bottling I bought from the bar. The price for a bottle was approximately £46, £52, and £100.

We both agreed that the distillery-only bottling edged it but not by a huge amount. We were very happy with the other two. The question then was whether a small difference in perceived richness was worth double the price?

Other factors might come into play – such as wanting to go back home and be able to share something that was unusual. You might be highly motivated to find the best example of the distillery style you could but the question remains – how much will you pay for a marginal gain?

In this case I passed.

P.S.  I actually think the two standard bottlings are good value. It is interesting that the NAS is more expensive than the age statement – but I draw no conclusion from that.