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View Full Version : How much $ is too much for a bottle?



plaid_emu
08-09-2009, 08:24
I've been drinking Bourbon for the past 10-12 years or so. I cut my teeth on Maker's and Knob Creek but the last 3-4 years I've "grown up" and become much more accustomed to drinking various brands and styles, actually savoring them neat instead of slamming back shots and chasing it with Coke.

I've made several trips to KY and WV, buying many labels I can't get in Ohio. I've found some fantastic Bourbons that I truly love but I can't seem to muster up the will to spend more than $35 on a bottle. After all, that's one of the beautiful attributes of Bourbon over other whiskies. I can spend $20 on a bottle of KSBW that blows away any Scotch in that price bracket.

The most "expensive" Bourbon I've ever had was Booker's. I've only had it twice in two restaurants so I never bought a whole Bottle. I thought it was pretty darn good, but I don't know that I'd be willing to spend $45-50 on a bottle.

So I'd like to get some opinions and viewpoints from you guys about your own personal limits. Where do you draw the line when it comes to forking over your hard earned cash? Is that bottle of Pappy Van Winkle 23 in the glass case at Party Source really worth $225? What about some of those fancy $80 bottles?

Any thoughts or feedback would be appreciated.

ratcheer
08-09-2009, 08:59
I can only give my personal opinion, but I suppose that is what you are asking for. To me, any bourbon over $35 makes me think long and hard. As far as I can recall, $50 is the most I have ever spent on a bottle of bourbon.

Another factor here is that prices seem to be rising fairly sharply, now. The effect that is having on me is that I'm pretty much not in a buying mood and am living off my "bunker". Maybe one day it will be necessary to buy again, but right now I resent having to pay $22 for a bottle of Wild Turkey that was $19 a few months ago and $17 just a couple of years ago. This is one of the great laws of economics: when prices go up, demand goes down.

Tim

fishnbowljoe
08-09-2009, 09:16
I think it's up to you. People vary a lot. What one person would buy in a heart beat for $100, a lot of people would walk away from. You have to decide for yourself if it's worth it or not.

Up until a few months ago, the most I had spent on a bottle was $80. In hindsight, it was a mistake. It was before I knew enough about bourbon to make an informed decision. I made a bad decision. A couple months ago I was out of town doing a little hunting for dusties or bargains. I found a very nice store, with a decent selection and fair prices. They had Pappy 20 for $98. I couldn't turn it down. I knew I'd never find it at that price again. I was happy that I got it, then and now. In my opinion it's a very very good bourbon.

I might get another bottle in the future, but that's about the most I'm willing to pay. I'm kinda like Tim in the fact that I've slowed down my buying considerably, and I'm working on my bunker. With the economy the way it is, and prices going up too, it tends to make me really think a lot before buying nowadays. Joe

ILLfarmboy
08-09-2009, 09:28
When it comes to bottles of $30+, I too have been living of my bunker, for the most part. Actualy, the only bottles above 30 dollars I have bought of late has been scotch. My Bourbon and rye bunker has been dwindeling for months, though I have been ocationaly suplimenting it with the odd purchase of Old Fits BIB, Dickel 12, Weller Antique and Weller 12. I've been drinking those to keep from drinking all of my WT Rare Breed,
Lot 'B' and FRSB etc.

In these economic times, I don't feel comfortable spending more than 28 to 30 dollars on a bottle of bourbon or rye. That's money I could spend keeping the freezer and the cupbords full.

DowntownD
08-09-2009, 10:47
I actually make a concerted effort to not worry about how much any of the whiskey I stock in my bar costs, and I generally drink from them without regard to cost of replacement.

However - $100 is my limit for any single bottle (though I rarely spend more than $60), any more $ and it changes the way I think of it which makes it harder to enjoy without caring about the cost.

As it happens my absolute favorites range from ~$28 to ~$60 (Baby Saz, ETLee, Lot B, VWFRRye, Pappy 15, Booker's, GTStagg, Handy, etc) but if I like it and it's less than $100 then I'm good to go...

Fortunately I don't drink a ton of it on a daily basis, and there are plenty I enjoy which are even cheaper than my favorites (Ritt Rye BIB, WT101 Rye, Four Roses Yellow, Weller 12, OGD 114, etc) so it balances out.

;)

George
08-09-2009, 10:55
I can only give my personal opinion, but I suppose that is what you are asking for. To me, any bourbon over $35 makes me think long and hard. As far as I can recall, $50 is the most I have ever spent on a bottle of bourbon.

Another factor here is that prices seem to be rising fairly sharply, now. The effect that is having on me is that I'm pretty much not in a buying mood and am living off my "bunker". Maybe one day it will be necessary to buy again, but right now I resent having to pay $22 for a bottle of Wild Turkey that was $19 a few months ago and $17 just a couple of years ago. This is one of the great laws of economics: when prices go up, demand goes down.

Tim

My opinion and recent experience is pretty much what Tim wrote here.

Hondo
08-09-2009, 11:59
So I'd like to get some opinions and viewpoints from you guys about your own personal limits. Where do you draw the line when it comes to forking over your hard earned cash? Is that bottle of Pappy Van Winkle 23 in the glass case at Party Source really worth $225? What about some of those fancy $80 bottles?

Any thoughts or feedback would be appreciated.


I personally have a hard time forking over too much money for a bottle. To date a bottle of lot b is my most expensive purchase. So that keeps me below the fifty dollar mark, and if you look at my inventory you would find only one other bottle that cost more than thirty dollars.

A lot of my favorites are less than twenty dollars in the Louisville market. WLWSR, WT101, VOB BIB, HH BIB, OGD BIB, BT, EC 12, OF 100. There are a host of others between twenty and thirty bucks that I really enjoy as well.

For me I seem to get into an area of diminishing returns if I buy more expensive bourbon. While I enjoy it, I'm not sure that it is all that much better if i am paying double or triple of the price of others that I really enjoy. Maybe thats the blessing... or the curse of having an unsophisticated palete. :lol:

While I intend to sample other bottles up to fifty bucks or so, I know I'll never be paying eighty or more dollars for a bottle. Simply won't happen. Next on my list of expensive stuff (expensive to me) is a bottle of Booker's.

WsmataU
08-09-2009, 12:09
For me, $50 is my general limit. I am willing to open the wallet for something I know is very limited that will automatically go in the bunker for a "special" occasion. I'm not yet ready to buy a VW 23 yr. But I would be willing to drop $500 on a case of PVW 15. The only single bottles I really want are the AH Hirsch early releases and I would be willing to drop $200+, but mostly just for bragging rights. I doubt the contents are really twice as good as a Pappy 20yr.

ggilbertva
08-09-2009, 12:24
As you can tell, the answer is subjective and completely up to what you can afford and what you're comfortable with. For me, in my previous career, I made a good salary and as such, didn't have a problem paying upwards of $60-$80 a bottle if it was something I really liked and wanted to add to the bunker (e.g. Pappy 20, Parkers Heritage, etc.). Now that I've changed careers, I'm much more sensitive to price. Additionally, I spent a number of years building my bunker, so as of now, I'm not purchasing except for a couple of things here and there and mostly focusing on drinking what's in the bunker which is fine with me. At around 300+ bottles, I'm good to go for a number of years. While there are many good bottles on the shelves in the $20-$30 range, there are also good bottles that are more expensive, especially barrel proof and limited release stuff like Parkers and Four Roses.

Joshua
08-09-2009, 13:12
I generally go about $20-25 for frequent pours. These are BT, ORVW10/90, OWA, WT101, WTRB(~$30), recently going to add baby saz to that list. At that price I don't really worry if I kill the bottle pretty fast.

After that it jumps to about $50-60 a bottle, mainly things such as Lot B and BTAC. They're more expensive, but when I drink them I have half as much or less. Per pour (size not counting) they're the same price or so. I just make them last.

I don't have an issue with spending ~$100 on a bottle for a celebration or very special occasion. When you think about it, a really nice dinner and a movie for a couple people is going to get close to that...

If I go out and spend $60 on a bottle of Stagg, all it means is that instead of going out to nice dinners, I'll cook at home for the week. It really boils down to if you're buying a bourbon to casually drink, or if you're buying it to taste history and really really enjoy. If you drop $60 or 70 on a bottle, it's still cheaper then buying 15 drinks at a bar...

Is Bookers worth the $55 I've seen it for on the shelf? To me, heck no. Is WLW08 worth the $58? In a second, without a doubt, YES. Is Pappy 20 (at $100) worth it? Eh... on an average day maybe not. Is Pappy 20 at $60-70 for a special occasion worth it- YES.

ebo
08-09-2009, 13:40
I suppose it depends on what a person is used to paying for what they drink. I have come over to Bourbon from what many here call the "dark side"... Scotch.:lol:

I'm used to paying 40-50 or more $$$ for a decent Scotch. I have been pleasantly surprised at the relatively low cost, comparatively, of Bourbon to Scotch. I would definitely pay $50.00 for a really good Bourbon, but that's me.

WsmataU
08-09-2009, 14:45
I suppose it depends on what a person is used to paying for what they drink. I have come over to Bourbon from what many here call the "dark side"... Scotch.:lol:

I'm used to paying 40-50 or more $$$ for a decent Scotch. I have been pleasantly surprised at the relatively low cost, comparatively, of Bourbon to Scotch. I would definitely pay $50.00 for a really good Bourbon, but that's me.


Yeah, sc**** prices definitely can get silly quickly!:bigeyes:

Josh
08-09-2009, 15:46
For me $45 is too much for most bottles. That's about the point of diminishing returns for me.

There are exceptions, of course. BATC bottles are usually worth it, particularly the Stagg and often the Wm. LaRue Weller. The Four Roses Barrel Strength selection is always great too.

But the BT top shelfers, Hancock, RHF, Blantons are all good, but no better than ETL which is ten dollars cheaper, for example. I would also say the current WTKS bottles aren't worth it either.

The most I ever paid for a bottle was $80, but I never drank it. It was something I couldn't pass up.

jburlowski
08-09-2009, 17:03
I have frequently sworn not to pay over "x" for a bottle. But then the BTAC will be coming out soon, and the PHC 50th Anniversary, and the Jefferson 17 yo SW bottling, and, and...

Who am I kidding? I'm basically a bourbon whore.

plaid_emu
08-09-2009, 19:48
Wow, I really appreciate all the replies! This has been an interesting read. There's a lot of great info here for getting to know you guys and your personal preferences, as well as some fantastic leads on bottles that need my personal investigation. :grin:


Another factor here is that prices seem to be rising fairly sharply, now.

I know what you mean. :rolleyes: Just wait until we hit hyper-inflation in a few years after printing up billions to "bail out" some of the wealthiest people in the world. $175 billion taxpayer dollars and $30+ billion is handed out in "bonuses". When that bottle of Wild Turkey is suddenly sporting a $1,528 price tag, remember it's not the Campari Group that should be hanging from the street lamps.


Up until a few months ago, the most I had spent on a bottle was $80. In hindsight, it was a mistake.

Care to divulge the name on the label of that "mistake"? I'd like to know for future reference.


In these economic times, I don't feel comfortable spending more than 28 to 30 dollars on a bottle of bourbon or rye. That's money I could spend keeping the freezer and the cupbords full.

Admirable and honorable words. There's definitely something to be said about a healthy investment in food when we rely so heavily on others.


Fortunately I don't drink a ton of it on a daily basis, and there are plenty I enjoy which are even cheaper than my favorites (Ritt Rye BIB, WT101 Rye, Four Roses Yellow, Weller 12, OGD 114, etc) so it balances out.

:grin: Along with my "pricey" $32 bottles, I've got some Ritt Rye BIB, WT101, Old Fitz BIB, OGD BIB etc.


For me I seem to get into an area of diminishing returns if I buy more expensive bourbon. While I enjoy it, I'm not sure that it is all that much better if i am paying double or triple of the price of others that I really enjoy. Maybe thats the blessing... or the curse of having an unsophisticated palete. :lol:

I'm also skeptical if my novice palette is refined enough for $50+ Bourbon. Also, at 29 years old my olfactory senses are still working great, but my hearing and sight have always been stronger.


The only single bottles I really want are the AH Hirsch early releases and I would be willing to drop $200+, but mostly just for bragging rights..

Can't deny the appeal of the "braggin' rights" factor! There's that pathetic and human part of me that wants to spend most of my paycheck on that Pappy 23 just to take a picture and show you folks! =(


I'm not purchasing except for a couple of things here and there and mostly focusing on drinking what's in the bunker which is fine with me. At around 300+ bottles, I'm good to go for a number of years.

I've seen the pics! :bowdown: :grin: Nice work. I've got my own "braggin' rights" shrine. (http://audio-kinetic.iswiz.com/plaid_emu/5-09.JPG) It's taken me many years, but I'm very content.


I don't have an issue with spending ~$100 on a bottle for a celebration or very special occasion. When you think about it, a really nice dinner and a movie for a couple people is going to get close to that...

Now that's a great point, and a great post. I gotta try that Baby Saz, huh?


I have been pleasantly surprised at the relatively low cost, comparatively, of Bourbon to Scotch.

Amen brother!


The most I ever paid for a bottle was $80, but I never drank it. It was something I couldn't pass up.

What was it? Are you holding on to it for a special occasion? I've got a Weller Centennial (Louisville) I'm stashing for some event. Hopefully that "event" won't be the collapse of modern society.


Who am I kidding? I'm basically a bourbon whore.

Well, the first step to recovery is admitting you're a Bourbon whore. :slappin:

p_elliott
08-10-2009, 10:01
I have frequently sworn not to pay over "x" for a bottle. But then the BTAC will be coming out soon, and the PHC 50th Anniversary, and the Jefferson 17 yo SW bottling, and, and...

Who am I kidding? I'm basically a bourbon whore.

I feel your pain

Klepackage
08-10-2009, 11:11
I generally go about $20-25 for frequent pours. These are BT, ORVW10/90, OWA, WT101, WTRB(~$30), recently going to add baby saz to that list. At that price I don't really worry if I kill the bottle pretty fast.

After that it jumps to about $50-60 a bottle, mainly things such as Lot B and BTAC. They're more expensive, but when I drink them I have half as much or less. Per pour (size not counting) they're the same price or so. I just make them last.

I don't have an issue with spending ~$100 on a bottle for a celebration or very special occasion. When you think about it, a really nice dinner and a movie for a couple people is going to get close to that...

If I go out and spend $60 on a bottle of Stagg, all it means is that instead of going out to nice dinners, I'll cook at home for the week. It really boils down to if you're buying a bourbon to casually drink, or if you're buying it to taste history and really really enjoy. If you drop $60 or 70 on a bottle, it's still cheaper then buying 15 drinks at a bar...

Is Bookers worth the $55 I've seen it for on the shelf? To me, heck no. Is WLW08 worth the $58? In a second, without a doubt, YES. Is Pappy 20 (at $100) worth it? Eh... on an average day maybe not. Is Pappy 20 at $60-70 for a special occasion worth it- YES.

I agree with damned near everything Josh said. The Buffalo Trace Antique Collection hosts some amazing liquid. I feel that $60 for the Stagg, WLW, and Handy are well worth it. Those are also all quite high in proof, so you're getting a bit more than normal. If you diluted ~140 proof Stagg down to 90 proof, it would effectively cost around $38 for 750 ml.

Ultimately, it comes down to buying what you like. If your favorite bourbon is $75 for a bottle, buy it! Although, I would recommend having something a bit cheaper as an everyday pour. Stagg is amazing, but I like having some OGD 114 for a much cheaper, high proof, tasty bourbon as well.

I personally have some of the more expensive bourbons available (BTAC, WTAS, PHC, etc.), but I do not drink those as often as I do the cheaper stuff. In that manner they're more expensive, but their life expectancy on my shelves is quite a bit longer.

Sijan
08-10-2009, 11:36
In these economic times, I don't feel comfortable spending more than 28 to 30 dollars on a bottle of bourbon or rye. That's money I could spend keeping the freezer and the cupbords full.

When I first read this, I thought this was a reference to Rep. William Jefferson...

Vange
08-14-2009, 12:41
I have frequently sworn not to pay over "x" for a bottle. But then the BTAC will be coming out soon, and the PHC 50th Anniversary, and the Jefferson 17 yo SW bottling, and, and...

Who am I kidding? I'm basically a bourbon whore.

I am in this same category! I typically say NOTHING over $100. but with exceptions...Binnys had a Willet 27 year which was SW barrel-proof bourbon and I went way over my limit since I HAD to have it...

unclebunk
08-14-2009, 13:05
I agree with damned near everything Josh said. The Buffalo Trace Antique Collection hosts some amazing liquid. I feel that $60 for the Stagg, WLW, and Handy are well worth it. Those are also all quite high in proof, so you're getting a bit more than normal. If you diluted ~140 proof Stagg down to 90 proof, it would effectively cost around $38 for 750 ml.

Ultimately, it comes down to buying what you like. If your favorite bourbon is $75 for a bottle, buy it! Although, I would recommend having something a bit cheaper as an everyday pour. Stagg is amazing, but I like having some OGD 114 for a much cheaper, high proof, tasty bourbon as well.

I personally have some of the more expensive bourbons available (BTAC, WTAS, PHC, etc.), but I do not drink those as often as I do the cheaper stuff. In that manner they're more expensive, but their life expectancy on my shelves is quite a bit longer.

I agree with every word. I, too, have a few top shelfers (GTS, WLW, TH Sazerac, Saz 18 and a few BHC bottles) that cost me in excess of $50 (not the BHC's), but several of them aren't even open yet, and the ones that I have cracked are consumed on special occasions by pouring one glass for myself and whoever is joining me and then moving on to something else, thereby extending the life span of the bottle.

My daily pours are all under $25 (mostly under $20 actually and several--Very Old Barton and Rittenhouse BIB--under $15!) and I'm always happy to drink them. About the only thing I buy semi-regularly and consume with little attempt to conserve is Pappy 15--I love the stuff and feel I can treat myself every other month to an exquisite bottle. After all, life's too short and you can't take it with you, so why not splurge now and then? I just skip a few lunches out or a night in the bar and I've got the dough for that special bottle, or at least that's the way I've managed to rationalize paying twice what my regular pours cost me.

camduncan
08-14-2009, 14:40
I suppose it depends on what a person is used to paying for what they drink.

In Australia, we pay about $30 AU (approx $25 US) for a 700ml bottle of Jim Beam White that is bottled at 37%. Makers is usually $40 - $45 and Bookers is regularly $80 - $90 a bottle. Blantons Special Reserve was released about 18 months ago and hit our shelves at $59 for a 700ml bottle. Van Winkle is sold by two stores for the whole of Australia. I just paid $125 a bottle for Van Winkle Lot B which was the cheapest price I could find. The cheapest "quality" bourbon I can but is a Heaven Hill product called Nelson County which is usually on special for about $24 a bottle.

So to me, when travelling in the USA, paying $50 for a bottle of Vintage Bourbon (17yo) or $100 for a Van Winkle 20yo is not expensive.