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View Full Version : The allure of value bourbons: quality, quantity or both?



DBM
04-02-2013, 00:52
I am (still) intrigued by a lot of the conversation and regard for low cost bourbon. OGD 86/BiB/114, FC103, EWB, AAA, OF Signature, VOB and others. There is much less conversation for labels like Blanton's, RHF, Noah's Mill, Booker's, Bulleit and others which are generally double or even triple the price.



Is the interest in lower cost products primarily based on price, or do you find these bourbons simply superior to their significantly more expensive siblings? Put differently, would you still prefer OGD BiB over RHF if they were the same price?



My personal interest in asking is because I have very little resistance to buying the more expensive products, mainly because I don't drink a large quantity of whisky overall. I have to share it with my wine and beer habits. :) I really don't care much about the price of a dozen or so regularly open bottles because it might take me six months or more to finish them, so my overall cost to have them readily available is still quite low. But if I was emptying a bottle a week (or more) I could see where being more frugal would be necessary, even if it meant avoiding my "favorites" to achieve more quantity.



Do the OGDs and VOBs of the bourbon world get your attention for their outright superiority or their bang-for-the-buck?

MauiSon
04-02-2013, 01:06
Both. Neither. One simply cannot generalize, each and every comparison stands on individualized merits. Since price is of little concern to you, buy 'em all (high and low priced favorites) and decide fer yerself. The value lies in self-determination alone.

CoMobourbon
04-02-2013, 01:41
The quality OR quantity set-up does not do the topic justice; people discuss them because they are of surprisingly or disproportionately high quality, but not because they allow you to drink higher quantities. In other words, yes, people talk about them so much because of their value, but crucially, people don't talk about them as a compromise of quality for quantity. The general consensus on, say, OGD114 or OWA, is that it is either every bit as good or almost as good as these higher priced brands at a staggeringly lower cost. In many cases, people get specific and say 'X whiskey is technically just Y whiskey (except for one factor, like a few years of age or something) under a different brand at double the cost, so I will always get Y whiskey '; Rock Hill Farms and Elmer T. Lee are a pretty good example of such a pairing.

In short, we talk about value brands not so much because of their bang-for-buck value but rather because they are a secret, and references to them indicate insider knowledge that defines discourse in hobbyist forums like this one.

More specifically, we talk about the value brands mostly to show, confirm, and refine the insider knowledge implied by identifying high quality and low cost products - not so much to cautiously manage quality against quantity in order to balance a budget. I mean, people practice the quality/quantity/budget management described above, but that clearly isn't the reason that we like to talk about the value brands so much. On this site, we want to discuss specific tricks and idiosyncrasies of the bourbon world that the general public wouldn't know. It gives us satisfaction that we know that Average Schmuck Shopper probably assumes that RHF is twice the quality of ETL just because of the price tag: 'but I know better!' Even more importantly, value bourbons drive hobbyist discussions because showing one's knowledge of them shows that one has real insider knowledge and therefore belongs on hobbyist forums in the first place. Even if you have the money to blow on tons and tons of top shelf liquor, it makes you look bad to not also make references to the low cost / high quality bottles you bring home - because those purchases show knowledge that the ignorant consumer would not have. (That's largely why you'll find that many of the same people with obscene "Show Us Your Stash" posts are quick to emphasize their love of the value brands also - to prove that they are still one of us and not some rich ignorant yuppie or hipster who blindly assumes that the higher price tag and rarity denotes higher quality.)

A long while back, in one of the "New to Straightbourbon" threads, a new poster who introduced herself with a categorical statement: 'I always buy top shelf' or 'I never stoop to buy value brands' or something like that. (I wish I could remember either the name of the poster or the thread title; I think it has long been locked.) Needless to say, she got passive-aggressively criticized pretty good on here. Not only did she come off sounding a little arrogant (her good intentions notwithstanding, I'm sure), but her blanket no-value statement put into question whether or not she really knew the tricks of the bourbon world and therefore belonged in this community at all. That's what I'm talking about.

DBM
04-02-2013, 01:42
I can understand why some threads encourage the "don't ask us, make your own opinions" responses, but I dont understand what makes you think that I haven't. I tried to word my message to specifically avoid that response, but will accept that I failed. :) I want others thoughts on how price, quality and quantity interact with each other.

You have to admit that it's not a typical environment. You will not find wine collectors discussing the merits of their Lafites and Margauxs while also singing the praise of $4.99 case buys from the corner market.



If it helps lower the defenses a little, I am thoroughly enjoying a bottle of $14.99 FC. I didn't say I was a snob, I just stated that I am not put off by the higher prices as others might be, and ask why more attention is paid to the lower cost labels in general.

CoMobourbon
04-02-2013, 01:53
To be clear, I think that it really is true that value is important, and that in the bourbon world there are whiskeys that are of the same or marginally lower quality for a much, much lower price. And for people who truly have to follow a budget (I won't get too embarrassingly specific, but I'll say that I'm on a sub-$15 grad student stipend for the year to keep my wife and myself afloat, for example), that value is actually / inherently important and worth discussing on its own merit.

But that's not really why people - especially those either wealthy or irresponsible folks with high or non-existent bourbon budgets, who tend to dominate the post counts around here - like to talk about value bourbons. Again, they discuss value to show and then elaborate on knowledge, not so much because they have to.

CoMobourbon
04-02-2013, 02:15
http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/showthread.php?17401-Top-Shelf-Chick&highlight=top+shelf

Here's the link to the thread I mentioned earlier about the self-avowed "only top shelf" SBer. Much more recent than I remember! Whoops!

WsmataU
04-02-2013, 02:32
Any time I feel bad about over-spending on bourbon, I just take a stroll down the scotch aisle and immediately feel better. I think part of the reason the hobby has really taken off over the past decade is because people began to realize the high quality whiskeys that are available here Stateside. Comparing the "value" brands to the premiums is just taking it the next step further. It is the same story that wine connoisseurs tell about Napa vs imported bottlings.
For me, the first step was identifying what I really liked as far as bourbon goes. Then I built my bunker. Now I like to find "Value" pours that keep my bunker in tact, for special occassions. Not many of us can afford to drink Pappy as a regular pour since the prices skyrocketed.

justataste
04-02-2013, 08:18
More specifically, we talk about the value brands mostly to show, confirm, and refine the insider knowledge implied by identifying high quality and low cost products - not so much to cautiously manage quality against quantity in order to balance a budget. I mean, people practice the quality/quantity/budget management described above, but that clearly isn't the reason that we like to talk about the value brands so much. On this site, we want to discuss specific tricks and idiosyncrasies of the bourbon world that the general public wouldn't know. It gives us satisfaction that we know that Average Schmuck Shopper probably assumes that RHF is twice the quality of ETL just because of the price tag: 'but I know better!' Even more importantly, value bourbons drive hobbyist discussions because showing one's knowledge of them shows that one has real insider knowledge and therefore belongs on hobbyist forums in the first place.

CoMobourbon........

I think you just accurately described the reason for every forum on the internet. Places to show off our superior "knowledge and/or thinking" about any subject from bourbon to guitars to photography to art and on and on.

Well done!!!

ebo
04-02-2013, 09:33
I'll just be blunt and say it.......... I buy value bourbon because I can't afford to buy $35 and higher whisky on a regular basis. I moved to bourbon because Scotch is so pricey. I'm glad I did because I never knew what I was missing. Having said that, I still buy higher priced (supposedly higher quality) whiskey. I just don't buy it as often as I used to. I also really do like OGD BiB, EWB, WT 101, BT, etc........

Flyfish
04-02-2013, 10:54
When I was in grad school in the late '60s and early '70s I drank Johnny Walker Red, Jim Beam White, and Jack Daniels because I had heard of them, my friends had heard of them so I could serve them, and I could afford them. When I finally started making some money, I splurged on Chivas Regal and Crown Royal--because I had heard of them and wanted people to know I was moving on up. Gradually I discovered that the correlation between price and quality was tenuous at best.
Today the Big Three in my house are AAA, VOB, and OWA. I stock up on the family size jugs whenever in KY because you can't get any of them in OH. I can "afford" Blanton's--and currently have three bottles--but whenever I spring for something over $40 I end up asking myself if I honestly enjoy it two or three times as much as the Big Three. There are days when I do! On a given day, high end bourbon is worth every penny. But those days are relatively rare. I'd like to think that conspicuous consumption is a thing of the past--but in many ways I'm just as shallow as I ever was. I never feel either cheap or foolish, though, for enjoying a pour of EC12 or BT. Speaking of which, BT sounds especially good today.

Brisko
04-02-2013, 11:03
Blind tastings can be eye-opening (sorry!) when thinking about these things.

weller_tex
04-02-2013, 11:12
I genuinely think OGD 114, VOB 86 proof, and Weller 12 are very, very good. I'd pay a lot more than $13 for VOB, and would certainly pay more for Weller 12 and OGD 114..but I am glad I don't have to. I think VOB 86 proof is the best sub 90 proof whiskey out there.

MauiSon
04-02-2013, 14:13
I can understand why some threads encourage the "don't ask us, make your own opinions" responses, but I dont understand what makes you think that I haven't. I tried to word my message to specifically avoid that response, but will accept that I failed. :) I want others thoughts on how price, quality and quantity interact with each other.

You have to admit that it's not a typical environment. You will not find wine collectors discussing the merits of their Lafites and Margauxs while also singing the praise of $4.99 case buys from the corner market.



If it helps lower the defenses a little, I am thoroughly enjoying a bottle of $14.99 FC. I didn't say I was a snob, I just stated that I am not put off by the higher prices as others might be, and ask why more attention is paid to the lower cost labels in general.

Straw man - the answer is clear, if you've read the discussions they clearly state that in the opinions of some the value-bourbons are just as good as much higher priced bourbons. Either you simply don't believe what these people have said or you believe there's something more to say about it. For me, I believe the question has been answered over and over and over and over again. I can see if you want to discuss specific pairings, but discussing the general subject is akin to tweedling one's thumbs.

WAINWRIGHT
04-02-2013, 16:00
Blind tastings can be eye-opening (sorry!) when thinking about these things.
This does bring up a great point and I've actually had people angered for this very reason.A fun experiment is to buy several things of similar proof and mash bill of different price ranges and put it to the test,then and only then will you have concrete evidence of what you like and why.The cost on some of those bottles tasted will show you that price doesn't always reign supreme.

smknjoe
04-02-2013, 16:04
Why did they get mad? Can you give us an example?

darylld911
04-02-2013, 16:08
This does bring up a great point and I've actually had people angered for this very reason.A fun experiment is to buy several things of similar proof and mash bill of different price ranges and put it to the test,then and only then will you have concrete evidence of what you like and why.The cost on some of those bottles tasted will show you that price doesn't always reign supreme.

I couldn't agree more - and it isn't just the price but I've found that I had pre-conceived notions based on what I've read. Great example for me was WT101 - there is a lot of chatter about how WT is only a shadow of what it was, how it has gone downhill, etc. All of this lead me to expect disappointment from WT101 - but when I did a blind tasting I was surprised to find that I really enjoyed it! And it isn't overly expensive! I honestly think had I known what was in the glass, my expectations would have impacted my assessment, and I would have lost out on discovering that I enjoy a reasonable, and widely available, bourbon.

WAINWRIGHT
04-02-2013, 16:11
Why did they get mad? Can you give us an example?
Preconception,myself included can greatly influence what's truly in the glass just as Gary said.

black mamba
04-02-2013, 16:19
I think with bourbon such comparisons must be made on a brand by brand basis. My favorite bourbon for the money is HH Old Style White Label BIB. When I am somewhere that it's available, I stock up, because it is not available where I live. EC12 is the same juice, but older. I like older whiskies, and even though EC12 is double the price of HHW BIB, it's still very affordable at $22, so I'm a frequent buyer.

The RHF to ETL is another good comparison. I prefer RHF, but not $20 worth, so I rarely buy it over the ETL, but every 4-6 times I do. I'm grateful that I'm old enough to have tried all the Pappys and all the BTACs when they were more affordable, but no longer am willing to put in the time and effort and money to pursue them. I enjoy vatting different whiskies to come up with a given flavor I'm looking for, and can usually get very, very close to some $40+ bottles for half the money.

As with most things, to get something appreciably better (or older, as in my case of liking aged bourbon), you have to spend a lot more. Sometimes it's worth it, but if I drank expensive bourbon all the time, it would lose some of it's "specialness."

TheNovaMan
04-02-2013, 16:31
For me, it's simple: I don't like spending money, but I like drinking tasty bourbon.

Alden
04-02-2013, 16:51
I can get much better domestically produced whiskey for the same price I was paying for the cheaper and weaker flavored scotches I was usually forced to buy, due to my lack of funds.

Most single malt Scotch is WAY overpriced; I did not really know that before I started drinking bourbon.

Now, I know.

shoshani
04-02-2013, 20:20
It's all individual, really. Personally, I don't like spending over $20-25 for an everyday pour, and I can get a lot of not just decent but really good bourbon and rye in that price range and under - even at 100 proof or better.

HighInTheMtns
04-03-2013, 07:13
Had the OP joined the site in October rather than February, the question might be whether we talk about anything besides one particular premium brand. Just saying.

DBM
04-03-2013, 10:55
It appears I over-analyzed my original post that derailed the mindset of those who responded. I was really just curious how much the praise for lower cost bourbons is influenced by the price.

It sounds like the majority opinion is that bourbon (from the big distilleries) generally fits within a pretty narrow quality scale (when comparing similar known attributes such as age and mashbill), but a broad price range. The attention is given to the (better) lower cost bourbon because it's 90% of the experience at a fraction of the price of the "100% experience", in quotes because I know that's subjective. Fair?

squire
04-03-2013, 13:15
I favor rye recipe Bourbon generally and Old Grand Dad specifically, which I would continue to buy if it costs more or less.

Young Blacksmith
04-03-2013, 15:35
For me the allure of the VOB's, Tom Moore BIB, and OGD's are pure superiority. I prefer their taste over the tastes of Bookers, Noah's Mill, etc. Like Squire, I like the heavy rye recipe bourbons, and OGD and OF have the taste I enjoy.

A higher price product I love is 4 Roses single barrel. I drink more of that than Old Forester, but I enjoy them both. I will admit that there is a certain PQR (Price to Quality Ratio) that has to be met for me to stock something regularly, but when they meet for my palate and wallet, I will willingly purchase them.

So then we get to your question: would you still prefer OGD BiB over RHF if they were the same price? Yes. Again, taste is subjective, and my taste says OGD BIB.

Hope that helps some.

bllygthrd
04-03-2013, 16:29
The attention is given to the (better) lower cost bourbon because it's 90% of the experience at a fraction of the price of the "100% experience", in quotes because I know that's subjective. Fair?

Yes, I enjoy getting 70-80% of the experience at 20-30% of the cost ... Also, being in WV, my choices are limited, so I hate to swill my harder to obtain higher priced finds.

CoMobourbon
04-03-2013, 19:24
It appears I over-analyzed my original post that derailed the mindset of those who responded. I was really just curious how much the praise for lower cost bourbons is influenced by the price.

Actually, I would argue that the OP question was overly simplistic, not overly analytical. No offense, really, but the problem wasn't that you were over-analytical so much as it was that you asked the wrong (overly simplistic question) question.


It sounds like the majority opinion is that bourbon (from the big distilleries) generally fits within a pretty narrow quality scale (when comparing similar known attributes such as age and mashbill), but a broad price range. The attention is given to the (better) lower cost bourbon because it's 90% of the experience at a fraction of the price of the "100% experience", in quotes because I know that's subjective. Fair?

Yes and no.

Yes, good value bourbon is virtually as good as top shelf stuff for much less money. Sometimes value bourbon is every bit as good as top-shelf but is in some way different, and sometimes it is every bit as good and almost identical, but yeah, generally, it is almost as good at a fraction of the price. If that is what you were looking for, than that is the answer that I agree with. (IMHO and all of that.)

But no, that is not why value bourbons get attention / get talked about on bourbon hobbyist forums like this one. That is another question altogether - and one with an entirely different answer. I offered my response to that question at length earlier. (In short, discussion of value bourbon involves insider knowledge, which is both the core content of and the participation criteria for hobbyist forums like this one.) If you didn't really intend to ask that question or hear the answer to it, that's understandable. But that is the question you asked.

CoMobourbon
04-03-2013, 19:32
"100% experience", in quotes because I know that's subjective. Fair?

Yeah, that is the one small frustrating thing I have found about this site. Out of misguided politeness, fear of embarrassment, or single-minded devotion to the try-it-yourself-orthodoxy, people - often the most knowledgeable and insightful people - will sometimes refuse to really answer any question that requires them to take a stand or express an opinion. The all-taste-is-subjective orthodoxy is much better than the alternative, but it has become a knee jerk reaction that limits potentially better discussions. Rather than hide behind that subjectivity tenet, we should use it as a starting point to build more ideas and opinions about bourbon.

Flyfish
04-04-2013, 09:53
Like the Squire, I believe that a lot can be learned from tasting blind. My wife and I like to play Stump the Chump. One of us will pour two or three bourbons in Glencairns out of sight of the other. Even when they are bourbons we have been drinking regularly for years, it is surprising how often our "sophisticated palates" leave us feeling like chumps. And no fair pitting a wheater against a high rye like OGD 114 or a barrel strength against a 90 proofer. We also enjoy vertical tasting blind; e.g., three or so of the EWSB to see just how much difference we can note from vintage to vintage. Or, vertically within a bourbon family; e.g., AAA, BT, ETL, and ER or Blanton's. Or the ever popular Kirkland's, KC, and Baker's tasteoff.
It do have a way of keeping you humble.

SMOWK
04-04-2013, 10:03
It's much more simple than a paragraph. Walk into store, buy bourbon. If you like it, buy more. If you can't afford it, then it's not worth it unless someone else is paying.

PaulO
04-04-2013, 11:58
The way I think of it is like a bell shaped curve. Many distilleries have their low priced 80 proof "well" whiskey. Then, if you spend just a few bucks more, and get a little more proof, and or age, the quality goes up dramatically. At some point it becomes much more esoteric.

loki993
04-04-2013, 12:12
Any time I feel bad about over-spending on bourbon, I just take a stroll down the scotch aisle and immediately feel better.



I feel the same way, I look at a bottle of 40 dollar bourbon and think well at the low end a decent bottle of scotch is around 70. I started with scotch and then moved to bourbon. I prefer the taste and the price.

As for the bargains.....well everyone loves a good deal and no matter what people say for 90 percent of people price is a factor to consider. So if there is good stuff and its cheap well that makes it even better Now I sit here wondering why I haven't gotten a bottle of AAA.

squire
04-04-2013, 13:41
I can go on at length about my preferences but I cannot tell anyone else what they will like.

bllygthrd
04-04-2013, 18:16
It's much more simple than a paragraph. Walk into store, buy bourbon. If you like it, buy more. If you can't afford it, then it's not worth it unless someone else is paying.

Pretty much covers everything I got out of my graduate micro-economics class at the U of R.

CoMobourbon
04-06-2013, 07:17
Yeah, that is the one small frustrating thing I have found about this site. Out of misguided politeness, fear of embarrassment, or single-minded devotion to the try-it-yourself-orthodoxy, people - often the most knowledgeable and insightful people - will sometimes refuse to really answer any question that requires them to take a stand or express an opinion. The all-taste-is-subjective orthodoxy is much better than the alternative, but it has become a knee jerk reaction that limits potentially better discussions. Rather than hide behind that subjectivity tenet, we should use it as a starting point to build more ideas and opinions about bourbon.


It's much more simple than a paragraph. Walk into store, buy bourbon. If you like it, buy more. If you can't afford it, then it's not worth it unless someone else is paying.

Case in point. (in so far as it is possible to ever ever say that)

Vadertime
04-02-2014, 19:56
I enjoy vatting different whiskies to come up with a given flavor I'm looking for, and can usually get very, very close to some $40+ bottles for half the money.


Please start a thread on this, Simulacrum Bourbon. I am most interested!

Vadertime
04-02-2014, 21:12
A few things:

1. One of the reasons I am particularly interested in HQ bottom shelf bourbons is that I hate corked bourbons. I have had several experiences with aged higher end bourbons that have been ruined by cork taste. I literally poured $50 worth of Blantons Silver down the drain last night as it was undrinkable. Due to where I am, the heat is hell on corks so I no longer want to pick up corked bottles unless they are new product for immediate consumption. So no corked dusties and and no corked bunkering. So I am on the lookout for the best plastic cap bourbon I can find.

2. Another reason is that I have found several middle shelf higher dollar bourbons uninspiring- WR, MM, and BT being prime examples. They may be smoother than their cheaper brethrin, but their is not all that much going on. If I wanted less flavor, some 4 year olds suit me just fine- export KSBW Early Times and export KSBW Kentucky Gentleman for example. I really hate a bottle of KC I have, it is horrible- just char and burn (I will admit, I suspect it was mishandled at some point before I got it).

Maybe on point 2 I am just ignorant of the other options, or I have only had bad luck with lemon bottles, but thats my opinion and it is fresh smelling!

JPBoston
04-02-2014, 21:13
The way I think of it is like a bell shaped curve. Many distilleries have their low priced 80 proof "well" whiskey. Then, if you spend just a few bucks more, and get a little more proof, and or age, the quality goes up dramatically. At some point it becomes much more esoteric.

The point of diminishing returns... it's how roughly 90% of my bourbon purchases are judged. :)

Sent from my XT907 using Tapatalk

DBM
04-02-2014, 23:49
Holy post-from-the-dead resurrection Batman!

For the record, one year later (to the day) my original statement is not valid to me. I have about 100 more bottles of bourbon since then, and I'm not interested in all of them being expensive, rare, limited edition labels. Point of diminishing returns is a great summary. Even with bottles of BTAC, PHC, PVW, FRLE and others open, I equally enjoy ETL, EWSB, SB Blend and even Makers 46 - great bourbon that I can replenish (most) any time for a reasonable price.

The original post would have led to more thoughtful responses if I had left out the last paragraph altogether.

zillah
04-03-2014, 07:27
@DBM Heh, I was just reading this revived post and was coming to the conclusion that it is all about diminishing returns. And then bam, you mentioned it right there.

On other whiskey communities (not just bourbon) where notes are scored, you can find this relationship of diminishing returns very apparent if you graphed them.

TunnelTiger
04-03-2014, 08:21
I have several value pours that I really enjoy (WT101, EWBIB, AAA, 4RYL, OGDBIB, OGD114) and I also like the fact that they readily available.

Meaning I don't have to bunker them which also means ETL, W12, OWA, and HH labels don't fit into this category for me because they are not.

upStomp
04-03-2014, 08:49
I totally agree about the law of diminishing returns applying here. As I Approach Bourbon Zen, I'm finding less and less need to visit the top shelf unless I find something new or interesting to consider. I've identified and keep stocked 5-6 mid to low/mid shelfers, most under $25 if I shop around, that I find are each great representations of different parts of the bourbon spectrum. I've always got something on hand for every mood.

Dannabis
04-03-2014, 09:10
Price =/= quality.

IMO many of the bargain brands like EWB, FC103, HH, BT, OGD are excellent quality.

many of the pricier expressions are the same juices just aged/handled/selected for flavor profile differently.IMO above a certain point of quality, you receive diminishing returns on price to flavor/quality.
you certainly must decide for yourself, but it is all newcharredoak aged corn dominant grain distillate.

What I believe you pay premiums for are
branding
skilled barrel selection and blending
time, care and effort aging
uniqueness
limited availability

so definitely try things of low and mid shelf to tell if they meet your needs.

I find low and mid shelf stuff delicious. I also have not invested more than 60$ on any one bottle so I can't speak for the high end bottlings.

Dannabis
04-03-2014, 09:34
Reading this thread, CoMobourbons answers are fantastic.


If they seem evasive at all it is just the zen like quality of a master working with a student on the intangible.

I will reread those a few times. Very well written to my mind.
Myself I am quite the novice and do not have the eloquence nor the experience to posit an answer so succinctly.

Dannabis
04-03-2014, 09:39
You will not find wine collectors discussing the merits of their Lafites and Margauxs while also singing the praise of $4.99 case buys from the corner market.

I disagree on wines.. When I discuss wine and enjoy wines I try inexpensive bottlings and find many many fantastic varietals and flavors of quality.
But you may be right. You made the distinction of collector and not drinker/connoisseur.
I am an enjoyer and not a collector myself.
please excuse if these responses are untimely. :)

Dannabis
04-03-2014, 11:06
http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/showthread.php?17401-Top-Shelf-Chick&highlight=top+shelf

Here's the link to the thread I mentioned earlier about the self-avowed "only top shelf" SBer. Much more recent than I remember! Whoops!

An interesting thing that may have been relevant to the referenced thread is I believe I've read that women have more taste buds and or are generally more sensitive to flavors.


Here is an article:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081216104035.htm

I think I read about this originally while reading about hoppy beers and why women tend to be less often attracted to brutally hoppy beers.

please excuse the tangent

Tony Santana
04-03-2014, 11:41
Interesting discussion. I like/own FC, OGD114, OF Sig, etc. and recently developed a newfound appreciation for WT101. I tend to find other (roughly) similarly priced brands, such as 4RYL, Weller SR and VOB 86 to be okay, but somewhat bland. And I'll fully admit my exploration of the lower shelves has been perfunctory at best. My limited experience has been that those brands are too, I dunno, is "astringent" the right word? Maybe there's another undiscovered gem in there, but I'm not going to strain myself trying to find it (and while I don't need barrel proofers, I prefer at least 90 proof).

So, at the risk of snobbery accusations, I tend to stay away from what some would consider the "value pours". Value, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. I'd rather drink EWSB or EC12 than plain ol' EW, BT or ER10 over Benchmark, KC over JBB. More often than not I'll spring for the extra $10-12 to buy WTRB over WT101.

My bourbon drinking is most often done at home with no one else but my wife around, so I'm clearly not trying to impress anyone wiht my selection. My best guess in those situations is that I'll reach for a bottle that cost me less than $30 at least half the time, but it's not uncommon for me to reach for something higher on the shelf.

Certainly there's a law of diminishing returns. I don't think my PHC POH is 3 times better than EC12, but I willingly spent at least that much on it. I'll drink much less of the former than the latter. But dang, sometimes it sure feels good to bust out that POH. Bottom line: I fully realize that pricier doesn't necessarily equate to better. But it often does, and perception does affect reality. Even if to some extent I'm fooling myself, what difference does it make as long as I can afford it and I'm enjoying myself?

Bluffhunter
04-03-2014, 13:53
I agree with Tony, for as much as I pour myself a drink I want decent quality. Not saying its a $50 bottle every time but usually the $25-$40 stuff and i too like WTRB and spend the extra cash over regular WT101; why not?

yemenmocha
04-06-2014, 20:31
Though I'm not that old, I'm going to sound old here... but I think bourbon is a lot more expensive than it used to be so it is somewhat amusing to hear conversations that have bourbon's value (today) as a point in a discussion. I bought nearly a dozen bottles of Stagg for $31 each in Kentucky when I last bought Stagg (was 2003/4) and now the price seems extreme to me. So, for me, bourbon was a great value and that was a major part of it for me. Similar anecdotes exist for other bourbons, and also with regard to availability. I remember seeing Pappy in the store glass case every time I went to the store for a few years way back when.

I still love it, even with the higher prices. And even with those higher prices, there's still superior relative value compared to Scotch (for me, at least). If I spend $40 I can have many of my very favorites, but I cannot say the same for Scotch, and in that category I only have a small list of loved ones for about $60 or less.

One thing I appreciate more about Bourbon is that I can have a range of preferred bottles at my disposal, all at very reasonable prices. On the whole, then, yes the value is a substantial part of my enjoying this fine spirit.

mister_deez
04-08-2014, 20:16
One of the things that initially drew me to bourbon was how you get could a great tasting bottle of something for cheap if you knew what to look for, and there was actually a wide selection of these cheap great tasting bottles so you can try different ones. I think this is much rarer for other liquors.

smokinjoe
04-08-2014, 20:31
Reading this thread, CoMobourbons answers are fantastic.


If they seem evasive at all it is just the zen like quality of a master working with a student on the intangible.

I will reread those a few times. Very well written to my mind.
Myself I am quite the novice and do not have the eloquence nor the experience to posit an answer so succinctly.

No. He is just a guy who likes to hear himself talk, and has a raging case of "I Think I'm the Smartest Guy in the Room, Because My Shiny New Diploma Tells Me So Syndrome". He'll drop in again when school is out, and tell us how we are all so misguided...again.

darylld911
04-09-2014, 15:36
Though I'm not that old, I'm going to sound old here... but I think bourbon is a lot more expensive than it used to be so it is somewhat amusing to hear conversations that have bourbon's value (today) as a point in a discussion. I bought nearly a dozen bottles of Stagg for $31 each in Kentucky when I last bought Stagg (was 2003/4) and now the price seems extreme to me. So, for me, bourbon was a great value and that was a major part of it for me. Similar anecdotes exist for other bourbons, and also with regard to availability. I remember seeing Pappy in the store glass case every time I went to the store for a few years way back when.

I still love it, even with the higher prices. And even with those higher prices, there's still superior relative value compared to Scotch (for me, at least). If I spend $40 I can have many of my very favorites, but I cannot say the same for Scotch, and in that category I only have a small list of loved ones for about $60 or less.

One thing I appreciate more about Bourbon is that I can have a range of preferred bottles at my disposal, all at very reasonable prices. On the whole, then, yes the value is a substantial part of my enjoying this fine spirit.

I screwed up and didn't get into bourbon until the prices were on the rise, although whenever I find any other kind of whiskey I like in any way/shape/form - I find that even the $30 bourbons are a great value in the whiskey category :)

TunnelTiger
04-10-2014, 07:18
I screwed up and didn't get into bourbon until the prices were on the rise, although whenever I find any other kind of whiskey I like in any way/shape/form - I find that even the $30 bourbons are a great value in the whiskey category :)

Similar experience here. I got into bourbon just a year ago because I was bitchin about the prices of scotch to my dealer and he suggested I try bourbon as it was a great value and the best whiskey in the world.

Well he was right and even though the prices are steadily climbing it's still a great value in a comparision to that other stff from the old country(it tastes better too).

Guy Debord
04-10-2014, 10:27
Yeah, that is the one small frustrating thing I have found about this site. Out of misguided politeness, fear of embarrassment, or single-minded devotion to the try-it-yourself-orthodoxy, people - often the most knowledgeable and insightful people - will sometimes refuse to really answer any question that requires them to take a stand or express an opinion. The all-taste-is-subjective orthodoxy is much better than the alternative, but it has become a knee jerk reaction that limits potentially better discussions. Rather than hide behind that subjectivity tenet, we should use it as a starting point to build more ideas and opinions about bourbon.

I like this and agree.
I was semi-making this point the other day in the thread on "Best Bourbons."

WhiskyRI
04-10-2014, 11:07
Personally I really like good bottom shelf bourbons for several reasons. #1 for me is the ones I buy taste good to me. #2 I can drink them and save some money for more expensive, or special, bourbons. #3 I can bring them to parties and throw away the top without sweating - a $12 bottle of OFBiB is always well received at party, usually much better than a $12 bottle of wine.

If I could drink certain rare bourbons every day I might be as concerned but I have a budget for hooch and bottom shelf bourbons easily fit within my budget and are enjoyable to drink. Do I enjoy that they are "my secret" and I'm "smart enough" to know about them - sure maybe a little bit. At the end of the day it is just whisky - nice to have but not as important as food and family.

BigRich
04-10-2014, 12:26
Though I'm not that old, I'm going to sound old here... but I think bourbon is a lot more expensive than it used to be so it is somewhat amusing to hear conversations that have bourbon's value (today) as a point in a discussion. I bought nearly a dozen bottles of Stagg for $31 each in Kentucky when I last bought Stagg (was 2003/4) and now the price seems extreme to me. So, for me, bourbon was a great value and that was a major part of it for me. Similar anecdotes exist for other bourbons, and also with regard to availability. I remember seeing Pappy in the store glass case every time I went to the store for a few years way back when.

I still love it, even with the higher prices. And even with those higher prices, there's still superior relative value compared to Scotch (for me, at least). If I spend $40 I can have many of my very favorites, but I cannot say the same for Scotch, and in that category I only have a small list of loved ones for about $60 or less.

One thing I appreciate more about Bourbon is that I can have a range of preferred bottles at my disposal, all at very reasonable prices. On the whole, then, yes the value is a substantial part of my enjoying this fine spirit.


I'm one of those guys too. Stagg, Pappy, and VW Rye off the shelf and I didn't know how good I had it. It's not just bourbon though. Around the same time I was also buying Macallan 18 (Gran Reserva) at $80 back when it was still vintage dated. Oh the good old (sadly not so old) days.

corpse_welder
04-10-2014, 23:29
It's been said by many before me, but the attraction to value bourbons is the ratio of quality to cost. I've never been overly impressed by premium bourbon, as I find it a bit too refined for my liking, but it's a subject that fascinates me. That being said, "value bourbon" in my household is just "bourbon" by this point, what with my preferences and current financial state. Can't say I mind too much, since I've always had a few $30-$50 bottles around that I enjoy but overall tend to reach for them less than my WT101 and Grand-dad or OWA. I have always been a vocal supporter of Stagg but the price is a bit high with my wife out of work with our baby as well as the headache finding it. My idea of a "premium" bourbon is Blanton's or Four Roses SB and the rest of my cabinet is less than $20 and delicious

T Comp
04-11-2014, 08:09
I've done this exercise before here but find yourself some bourbon prices from the 50's and 60's, or pre glut, and plug them into an inflation calculator. Not as cheap as you think. Eagle Rare 101 is at $40 based on its introductory $10 price in 1976. A gallon of Mt. Vernon Rye in 1900 at $2.79 will be $82.18...actually more now as that thread was from 2010.

http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/showthread.php?14743-1976-Print-Ad-Introducing-Eagle-Rare&highlight=texas+monthly+eagle+rare

squire
04-11-2014, 08:35
I believe You're spot on there Thad. I can recall when good Bourbon was plentiful but I don't ever remember the good stuff being cheap by the standards of the time.

TunnelTiger
04-11-2014, 11:02
I believe You're spot on there Thad. I can recall when good Bourbon was plentiful but I don't ever remember the good stuff being cheap by the standards of the time.

This is so true Squire. When gas was less than $0.20/gallon and I was making a $1.00/hr it still took a good chunk out of my check.

mbroo5880i
04-11-2014, 13:06
I am confused by this whole topic. I find location in the store, bottle style and backstory the most alluring aspects of bourbon. I believe quality, quantity and price considerations are over rated. The hotter the chick at the tasting, the more likely I am to take a bottle home.

Eggman
06-19-2014, 20:19
Howdy,

Given my meager budget, "value" Bourbons make up 80% of my..Bourbon :) In my neck of the woods, JB white label is the obvious choice at my local grocery. It's adequate when mixed with cola. When I'm "In the chips", so to speak, Baker's is my favorite. YMMV and MHO.

PS: Liquor stores can't touch the local grocery stores on Bourbon prices in my part of Louisiana.

squire
06-20-2014, 11:11
Good Bourbon is good irrespective of price.

Auracom
06-20-2014, 16:16
^What he said.

100% quality in my book. If the price is conducive to purchase for quantity as well, then that's just a bonus.

Special Reserve
06-20-2014, 16:34
Agreed quality is the best reason to buy any bourbon.

mbroo5880i
06-20-2014, 18:44
Howdy,

Given my meager budget, "value" Bourbons make up 80% of my..Bourbon :) In my neck of the woods, JB white label is the obvious choice at my local grocery. It's adequate when mixed with cola. When I'm "In the chips", so to speak, Baker's is my favorite. YMMV and MHO.

PS: Liquor stores can't touch the local grocery stores on Bourbon prices in my part of Louisiana.

Agree, budget and bourbon don't always match up, especially if you frequent this site! I find prices at the local grocery and drug stores to be competitive and, occasionally, slightly less than my local liquor store. However, I am willing to pay a $1 or $2 more on standard stuff like BT, etc. to support my local store because they have "excellent" store selects for very reasonable prices and a wide variety. It helps immensely that my local store has a whiskey aficionado so he keeps the choices interesting. He is also a member of this forum.

That said, I live in Indy. Kroger has a decent selection, and more than adequate for the average bourbon drinker, but I have found the selection at groceries and drug stores in other states to be significantly better.