View Full Version : How much is too much for you?

01-06-2004, 17:15
Back when I was first getting my taste buds wet with premium bourbons, I didn't care how much a premium bottling of bourbon would cost, I just wanted to have it. The most I have shelled out was around $90 for a bottle of Pappy 20, which is a damn fine bourbon. Lately though I am having a harder time forking over the big bucks that some of these bourbons are commanding. I mean, are Pappy 23yo and Hirsch 20yo really $180 better than my Weller 12yo? Would I be paying more for far superior bourbon, or am I paying more just because it is so rare? Obviously supply-side economics play a big role in pricing, but what I am asking is: Will I get that much more enjoyment out of it as far as taste is concerned? Increasingly the answer is becoming no. With so many great bottlings in the $15-$30 range, why would I pay more for something other than to just say I have it? This doesn't really apply to collectors like Mark and Chris, who have a different motivation, but more to those of us in casual Bourbonia.

Anyway, I am interested in what price you call the limit for your typical bourbon purchases? Putting aside the "special occasion" purchase, where do you draw the line? For me it is around the $45 mark. Considering that everything in the Antique collection can be had for that price, how much better quality can the more expensive bourbons be? http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/skep.gif

01-06-2004, 18:20
I whole-heartedly agree. Except for really rare stuff, like Clay, I'd stay around $45-50. I got Pappy 20 yr old for $78 about 3 years ago. I felt privileged to do so at the time and it is a wonderful bourbon, but I don't plan on replacing it when it's gone. There are so many classic bourbons at the $35-50 pricepoint, I will only spend more to try it one time. Luckily, I got 3 bottles of Stagg and 2 bottles of Eagle Rare 17 yr old at your $45 cap.

Jeff Johnson

01-06-2004, 18:37
I'm with you. The most I've ever spent was $80 for a Pappy 20yo, and I've never opened it. Maybe I will some day, maybe I won't. It's as much a collectible as a bourbon to me. And I've bunkered some Hirsch 16yo purchased at a bit less than that, opening just one. As much as I'd like to try the 23yo Pappy, I just can't bring myself to believe it can be enough better than the many other great buys to warrant the price difference. I drink anything from the $10 Rebel Yell to the $45 Antique Collection if I like it. But I'd sure hate to spend any more than that and find I didn't care for it (or, at least, like it A LOT more).

01-06-2004, 18:41
That's a tough question to answer. I look at expensive whiskey investments as buying the opportunity to experience a bottling. Being in an ABC-regulated state limits my access to the rare stuff. When I go to Manhattan next August, I'll probably be one of the idiots who shells out $100 for Stagg. And I'll sleep like a baby afterwards...I consider it opportunity cost.

My most expensive bottle to date is $140, which was for Distiller's Masterpiece (cognac finish), and to me it was worth it just to know what it tastes like. It's not even CLOSE to being my favorite, but it's neat to own and taste.

For daily drinkers, I usually stay in the $15-$30 range, and find many of them as good (if not better!) than the premiums.

01-06-2004, 18:47
For me it depends on several different criteria, how available is the bourbon in the local market, is it going to be available again in the future, what is the difference in price from somewhere I could order it from, but mostly it's what I am willing to give up this month for the difference in prices. It's the same criteria I used when I got into cigars. When I see a box of my favorite cigars that normally sell for $130 a box and I can get them for $85, to me it's a no brainer. Recently when I saw two bottles of ORVW 10yr 90pr for $15 each I grabbed them without any hesitation. At that price they can be a better than average guest pour for quite a while.

However, the prices locally for Hirsch 20 and Pappy 23 I have found have been 157.95 and 179.95 each and I just can't seem to pull the trigger. Maybe after I get my yearly bonus next month.....


01-06-2004, 18:47
I look at expensive whiskey investments as buying the opportunity to experience a bottling

I can appreciate that sentiment, especially from someone living where premium pours are often hard to come by. I guess I have tasted enough of what is out there now to be a little jaded in my decision making.

01-06-2004, 19:24
You pose a very good question. I have an unopenned bottle of Pappy 23 year and an unopenned bottle of Hirsch 20 year in addition to a Distiller's master piece that has been untapped. I look at that amount of money and know that I will never be able to replace them, then I have to look at those bottles and say to myself whe is the right time to open them. It is neat that I have them but I have not taken the time to enjoy what they are because they were soooo expensive. All other bottles I have have probably been up to 50 but I now know which ones I will get again and again without putting out so much cash. I gues the whol thing is an adventure. I know that I will eventually just pick a few bottlings that I like and keep them in the "bunker" but right now the exploration is the thing. The "investment" as Gary said is well worth it, I just have to not be afraid to try those that I have realizing that I am missing out on something special by having them sit there on my shelf being admired. (by the way in March, when my baby is born, I have decied that will be the time to drink the Pappy that has sit on my shelf for 3 years now). To sum up $45 is about the most any more I can afford to spend. I think that there have been several threads that have spoke to the special bottlings being reasonablly priced almost to a loss to the distilleries. If they keep doin that, I think that we will all be happy and keep with our hobby in boubania http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/toast.gif

01-06-2004, 19:39
There's definitely a distinction between collector bourbon and drinking bourbon when it comes to how much is too much. I've paid way too much for "rare" Maker's bottles that I will never taste. (The bourbon is still only regular Maker's) As long as someone is willing to pay more than I did, my investment is justified. Now, for drinkin' bourbon, I twinge at $50, reach for my heart at $80 and need defibrillation over $150, but I still buy'm and drink'm. The bad news is I like the 16 year Hirsch better than the 20 and the Pappy 20 better than the 23. Maybe, my tastes haven't matured enough to appreciate them, so I'll keep trying. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/confused.gif

01-06-2004, 23:24
I have to go with this one to my daily pour is ORVW 10yr 107 , here in MA it is in the $35-40 range as is the 15 yr . I will go for the special bottlings at the 45-50 mark ...But SWMBO (non drinker) gives that look ,, those of us who are married know to well .... enough said ...
I did opt for a Pappy 20yr , but I like the 10yr 107 more and will not replace when gone http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/shocked.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif,,, sorry to say , but I will replace it with 3 bottle of the 10 yr so hopefully I can be forgiven....
As to the higher priced bottlings , my standard of living will not let me try them but not having the well defined tastes that some here are lucky enough to have I settle for what I can aford and enjoy and am very happy with it ... I feel that even at that I am by far very lucky and privilaged to have what I enjoy as it is ...

Bill G.

Long Live Van Winkle and His Skill at making the finest Bourbons that one can ever have...

01-07-2004, 06:54
I have experienced many of the ultra high end bourbons discussed here...Pappy 20 and 23, the Hirsch 20, etc. and I have found my taste buds seem to stop seeing "improvement" at around $50. I prefer the ORVW 10/107 to the Pappys. I prefer the Hirsch 16 to the 20. I like the new Black Maple Hill 14yo. Its not just a matter of economics....its just that I don't like the very old bourbons which tend to be the highest priced.

$50 is my final answer for drinking....$150 for "collecting".

Randy B

01-07-2004, 10:04
I don't really have a set limit, but since I'm working witha budget just like everyone else, I always have to consider how many bottles of $20-$50 stuff I'm giving up to get one bottle of top end stuff. Sometimes I'll buy one expensive bottle, sometimes I'll spend the same amount, but buy nothing over $20. It all depends on my mood and what I feel would be most beneficial to my collection at the moment. As my collection improves, I'm more likely to spend more per bottle. I go through all my liquor very slowly, so replacing what I have doesn't come in to play very often.


01-07-2004, 17:32
As many have said before, there's a huge number of wonderful bottlings to be had for less than $50. There's many available for lots less. So, I'd have to say that typically, $50 is my upper end. But, when special things come along, such as the single cask of 20 Year Old Van Winkle from Sam's ($100), I'll spring for it. I'd have to say that's really my upper limit. I've seen the price tag on the 23 YO VW, and as much as I'd love to try it, it's out of my price range to buy a bottle. I'm hoping that the 23 YO will be available to taste at the next WhiskyFest in NYC which is where I try the VERY expensive items that I can't afford to buy (most of which fall into the Single Malt category).

Where I get into spending lots of money is when I buy multiple bottles of the many wonderful, less expensive, bourbons. But, I figure for such things as the Hirsch 16 YO, or the Old Commonwealth, I gotta get em while the gettin's good! http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/drink.gif I'm sure this applies to lots of other folks, right? http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif


01-07-2004, 17:45
Well, I just about choked when I bought a bottle of Booker's for $52.95 two days ago. I wasn't impressed with the first bottle, but so many here rave about it, I decided to give it a second try. I have paid more for whiskey and I can afford it. But why? There are so many excellent bourbons out there for less than $30. Anyway, I am past trying to impress people with my expensive tastes. And so far, for me, the most expensive bourbon is not necessarily the best bourbon.

Regards, jimbo

01-07-2004, 18:23
$46 has been my absolute upper limit (Kentucky Spirit, Blanton's).

I really hate to spend more than $35, but I do it fairly frequently (OFBB, etc.) I usually draw the line at around $32 (Rare Breed, Knob Creek, Woodford Reserve).


01-07-2004, 21:34
$60 is about tops for me. If it is over that I'll have to find a good friend. I think that there are several great bourbons under $30 and a few under $15. I like Blanton's but do not think it's $35 better than EC12YO. I guess it depends a good deal on how much cash I have on hand.

01-08-2004, 14:35
Jimbo, I paid $75 dollars for my first and only bottle of Bookers. I guess I made the classic mistake of not shopping around. I've seen it for $50 elsewhere but I think I'll stick with JB Black which, from what I've heard, is basically the same bourbon at lower proof and price.

There was a time when I was willing to pay the occasional 60-80 dollars for premium or rare whiskey (bourbon/s****h/irish) but I thing 50 bucks is probably my upper limit nowadays.

01-08-2004, 16:22
..but I think I'll stick with JB Black which, from what I've heard, is basically the same bourbon at lower proof and price.

Someone else mentioned JB Black as a lower proof, lower cost alternative to Booker's. I took that advice and tried a bottle. It is definitely worth a repeat.

Regards, jimbo

01-08-2004, 21:13
JB Black is one of my favorite value-to-price bourbons. It's current rendition is 8yo/86 proof. But, some areas still might have the older 7yo/90 proof version. I've found a couple of bottles, and see it advertised online here and there. If you find it, try it. It's even better than today's Black.

01-10-2004, 10:39
Last night is a good example...I finished the last of my Henry McKenna BIB 10yr Single Barrel. I really like this whiskey...it competes favorably with EC12 and may be the best HH product I have had. However it cost $26...which is not going to break the bank but Evan Williams is $10 locally...is McKenna worth 2.6 bottles of EW7?? Is it worth $10 more than Elijah Craig 12? I can have both EC12 AND Evan Williams for the price of McKenna so that is the way I will go. Once over $20 bucks, I am beginning to lose my desire to spend unless it is a whiskey I have never had before...but of course that only applies once.

01-17-2004, 13:04
That is a great question, Jeff!! I definetely see where you are coming from. I have been a bourbonlover for many many years. If it was new, I've had it. If it was old, I've had it too, and there are some mighty fine bourbons out there in the high dollar price range. I've said it before and I will say it again, there are some of the most pleasurable bourbon to drink around the $20 mark. As an example, Buffalo Trace, AAA, VOB, Heaven Hill BB, but personally I don't think there is anything out there any better than the ones I just listed. It seems to me, the more you know about bourbon, the less you have to spend. I am going to make a post about this and, Jeff, this was truly one of the best questions I have seen in a long while.


01-19-2004, 12:53
Putting aside the "special occasion" purchase, where do you draw the line?

for my "regular pours" I stay under about $20 per 750ml and for my "top shelf" I stay under $40 (e.g. Blanton's -- this past week at Liquor Barn for about $36.99, Rock Hill a few weeks ago same price).

That way it's about $2 per shot (1.5 oz) for a top shelf bourbon. Some of my 'regular pours' come out to about 71 cents a shot or $1.42 per glass (double, of course).

I've paid more for some but rarely. Stagg is a good example of one of my "exception" or "special occasion" buys.

That's why I was sad when Julian stopped bottling some of his specially priced product which I could get for under $20 and which was a regular pour for us at that time.

01-23-2004, 23:13
Well I look on this as a hobby, and all hobbies are expensive. I also like to try new bourbons so I have never really set a price limit. The most I have spent so far is $60 for a bottle. I guess it depends on what kind of cash i have at me disposal. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/usflag.gif