Chuck you have made some insightful comments that are making me think out loud. I don't want to highjack this thread regarding Old Pogue, but I really don't know how to start a new one (yes, I admit to being technologically challenged!). Nearly every distiller has the same basic cost structures (grain costs, barrels, heat/power, warehousing, etc.), however, why are some 4 year old whiskies in the premium category while others at twice the age are not? Is premium or super premium a quality rating or is it a shelf price category? By way of example, most vodkas come from Mid-West Grains and Solvents (in KS I believe). Different folks buy bulk vodka for the same price, yet package and sell them in every price range imaginable. The quality is the same (or almost the same), the acquisition cost is the same, yet one is bottom-shelf and another is premium. The primary difference, while one may have a prettier bottle, is the price category in which the bottler wishes to play and the ad campaign he can afford.
That being said, folks like the Pogues are at a natural disadvantage. Since the bulk market has nearly dried up, distilleries that sell bulk whiskey can charge whatever they want. Unless you enter into a long term contact, you are not always assured of having whiskey year after year, much less the same quality whiskey year after year. Here at Buffalo Trace, we ceased selling in the bulk market 3 - 4 years ago. If people depended on us as a constant source of their whiskey, they would now have to look elsewhere. The cost of the whiskey would change and the quality (for better or worse) would also change. That being said, I respect people like the Pogues who venture into an area fraught with uncertainty.