Jump to content
skiwez2

Scotch vs Bourbon value position

Recommended Posts

skiwez2

The 2019 goals discussion in the bourbon forum got me thinking about whisky in general.  I enjoy a dram of all kinds, but bourbon was my introduction and still my go to.  Still relatively new to this world but have actively been enjoying the hobby for 5 years or so and in that 5 years I've watched the price of bourbon creeping up.  I feel there is still a good amount of quality bourbon at reasonable prices but the variety is starting to diminish.  If one want to experience different or unique flavor profiles you need to reach higher & higher on the bourbon shelf to experience that.  

 

With all that being said I feel now more than in the past single malts or even quality blends are offering a competitive value for my whisky dollars especially when you look at the variety of flavor profiles.  This topic does come up every once in a while but figured since its a new year see if anyone else is going to be changing their spending patterns?  I probably won't be adding as much to my bourbon bunker as I will be adding new to me scotches.  Don't get me wrong there will always be an Elijah Craig, Blantons, and Turkey 101 on my bar just maybe the bunker won't be growing.  

  • I like it 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
kevinbrink

My buying shifts around all the time, I would guess that I purchased more Scotch than Bourbon last year by a wide margin, part of that is that I already had far more bourbon in the bunker and while more often then not I reach for American Whiskey the variety of flavor profiles in scotch is far less narrow than in American Whiskey to me. That is changing a bit, American Single Malts are really starting to get interesting but also don't really offer the best value to $ since the craft guys don't tend to have the same economies of scale. All that said, if I had to guess I'm probably less of a bourbon enthusiast than I am a spirit enthusiast comparative to many others here. For my tastes Rum and Gin still offer good value at price-points comparative to bourbon and at the premium end of the spectrum I've gotten more enjoyment out of $80+ bottles of Armagnac in the last year than I did either Scotch or Bourbon, part of that being the newness to me I'm sure. 

 

I do think we might start seeing an interesting shift in scotch, as volume sales of Blends are trending down and sales of Single Malts continue to rise in the US, which has been an ongoing trend for a while now, I think many of the distilleries that were nearly exclusively used for Blends and independent bottlings will shift to releasing more and more Distillery released Single Malts in the States and some will likely be priced to compete in the segment of the market where blends had been priced. That being said as an import good it's hard to imagine a scotch of equal quality hitting the market with the value of something EWB or EWBIB. 

  • I like it 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
skiwez2

Oh absolutely agree with you about the value proposition between imports and our home brewed bourbon. Definitely appreciate the quality with the major distillers, hoping maybe the craft distilleries will start maturing which will introduce some variety to the US bourbon/whisky market.

That being said as prices are increasing on bourbon that gap that existed between single malts is closing ever so slightly. As a result I'm dabbling more in the single malts where in the past I think I would have passed.

  • I like it 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
JvW

Don't discriminate...I enjoy reading about their respective history and exploring new spirits.

 

IMG_1875.thumb.jpg.b70928fcde3cb9dbd54744e3d34eb222.jpg

  • I like it 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
skiwez2

That's exactly the point I'm making. Less reason to discriminate now :-)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
kevinbrink
22 minutes ago, skiwez2 said:

That's exactly the point I'm making. Less reason to discriminate now ?

If you are shopping in NYC exclusively I would say that gap is even closer than if you cross the Hudson, the Bourbon markup seems a bit higher than the Scotch Markup

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Marekv8
52 minutes ago, kevinbrink said:

If you are shopping in NYC exclusively I would say that gap is even closer than if you cross the Hudson, the Bourbon markup seems a bit higher than the Scotch Markup

 

No kidding-- it's the one place in the States where bourbon is priced relatively higher than Scotch. Last week I happened across a $199.00 NAS Stagg Jr. and $289.00 NAS Elmer T. Lee flanking a $399.00 Laphroaig 25 behind glass.

  • I like it 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Marekv8
6 hours ago, kevinbrink said:

 the variety of flavor profiles in scotch is far less narrow than in American Whiskey

 

Maybe it's just me, but I find that as American bourbon and ryes are trending younger and the manufacturing process becoming somewhat more modernized, the variety of flavor profiles has become noticeably narrower. The swift rise in popularity and demand for Private Selections seems to further underscore this-- as the palatable difference between store picks; say of Buffalo Trace; is rather subtle. Somewhat like "single cow" milk from the same dairy farm.

  • I like it 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
kevinbrink
2 minutes ago, Marekv8 said:

 

Maybe it's just me, but I find that as American bourbon and ryes are trending younger and the manufacturing process becoming somewhat more modernized, the variety of flavor profiles has become noticeably narrower. The swift rise in popularity and demand for Private Selections seems to further underscore this-- as the palatable difference between store picks; say of Buffalo Trace; is rather subtle. Somewhat like "single cow" milk from the same dairy farm.

Agreed 1000% which is more than the typically allowed number of percents.....

  • I like it 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
berto

I've always been equal opportunity.  Given the choice between similarly priced aged scotch or WTF!? bourbon of often dubious origin I'd take a gamble on the scotch.  There's this stuff from the Caribbean that's been grabbing more of my attention.    

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
evasive

Living in a control state, Scotch I want to drink starts at $55 (Ardbeg 10, which is a great value, IMO). There’s plenty of good bourbon available to me for less than that. Scotch is still my splurge whereas bourbon is the daily.

I used to pick up Bowmore Legend for $25 but I haven’t seen it in my local for years.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Vosgar
22 hours ago, kevinbrink said:

I think many of the distilleries that were nearly exclusively used for Blends and independent bottlings will shift to releasing more and more Distillery released Single Malts in the States and some will likely be priced to compete in the segment of the market where blends had been priced.

You're absolutely right on this. The big bonus for us is that these distilleries have been making whisky for decades, know what they're doing and have nicely aged stock available. I'm much more likely to try an age stated Scotch I'm not familiar with than an upstart craft bourbon. 

  • I like it 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
skiwez2

Ah yes kevinbrink that's one of the privileges of living in nyc. I get to overpay on just about all my liquor purchases.

  • I like it 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
evasive
You're absolutely right on this. The big bonus for us is that these distilleries have been making whisky for decades, know what they're doing and have nicely aged stock available. I'm much more likely to try an age stated Scotch I'm not familiar with than an upstart craft bourbon. 


It hasn’t been that long since Caol Ila was only available from independent bottlers.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
kevinbrink
4 hours ago, skiwez2 said:

Ah yes kevinbrink that's one of the privileges of living in nyc. I get to overpay on just about all my liquor purchases.

Well I shop in NYC and NJ and believe it or not on somethings NY tends to actually price pretty well, I've found a few stores over the years that are pretty fair, if your ever looking for something feel free to hit me up.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The Black Tot

Value in both (if not all) spirits is getting harder and harder to find.

 

I don't think Scotch has had any less of a run-up than bourbon has. All the famous big names in scotch have had dramatic run ups in price, sharp drops in age, and a very rapid loss of age statements at all.

 

Scotch does though have the advantage for the enthusiast that there are many more distillery names out there, compounded by many independent bottlers who then release varying expressions. 

 

These independent bottlers also often have higher integrity than the corporate ownership of the majors, and predominantly don't try to cash in and blow out their inventory before maturity, selling ridiculous 7-9 year single malt product which will be a serious obstacle to malt's proper maturity returning in the future. "But it had game of thrones on the label!" (yes I know a small portion of those had age statements).

 

The above mentioned complexity in single malt makes it harder for herd mentality to blow up a specific distillery's flavor profile output.

 

Weller is Weller, and you can't get it for the most part. If we had an equivalent independent bottler culture in the US, we'd have at least 6 independent bottlers who bought BT wheated distillate way back before the boom, all releasing their own version of WLW at ages up to 20yrs, all throughout the year.

 

Imagine.

 

For scotch, there is no "limited season". It's always limited season, cask strength gems are coming out all the time, and too many for non-enthusiasts and liquor stores to understand and therefore learn to exploit the drinking customer.

 

In fact, the Van Winkles are basically Weller's independent bottler. I hear reports that they're muddling through.

 

Smooth Ambler and Willett independently bottled a lot of MGP and other stuff. I hear that worked out - and it's starting to work out for a lot of other newer craft distilleries, too.

 

If we had as diverse a culture of independent bottling in the US maybe we would be able to find more of our favorite flavors quietly released for more reasonable prices, instead of having to stand in line for "Pappy 10yr" behind the 10 people who don't know anything about whiskey other than that PVW is desirable and people will pay lots for it.

 

For every Macallan that has blown up there are 5 little known single malt distilleries still under the radar, if you're committed and take the time to figure them out (which the masses never do). With bourbon, the brands are fewer, and easier to blow up with hype and have everyone and their sister-in-law pile in.

 

Edited by The Black Tot
  • I like it 5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Marekv8

Yes, I too wish the same independent bottler culture existed here-- fully transparent in regards to distillery, dates and details. An entity like Barrell that denotes "Tennessee" or "Indiana" only is covering off on legal and leaving us to speculate. PM Spirits was upfront with their Mic Drop releases, but as expected the Scots do it best— an example being the recent North Star Heaven Hill bottling.

 

1688095796_ScreenShot2019-01-17at9_43_03AM.thumb.jpg.a601010edbbd2d205713197c19456e20.jpg

1913268511_ScreenShot2019-01-17at9_14_52AM.thumb.jpg.0b5a0f80ffc6e5fa18abeca3b8ef893e.jpg

  • I like it 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
JvW

Just love the Independent Bottlers, where else could I have the privilege to try this (might be awful juice, but at least you have chance to try yourself)...

 

IMG_2676.thumb.JPG.157b0d1266127439ad9be72dc04f1425.JPG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
kevinbrink
47 minutes ago, JvW said:

Just love the Independent Bottlers, where else could I have the privilege to try this (might be awful juice, but at least you have chance to try yourself)...

 

IMG_2676.thumb.JPG.157b0d1266127439ad9be72dc04f1425.JPG

I do love Independent Bottlers however I have learned to largely ignore Battlehill with a few exceptions.

  • I like it 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
JvW
41 minutes ago, kevinbrink said:

I do love Independent Bottlers however I have learned to largely ignore Battlehill with a few exceptions.

Don't know anything about them, but looking forward cracking this one open...

 

IMG_2679.JPG.ea500a19ae74380067ddf1a7bb87f42e.JPG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
kevinbrink
3 minutes ago, JvW said:

Don't know anything about them, but looking forward cracking this one open...

 

IMG_2679.JPG.ea500a19ae74380067ddf1a7bb87f42e.JPG

Here in the states Battlehill is pretty much a Total Wine exclusive extension of Duncan Taylor, I believe they used to only bottle sub 10 year casks but they have been doing some older barrels for a while now.  I would be excited to try that DT Highland Park as well enjoy it!

Edited by kevinbrink

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
JvW
1 hour ago, kevinbrink said:

Here in the states Battlehill is pretty much a Total Wine exclusive extension of Duncan Taylor, I believe they used to only bottle sub 10 year casks but they have been doing some older barrels for a while now.  I would be excited to try that DT Highland Park as well enjoy it!

Thanks for the info and yes that Duncan Taylor HP19 @ 52.7% ABV will an interesting comparison to the standard HP18...

  • I like it 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Auracom

in short, yes. there is no longer any bottle of bourbon at $50 or under i would buy before Ardbeg 10.

  • I like it 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
GaryT

Paul's absolutely correct that the prices on both have gotten a little crazy, although I think the sheer number of quality producers in the Scotch game provide for more options where the value lines up.  I'll put it this way, if I was looking to spend $150 on a single bottle, today I feel like I'd be more likely to go home with a quality single malt or blend (like Compass Box Flaming Heart) than any bourbon.  I can't think of a bourbon in the $125-$150 (that you can actually buy in a store; ignoring the LE craziness where I've got to buy store picks for lottery entries, etc) that I'd enjoy over that.  Of course, there are always exceptions (like seeing some lovely private FR selections with some age that might have me leaning in that direction for a two-fer).  

  • I like it 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×