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Age = quality???

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Wierdo started a discussion

I like arguing with strangers online just a little too much!

Today a suggested advert came up on my facebook feed for a single malt from a London distillery called 'Bimber' about their new release featured on their website

www.bimberdistillery.co.uk/home

I commented on their Facebook page that £65 for a 3 year old whisky was a lot of money. I then got into a slightly barbed but polite discussion with several bimber fans who told me that any experienced whisky drinker should know that age doesn't equate to quality. Which is a statement I don't disagree with actually and wasn't the point I was arguing. They were arguing because such great casks were used it is worth £65 a bottle. My argument was it was overpriced as for £65 you can buy many decent whiskies that have spent 12 to 15 years (the likes of Springbank 12CS, Glenfronach 15, Benromach 15 spring to mind) in great casks not 3. And if age didn't matter why do distilleries put age statements on at all? Why not just bottle everything at 3 years and 1 day?

The discussion made me wonder what people on here thought of charging a premium price for a whisky just old enough to legally classify as whisky? Should time in the cask be reflected in the price?

21 days ago

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Replies: page 1/2

@OdysseusUnbound

Well Macallan‘s Edition, Elements, and Classic Cut whiskies all charge a premium, and they’re only 3 years old as far as I can tell. stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye Older means there’s been a loss to the angels which is somewhat reflected in the price, but age statements, while factual and nice to have, don’t tell the whole story. Cask types (virgin, first fill, refill, etc.), cask sizes, previous cask contents, etc. all affect the final product and price. Newer distilleries tend to charge more for their product, hoping to cash in on the collectabity of first editions, and to help turn some profit. I’m no economist, but I’m fairly certain the cost of production is not the only factor that determines the final sticker price.

21 days ago 1Who liked this?

@Victor
Victor replied

@Wierdo I would put it simply: there is no necessary relationship between the prices asked, the age of the products, and quality. We might want there to be a relationship among these three variables, but in practice there is none. Prices asked are arbitrary; quality assessed is in the subjective eye of the beholder, and age is only an asset if the casks used were good and the distiller has good judgment. This is a function of many variables. It is a minor miracle when whisky lovers can agree about anything in a realm so subjective.

20 days ago 8Who liked this?

@MadSingleMalt

@Victor said it well: "There is no necessary relationship between the prices asked, the age of the products, and quality."

I believe prices have NOTHING to do with any production costs, including aging. Whisky makers go through all the trouble of making whisky so they can earn top dollar in the retail market one day—not so they can recoup their production costs.

Older whiskies typically cost more because buyers are more willing to pay high prices for them. And because that demand exists, the whisky makers (reluctantly, I imagine) go through the trouble of letting their product sit around for years and years so they can finally put the number on the label that they know is expected by the guy with 200 whisky bucks burning a hole in his pocket.

20 days ago 4Who liked this?

Wierdo replied

I agree with the general point that age doesn't mean quality. I'd defintely rather have a good young whisky than a mediocre old one.

Obviously also the price of older whiskies only slightly relates to longer storage times and is more about exclusivity of product and charging what they think they can get away with.

But I do think in general terms there is SOME relation between length of maturation and quality. Even if you've got good spirit going into good casks 3 years isn't very long in the life of a whisky and I wouldn't expect huge amounts of cask interaction and subtly and complexity to have developed in that time. So I don't think it would justify having the price tag of a good older whisky.

I think that £65 asking price is more about Bimber's investors wanting to see some return on their investment and taking the mick with the price because they think people will want a bottle from the latest distiller on the market rather than the drink itself justifies the price.

20 days ago 1Who liked this?

@OdysseusUnbound

@Wierdo 3 years could be plenty of time in a place like India, Taiwan or Singapore. Also, a virgin cask is more "active" than one that's being filled for the umpteenth time, and so maturation time can be shorter with virgin casks. Also, different grain types, distillation methods, distillation proof, barrel entry proof, etc. will all play a role. If we're speaking strictly of single malt scotch whisky, I believe there's a sweet spot for every distillery, but that's entirely subjective and based on personal preference.

@MadSingleMalt production costs have NOTHING to do with pricing? I'm not sure I agree. Distillers wouldn't stay in business very long if they were selling their product at a loss. stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes

20 days ago 2Who liked this?

@BlueNote
BlueNote replied

@MadSingleMalt Did you miss the memo from the industry stating that age doesn’t matter? laughing

20 days ago 4Who liked this?

@RianC
RianC replied

@Wierdo - £65 is a p**s take, frankly, for three year old juice. Sounds like you touched a nerve and the shills took to arms smile My days of 'arguing' on line stopped years ago when I realised that (this site apart, I have to say) there's no way to have differing opinions or, heaven forbid, an actual reasoned and complex debate co-existing on the same page.

As for age = quality: I guess @Victor sums it up nicely. From a management perspective older casks have had to be looked after and that costs money which needs to be recouped.

Look at the Springbank model - get good casks in and put out their younger juice from mostly first-fill then use the re-fills for their longer aged spirit. Makes sense from a production, profit and quality pov. And we know that the quality is there so no-one minds the jacked up prices of aged Springbanks. It's different when you sense that some mediocre 30 yo whisky has been finished off in a fancy cask and then sold for mega bucks. Possibly as annoying as charging £65 for a 3 year old laughing

20 days ago 5Who liked this?

@OdysseusUnbound

@RianC

It's different when you sense that some mediocre 30 yo whisky has been finished off in a fancy cask and then sold for mega bucks.

Wait, you mean specially selected bespoke casks right?

20 days ago 2Who liked this?

Wierdo replied

The 3 year old Bimber has been reviewed by Malt Magazine

malt-review.com/2019/11/…

I must admit to being very suspicious. Bimber is getting an awful lot of a marketing push in the UK right now. 2 reviewers both giving it an 8 out of 10 on Malt. For people who aren't familiar with Malt Magazine they score differently (and in my opinion better) than most other reviewers. Using all the range from 1-10. A mediocre whisky won't get 6 out of 10 on Malt it will get 1 or 2. I've seen some very respectable whiskies get 5 and 6 out of 10. With the argument being that 6 means it's better than average. In 18 months reading it I've never seen a 10 out of 10, a 9 out of 10 once and 8 out if 10 maybe half a dozen times. So that high score does make me suspicious.

3 days ago 2Who liked this?

@fiddich1980
fiddich1980 replied

@Wierdo I've come across a few reviews on Bimber - Words of Whisky and Serge's guess reviewer Angus aka "The Whiskysponge". The score range is between 84-89, out of a hundred. I do agreed that the folks on Malt-review.com tend to be more critical with their 10 point rating system.

For myself, scores don't really factor into my choice of a whisky purchase. The content of a whisky review has a greater influence. Do the described taste profile of nose, and palate (objective and subjective) interest me? A reviewer may rate a whisky poor yet, I may rate it highly. Yet, at times, I would fully be in agreement with the same reviewer's assessment of another whisky. It's your money take into account as many reviews as possible.

The main reviewer on Malt-review.com amongst themselves, are divided on the merits of Springbank 15.

Trust your own senses.

3 days ago 4Who liked this?

Wierdo replied

@fiddich1980 I started an argument on Malt when I questioned one of the guys (blind) review of Springbank 15. He said it tasted like a cheap supermarket blend and gave it something like 3/10.

I stated that I wasn't sure I could trust a reviewer who was so far out on a great whisky and it all kicked off joy

3 days ago 4Who liked this?

@Nozinan
Nozinan replied

I have learned to be wary of any product called something like Bimber

3 days ago 0

@Nock
Nock replied

Let we all forget Octomore has long charged around $200 (£150) for a 5 year old whisky. So who cares about £65 ($84) for a 3 year old?

What you are experiencing is the going trend in American craft distilling. I feel assaulted with by it in the American whiskey world. For the last 5 or 6 years we have seen more and more “craft-distillers” releasing 2 year old bourbon and rye for somewhere in the $50-$60 (£39-£46) range. It is bottled between 43-46% ABV and . . . most of it is not as good as the stuff from the big boys in Kentucky.

Here are a few examples:

Hunter Scott Rye Whiskey is about 1.5 years old and retails for $49.99 (£39)

Ragged Branch sells a Rye and a Wheated Bourbon both 2 years old and retails for $45 (£35)

Falls Church Bourbon aged for 3 years retails for $49.99 (£39)

The one that gets me is:

Reservoir Maison De Cuivre Bourbon is 100% corn aged for 2 years and finished in French oak Merlot casks. Retail is $125 (£97).

And those are just a few of the dozens of new whiskies I see on shelves here in Virginia. There is a huge craft boom going on. Over half of it is sourced liquid which often finished in wine, port, or cognac casks to make it “unique.” The remainder is very young and aged in very small quarter of a quarter casks. I am seeing this stuff everywhere. Why buy any of this 2yo-3yo or “wine-finished” stuff when I can bend down and pick up Old Granddad 114 or Wild Turkey 101 off the shelf for $25?

I agree with the sentiments of @Victor, @MadSingleMalt, @OdysseusUnbound, @fiddich1980, and @RianC - Price and age and quality have nothing to do with each other. It is all about what the distillery believes its perceived value is. Some people are going to fork out $50 for a Virginia made bourbon or rye because they value a Virginia made product. So that is what is charge.

The joy or goal of whisky hunting: to find a whisky you value the quality of far more than the asking price

As @fiddich1980 said, “trust your own senses.” You will know if it is worth it. My senses tell me Octomore is worth $200. I have bought 8 bottles. That is worth it for me. But don’t ask me to trust a distiller with their new release that I haven’t tried yet.

3 days ago 8Who liked this?

@RianC
RianC replied

@Nock ' Why buy any of this 2yo-3yo or “wine-finished” stuff when I can bend down and pick up Old Granddad 114 or Wild Turkey 101 off the shelf for $25? '

And that's the rub, isn't it? £65 would get me a Corryvrekan, 57 North, an Oogy (with change) and so on ... Why take the chance on a young unknown at that price? I suspect it's all hype to garner interest anyways and given the amount of positive feedback I'd guess it won't be terrible but, na, not for me.

On Octomore, yes it's only five years old but it comes with a distilling pedigree and the USP of being the most heavily peated whisky 'in the world' ... (said in best Jeremy Clarkson voice)

3 days ago 2Who liked this?

@RianC
RianC replied

@Wierdo - I gotta say that my bottle of Springbank 15 has definitely not grabbed me by the throat ... yet! Man, it's one complex whisky - I'm struggling to find the time to sit down with a pour long enough to fully get into it.

3 days ago 2Who liked this?

@Nock
Nock replied

My guess is that Bimber is counting on people buying their product because it is a London whiskey. And they hope people in London (and visiting London) will pay it for the “London whiskey” experience. Distilleries in Richmond Virginia are counting on the same thing.

@RianC I agree it is all about value in the bottle. And I think the value of Ardbeg Corry is astonishing. I would even be willing to play LCBO prices for the right batch (which is saying a lot).

Like I said before the dream/goal today is to find a bottle you can stock up on NOW where you believe the value and quality of liquid in the bottle is far below the asking price.

I could have told you 6 years ago that the value of Old Weller Antique 107 was far above the $22.99 I was paying. Would have paid up to $40 for that bourbon without batting an eye. I was simply too stupid to realize that other people would soon catch on AND that there was not enough supply for everyone. It was my house bourbon for years. Here is a picture of a shelf in 2013. Today I would buy every bottle of the OWA and the Weller 12yo on that shelf. That day . . . I didn’t buy a thing. Why? I had a half full bottle at home. Why need more? I will pick up a new bottle next time. Fool that I was!

So that is my experienced lesson. Value and quality is fleeting. Price is increasing. Find those whiskies you value the quality of now (no matter the age or price) and stock up. The Whisk(e)y Winter is coming. Soon all of your favorites will increase in price and decrease in quality. Soon Bimber will look reasonable at £65.

Stock your bunkers now! Wring your hands in consternation and rend your whisky budgets in despair! Flee for the Hills!

The Whisk(e)y Harbinger of Doom has spoken

3 days ago 5Who liked this?

@Nozinan
Nozinan replied

@Nock my cabinet is stocked and ready for three ice ages and droughts in between.

The problem is the new expressions and batches. I’m afraid Connosr creates a great sense of FOMO in many of us.

As to age and quality. Age is no guarantee of quality, but I would stand by the statement that maturation time can have an effect on quality. The key is the right spirit in the right cask for the right amount of time.

3 days ago 3Who liked this?

@OdysseusUnbound

@Nock Agreed! I’m glad I got 6 bottles of Weller Antique 107 at $36/each before they added a $30 cork to the bottle. I’m seriously considering doing the same with WT Rare Breed which is still a terrific value at $60-$65/bottle. Heck, even WT 101 is a great value here, on sale for $37/bottle. Who knows; maybe WT will soon add a definite article to their name and rebrand themselves “THE Wild Turkey: the peerless luxury Kentucky bourbon”.

3 days ago 4Who liked this?

@Nozinan
Nozinan replied

@OdysseusUnbound if you are going to stock up on rare breed you can do it cheaper, shipping included, in Alberta.

3 days ago 1Who liked this?

@Nock
Nock replied

@Nozinan Well done on your part. I feel like I am still trying to catch up. In particular I am nervous about the new tariffs. I think by the new year I will see prices far higher than I expect my inner "value-ometer" will want to pay. I have long thought Lagavulin 16yo was over priced at $100. I am willing to pick up a bottle for my wife when I see it near $80 or less.

I will feel very different when Ardbeg 10yo goes for $80 and the Corry goes for $150.

3 days ago 0

@paddockjudge
paddockjudge replied

@OdysseusUnbound, I don't know how long the Russell boys can keep the Italians (Campari) from changing the game plan at Wild Turkey...It didn't take long for Campari to change course at Forty Creek.

3 days ago 2Who liked this?

@OdysseusUnbound

@paddockjudge It’s a shame about Forty Creek. Quality has taken a steep drop-off there recently. I can’t see myself spending any more of my money there. It’s just way too hit and miss now. If Campari ruins WT, I’ll move on without hesitation. I’m not loyal to any brand; I’m loyal to my tastebuds.

3 days ago 3Who liked this?

@paddockjudge
paddockjudge replied

@Nock, Your sage advice echoes that of @Victor. I have been accumulating for years and now have reached the point where I could stop buying and still have enough in the pipeline to get me to the grave...@Nozinan, I said pipeline, that means I still want the harvested bottles of Calgary wink :glass_tumbler:...but I won't stop. I hope to kick-start the cabinets of my three adult children.

3 days ago 3Who liked this?

@Nozinan
Nozinan replied

@paddockjudge if my children don’t like whisky I will feel I have failed. But at least they will have a lot of long unavailable bottles to finance an very nice vacation...

3 days ago 4Who liked this?

@fiddich1980
fiddich1980 replied

@paddockjudge A Legacy. thumbsup

My two nephews were gifted part of my early whisky collection. One is well on his way with the Octomores and Kavalans. The other has his Macallans. A Macallan White box 10 year old and a Macallan CS started him on his journey. Then the call five years ago to hunt down a case of Fine Oak Old 15 because the Pole Dancer Series was on the horizon.

It's good to know that as cousins the whisky interest binds them.

3 days ago 2Who liked this?

@paddockjudge
paddockjudge replied

@fiddich1980, Haha, I love Legacy!

Sharing with family members helps to tighten the bond.

I am the eldest of six. We all have sons and those boys enjoy a good whisky session. The favourite Canadians, hands down, are Danfield's 21 YO (Dan Field as the lads refer to it, or DF) and Wiser's Legacy, followed closely by Alberta Premium 25 YO. Favourite Bourbons to date are Four Roses Ltd. Ed. Small Batch Barrel Proof 2013 and Little Book 3 (Beam Small Batch blend at BP). The fine young lads have not expressed a strong interest (yet) for single malts although my son has selected Macallan 12 YO as his "go to" whisky and has accumulated seven bottles. Yeah, I'm grinning, I get to drink Macallan Sherry Cask 12 YO when I visit.

I have a growing stable of mules.

2 days ago 4Who liked this?

@Nozinan
Nozinan replied

Yes indeed, @paddockjudge, You. Do. Love. Legacy.

The doctor himself doesn't own as many bottles as you do.

stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye

2 days ago 4Who liked this?

@BlueNote
BlueNote replied

@OdysseusUnbound A six bottle pack from Craft Cellars in Calgary is $47 shipping. Their shipping time is very fast; about 3-4 days to me and I do not live in a major centre.

2 days ago 1Who liked this?

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