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Do you buy the whisky or the distillery?

1 21

@valuewhisky
valuewhisky started a discussion

I got thinking about this with the recent Ardbeg Galileo chat, and I also saw some photos of Ardbeg's rocket truck tour recently (spiritsjournal.klwines.com/klwinescom-spiri…). Based on the whisky alone, Ardbeg is my favorite peaty-dram. However, I find myself gravitating toward Laphroaig recently, in large part because Ardbeg's advertising and over-priced special releases grate on me a bit. I prefer Laphroaig's more traditional attitude and floor maltings tradition, etc. I'm finishing up my Laphroaig 10 and just got a bottle of Quarter Cask instead of Ardbeg 10, which I had been thinking of getting.

How much to you let all the "miscellany" associated with the distillery affect your purchases? Or is it just what's in the bottle that counts?

11 years ago

21 replies

@Victor
Victor replied

For me it is almost entirely the individual whisky alone which motivates my decisions. Same for me for bands and individual tunes/songs or pieces of music and composers.

I do like some house styles a lot, like, eg Laphroaig, but I do not assume that I will like a whisky just because Laphroaig made it. I won't pay a lot of money for any bottle without a lot of feedback in advance, and, preferably, if possible, a sample or two. And I, for one, cannot relate in any degree to paying a great deal of money for an imitation of a whisky I have never sampled for myself and do not know that I like.

11 years ago 2Who liked this?

@MacBaker62
MacBaker62 replied

Good question. I guess for me, it depends on the distillery. I'm not a big fan of most Glenlivet releases, but the Nadurra is very good! Most Jura's leave me unimpressed, but I do like their Superstition. On the other hand, just about everything I've tried from Ardbeg or Balvenie has been very good!

I'm split on Laphroaig. I was less than Impressed with their basic 10 year old (Ardbeg 10 is far better IMHO), but I was stunned at how good the Laphroaig Quarter Cask was! I'll try the 10 year old again, but this time I'm going for the Cask Strength version.

11 years ago 0

@MacBaker62
MacBaker62 replied

@Victor Good advice sir!

I absolutely loved the bottle of Talisker 10 year old, my wonderful wife got me. I was so impressed with it, the next time I was in our local spirt superstore, I picked out another Talisker with no prior knowledge of what I was buying. I ended up buying a bottle of the Talisker 2000 distiller's Edition, and learned quickly Talisker is one of those gems best left in ex-bourbon casks for finishing. The sherry cask finish of the Distiller's edition just didn't seem to got well with Talisker's unique peppery taste, at least for me! Upon further research, I found I wasn't alone in this impression. I now know I would have been happier if I had used that $70 (US) and gotten the 57° North or spent a little more and purchased the 18 year old. We live and learn!

11 years ago 0

@systemdown
systemdown replied

As with Victor, it's all about the individual whisky for me. I care not about a distillery's "pedigree", name, history, marketing department etc. If the stuff in the bottle is good, I'll buy that particular expression again (but not for any price - it has to still be reasonably priced for what it is).

Having said that, there are exceptions to the rule - e.g. I have taken a punt on an expensive 30yo Port Ellen as a "surprise" birthday present (to myself) of which I have understandably never sampled - but in this case, overwhelming evidence from a community of knowledgeable whisky enthusiasts would suggest that it's probably a "safe bet", the independent bottler is known for quality releases, and it's a style of whisky I know I will enjoy. Not something I'd do on a regular basis though!

11 years ago 1Who liked this?

@valuewhisky
valuewhisky replied

@Victor I agree with you that I wouldn't take it to that degree. E.g. I'm not going to buy Laphroaig Cairdeas because it doesn't sound that good! On the flip-side, I really love the Springbank distillery, but can't make myself love the whisky enough to buy it much (esp. at the crazy US prices).

I know I like both Laphroaig QC and Ardbeg 10. I like Ardbeg 10 a bit more, but in this case, my annoyance with Ardbeg as a company tilted the scales.

@MacBaker62 Good points too, and I definitely agree with you on Glenlivet! Nadurra is great, and makes me want to like the distillery, but I'm not going to buy the 80 proof offerings. Ditto with loving Talisker 10, but I'm hesitant to buy the DE.

11 years ago 1Who liked this?

@markjedi1
markjedi1 replied

Good question, @valuewhisky, and - as everyone knows - I try a lot of whisky's (about one per day) and usually only purchase that which I am very fond of. The only exception to this rule - again, as everyone knows - is Auchentoshan. I fell in love with the whisky, but more so with the distillery and the wonderful crew that run it, that I decided to collect it. Same with the Greenore Irish Single Grain. But otherwise, I do not let marketing influence my choices, only my palate (and sometimes good advice from people I know who share my taste in whisky).

11 years ago 1Who liked this?

Jason0142 replied

For me it's a little bit of both, in a great whisky comes out that I like the sound of I'll buy it regardless of the distillery it's from. However there are a number of distilleries that I follow and I will generally always purchase any new releases from (within reason, still must be good and not cost a kidney).

11 years ago 0

@YakLord
YakLord replied

@valuewhisky - very thought provoking question. While I generally 'buy the whisky', I've been impressed by everything that I've tasted from Aberlour and Compass Box so far, so I'm more likely to purchase any new Aberlour or Compass Box expressions that might find their way into our market. That being said, I like to keep my 'collection' as eclectic as possible, so I don't want to feel bound by having to 'buy the distillery'. Quality is important, though; the Laphroaig QC is good, so I'm likely to try something else from Laphroaig in the future, but that doesn't mean that I'll only buy Laphroaig. Similarly, while I enjoy the Macallan 12, I'm not likely to buy the Macallan Cask Strength just because it is Macallan, especially when there are other cask strength whiskies out there that are better.

@MacBaker62 - interesting take on the Talisker DE. I've got a three pack (20cl bottles) of Talisker 10, Talisker DE, and Talisker 57 North, that I'm waiting to try a vertical tasting with, so I'll have to keep your comments in mind.

11 years ago 2Who liked this?

@dannyboy
dannyboy replied

At the end of the day, I just need to remind myself that Ardbeg (and Glenmorangie too) are owned by LVMH (that's Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy) and all the marketing bullshit becomes obvious. Sure they make good whisky, but they are charging it at a premium a'la Johnnie Walker Blue, and marketing it through the roof.

On a lighter note, I love Laphroaig. And yes I would buy their whiskies based on distillery alone, because I have never tasted a bad whisky from them, and they keep to the basics when making their whisky!

11 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor replied

@YakLord, be careful of that 57 North. If you are like me, that 200 ml is gonna make you want more...and that is not so very easy to do where you and I live.

11 years ago 3Who liked this?

@Wills
Wills replied

@YakLord I have to agree with you completely. Most of us (at least I) do have some minor favs when thinking of a good whisky. But of course the quality is the main basis of choice. I am not buying 'anything' of a special destillery because I like them although I heard very bad things about a release.

By the way don't let you confuse too much by the comments of the Talisker DE. I like it very much!

11 years ago 0

@two_bitcowboy

Independently owned distilleries with relatively short track records attract me: Arran, Kilchoman, Kilkerran. Established distilleries with new owners have earned a great deal of my respect: BenRiach, Benromach, Bruichladdich, Edradour, GlenDronach, Glenglassaugh, Tullibardine. Long-held independents (e.g., Glenfarclas and Springbank) get my attention too.

They're experimenting, they're pushing boundaries, and I like to try everything they're putting out. It's fun, and there have been some great whiskies.

Of late I've been shying away from the conglomerate-owned distilleries that have begun to charge ridiculous prices for whisky bottled at 40 or 43%. Yawn. Four years ago Glenlivet 18 could be had for $52; now it's more than $95. Albeit independently owned, Glenfiddich has gone down the same road. And that biggest of the BIG companies, well, they too seem to be sticking to their "Classic" 40 and 43%ers because they can get more bottles out of a barrel. Pass.

11 years ago 7Who liked this?

@MacBaker62
MacBaker62 replied

@Wills I did stipulate that "for me" the Distiller's Edition wasn't as good as I hoped. Tastes vary, and the Distiller's Editions exist to experiment in different finishes. Personally, I prefer the more traditional style this "Classic Malt" is best known for, but I'm sure many out there will like the DE bottling because it is a different take on a classic.

11 years ago 0

@valuewhisky
valuewhisky replied

There's a part of me who agrees 100% with @two-bit-cowboy: I want to support the independents who "do things right," and to not support The Corporate Giant(s) who over-filter, overuse casks, and underproof. But, then there's the other part of me who loves Talisker 10, and who also doesn't have the money to pay for all of the independent distilleries like Kilchoman and Springbank.

11 years ago 1Who liked this?

@SquidgyAsh
SquidgyAsh replied

@Valuewhisky: GREAT topic! I think I do a little bit of both as Jason said. When the new Ardbeg Day whisky came out in Australia I was thrilled that a series of whisky tastings at the local bar would allow me the chance to snag a bottle. However when I saw the price was nearly $300 I said pass. I was willing to sample it, but what I tasted wasn't worth it for me to purchase it at that price.

I find myself slowly or maybe the better word would be running away from the Glenfiddich, Glenlivet, etc crowd where alot of the whiskies are good, not great, but horribly overpriced and under proofed. I loved the Snow Phoenix from Glenfiddich as many of you know, but many of their other expressions I've had have been ho hum. Same with Glenlivet in my experience.

That being said though I like Systemdown picked up a 30 yr old Port Ellen for my birthday for almost $500 (Still makes me blink) and a 21 yr old Rosebank for $300 odd. Both are higher and in the case of the Port Ellen FAR higher then I'd pay on a bottle normally, I also plan on snagging a Brora sometime in the future and I expect to pay $300+ for it.

I've never tasted any of these distilleries, no idea what I'm walking into, but I've heard good things and for me the ability to own a piece of history (so to speak) is something that justifies the money spent. It should also be noted that my wife and brother both bought one of those bottles for my birthday which is what holidays and birthdays and anniversaries are for, other people buying you expensive whisky you wouldn't normally buy.

That being said there are a couple distilleries that I've enjoyed so much that I can afford to, I'll buy there bottle. Period. Unless I start hearing bad things about it. The Australian distillery Limeburners has impressed me so much that I've requested that I get a bottle of every one of their releases, minus some of their very heinous priced bottles which at $300+ are more then I can afford. I like that they're a small distillery doing some interesting experiments with the whisky so I'm happy to support them unless I get enough bottles that don't impress me for the price point. Talisker is another one, but thankfully (?) most expressions of it are out of my price range (Man I WANT that 57 North!)

I've rambled enough so I shall say thank you for letting me run my mouth :D

11 years ago 1Who liked this?

@YakLord
YakLord replied

@two-bit-cowboy - very true, without consumer support, the new start-ups and independents will likely have a difficult time putting a dent in the market share of companies like Diageo, Pernod Ricard, LVHM, etc. The smaller, privately owned distilleries, as well as some of the non-UK distilleries like Amrut, do seem to be pushing the envelope. I've enjoyed Springbank, and I have some Arran and GlenDronach on my unopened inventory shelf, but as @valuewhisky pointed out, sometimes the independents are priced rather steeply...although in my neck of the woods a Talisker 10 costs almost 50% more than GlenDronach 12, and is about the same as the Springbank 10, the Arran Machrie Moor, and the English Whisky Co. Chapter 6, so the prices for the independents aren't really that astronomically higher...

11 years ago 1Who liked this?

@Abunadhman
Abunadhman replied

@two-bit-cowboy: +1...me too! In fact, we have ceased buying any Whisky that is under 45% abv. Of course, we still get the odd bottle of G/M and Aberlour 10yo. as gifts (and drink them) but as purchases, we had to draw the line somewhere.

Slainte!

11 years ago 0

ganagati replied

@SquidgyAsh Just another anecdote to help justify your Port Ellen purchase: At one tasting, I tried a Macallan 21, Dalwhinnie 29, Port Ellen 8th Release, and a Lagavulin 30. The Lagavulin was my favorite out of the bunch, and has subsequently remained the best whisky I've ever tried. The Port Ellen is a very, very close second. Just incredible - and everything I've read suggests that they've gotten better and better with each new release. That is a very special bottle you've picked up there (at an enticing price, I might add). Drink it in the best of health.

11 years ago 2Who liked this?

@SquidgyAsh
SquidgyAsh replied

@ganagati Thank you my friend! It's a bottle that I'm excited to crack open, but man oh man it's going to need to be something awesome for me to be able to bring myself to do that. But I swear I start salivating when I think about it....

11 years ago 1Who liked this?

@tjb
tjb replied

Good question @Valuewhisky. I really enjoyed Laphroaig 10YO which sparked my real interest in Whisky. I had drank others before but this woke me up to the joy of Whisky. I then purchased other Laphroaig's such as QC, Triple Wood and the cask strengths (003, & 004). I then branched to other Distilleries and am currently drinking Ardbeg 10YO. My heart will always be with Laphroaig as I love the Whisky (especially QC) and the way they produce but am branching out to expand my knowledge and to find more gem's.

11 years ago 0

@cpstecroix
cpstecroix replied

I buy the whisky because I can't afford to buy a distillery...wait, what was the question? :-)

11 years ago 3Who liked this?

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@tjb