Young Whisk(e)y, High Price Tag
This is a subject I could dwell on for some time, but for now I just want to clear up a few points regarding some articles I've been reading lately. Because we're at the end of the year, there is a myriad of opinion about the best of 2010, the worst of 2010, and what we can expect for 2011. One theme that remains a constant thread in these posts is the growing number of young whiskies being released and the high cost that many of them demand. I think Chuck Cowdery was saying that none of these craft whiskies are better than Jim Beam White and this feeds into the majority opinion out there seems to fomulate the matter as such: if it isn't better than the standard 12 year old single malt or 10 year old bourbon, then why pay such a premium?
Here's why I pay what I pay - the quality of the grain, the uniqueness of the flavor, the support of a local industry, the quality of the distillation.
Personally, I find Jim Beam white rather boring. I find most run of the mill 12 year old single malts to be boring. I would drink our Steve McCarthy Oregon Single Malt over Glenlivet 12 any day of the week and I would pay the $90 to drink it because it tastes more explosive than Glenlivet 12. Is Glenlivet 12 a better made dram? Probably. But that doesn't mean anything to me.
I like Rittenhouse Rye, but I'm currenty drinking Davorin's sample from Old World Spirits and loving it. His is only 2 months old and is going to cost $35.99 when it finally gets released (nearly twice what Rittenhouse costs), but it's so much more fun. Is Rittenhouse a better made rye? Yes, because it's more mature. Which would I rather drink? Davorin's. And I'll pay the premium because I know how much it cost him to make it with 100% rye. Rittenhouse is not 100% rye. If that's not important to you, then great. To me it is.
Don't get me wrong, there are some ridiculously bad young whiskies out there charging a high price. We all know who they are. But I don't think the fact that a whisk(e)y is young disqualifies it from being expensive. Look at Charbay! They distilled expensive IPA to make their whiskey. It's expensive, but there's a reason.