Thursday, October 10, 2013
What's in a Box?
A few days ago, David Driscoll posted an article on his K&L blog about the problems he runs into with customers who complain not about the whiskey that K&L shipped to them but about the box. I thought it was an amusing post, but apparently, some folks on Twitter and the StraightBourbon forum took offense that Driscoll would treat whiskey boxes so irreverently.
For my part, I don't care about whiskey boxes. I buy whiskey to drink not to display or resell. I do use the boxes for storage (extra storage is always helpful in earthquake country), but once I'm done with a whiskey, the bottle, box and anything else goes straight to the trash. Most of them are just flimsy cardboard or cheap metal tins anyway (that are inevitably dented by me if they aren't already dented when I get them - which they often are).
It actually upsets me when the boxes (and bottles) are too nice. It means that the company spent significant money, money that is passed onto the consumer, on something that's going in my trash bin. A terrible example of this was the Old Rip Van Winkle 23 year old decanter of a few years ago which came in a giant wooden cube. It was a great bourbon, but what a totally useless waste of money and resources (and the thing had a sort of creepy, coffin-like look to it, but maybe that was appropriate for a whiskey from a dead distillery).
Also, to elaborate on something Driscoll said in his StraightBourbon response, when we fetishize packaging, we only add to the industry perception that jacking up prices with fancy boxes and bottles is a good marketing strategy. If you're one of those people who wrote a nasty email to your retailer about how your tin was dented, I don't want to hear you complaining about the next $500 whiskey released in a hand blown bottle nested in a wooden boat.
What do you think? If you are one of those people who finds value in the box? I'd love to know why.