Last week, I reviewed two whiskeys that were good but priced far higher than I would want to pay for the quality. Unfortunately, that's getting to be so much the norm that it feels redundant to constatly say that the price is not worth the quality. We are being asked to pay much more for whiskey that is good but not exceptional.
Scotch has been too expensive for a good decade now, but American whiskey took some time to catch up. Inflation is understandable, but the more recent, more disturbing trend is companies pushing the envelope on prices for relatively young (or no age statement) whiskeys.
Angel's Envy and WhistlePig are two companies that have been aggressively raising prices with whiskeys in the $150 to $170 range. WhistlePig's whiskeys at least have age statements, but Angel's Envy is strictly NAS. Willett is another company that is ramping up prices on younger whiskeys as evidenced by the new XCF (a seven year old for $150) and the ten year olds that are now going for over $100. It's not just sourced whiskeys either. Wild Turkey went three figures on its unexceptional Diamond Anniversary bottling. And then there are the Hummingbird type whiskeys that are so ridiculously priced for what they are that it's laughable.
The truth is, of the American whiskeys I've tasted that were priced at over $100, very few were worth it. More often than not, when I break the $100 barrier, I regret it. Sure there are some exceptions. Old Rip Van Winkle 23 was $350, but it was a fantastic, cask strength 23 year old bourbon from the closed Stitzel-Weller distillery. But those exceptions are very few. There are maybe two or three that I can think of. (And of course, I'm talking about recent releases. Obviously, if you are looking for a Very Very Old Fitzgerald from the '60s or a pre-prohibition rye, you're going to pay more, and it may well be worth it.)
The Sku Challenge
Let's pound the prices down! Who's in?