It’s really the age old question for bourbon-lovers isn’t it? On what particular whiskey (or whiskeys) should a whiskey lover spend their hard-earned dollars? To best answer it, I decided to call in the cavalry. I contacted a number of bourbon and whiskey bloggers, podcasters, writers, and retailers and asked them to submit their own strategic allocations of a hundred bucks. The series is called “If I had a Benjamin.” (See the whole series here.)
Post #4 comes to us from Brian, owner and blogger for Sipp’n Corn, one of our favorite Bourbon and Whiskey related blogs. I have to admit, his list is probably the closest to the one I have in mind. Great minds must think alike.
I’m a “best buy for the money” guy at heart who looks at the relationship between cost and overall quality and experience, meaning that I appreciate the rationale of an expensive gift shop bottle of Willett Family Estate 22 year-old wheated Bourbon being a better value buy than a $9.00 bottom shelf bottle. It also means that Weller Special Reserve and Four Roses Yellow Label are a better value than many brands that cost $40.00 or more. It’s a highly subjective process.
To put my value theory to the test, for my scenario, I imagined the old “if you were stranded on a desert island” setup. I don’t know how long I’ll be stranded, so I need to make my $100 go as far as possible, without making matters worse by buying eleven bottles of Rebel Yell or Ten High. Plus, I wouldn’t leave the island a Bourbon enthusiast after all of that swill, and at 80 proof, it wouldn’t even be useful for starting a bonfire to signal for help…
The scenario was difficult from the outset because price inflation eats up the Benjamin. In the past few years most brands have been raising prices by at least 5% yearly, if not more. Plus, every bottle in contention seemed to be a few dollars higher than I remembered, which I’m chalking up to bad timing of Kentucky Derby pricing. I’d get out for about $90 at another time of the year.
It was also difficult because one of our rules is that our choices must be reasonably available at retail. That means no retail-priced Four Roses Limited Edition or Buffalo Trace Antique Collection, but also no brands that I used to highly recommend and that were once readily available and reasonably priced (Elmer T. Lee, W. L. Weller 12 year, or now even Old Weller Antique 107 proof).
But have no fear, there are still plenty of options to make my math work and to keep me happy on the island. In fact, once I had a few Bourbon drinks to clear my head, I came up with at least ten bottles priced from the mid-teens to mid-$30’s in my local market. I prefer most of these ten over many brands that retail for $40.00 or more, so I just monkeyed with my ten until I hit $100.