mbh wrote:I often look for hard to find bourbons in small town liquor stores when I travel so when I was in Cambria CA last week I stopped into a local store. They had 15 year Pappy Van Winkle for $899 a bottle and the 12 year old for $499, that's either insanity, good marketing or both.
Good marketing along with making it rare. They take the bourbon from the barrels that didn't make the cut for Pappy and sell it under the "Weller" brand, you can get that for a reasonable price and it's almost as good.
This is (now) Buffalo Trace juice from which Van Winkle chooses select barrels for their labels. The process is continuous and quite involved from the 10-year all the way up through the 23. I've heard Julian describe the process and have also read some interviews in which he describes it. Some of the unchosen stock ends up being bottled as Weller. Some of it makes it into other BT products.
I remember hearing Julian (at some event) lament the fact that they cannot put out any more than they do. He said he wished they could and that they were increasing output slightly. From what I remember him saying, I don't think they do any
marketing at all. It's reached legendary status in a very organic way but there is also some marketplace hype that drives demand. It's a very recognizable name so some brand-focused fanatics (some, who don't do their homework) go after it in a way that doesn't always line up with reality. But hey, if the money's flying around out there, someone will find a way to capture it. The prices mbh describes above are not indicative of anything other than this. It's opportunism, pure and simple. Standard retail pricing for the VW products is nowhere near those levels, though availability at that level is extremely limited.
In any case, it's certainly fine whiskey but there are some other very fine ones out there to be had. You just have to be open to tasting a lot of things, understand your own palate (because in the end, no one else's matters) and be ready to buy when you find something you know you like. The nice thing about bourbon is that so many decent ones are affordable and unlike other potables, they are not perishable and tend to store very well.
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