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Price/Quality perception?

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Price/Quality perception?

Postby bond » Sat Aug 21, 2004 1:22 pm

Does the price of the whisky we consume, affect our perception of its quality? Especially when it comes to blends, which are perhaps, as a category, a little less individualistic?

Would we have rated Famous Grouse, (with that lovely Macallan finish) higher if it were priced ten bucks more?

I know the marketing folks have consumption to push and (like in any other product) would tinker with product-price-packaging equation for optimal results. These efforts however, would typically be directed at the "amateur" consumer.

But what about serious whisky lovers? Are we objective and unbiased? Can we deny falling prey to the powers-that-be in marketing?
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Postby Aidan » Sat Aug 21, 2004 2:40 pm

Everyone's an amateur.

Put a bottle in a wooden box and it will be more appriciated again.
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Postby Lawrence » Sat Aug 21, 2004 6:06 pm

I think everybody is subject to marketing and we all have our biases. The marketing for Bruichladdich for example has been first rate, however the whisky does not live up to the marketing hype yet nobody really seems to notice. This was covered in a previous thread "Is Bruichladdich really that good?", the general answer was very defensive of the 'laddich but the ratings were not that high except for the 36 year old.

As to the "serious" whisky lovers, I think there is a perception that the older the better which is simply not true, IMHO.
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Postby SasquatchMan » Sat Aug 21, 2004 6:09 pm

Hard to answer... I almost have an aversion to the "incredible" malts. So-and-so's 35yr old wonder malt I can live without. I have this old-fashioned notion that quality whisky and a quality cask, plus about 10 years, and you've got the best flavours you're going to get.

My house brand is Aberlour, which a few on this forum have turned their nose at, and a few adore. I'd take Aberlour 10 unconditionally over the Bruichladdich 12, free glass or no.

I think there is a real difficulty in the world of Scotch to distinguish one's product as a) superior in quality and b) superior in drinkability. Does the fact that Benriach malts their own Barley make their whisky "better" than if they didn't? I doubt it. But it is kind of an attractive marketing ploy.

Whisky makers have always tried to appeal to certain crowds... "Vat 69 please." or "DeWars never varies" "Stand Fast".... manly or gentlemanly, seafaring rogue or solid citizen, there's a Scotch for YOU. Never mind what it tastes like.

Get past the tin, the free glass, the brochure and the hermetically sealed stopper, and Bruichladdich is thin, astringent, yet unpleasantly lacking in lightness. I had some friends around a bottle of Bruich and all were certain of the quality of the stuff (after all, it was $50) and I remained quiet throughout. Then I pulled out a bottle of Old Pulteney 12, poured all a glass without showing the brand, and they were all really dazzled at the richness, the combination of smoothness with bold flavour and significant distinctive aftertaste. All averred the Pulteney was a much better dram. Yet none had ever bought it or even really heard of it.

I think we're all affected by label, cost, whether or not the thing comes in a tube.... that's human nature. No one wants to pay $100 for a crappy whisky.
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Postby Lawrence » Sat Aug 21, 2004 7:34 pm

Well said. Also you've gained an automatic ally with your appreciation of Aberlour, I really like the 10 year along with the a'bunadh, the Antique etc etc. In fact I have the 10 on an optic stand in my home office/library along with Laphroaig 10!

I think my journey in the land if single malts was the same as many other's, you start out with the 10's & 12's and work your way up to the 30's however lately I've gone back to the 10's & 12's for a re examination and I've not been disappointed. Perhaps because my knowledge has improved and perhaps because I was not biased by marketing?

As to the Bruichladdich they've done some good things and they need to market to keep the revenue coming in on whisky that they didn't distill. I expect good things from them in the future. I also believe that you have to just try as many malts as you can regardless of what somebody else has scored it or what the marketing hype says. At the end of the day there are very few poor single malts and you can discover some very fine malts at reasonable prices.
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Postby SasquatchMan » Sat Aug 21, 2004 8:28 pm

Abunadh is great, isn't it? I got really into the "unknown malts" because I bought Aberlour then Tamdhu (surely the two best deals going). Then I lost on a few others I tried... GlenBeg and Jura coming to mind as none too pleasing. But it's sure fun to try em all.
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Postby Admiral » Mon Aug 23, 2004 4:39 am

Price is certainly no guarantee of quality, but it's amazing how often we bring expectant baggage to a bottle we paid extra dollars for.

This is particularly the case for the Glenmorangie Wood Finishes.

Here in Australia, they retail for $90. By comparison, Macallan 12yo is $65; Lagavulin 16yo is $80; Glenfiddich 12yo is $50.

There is absolutely no way that the Glenmorangie's are worth the extra dollars, and yet the market seems to bear it.

I notice the independent bottlings often cost considerably more than their OB counterparts, and I see no real reason for this, other than there is a marketing "perception" out there that IB's are better quality, and should therefore cost more. This is total nonsense, but there is a real sense of "superiority" amongst the independent bottlers. :roll:

Cheers,
Admiral
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Postby Aidan » Mon Aug 23, 2004 8:24 am

Admiral wrote:I notice the independent bottlings often cost considerably more than their OB counterparts, and I see no real reason for this, other than there is a marketing "perception" out there that IB's are better quality, and should therefore cost more. This is total nonsense, but there is a real sense of "superiority" amongst the independent bottlers. :roll:

Cheers,
Admiral


Admiral
I think this is because the distilleries charge a lot of money when they sell casks to independent bottlers. I know this is the case for some, at least.

Even if they charged a "normal" price, there would be an extra man in the supply chain, pushing up the price.

Aidan
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Postby Admiral » Mon Aug 23, 2004 9:37 am

I'm not so sure, Aidan.

One of the clubs I belong to here in Oz recently did its own bottling. We purchased a cask directly from the distillery, had it shipped to Australia (not cheap!), paid all the import duties and taxes, bottled & labelled it (at cask strength), and then made it available to our members.

The cost per bottle worked out at AUS$85, which is about 31GBP or US$60.

Now here's the big news.....it was a 30 year old Glenfarclas!!! :D

How much would you pay for a 30yo cask strength Glenfarclas?

Even here in Oz, the distillery bottling of Glenfarclas 30yo (at 40 or 43% ABV) retails for over AUS$300, i.e. more than three & a half times the price we paid for our cask strength bottlings.

I think the independent bottlers are making very handsome profits.

Cheers,
Admiral
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Postby Aidan » Mon Aug 23, 2004 9:54 am

Yeah, that sounds like they're making a few bob, sure enough.

I was at a Cadenhead tasting and was told that they had to pay a lot of money for some of the casks we were tasting. But for all I know, that could be the exception rather than the rule.

Maybe I'll have to invest in something like a barrel of Glenfarclas!

Going a bit off the point here, but what was it like?

Aidan
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Postby hpulley » Mon Aug 23, 2004 12:46 pm

Didn't Chivas Regal increase both its units sold and obviously profit as well by raising the price, rather than lowing it? They found that they were perceived as being more high class by having a higher price.

I'm more price conscious than I used to be, with so many other things costing more and more these days. That said, I gladly pay $75 CND for Ardbeg TEN instead of $50 for Bowmore 12yo or Laphroaig 10yo since I much prefer the Ardbeg. I'll also gladly pay more for a really good, well-reknowned 25yo Ardbeg but not for a 25yo of a distillery I don't care much about.

To me, age or price does not necessarily mean higher quality. There is some lovely 25-30 yo stuff out there, that's for sure, but not all are great and not all are better than the standard editions.

Some older stuff is just plain overdone in wood and some is older because it wasn't mature enough at 10-12 years when other casks were already prime for sale. Finishing is another way to revive a bland cask and I see it as that and not a way to 'expand our flavor profiles' in marketingspeak. All those expensive wood finishes are just gimmicks IMO.

On price, unfortunately, much stuff is expensive now just because there is a ripe collector's market so in many instances it doesn't even have to be that good; as long as it is coveted, it is worthwhile for a collector to get a case or two, often just to quickly turn it around on eBay. As a drinker, I'm ready to leave that stuff to collectors.

All that said, we're in a funny place in the crests and waves of the whisky production cycle and some very good malts were not produced in high quantities or at all during the eighties and nineties. For those good malts, you have to pay more and unfortunately for me, some of my favorites are included there so I have to pay premium prices for them. To repeat, I won't buy similar inferior products just because they're cheaper.

Harry
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Postby Admiral » Mon Aug 23, 2004 1:35 pm

Aidan,

The 30yo Glenfarclas was......sensational!

(No real surprise though.....we deliberately chose it after obtaining 8 samples from different sources/distilleries and then going with the cask that got the highest average score).

Cheers,
Admiral
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Postby Rudy » Sun Dec 26, 2004 3:17 am

Hi bond,

I do not think that anybody that really appreciates whisky will be lead by price. Of course everything depends on your own personal taste, but if it's good, it's good. At least to me and to the people I know. Want some examples?
It may be even the other way around. If a whisky is sensationally good for its price, then it is appreciated even more, look at the Campbeltown Loch 25yo.

At a friends place we got a 'mystery bottle' to taste. We figured around 25 yo, I thought it was Mortlach. Turned out to be some Bruichladdich IB, from a sherry cask at 13yo for around EUR 55. That was so impressive, that one ordered a case immediately afterwards.

At a tasting including the Grouse, the Grouse finishes, Highland Park and Macallan, I was most impressed by...Black Bottle. To me, it even beat the (new, narrow neck) Highland Park 18yo.

However, your assumption can be correct, since I notice that a larger part of the consumer market is not really aware or interested at all of the different flavours that might be in their drink. A well known brand name or price tag contributes to, or even worse, basically forms their esteem of the product.

Rudy.
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Postby maltcollector » Sun Dec 26, 2004 6:06 pm

Why is old whisky more expensive I hear you say, well its partly due to the duty paid every year, the angels share and the disillery wanting to make up the short fall i expect to some degree, certainly it is true that the less experienced drinkers are going to look at a bottle priced £300 and think - that must be good stuff!
A classic example is - lets compare Bowmore Darkest with Black Bowmore, both heavily sherried whisky and quite similar yet the darkest has no age statement so we must assume its between 12-15 yrs. theres not a lot of difference between them.
Old does not mean better, ie look at talisker 10yr old, scores extremely high in anyones book, i've yet to taste a 20yr old talisker although I do have one and the new 18yr in my collection.
Anyway INHO old does not always = better
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Postby Frodo » Mon Dec 27, 2004 6:42 am

Yup, I agree with maltcollector. Older doesn't always mean better. 25yr aged **** is just that! But I still think it's impressive to be able to offer someone a 25yr old single malt even if it was from nowhere I've heard from before :oops: .
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Postby Frodo » Mon Dec 27, 2004 1:27 pm

Admiral wrote:This is particularly the case for the Glenmorangie Wood Finishes.
Here in Australia, they retail for $90. By comparison, Macallan 12yo is $65; Lagavulin 16yo is $80; Glenfiddich 12yo is $50.

There is absolutely no way that the Glenmorangie's are worth the extra dollars, and yet the market seems to bear it.



Just for point of comparison, in Ontario, 'fiddich 12yr is C$40, lagavulin 16yr is C$90, the 12yr Mac is C$75-80 and the 'Morangie finishes are C$60. I'd say someone is making a healthy profit on the finishes in your neck of the woods, as the A$ and the C$ seem somewhat close.

I'm not sure what you thought about the Burgundy finish. I found the flavour profile "fuzzy" and not worth the dough.

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Postby Tom » Mon Dec 27, 2004 3:59 pm

Unfortunatly i do think the price changes the perception, and deffinatly the expectations when tasting a malt. The only way to go around this is tasting blind. I've seen it happen that many people rate the most expencive malt the highest on a tasting session even though the quality says otherwise. Personally i try to remain neutral on a tasting, but i must admit when tasting a 25Y old malt i will concentrate much harder then tasting a 10Y old. In my ratings however price and age doesnt count.
As for the Glenmorangies, here they all go around 50 euros and i must say i really like the Sherry finish, and the port goes in great too. the only one i find very dissapointing is the Madeira finish. The burgundy is one you need to taste more then once to get the hang of it i think. Once my brother in law and me spent more then 2 hours comparing the burgundy and the 18Y old. and we still dont know for sure wich one is best. So i wouldnt say the burgundy is bad, he's just "difficult".
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Postby bond » Tue Dec 28, 2004 6:31 am

This is even more so in the case of blends. While I am aware that a large section of the audience on this forum sneers at blends, will nevertheless make my point :)

To my mind, J W Red is as good a blend (perhaps better) than Chivas. However, due to pricing, and some clever imagery, Chivas has managed to position itself against the vastly superior J W Black. Next time you have a few non serious whisky drinkers over, try giving them a choice between Chivas and Red and you'll see what I mean.
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Postby Lawrence » Tue Dec 28, 2004 9:15 am

I like the a lot of the blends but I find the malts more interesting with a better flavour profile.

I was shopping Christmas eve with my other half and I was marooned in a ladies clothing store when the owners husband offered me a whisky, was I ever relieved even though it was a Grants blend, it was excellent! :D
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Postby Frodo » Tue Dec 28, 2004 9:46 am

bond wrote:To my mind, J W Red is as good a blend (perhaps better) than Chivas. However, due to pricing, and some clever imagery, Chivas has managed to position itself against the vastly superior J W Black. Next time you have a few non serious whisky drinkers over, try giving them a choice between Chivas and Red and you'll see what I mean.


I respect Chivas as a well made blend. Not my cup of tea (rather bland) but miles away from JW red in my view.
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Postby islayjunkie » Tue Dec 28, 2004 11:28 am

Can anything compete with Clyenelish 14yo at $50.00 USD? I'm still searching... an incredible whisky for the price and at the heart of Johnnie Walker Gold Label.

I didn't care much for the price of Johnnie Walker Gold. Clyenelish is a much better deal ;)
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Postby Admiral » Tue Dec 28, 2004 12:08 pm

Bond,

I guess Chivas Regal competes with Johnnie Walker Black (as oppposed to the Red) because they're both 12 year olds.

Also, they're priced similarly. Over here, JW Red retails for $26, whereas Chivas retails for $40 and JW Black retails for $42.

In the Oz market, JW Red competes against Famous Grouse, Old Smuggler, Ballantines, McCallums Perfection, 100 Pipers, The Black Douglas and other such blends.

Cheers,
Admiral
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Postby Tom » Sun Jan 02, 2005 12:13 pm

Wow, i never thought of it this way.
Thank you for your perceptive minds, i'll be doing a HTH with the JW black and Chivas soon. Otherwise i would've said immediatly that chivas rates higher then JWRed.
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Postby Admiral » Sun Jan 02, 2005 12:41 pm

On the occasions when I've done a HTH with Chivas Regal versus JW Black, the JW has won each time.

I suspect it has to do with the sparkle of Talisker & Caol Ila / Lagavulin adding the top dressing to the blend, and possibly also the extra caramel that the Chivas carries.

Still, I'd be keen to hear what you think after you do your HTH.

Cheers,
Admiral
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Postby Lawrence » Mon Jan 03, 2005 7:58 am

There's a depth to the Johnnie Walker Black that's hard to beat, I'll have to refresh my memory by doing a HTH betweeen these two blends.
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Postby Admiral » Mon Jan 03, 2005 10:44 pm

A few years ago when JW Black first started their new marketing campaign with the "Journey of Taste" tasting evenings, they would actually serve up Chivas Regal at the tasting!!! So confident were they that everyone would find JW Black the superior whisky that they were actually serving people drams of the competition!!!

Apparently, Chivas/Seagrams (whatever they were at the time) stepped in and objected, and Chivas Regal was no longer featured.

Cheers,
Admiral
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Postby Lawrence » Mon Jan 03, 2005 11:05 pm

That's a new one on me, the nearest I've come to that was at Strathisla distillery where they offered blind samples for nosing and the Islay sample was Laphroaig 10.
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Postby The Fachan » Mon Jan 03, 2005 11:52 pm

Gentlemen,

I am interested in Admirals comment with regard to Chivas wanting their brand withdrawn from a comparitve tasting. For a long time in the US Dewars tasted their 12yo against Chivas and JWBL.
Trouble with brand tastings are though that the consumer is so easily lead to favour the presenters brands.

Ian
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Postby Frodo » Tue Jan 04, 2005 12:44 am

C_I wrote:The Campbeltown Loch 21/25 years is also in the same price range as JW Black.


O.K. maybe in your neck of the woods. Over here, JW black goes for C$43 and CL21 goes for C$85. BIG difference.
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Postby Admiral » Tue Jan 04, 2005 3:56 am

Campbelltown Loch (no age statement) retailed for the same price as JW Red when it was available here via one unique importer. This importer deals directly with a small & dedicated bunch of malt drinkers around the country, perhaps no more than 50 to 80 people. The feedback we all gave it was so bad that he wasn't game enough to try and get any older expressions in. But I understand it would have retailed for at least two to two & a half times the price of JW Black, which is similar to Frodo's price difference above.

Cheers,
Admiral
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Postby Lawrence » Tue Jan 04, 2005 5:22 am

Did you taste it blind? :wink: :D
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Postby Admiral » Tue Jan 04, 2005 5:58 am

:D Good point!

Alas, even if it had been tasted blind, I doubt that would have made too much difference. It's hard to rescue a whisky that scores in the 5.1 to 5.7 range!!

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