The Whisky Apocalypse guide to spending money, on whisky, obviously.

This piece isn’t about current deals it’s about me moaning about the industry and a guide to getting the most for your money. I am also going to ramble on for fucking ages, pure ages, so be warned and maybe get yo’ self a coffee or dram. 

A few years back I claimed that anything over a hundred quid and you’re just wasting money, that still sort of stands because you can get brilliant whiskies for well under that figure but I also used to say that you could get a large range of excellent whiskies for under forty pounds, and is that true today? I don’t really think so.

Prices have rocketed over the last ten years, I mean absolutely fucking soared, but a general increase in price overall isn’t the only story here, let me explain.
Whisky used to be three things and when I say used to be I’m talking in the nineties when I started to learn about whisky rather than just drink anything that was handed to me. For me whisky was either cheap and cheerful blended whisky and for the masses, but still decent, or it was a bit aloof and really expensive and in the middle there was special occasion Single Malt Whisky, the stuff brought out by my Granddad at New Year or some other special occasion, still affordable but not every day drinking stuff, but that’s changed.
And what’s changed is the sheer choice and range of whiskies on offer and the massive price difference which must be confusing to someone who doesn’t spend most of their spare time checking out whisky deals, like I do.
As an aside, something does somewhat puzzle me, we keep getting told by the industry that the demand for Single Malt Whisky is leading to a shortage of older whiskies which is one of the reasons prices are going up yet these distilleries still manage to turn out endless new limited edition bottles (limited to just ten thousand bottles folks) and they can also find millions of litres of aged spirit to sell on to the supermarkets, because someone is making it, unless Lidl are operating a handful of distilleries and have been, on the quiet for the last two decades or more, strange, eh? It’s almost like it’s all a load of bollocks.
So prices are up and still heading north and the range on offer is bewildering so here is my opinion on the state of pricing, the best ways to find your favourite drams for less and what we can do about it all before we’re all priced out of the market. 
First off, just to get it out the way I’m going to look, briefly, at investment whiskies.
Now I know some people will buy and open their two grand bottle of Port Ellen or Littlemill and I’m sure they enjoy them but’s be honest, most of these whiskies sit on a shelve or in storage then sold on, whisky auction houses haven’t become a huge thing over the last few years for nothing and the rise in demand for rare bottles has never been greater. 
Collecting whisky for investment has been around for years, collecting whisky as a hobby, same thing, been around forever but I think it’s fair to say that the number of whiskies which are now made purely for the collector market has gone from next to nothing to every other bottle produced, and here’s the thing with that, I wonder how many people are now getting into the game purely to make a quick buck? I’d guess loads but this of course lends itself to creating an artificial bubble which might just burst one day leaving a lot people with loads of brown murky liquid worth fuck all. And before anyone says that will never happen, well I know someone who had a room full of pottery which was hugely valuable until one day it went out of fashion and was worthless and he lost thousands, it can happen but I don’t care because what wealthy people do with their money is nothing to do with me and I don’t believe the really high end stuff is really affecting me anyway.
I collect by the way, or more to the point I buy loads of whisky, partly because I know that eventually whisky will be too expensive for me to regularly buy and also because one day I hope to be able to share my limited knowledge with my daughter and I’m building a wee collection of my favourite drams for her to share, because I think many whiskies I consider classics will no longer be around.
Next; Know your drams, do not be fooled. 
When’s a bargain a bargain? And what is a bottle of whisky really worth?
A tenner off, that must be a bargain, yeah? Well maybe, but more likely it’s the fair price for what you’re holding in your hand. The big boys, in my opinion, offer many whiskies at an inflated price and then put them out on discount making the punter think they are getting a good deal and sometimes they are, a fiver or even more off a dram you like is a good deal, but I think we all know it’s not always the case.

That said, I buy whisky on “offer” all the time but I do my best to only buy those whiskies I’m pretty sure I’ll enjoy or can at least swap.

There is also reduced to clear, that’s different, it’s normally when the store is changing its range or a distillery is changing packaging/ product and they need rid of the old stock, fill your boots if you see these, even if you don’t get on with them because it’s a great chance to swap or sell. I once picked up three bottles of something reduced to clear and sold them for three times what I paid because the price soared when it was discontinued.

So what’s a bottle worth? Well it’s worth what someone is willing to pay for it. I used to buy loads of bottles at auction, old blends from the 70s and 80s but even obscure stuff is being faked and the prices are going up and up so now I don’t really bother, I used to get something interesting for between ten and fifteen pounds, now, not so much and it would take a lot for me to buy at auction at again, something I really think is worth paying the extra for.

There is also a limit to what most people will spend, the idea that whisky companies can keep putting the prices up for ever is a very dangerous game of chicken for everyone and I’m just glad I stocked up on a few of my old favourites now that the prices have gone beyond what I’d be happy paying.

Alright, so a bottle is worth what you’re willing to pay but where to buy from?

You have a few options, Independent Whisky shops are just that, not tied to a chain and often where you will find impartial advice from people who actually care and where you’ll find a better range than the supermarkets, there are some independent shops I avoid but you’ll need to ask me via email or social media as to which ones as I have no intention of insulting privately run businesses.

Next up are the online retailers, some are excellent some not so much but well worth checking out, in fact, when you think about it, the internet can be both the best friend and the worst enemy of the whisky buyer, I would advise that any time you see an offer you search for that offer online and see what prices come up but of course the internet is also full of stores doing their best to entice you in so just be careful.

And finally we have the supermarkets, it’s where I buy a lot of whisky from and it’s always worth checking out the Whisky Isle for offers when you’re in, plus the odd reduced to clear bonus. Keep in mind that the supermarkets are all fighting each other all the time and so will use their massive influence to keep the prices down but again prices can vary greatly so always do a price check when you can, I have walked out of a supermarket to get a signal so I can check a price.

And that’s about it, I decided to write this rambling nonsense because I am aghast at some of the prices people are paying for whisky these days and at the sheer amount of limited bottles which are produced for the sake of selling more whisky in fancy bottles to collectors. Oh and remember that every daft bottle that comes out it means that their core expressions are being held back with the quality spirit all going into fancy bottles, get me?

So, who to look for?

There are some distilleries out there who still offer great value for money, Glen Moray spring to mind and I’ve always found Glengoyne and Benromach to offer excellent value for money and there are few standards out there that you should always consider, Highland Park 12, Old Pultney 12 and Aberlour 10 and 12 are all very decent drams.

Independent bottlers though are where to look if you’re wanting some good value Scotch, often with decent age statements, non chill filtered and no added colour which everyone is constantly going on about, these bottles are often properly limited single cask offerings too and well worth researching.

If you want to know where I buy my whisky from then feel free to private message me or email me, I am always here to offer advice, for free and totally impartial.

Or buy up American spirits and rum before they go bonkers price wise too.

Rambling over.

The Captain.