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Single malt Scotch prices

EvergreenDan Jan 26, 2010 01:06 PM

What has happened in the last few years to cause all Scotches to go up so much? I can understand specific situations, like when Lagavulin was unavailable for a few months. (The rumors I heard included a distillery fire and a calculated marketing ploy; I have no idea of the true story.)

But it seems that every good Scotch has gone up WAY beyond normal inflation over the last few years -- perhaps by about a third. Lagavulin was under $50 a few years ago, and is closer to $80 now. Michel Couvreur is about $65 now and was about $40 or $45 when I discovered it a couple of years ago.

It seems totally out of line compared to increases in other spirits. I assume taxes/duties don't explain it because other spirits haven't been so affected.

I just brought back some single malts Scotches from Mexico and they were very reasonably priced. For example, a liter (not 750ml) of Bowmore 12, Laphroaig Quarter Cask, and Balvenie DoubleWood were all $40 each at the duty free. Other spirits were not similarly cheap (except Tequila, of course).

  1. absurdnerdbird Jan 26, 2010 01:13 PM

    Currency exchange rates.

    1. cannedmilkandfruitypebbles Jan 26, 2010 02:07 PM

      When I saw that Craggenmore was north of $50 and the Macallen I was preiviously buying for $37 was now also over $50 and the Old Pulteney that I bought for $30 a year and a half ago is now $55- i made the move to different spirits. I've rediscovered the Cocktail, Rye Whisky, and Congac.

      1. EvergreenDan Jan 26, 2010 05:04 PM

        Not so sure it's a currency issue:
        http://moneycentral.msn.com/investor/...

        The pound is weaker than it's been since 2003. Plus other UK spirits like Gin haven't gone up so much.

        As for expense, I've added Clontarf (non Reserve) into my whiskey drinking to moderate the rate at which expensive Scotch bottles disappear. Not the same thing, but still very enjoyable without feeling like you're drinking pureed hundred dollar bills.

        1 Reply
        1. re: EvergreenDan
          cannedmilkandfruitypebbles Jan 27, 2010 04:20 AM

          Clontarf is a great one to have in the mix. Even their more aged expressions are reasonalbly priced.

        2. sku Jan 26, 2010 05:48 PM

          They raise the prices because they can. There's a lot of talk about this among Scotch fans. The market for single malts has been exploding, which has caused a number of brands to try to expand their market share and profits by (1) repackaging and rebranding (Glenmorangie, Highland Park, Dalmore); (2) removing age statements and selling younger whisky (nearly everyone); (3) selling exclusive expressions at sky high prices (Macallan, Bowmore, Dalmore); and (4) raising prices as much as possible on existing brands.

          So far, the global recession does not seem to have done much to dampen the price increases, probably because single malts are a niche item and because of ever expanding markets in Brazil, India, Russia and China.

          As to Lagavulin, a few years ago there was a legitimate shortage based on failure to age enough whisky for the increasing demand, but they sure didn't lower prices once supply caught up with demand.

          1. d
            DavidT Jan 27, 2010 08:49 AM

            It was no more than 2-3 years ago you could by the Dalmore 12-year old single malt (a very good one, by the way) for $19.95 at Trader Joe's. Now it is selling for over $30 and TJ's is no longer carrying it.

            Glenfiddich seems to be the only single malt for sale these days for under $25.

            1 Reply
            1. re: DavidT
              t
              Tinfoilhat Jan 27, 2010 09:09 PM

              It is all based on supply and demand. The Scotch marketers have done a great job and new markets for the whisky have been opening up around the globe. Scotch is hot, and the interest in single malts has been exploding. While it is great to see this happen, as has been noted, rising prices hurt everyone except the collectors.

              On the plus side, it also means that other countries are getting into Whisky production. Japan and India are turning out great stuff. Enjoy them when you have a chance.

              Like all things though, this is a bubble and it will eventually burst. Distilleries have always been opened when the market is hot and then have been shuttered when the demand fades away. Try to turn all your friends on to rum and then we can drink Scotch in peace.

            2. n
              ncyankee101 Jun 2, 2010 10:39 AM

              We seem to have about the highest SMS prices here in NC, between the state stores and high taxes.

              I am going to Florida in August and have done some research into pricing down there - and have found something odd. Some prices are MUCH less in FL, though most are similar and a few are actually higher.

              For example - I recently bought a bottle of Ardbeg 10 here for $50 - I have found it in two stores in FL for $53-$60.

              On the other hand, Lahphroaig 10 is $54 here, but stores in FL have it for $33-40 (but another store has it priced at $60).

              The only theory I can come up with is that the better sellers may have been reordered by the distributors since the exchange rate crashed the last several weeks, and are benefitting from the weaker Euro/BP?

              1. d
                DavidT Jun 2, 2010 12:04 PM

                Greetings from the bonnie Highlands of Scotland! I have been coming over here (from San Francisco) for vacation for 7 years now. When I first started visiting, I found that prices for single-malts here were 50% to 100% higher than they were in California.

                In the past year or two, it seems that retailers in Scotland are discounting the prices of single-malts (via sales and specials) more aggressively than I have ever seen. Today, I can buy Highland Park 12-year old for about 28 pounds. At current exchange rates, that is very close to the $42 or so that BevMo charges in California.

                1 Reply
                1. re: DavidT
                  n
                  ncyankee101 Jun 2, 2010 12:37 PM

                  Total beverage in Colorado has HP 12 for $35, and in Orlando the price seems to be around $40.

                  Here it is $48 - but I got a nice bonus when I bought one the other day, a free 50 ml of HP 18! I was a happy camper.

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