Feb 102010

Sigh.  Like so many things in life, the good stuff isn’t free.

The gents in the club know I have a soft spot for Ardbeg.  In fact, the “Uigeadail” is probably my personal favorite whisky right now (See review under “Beverages”).  I am slowly nearing the end of a great bottle of the “Airigh Nam Beist”, and the ten year old is brilliant as well.

Ardbeg have blitzed the market over the past couple of years (not to the extent that Bruichladdich has, but…) with a slew of bottlings including (but not limited to) “Blasda”, “Corryvrecken”, “Supernova”,  “Renaissance” and now…coming Feb 15th to select markets…”Rollercoaster”.  So, being a fan of Ardbeg’s (mostly) heavily-peated offerings, what exactly is the “Ardbeg Problem”?

Call me naive, but I always imagined the whisky industry to be one of refinement, sophistication and adhering to something of a moral compass.  Let’s face it, the SWA heavy-handedly enforces many of these whisky morals.  Where my naivete shows is in my hoping that somehow whisky prices would be governed by something a little more rigid than the law of supply and demand.

Does this go against my philosophical views on laissez-faire capitalism and uncontested freedom of production and distribution of one’s work?  Well, yeah.  Do I actually believe that pricing should be controlled?  Reluctantly…no.  Would I happily buy more if the costs were to drop?  Absolutely.

The thing is, there is a prestige that comes along with buying that $100 bottle of whisky.  When a dram is offered, we immediately get a sense of our personal value.  Would you share your great expensive whiskies with someone who wasn’t a good friend?  Of course not.  Unfortunately many times the high price tag becomes an advertisement for quality.  We all know however, that just because something has a great marketing campaign and snazzy adverts does not mean the product is all it’s cracked up to be.

Which brings us back to Ardbeg.  Is it that good?  Does the whisky live up to the hype?  Well…yes…it is and it does.  Is it worth the price tag?  Up to you, I suppose.  Cost becomes subjective as we assign value to something.  How badly we want something determines how much we would be willing to spend on it.  My advice…let your tastebuds decide…not the marketing.  Taste as much as you can before buying, and use independent reviews to make informed decisions.  Arbdeg, for example, can not keep up with production demands.  A tip I received…snatch up the ten year old and “Uigeadail” by the case.  Canada may soon find itself unable to procure one of Islay’s finest whiskies.

I remember reading a whisky forum a while back, where one of the bloggers, in complimenting a certain distillery, made a snide remark about how if the distillery were to see these positive reviews they would most certainly jack the price.  A valid concern?  Not sure.  Something for another day though.

I suppose in the meantime, boys, we should resign ourselves to ackowledging that we have an expensive vice.

Clint’s insightful little comment to me:  “Always remember, whisky is made by Scottish people for Scottish people, so there’s bound to be a way we can save a buck or two.”

  6 Responses to “The Ardbeg Problem”

  1. The snarky side of me is happy to note that thus far the two best rums (by acclaim) have also been the cheapest, and therefore are more likely to be bought by me for common consumption in the future. Which also means that my friends will share in the good stuff, more of it, more often, without any loss of prestige or cash. The logic therefore suggests that being a rummie is better for you in all senses – I save more money than you do, and my friends are convinced I trot out the premium rum for them without holding back the expensive drams.

    It’s great to be a rummie.

  2. Ruminsky van Drunkenburg :

    The logic therefore suggests that being a rummie is better for you in all senses

    It’s great to be a rummie.

    Uhhhh…most senses maybe. Not all. The first ones to come to mind would be taste and smell. For those you’re definitely better off with the fine whiskies.

  3. @Curt
    Just enjoyed a sip of the Ardbeg 10 yr, which was on for $54 at Millrise Western Cellars. I picked up the last 2 in the store and prices vary from location to location…so we will have to keep our eyes open for another opportunity such as this.

    I toyed with the idea of posting the sale price on the site as a response to Curt’s post but got greedy in the end. Sadly, there’s only so much to go around…and there’s no sense in killing the golden goose!

  4. @Clint
    What rums did they have?

  5. Two bottles of Supernova awaiting my arrival on Islay. A lovely lady by the name of Janey Torrance is holding them safe for me. I have also mentioned Rollercoaster and Corryvrecken to her. She says to let her know what I want and she’ll put it all aside for me.

    Janey…thanks. Can’t wait to meet and say thanks in person!

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