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What Is a Premium Price For a Bottle of Whisky?


A valid question, isn't it?


When looking at whisky pricing and comparing similar age statements or cask maturations on non-age statement whiskies, what features make one somehow 'more valuable' than its counterparts?


Things that might affect the price of the bottle include the distillery in which it was made, the country of origin, what type of grain was used, what casks were used to mature the whisky, batch size, bottling strength and, of course, the age of the whisky. Or, on some occasions, what the distillery owner perceives its value to be according to the type of image they want to pursue.


Price is a good way of controlling the demand for whisky. On some occasions in the past, distilleries have faced a dilemma with two options: either discontinue the popular bottling due to high demand that can not be met or raise the price of the bottle to make it still available but less accessible. This might be one of the reasons why previously affordable expressions have hiked up in price. Of course, and that the price of whisky is constantly rising.



Some new distilleries worldwide have released their first whiskies at a premium price. For example, Bimber distillery in London, England, charged £120 (US$152) for its inaugural three-year-old whisky release and Rademon Estate in Ireland, which priced its first bottling of Shortcross at £300 (US$380). And who could forget when Annandale distillery in Scotland tried to sell its first cask for £1m (US$1.27m)—a price that a 1988 cask from Macallan sold for in auction later in 2022.


For this article, we have chosen to look at similar official bottlings (from four separate countries) currently on the market and chosen ten examples from each category to give consumers an idea of why some are considered premium and others not. To point out, no matter what the price of the bottle is, whisky is still a luxury product, and the price does not always reflect the quality of the product.


Please note that we have chosen all prices displayed from only one UK online retailer in May 2024 to avoid possible variable pricing between companies. All images have been compiled by The Whisky Ardvark.


Categories



 

Scotland

 

Non-Age Statement Core Range Expression Blend

Non-Age Statement Core Range Expression Blend 10 price examples

According to this, the average price of a non-age statement core range blended whisky from Scotland is £27.80 (US$35.20). Although many best-selling blends are priced from £20 to £25, some new brands like the Suntory-owned Ardray Blended whisky, have been released with an obvious premium price with a specific type of customer in mind.



 

Sherry-cask-matured Non-age Statement Single Malts

Sherry-cask-matured Non-age Statement Single Malts 10 price examples

According to this, the average price on a sherry-cask-matured non-age statement single malt from Scotland is £60.85 (US$77.10). The price variables include the ABV, the distillery it came from, batch size, the type of sherry, and how long the whisky was aged in sherry casks.


The most expensive expression is the Aberlour A'Bunadh, which went up in price some years ago due to diminishing stocks for the release. Instead of discontinuing the expression, the price was hiked. We have included this premium-priced item in this section because, before the price hike, it cost around £50 (US$63.30), which was reasonable (and around where the price should ultimately be without the change of circumstance).


Glen Moray is known for producing consistently affordable whiskies, and it was the least expensive of the ten single malts included in the graph.



 

10-year-old Single Malt Core Range Expression

10-year-old Single Malt Core Range Expression 10 price Exmaples

According to this, the average price of a 10-year-old age statement single malt from Scotland is £46 (US$58.25). The main reason for the price differences is batch size.


The most expensive on the list is Wolfburn. The 10-year-old Sherry cask is the first age-statement whisky core expression from the relatively small distillery, which is reflected in the price.


In general, the price for 10-year-old single malts from Scotland ranges from around £40 to £48. Well-known names like Glen Grant and Laphroaig seem to be some of the most affordable whiskies on the list.



 

12-year-old Single Malt Core Range Expression

12-year-old Single Malt Core Range Expression 10 price examples

According to this, the average price of a 12-year-old age statement single malt from Scotland is £52 (US$65.90). The main reasons for the price differences are the status of the distillery and the type of barrels used.


Distilleries like Dalmore and Macallan rank high on the list because they are in a position where people will buy their whiskies even at high prices. Both brands are famous for their high-end bottlings.


Some of the largest distilleries, such as Glenfiddich and Glenlivet, offer reasonably priced products at the lower end of the scale. This is possibly one of the selling points that consistently places them among the top-selling single malts in the world from year to year.



 

15-year-old Single Malt Core Range Expression

15-year-old Single Malt Core Range Expression 10 price examples

According to this, the average price of a 15-year-old age-statement single malt from Scotland is £90.50 (US$114.60). Expectedly, brands like Macallan and Dalmore charge the most for their whiskies. Big owners like Diageo with Dalwhinnie and William Grant & Sons with Glenfiddich offer some of the most affordable options in this category.



 

18-year-old Single Malt Core Range Expression

18-year-old Single Malt Core Range Expression 10 price examples

According to this, the average price of an 18-year-old age-statement single malt from Scotland is £188 (US$238.10). What makes this graph interesting is the difference in price from one producer, Edrington, which offers its Macallan at the highest price and Jura at the most affordable price—leaving no space for imagination on which brand the owner considers the premium product.


 

21-year-old Single Malt Core Range Expression

21-year-old Single Malt Core Range Expression 10 price examples

According to this, the average price of a 21-year-old age-statement single malt from Scotland is £263.70 (US$334). At the top of the list is Dalmore, which releases its 21-year-old expressions with vintages. On the other hand, the Gordon & MacPhail-owned Benromach distillery offers the best price for its whisky.



 

50-year-old Single Malt

50-year-old Single Malt 10 price Examples

According to this, the average price of a 50-year-old age-statement single malt from Scotland is £30,670 (US$38,842).


We wanted to include these old and rare whiskies to examine some of the really old and rare whisky expressions. Even though all of these whiskies are undoubtedly premium, or should we say extra premium, we wanted to show that even in these types of whiskies, there are a lot of price differences.


On the top of the list again, Macallan is the clear 'luxury product winner' while a lesser-known Tomintoul is the most affordable 50-year-old single malt.


Certain vintages from specific distilleries, the release size, types of casks, and the bottling strength are important factors to consider when buying old and rare whiskies. Of course, presentation plays a crucial part when buying expensive bottlings.



 

Ireland

 

Non-Age Statement Blended Irish Whiskies

Non-Age Statement Blended Irish Whiskies 10 price examples

According to this, the average price of a non-age statement blended whisky from Ireland is £29.70 (US$37.60). Most whiskies are priced at around £26, but small-batch blended whiskies such as Teeling and Hinch charge more for their blends.


 

Non-Age Statement Irish Single Pot Still Whiskies

Non-Age Statement Irish Single Pot Still Whiskies 10 price examples

According to this, the average price of a non-age statement single pot still whisky from Ireland is £52.30 (US$66.25). While Samuel Gelston's whiskey takes the trophy for the most affordable single pot still whisky, Teeling's and Midleton distillery's Method & Madness experimental wood finishes offer a premium look to the category.


 

Non-Age Statement Irish Single Malt Whiskies

Non-Age Statement Irish Single Malt Whiskies 10 price examples

According to this, the average price of a non-age statement single malt whisky from Ireland is £46.20 (US$58.50). At the top of the range are new Irish distilleries Boann, with The Whistler, and Connacht, while The Pogues from West Cork distillery is the most affordable.



 

USA

 

Non-Age Statement Bourbons

Non-Age Statement Bourbons 20 price examples Part 1
Non-Age Statement Bourbons 20 price examples Part 2

According to this, the average price of a non-age statement bourbon from the US is £47.30 (US$59.90). Due to the sheer amount of products in this category, we have chosen 20 examples instead of ten. We have also decided not to separate small batch and bottled-in-bond whiskies because these sub-categories are not big enough for a proper comparison.


While some extremely affordable bourbons are available from big producers such as Wild Turkey, Jim Beam, and Buffalo Trace, more and more smaller producers are entering the scene with premium, smaller batch releases.


Note that Blanton's and Very Old Barton bourbons take the top of these core range expressions. This is due to their small production amounts as well as their popularity, especially with Blanton's.



 

Non-Age Statement Rye Whiskies

Non-Age Statement Rye Whiskies 15 price examples

According to this, the average price of a non-age statement rye whiskey from the US is £47.30 (US$59.90). Due to the size of the category, we have chosen 15 brands instead of ten.


Again, the big players, like Diageo's Bulleit, Brown-Forman's Jack Daniel's, and Wild Turkey, offer their whiskies at the best prices. Reservoir and Bardstown Bourbon Co offer the most premium prices.


 

Non-Age Statement American Single Malts

Non-Age Statement American Single Malts 10 price examples

According to this, the average price of a non-age statement single malt from the US is £71.10 (US$90.05). Still a relatively new category, many of the single malts produced in the US are only released for the domestic market and are often only available locally.


The recently released sour mash single malt from New Riff is at the top of the premium list, and the most affordable whisky comes from Westland distillery.



 

Japan

 

Non-Age Statement Japanese Whiskies

Non-Age Statement Japanese Whiskies 10 price examples

According to this, the average price of a non-age statement grain and blended whisky from Japan is £72.20 (US$91.45). Again, big players Suntory and Nikka are offering their whiskies with most affordable prices, while Mars charges a premium price for its blend.

 

Non-Age Statement Japanese Single Malts

Non-Age Statement Japanese Single Malts 10 price examples

According to this, the average price of a non-age statement single malt from Japan is £96.90 (US$122.70). Old producers Nikka and Suntory offer the most affordable single malts, while Chichibu distillery, with its small production size and popularity, takes the premium price prize.

 

Thank you for reading The Whisky Ardvark. Please check out some of our other informative article listed below.



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