ABV: 49.5% Distillery: Speyburn Bottler: That Boutique-y Whisky Company Region: SpeysideAge: 10
Door number 11 of the 2018 Boutique-y Whisky Advent calendar reveals the bottlers 3rd batch of Speyburn. This one clocks in 10 years of age, 49.5% ABV and an batch size of 1,540 bottles. It’s available from Master of Malt for £77.95. <sound of turntable needle scratching off> Hold on just a second. I know there’s a lot of people ‘reviewing’ these calendars this year, but am I the only one who thinks this is a massive elephant in the room?
Whisky pricing is like so many things, not an exact science. The larger players will have whole departments pouring over sales, comparing them geographically, demographically, and in the cases of some of the profiteering which takes place, likely pornographically. There are many ways to decide on the price of a bottle. Copy the price of a previous version. Simples. Look at what competitors are charging - which is obviously a rather advisable tactic – and is undoubtedly responsible for some price rises we’ve witnessed over the last decade (remember….the raw ingredients are not getting more expensive, and the sherry cask cost/situation is largely a sop to charging more). In most cases there’s likely a matrix for bottle pricing. Something along the lines of this:
a) Cost price of bulk liquid b) x number of years of maturation c) x premium when not drawn from ex-bourbon d) + Fancy packaging e) x premium if the brand is popular (ala Macallan and Springbank) f) -regional variations g) + add a zero if bottling has both a large b) and is from e)
= Bottle price
There’s a few distilleries and a few bottlers that are bucking the trend for rapidly increasing pricing, but then, if you look at the enthusiast niche of the overall market, it seems we’re all prepared to spend relatively more on our whisky then we were 10 years ago. Whilst entry level prices have risen, and their % increases seem stark (when looked at purely in % terms), when you compare what was a £25 to what is now a £40 is doesn’t feel quite so avaricious as the upper end of the market which has seen bottles prices which were once £60 double in less than 5 years. Or in the case of +25 year old OBs – move from somewhere around the £150-£200 to closer to £400-£500 in a similar space of time. And my parents always told me golf was an expensive hobby…..
Price rises are a fact of consumer life – but it seems that as whisky’s reach and appeal broadens, so does the depth of the pockets of those who see it as a hobby/obsession. Once you move off of entry level bottlings you’re going to have to start paying for it. And yet many bloggers/writers don’t even want to address pricing. Barring the more critical/in-depth review sites (you know who you are – I thank you for your candour), there’s seemingly a perpetual fear to say anything remotely negative about pricing. This fear stems from offending a brand, and the worry of cutting off the supply of freebies. But, in my experience over the years, brands are for the most part looking for honest feedback with fair critique and integrity. Simply never writing about pricing is one of the reasons why folks newer to the whisky world don’t even bat an eyelid to some of the batshit pricing out there. Sometimes, somethings need to be said.
So, I’ve had a quick scout around the various other Advent calendar reviews of Boutique-y’s Speyburn 10 year old Batch 3 and so far I’ve not seen a single one of them comment on the price of this bottle (apologies to anyone who has done so that I might have missed). Perhaps it’s just me then?! Perhaps £77.95 (which is the equivalent of £109.13 for a 70cl) is now a ‘fair’ price for a 10 year old bottle of whisky?! Perhaps I’m just being whiny and fondly remembering a time which doesn’t exist anymore.
Or perhaps I’m not – perhaps I know you can find other, independently bottled 10 year old Speyburns, right now – for 50% of the cost of this bottle. And honestly I can see no justification in terms of any price matrix (age, fancy casks, fancy packaging, popular marque brand etc etc) which would result in 70cl of this Speyburn being the equivalent to twice the cost of the average UK household weekly shopping bill.
Nose: Bright and fresh with pear juice and creamy fudge alongside sunflower and olive oils and porridge oats. Running throughout, golden syrup, gingerbread and crumbled biscuits. The addition of water results in some rather different and thought-provoking aromas – cream cheese with tequila, lime zest and a leafy quality of basil with mint.
Taste: The arrival is quite sharp and biting – there’s an acetic tang as well as a rush of wild pepperiness. Apple and pear compote with tart gooseberries sit with toffee and crushed almonds. The mid-palate offers a slight salinity with a fizzing quality akin to a ginger infused spritzer. Reduction lessens the attack and adds a much more juicy, fresher outlook – sweet with confectionery sugars and estery fruits.
Finish: Medium and expressing pear sorbet against yoghurt creaminess and a final zing of zesty lemon,
Boutique-y’s 10 year old Speyburn batch 3 possesses a reasonably balanced and pleasant complexion which just feels like it needs a bit more time in the cask to even it all out. The nose is really quite moresish, but regardless, the pricing of this thing is completely merciless. Surely a more reasonable RRP would result in more of these being sold?! It's nice enough liquid, but nothing about it screams paying this sort of money I'm afraid.
But don't take our word for it..
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