Can You Tell One Scotch from One Another? Price Versus Preference

by Evan

I have a buddy who is an amazing chef and better, he loves to host and set up breakfasts and dinners.  This past Saturday he prepared a 5 course meal with 6 scotches that ranged from a free bottle to a $130 bottle for 6 buddies (I was one of them).  Five out of the 6 bottles came from a very good distillery, Glenmorangie.   The sixth bottle was given to him by the liquor store for free  for buying the others!  Considering we are a bunch of 29 to 34 year olds who have had a couple years of drinking scotch under our belt we felt that we could put them in the order of best (read: most expensive) to worst (read: free).

The bottles we got were:

  • The Original (10 Year old)
  • Quinta Ruban (12 Year Old in Port Casks)
  • La Santa (12 Year Old in Sherry Casks)
  • Nectar (12 Year Old in French Casks)
  • 18 Year Old
  • The Cheap Stuff

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Struggling With Value, Price and Worth

I have struggled with the concepts of value and worth before.   I have a huge problem (and it is me, not them) people perceive value because something is expensive.  For whatever reason it drives me literally crazy.

Just because you pay 50% more for your cell phone service doesn’t mean it is better (talking to you Verizon People…SPRINT RULES)…just because you overpaid on an engagement ring doesn’t make it more valuable…and just because your bottle of scotch is 4 times the price doesn’t mean you’ll like it more!

I am not sitting on my high horse here preaching to those below, I do it too.  My next car is likely to be something most consider a luxury when a brand new bad ass Hyundai Sonata would do.  Seriously have you seen how good they look right now?

I think the best comments I heard on the topic were recently at a seminar when the speaker said while pointing at his wrist,

Yup, this is a rolex.  Do I wear it because it tells time better? Nope.  The watch at the bottom of the cereal box will probably tell the exact same time.  I wear it because every time I look at it, I get a feeling inside of me.

The value is the feeling, not the time.

But I digress, back to the contest.

Scotch Tasting Contest Results

As you can tell from the tone of the post I am happy to announce that 5 out of 6 people picked the free bottle.  I was one of those 5 people.  The $130 bottle ended up in the middle of everyone’s list.

 

Do you struggle with the concept  of Value versus Price versus Worth?  Am I over thinking this silly little experiment?

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25 comments

Eric September 12, 2011 - 1:03 pm

I have to admit that good scotch is a soft spot for me. I usually get Glenlivet 12 year, but I am certainly enjoying the Macallan 12 year at home right now.

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Evan September 13, 2011 - 1:06 pm

LOVE The Macallan 12! Probably my favorite normal priced bottle.

Glenlivet is also very good – if you liked those then check out the Glenmorangie in the sherry bottle, everything is too strong tasting imho

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Jeff September 12, 2011 - 2:21 pm

I dont drink scotch too often (dont like the taste) but I do drink bourbon. I find that while occasionally the more expensive stuff tastes better, I can drink the cheap stuff just as well and enjoy its qualities.

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Evan September 13, 2011 - 1:06 pm

Bourbon is good stuff, but I bet if you did the exact same taste testing you’d find the same results!

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youngandthrifty September 12, 2011 - 10:03 pm

LOL.

MY mom used to drive a Hyundai Sonata. I used to think Hyundai was Honda when I was young.

Hyundai’s come a long way 🙂

I would get a fully loaded car over a basic more expensive car any day, I think.

I am assuming you are never going to be purchasing that $130 bottle of scotch again?

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Evan September 13, 2011 - 1:31 pm

I could never in good conscious buy a $130 of scotch. Actually I’ll go to the liquor store with the intention of getting a $60 bottle and end up with 2 $30 bottles. It is ridiculous and my friends make fun of me lol, but F them! I bet none of a dividend portfolio like this guy

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J.B September 12, 2011 - 10:10 pm

I have never done this with scotch, but I have many times with Canadian Whiskey. I found the best stuff to be the midrange stuff. You always see companies like Canadian Club have their standard stuff, than their “limited edition” option and then a more prestigious option that is over $100. My favorites tend to be the middle range stuff that are just a few bucks more than the brands standard edition.

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Evan September 13, 2011 - 2:34 pm

If I am going with a Whiskey I like a Jameson or a Crown Royal. I don’t know if I ever had Canadian Club

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cashflowmantra September 13, 2011 - 7:07 am

You aren’t overthinking this at all. Marketers go to great lengths to convince consumers that their brand (whether toothpaste, vehicles, or scotch) is better than all the others and want you to pay a premium to boot. This concept is big business.

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Evan September 13, 2011 - 2:37 pm

Fantastic point…maybe my fight is against big marketing companies lol but shhhh some of them advertise here

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Simon September 13, 2011 - 8:07 am

One thing I find about scotch is that like wine the price does affect the quality of the ingredients and the care in making the product. While you may not prefer the taste of the pricier bottles I personally find that the hangover from a quality alcohol is almost always muted compared to one from the lower end product.

That being said, we (myself and pals) have tried this as well. In our case however the 15 yr old Balvenie blew away the cheap J&B and it wasn’t even close. The complexities of the flavours in the single malt were lights out.

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Evan September 13, 2011 - 3:03 pm

You know I have a buddy that swears he gets no hangover from Johnny Blue…I tell him he is NUTS since it is from the alcohol not the length of the alcohol in the cask

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Simon September 15, 2011 - 6:22 pm

Agreed. I’m not saying no hangover just a lesser hangover. Better ingredients, better morning after.

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Sunil September 13, 2011 - 8:52 am

i don’t see Johnny on the table. wt?

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Evan September 13, 2011 - 3:14 pm

hahahah we were doing just from that one distillery. I think next time we are going to do one from each of the Johnny Levels

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MM September 13, 2011 - 2:18 pm

This happens all of the time. Consumers believe that because the price of something is higher that the quality is better or that it has “more value.” The reality tends to be different. But, then again, what is value? Some people may find real value in a $130 bottle but how can you tell them that it is worth less? I don’t think that you can because value is a personal choice.

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Evan September 13, 2011 - 3:15 pm

It is like the guy who valued his rolex because it made him feel good inside

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Jenna September 13, 2011 - 4:03 pm

Love the experiment. I feel the same way about wine. I either like it or I don’t, price rarely comes into play since I rarely buy wine.

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Hunter September 13, 2011 - 9:12 pm

Fun experiment! I’m in agreement with Cashflowmantra & Market Maker, a lot of the price disparity is all wrapped up in marketing. Having said that, I tend to go for established brands when I choose most things.

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BP September 15, 2011 - 4:10 pm

Fun experiment! Did you guys have a blind test? The reason is if you are already biased with the “value” for money (if all of you are frugal kind 😉 ) it might have affected your taste? You might have ranked the free bottle higher because it tasted awesome for $0 whereas the $130 wasn’t 100x better than the rest? Just curious.

With that said, yeah most of the price comes from packaging and marketing. It is better to understand what we like without the price bias.

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Evan September 20, 2011 - 11:35 pm

Completely blind! We had the buddy’s wife pour our glasses in a different room

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Freddie September 19, 2011 - 6:54 am

I am with you in that it drives me crazy when people equate cost to value. This is the same with clothing. People will pay $150 for a pair of jeans when they look the same as a $40 pair to me. I don’t get it.

And please don’t get me started on liquor. To be honest, none of it is especially great, so why pay more.

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Evan September 20, 2011 - 11:37 pm

Clothing is another topic that kills me! I have buddies that spend a stupid amount on non-work shirts kills me

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Amy September 20, 2011 - 11:25 pm

You’re not going to reveal the identity of the cheap scotch that is better than Glenmorangie?

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Evan September 20, 2011 - 11:38 pm

I am not hiding it, I promise! I just was at a scotch tasting and maybe the detail of the last bottle was lost on me hahahah

I will find out and post it here tomorrow

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