Manager’s Choice, Executive’s Price

So… the biggest whisky news of the year has been broken. The Managers Choice selection. 27 single cask whiskies, one from each Diageo distillery, bar the behemoth that is Roseisle.

When I first got wind of this news from one of our very secretive sources, I was really excited. Not only could I try single caskings of some of my favourite whiskies (Mortlach, Lagavulin, Caol Ila) but I could also try some really random single casks (Glenkinchie, Oban, Clynelish). I was also really excited because unlike others, Diageo run distilleries tend to stick to their basic range of 2 or 3 expressions done really well. This, in my view, was going to show something different they have to offer. Look at Glenkinchie. I don’t particularly like either of their bottlings, but I quite liked the 20 year old, so I was hoping to try another expression to see if I could appreciate Pencaitland’s finest.

I am sure I am not the only one that was excited to try a new Cardhu, Linkwood, or whatever your particular Diageo intrigue is. So where is the ‘but’? What’s the problem? Is there a problem at all? Well, in a word, yes.

The problem is that the price of these whiskies is frankly exorbitant. It’s difficult to discuss value. Value differs with every person. But there are some key factors that could show us what the real price of these whiskies should be.

Where should we start? As Rafa Benitez (Liverpool manager) would say, lets start with the facts.

This is what we know from the first 6 releases:

  • They are between 9 and 13 years old
  • They are cask strength and non-chillfiltered
  • They are limited between 240 and 534 bottles
  • The full collection would be very rare to have
  • The prices for the first 6 are between £200 and £300
  • They are barreled in either:  Sherry filled European Oak, American Bourbon Oak, Rejuvenated American White Oak or Rejuvenated European Oak.

Lets put this into perspective. If I was to go down to the Scotch Malt Whisky Society today, I could buy a 33 year old bottling, a new release, only 107 bottles in the whole world, distillery 104 which is mothballed, cask strength, non-chillfiltered. The price? £116.

Another point. The average price of a 12 year old whisky is between £20 and £30 pounds. For £300, I could buy a bottle of Old Pulteney 30 (spectacular) and still have enough change to buy Ardbeg 10 (awesome). Or in terms of Diageo, I could buy a bottle of Talisker 20 (my favourite Talisker) and Royal Lochnagar Select Reserve for the same price as a 9 year old bottle of Oban and still have change.



  1. Well done, Chris. You make your point in a controlled manner without giving in to profanities every other word, which is how I, and I’m sure you, feel. The website is very good at glossing over the “facts” of “value” which you have provided here in appropriate starkness. What I find so ironic is how managers discuss the “conversation” between spirit and wood and how totally unique it is – the true USP of this collection – but the credentials of single cask and cask strength are theoretical, obselete, because how many purchasers are likely to taste their “investment” and arrive at a conclusion any different to the press release’s? Do Diageo think we’ve forgotten about independent bottlers, who offer the same one-time-only malts for a fraction of the price?

  2. good point.
    no reason in hell to buy those overpriced young malts, when u can buy amazing malts for 1/2 that price and keep the change.

    diageo, wake up!

  3. Chris, how about the 4 horsemen try all 27 in a huge tasting session? Lucas is buying……..

  4. 27 x £250 = £6750

    Lucas is not buying.

  5. Although these prices are pretty high I don’t think it’s totally stupid and I do think that people will buy them. Look at what happened when Diageo released the Islay Festival Port Ellen at £100, people were up in arms saying it was way underpriced and playing into the whisky speculators hands, which most of these bottles ending up in! At these prices these bottles will be purchased by those who will be either genuine collectors (as I can’t see these going up in value) or someone who will actually open the bottle and quite probably love the spirit inside.

  6. Uhm that’s not easy to say…Prices are very high…The pointto me is not aging but quality, and yes you’ll ever have the chance to be lucky enough to find grat quality at reasonable prices…Those cask would have to be truly exceptional(I mean almost everyone with some money to spend, will pay 300 for a samaroli bowmore bouquet or a samaroli laphroaig 1966…and the prices for those bottling are so much higher…)I won’t buy(well I’m a Port ellen addicted so I’ll put my money on a Port Ellen )but what if those cask will be very very very good?I’m just curious about soemone trusty to taste them…

  7. Hi there,

    but Paolo they have been chosen by Diageo experts. And Diageo says they are good and unique and rare und worth the price!

    Don`t you trust them??? :o )

  8. Trust?:)
    Honestly I think that Diageo could risk to release bad whisky at that price,but I was trying to consider the whole thing from a slight different point of view.
    Often we link the price of whisky with his age but would be a 40 years(let suppose mega-woody)Port ellen(or Brora) worth a huge price just for its age and rarity when the product is not good?
    I think that the final move it’s in our hands as customers…Let’s suppose the new Oban sherry cask is extraordinary, one could then consider to buy it…At the same time another person could easily think that with 300£ to spend is possible to find and get more extraordinary whiskies So I
    cannot have a precise idea but if You ask me…Yes they look overpriced, that’s not mean that i cannot consider to buy one…
    But it would have to be something almost legendary:)So let’s wait tasting notes:)

  9. (PLEASE add a NOT before risk in first line above:) )

  10. I think my main problem is not just Diageo (although they have taken it to an extreme)its the whole industry, minus some notable exceptions. Surely price should reflect a mixture of the cost to produce the product and the quality of the product. The reason a 40 year old is more expensive than a ten year old is it costs the company more money to keep a cask for this long and they are losing valuable supplies to those pesky angels. You could also look at the cost of the cask and general opinion of the whisky. The only reason Diageo can get away with this kind of move is they limit the amount of single caskings released from there distilleries, thus making them rare and sought after.

    I keep going back to one of our favourite distillers. Glenfarclas. Have a look at there range and prices. Firstly they are all cracking whiskies. Secondly they are all reasonably priced. Thirdly, there pricing structure makes some sort of sense and is far cheaper than most other whiskies in a similar age range.

  11. and a look to Glendronach as well…Their whiskies are more than often at reasonable prices…

  12. Paolo, if you consider me someone trusty then I will be more than happy to taste them for you:) Just need to convince Don Diageo to send me samples first. Never got anything from them mind you, so the chances are rather slim…

  13. Did someone say White Elephant? Hmm, that might be a good name for a blend, actually. Say, 10yo and £500 a bottle?

  14. Well I hope You got them:)
    I’m really curious about.
    I have top admit that I hoped they also released closed distilleries…An old Glenury Royal single cask would have been…Tempting?

  15. Quote”Paolo, if you consider me someone trusty then I will be more than happy to taste them for you:) Just need to convince Don Diageo to send me samples first. Never got anything from them mind you, so the chances are rather slim…”

    Agreed.Let’s keep praying like Italians do.:-(
    Maybe, just maybe Don Diageo Corleone…..?

  16. Don Diageo corleone looks quite funny :)
    btw first notes I found talk about good bottling but nothing out of this world with oban looking the best of the bunch…

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