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.


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