Chapter 7  -  Shopping

The basis of my personal malt rating system is rather simple.
I try to translate the fun my nose and tongue are having with a malt into a 1 to 100 scale,
so the malt I like the best gets the highest rating. Quite simple, wouldn't you agree?
The result of the system is my fairly straightforward
HITLIST of single malts.
So why aren't my shelves filled with bottles of Ardbeg 17yo and Laphroaig 15yo?
I'll tell you why: Because I'm Dutch!

And not just because we Dutch are notorious for our pennypinching.
The tax-system in Holland is of a progressive nature, which means that bottles that are more expensive to begin with are more heavily taxed. The result is that your 'average' 12yo malt (0.7 litre) will typically set you back anything between 35 and 40 Euro's, which is quite reasonable I suppose.

Older and/or rarer malts, however, are a lot more expensive here in Holland. A Macallan 30yo costs about 250 Euro's, while a bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue Label goes for 200 Euro's. That's just plain lunacy, as far as I'm concerned; especially because some liquorists offer the superb Lagavulin 16yo for less than 40 Euro's. This means I can drink 5 bottles of Lagavulin 16yo for the price of a single bottle of Blue Label. Not really a hard choice, is it?

Well - it isn't so easy when you're in front of the shelves with money burning in your pocket.
In an foolish attempt to rationalize my purchasing process I took out my calculator and did some doodling. Although the prices of single malts range from less than 20 to more than 1000 (!) Euro's, it's not neccessary to pay more than 50 Euro's for a good bottle. That's the price of the Laphroaig 10yo Cask Strength here in Holland. Excellent malts like Balvenie 12yo, Laphroaig 10yo and Macallan 12 can actually be obtained at a considerably lower price. I sometimes pay more than 40 Euro's for a bottle, but as far as I'm concerned a price over 50 Euro's is 'too rich for me'. I may spend more on the occasional special bottle, but these bottles won't be replaced.

So, let's say I'm prepared to pay 40 Euro's for a bottle (0.7 litre) of good single malt whisky.
Using this as my 'Fair Price Anchor', I can take the initial quality score of a malt, and add or subtract 1 point for every Euro price difference. Then I look at the alcohol percentage. I'm a big fan of cask strength malts. For one thing, you can dilute them in various stages and enjoy different 'faces' of a malt before it reaches the 'standard' 40%. Besides - you simply get more alcohol for your money. That's why every 3% extra alcohol adds another point to the BfyB score.

The final element in the equation is the size of the bottle. Litre bottles are subject to availability, but contain over 40% more whisky than an average 700 ml bottle - and 30% more than the odd 0.75 litre bottle. For those of you with the same consumption pattern as me: that means 20 generous drams per bottle instead of 15! At the same time, the price difference is sometimes less than 10%. That's why every litre bottling that is readily available here in Holland (like Laphroaig 10yo or Longmorn 15yo) receives a 'Volume Bonus' of 5 points.

Sounds complicated, you say? Not at all. Let me give you some examples. When we look at Glen Ord 12, the friendly price of 27 Euro's adds a cool (40-27=) 13 points to the original 80 quality points and pushes it to 93 value points. It's a 0.7 litre, 40% bottling so that's the final value rating. Another example; Glenfarclas 105 costs only 36 Euro's, even though it's a litre bottle at 60%. The quality rating of 80 points translates into (80+4+7+5=) 96 value points.

Hey presto; suddenly you've got a brand new list that looks quite different.
In fact, this list resembles the usual
content of my shelves a lot closer. After I completed the list I realized it may have been the ultimate exercise in futility, but since I had already gone through all the trouble I decided to publish it in my Big Black Book. I hope you find it useful. Click HERE for the Bang-For-Your-Buck list, or just go on to the next chapter...

Surf to Scotchwhisky.comDrop me a note...
Malt Madness mAlmanac - Basic information about single malt Scotch whiskyA Beginner's Guide to SMSWHistory and statistics on all active distilleries in ScotlandLinks to other whisky websitesMy Big Black Book - All the knowledge I've gained on my alcoholic adventuresMy Little Black Book - Brief notes on all sampled whiskiesMy Track Record - Essential stats on all sampled maltsMy Hit List - an overview of my favourite whiskiesThe name says it all...My 'Bang For Your Buck' List - Which whiskies offer the best value for your money?My Stock List - An overview of the bottles in my whisky collectionMy Liquid Log - A chronological overview of my alcoholic adventuresVirtual whisky map of Scotland
Beginner's Guide OverviewChapter 2 - VocabularyChapter 8 - EnjoymentChapter 9 - PracticeChapter 10 - ConclusionChapter 2 - VocabularyChapter 3 - GeographyChapter 4 - DistillationChapter 5 - MaturationChapter 6 - Bottling


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