A headline in the Guardian caught my attention, as the occasional headline is wont to do.
Thirty years ago, a distillery died. Now its scotch sells for £1,500 a bottle
The Scottish industry is booming as whisky becomes the drink of aspiration for the world's middle classes
This is another example of stupid people believing that something is special...which rarely is. This is true of whisky, wine, cars, watches, etc.: anything that has developed a cachet to jack up the price. Rarity is rare; hype is common.
I have sampled many of the most-famous/expensive wines and tried many different whiskys (Scotch, Irish, Japanese), both single malt and blends. Many taste the same (to my uneducated taste buds), and many have a distinctive flavor, especially those with a hint of peat. In the end, all are a beverage with alcohol, something rather cheap and easy to produce. (I am reminded of a song: “Get you copper kettle and get you a copper coil. Fill it with new made corn mash and never more you’ll toil.” Which, of course, is about making moonshine, but makes the point about the ease.)
I lost all respect for alcohol beverage cachet during my sojourn in Vietnam. All drinks cost 10 cents at the officers’ club. Once the inflated mark-up and taxes are removed, distilled drinks cost no more than soft drinks. There is no magic, except in the eye of the beholder. Or his or her taste buds.
Case in point is my choice of gin. I like Gordons, a brand not at the top of any survey. Often, I notice the bartender’s difficulty in hiding his disdain: he surely thinks I want the cheapest brand. I prefer the taste to that of the expensive brands, all of which I have sampled. I don’t care what people think of my preferences.
NB. One thing baffles me about the above headline: who in what “middle class” can afford or would pay so much for whisky?
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.