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My Wandering Eye

Posted on by Eric Burke

Gather round, young fellers and listen to Old Man Arok tell a story of how it used to be back in my day…

I bought my first bottle of Willet Single Barrel for around $40. It was a six year old and was quite tasty. The last one I bought was about $120 and was eight years old. I bought my first bottle of Four Roses Mariage for roughly $80, I bought my most recent Four Roses Limited Small Batch for, coincidentally, also around $120. I bought my last two bottles of Elijah Craig 18 year old for $45 each. So far, I’ve refused to pay the $129 that Total Wine wants for it right now. I’ve bought two bottles of and even recommended a bottle of Wild Turkey that I paid $180 for at the distillery and $130 in a store. 

I remember, not too long ago, when I would have to think about if I really wanted to spend $40 on a bottle of bourbon. I would wonder if it was really worth that much. I remember thinking to myself “wow! an $85 bottle of bourbon, I wonder what that tastes like?” (In fact I tweeted about it in April of ’08 if anyone has followed me that long.) Today, the average price of just the open bourbons on my shelf is around $64. Thank goodness for Heaven Hill and their range of bonded bourbons to pull that average down or it would be much higher.

And yes, this might be an old man yelling at a cloud, but to me this is a problem. I’m finding it harder and harder to justify dropping $50-$60 on a bourbon that doesn’t blow my mind. I’m realizing that I’m ok with getting a very nice bourbon for $20-$40 and occasionally getting a mind blowing bourbon for somewhere in the $100 range. 

Bourbon, as a category has seen its prices rise and that is ok. But you know what? As I see that average price rise, it starts to look an awful lot like the prices of other aged spirits and my eye starts to wander. I see the price of the $30 bottle of armagnac that I got my Dad for Christmas and it seems pretty good now. (Tastes pretty good too.) The $50 bottle of Cognac I got him last year seems more reasonable as well. I see the price of an 20 year old bottle of rum and I notice it is much less than many 8-12 year old bourbons at the same store. 

So in this BourbonGuy’s mind, the time has come to branch out a bit. On Thursday, I’m starting a new series on the blog called My Wandering Eye. I’m going to start to make a pass though the non-bourbon sections of the liquor stores when I go to pick up bourbon. If I find something that sounds interesting, I’ll pass it along. They will all be from the perspective of someone who basically only drinks bourbon. Some I will like and many I probably will not. But hopefully they will all be interesting. 


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