Doing the Math on Whisky Pricing

When people talk about scotch, one of the main barriers frequently mentioned is the high price point. While a $40 bottle of Scotch is not too expensive, once you get in the $80 and $140 range things start adding up fairly quick. But the question is -  is $80 for a bottle actually expensive?

The thing to remember about scotch is that there’s no fermentation process within the bottle, and while Scotch will lose its flavour if left in a glass for hours, it will remain quite stable within the bottle. Your first and last glass of scotch will taste relatively the same, and a good bottle can sit on the shelf for years. (Sidenote: rarely do they last more than a few months at my home.)

A typical bottle is 750mL (though there are some that are 700mL) which has approximately 25 ounces of Scotch. Depending on your pour size (commonly between 1 to 1.5 ounces), you’ll get between 16 and 25 servings of scotch per bottle. This is compared to wine, which generally has just over four servings and lasts only for a few days once uncorked.

Being generous and using a 1.5 ounce pour as a basis, a bottle of scotch will give you four times the number of servings as a bottle of wine. Based purely on consumption, if you’re comfortable purchasing a $20 bottle of wine (or about $5 per serving), spending $80 for scotch is well within your range (the same price – $5 a serving). A thrifty 1 ounce pour brings you up to a $125 bottle of scotch equivalent in drinks.

So my advise is this: if you’re looking to expand your whisky cabinet, consider buying scotch that’s four to six times more than your usual wine purchase price, and adjust accordingly based on whether it will be a ‘special’ bottle of scotch or one that is more for every day drinking.

As we explore in the Whisky Cabinet series, for $60 you have a choice of excellent drinks and there are certainly finds for under that amount that are quite enjoyable. We’ll be looking at blended scotches that are in the $30 range and make for nice day-to-day drinks in future postings.

Note: Originally posted on Spotlight Toronto