THE BLOG

Bang for Your Buck

11/03/2014 13:14 | Updated 11 May 2014

A sense of value is a funny thing. Good value definitely doesn't always mean cheap. This'll be plainly obvious to all of us having bought a cheaper alternative to only find it break on first use. It however, also certainly doesn't mean the most expensive - there are plenty of products on the market that are simply there to exploit those with more money than sense.

Good value can come in many forms. An experience, or the time it affords is a big thing for me. If a setting gives me a chance to have a great time with my friends, I'm happy to pay a decent whack for it. Sure, I don't need to pay to have a good time with loved ones, but something offering layers of experiences and the time and space to enjoy this with like minded individuals is a wonderful thing.

The unexpected is also something I'm willing to pay more for. If there is an experience (or taste, or object etc) that makes me look differently at something (we're talking generalisations here - if it's making me look differently at the world, rather than say, a sandwich, than it's of greater worth) then it automatically seems to have a great value in it.

The same goes for me with food and drink. An amazing meal or cocktail can not only give me a wonderful experience with other folk, it can make me look differently at something. I've had moments over drinks with friends that have certainly made me look differently at the world. However, the value for me is not necessarily in the drink itself. I've always been struck how to some the sense of value is centred on the drink and in particular how much booze is in a serve. To me, the value is not in how loaded the drink will get me - this has never been the focus of drinking to me, and although I'm not naive enough to ignore this importance to many, it seems sad if this is the motivation for drinking to most. Now, I am certainly not going to dispute the wonderful effects of alcohol aside from the social and flavour points of view but it doesn't signify value to me to end up wasted from a few drinks.

Similarly status in a drink is not something I see that necessarily infers value. A 25 year old Whisky doesn't necessarily offer good value over, say, a 3 year old. Sure, there's a lot of investment into that 25 years that increases its cost, but that three year old might offer better value. Similarly, if there's a three year old that costs a significant amount, it doesn't mean it doesn't offer good value just because it is young. Kilchoman, Chichibu and Kilkerren have all demonstrated this; their young Whiskies are worth every penny, despite them not being cheap drams at young ages, and the value comes from the nature - and taste - of the Whiskies.

I find the same with cocktails. I've expressed before how I think they offer great value in general, but it shouldn't be seen that a lighter (in terms of alcohol) cocktail shouldn't be seen as good value. I'm not saying that the unscrupulous operators who charge premium prices for lower strength drinks are justified, but it certainly shouldn't be the case that the motivation for value comes from the quantity of booze involved. Simply enjoy the drinks for the stories they tell, the flavour experiences they provide and the times with friends they afford you. And avoid the 2-4-1 drinks, it's a solid rule of thumb.

On that note, here's a few interesting bank-for-your-buck bottlings to boot:

Kamm and Sons
A hand-crafted British apertif that is perfect just as the sun is showing and the daffodils are beginning to crest. Bittersweet, lower in booze, and super tasty, this is ideal for lighter drinks that sit perfectly before or alongside food.

Fevertree tonic
If you're having friends round (to make sure it gets used whilst fresh), these larger format bottles provide a high quality mixer for your favourite spirits. Clean, with no chemical bite, it'll elevate your humble G&T to 'awesome' status (remember to pick up some fresh citrus and get/make some good quality ice whilst you're at it).

Kilchoman Loch Gorm 2014
Smoky, sweet and rich, although a younger whisky, the sheer concentration of flavour trapped in the bottle makes it great value. Not for the timid, but hugely rewarding.

Dodd's Gin
Handmade in London, this organic gin not only uses some amazing ingredients - including local London honey - it looks and tastes beautiful to boot. A cut above your everyday gin, it's special and feels just so.

Master of Malt 60 year old single malt Whisky
Certainly not a cheap bottle (!) but one that's great value if you're so inclined. Withholding the distillery name allows the bottlers to offer this at an amazing price. Similar aged bottles on the market come in two, three or more times the price. But what's amazing is to taste something as venerable as this. It's a rare opportunity and one that's hard to do at this price. It seems odd to say so, but this really is great value. They do drams of it too (which is how I'll be trying it!)