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Spirits Articles

Building a Best Buy Bar
No Need to Break the Bank to Drink Well

Posted: February 12, 2007

By Jerald O’Kennard, jerald@tastings.com

These days it pays to know what you’re drinking. Not for counting calories or making sure that you are not being over-served, although these are important things indeed. No, I mean it literally: it’s about watching your wallet. Have you noticed that your pocketbook now seems to be getting supermodel thin every time you go out for a few drinks? It not your imagination, it’s the new economy of drinking in America. checkingyourwalletYou see, as more high quality and so-called super-premium liquors propagate the shelves of retailers and bars,  prices of BigBillslofty and trendy distilled spirits push traditional price barriers, usually in direct proportion to their expensive packaging and marketing campaigns. The latter are often necessary these days, by the way, to make any real and lasting penetration into the highly merged and distracted distribution and supply chain. The fact that this upward price pressure occurs even during a flood of new brand launches, seemingly contradicting the laws of supply andMoneyBreakdown demand, is truly amazing from both an economic and everyday common sense perspective.liquorstoreshelves Is there really enough consumer demand to support these prices? It’s hard to believe there is, but it’s apparently so, as the current price escalation seems to respect few if any conventionally assumed price boundaries. Consider the sobering fact that last year we reviewed a $100 vodka. This is the spirits game and it’s definitively pay-to-play for everyone involved.

Fortunately amid all of this rather unusual and unfathomable behavior, level headed spirits producers and marketers are betting on the fact that consumers will come to their senses (in point of fact, most probably never lost them) and seek products that deliver a taste experience similar to the trend-setting brands for a price that is more conservative and palatable. (Think Madonna in a nun’s outfit.) And to do our part to better facilitate this fiscally responsible attitude and pursuit, we’ve launched a new competition specifically focused on finding the best buys of the spirits world and bringing these value oriented brands greater consumer awareness. I’m happy to report that we did find many brands delivering both great taste and satisfying economics. Nightclub

Below are the winners in the three price tiers of our first annual BTI Best Buy Bar Competition: under $20, under $15, and under $10 as well as full lists of recommended products in each category. We’re sure that you’ll find these products a welcome addition to you home bar and we’re busy spreading the word to the trade so that you can get your wallet off of that bizarre “club diet” the next time you head out for a drink or two.

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