So, let's say I'm prepared to pay 40 Euros for a (0.7 litre) bottle of good single malt whisky. Using this as my
'Fair Price Anchor', I can take the initial quality score of a single malt, and add or subtract 1 point for every Euro
price difference. Next, I take a look at the alcohol percentage. I'm a big fan of cask strength malts. For one thing,
you can simply dilute them in various stages. That way, you can enjoy different 'incarnations' or 'moods' of a
malt before it reaches the 'standard' 40% ABV. Some whiskies (like the Saint Magdalene 1979 UDRM) even
seem to change completely depending on the amount of water you add. Besides; you simply receive more
alcohol for your money. That's why every 3% of extra alcohol adds one point to the BfyB score.
The final element in the equation used to be the size of the bottle. Before litre bottlings started to go out of
fashion, they generally offered better value than normal bottles because they contain over 40% more whisky
than a 700 ml bottle and 30% more than a 0.75 litre bottle. For those of you with the same consumption pattern
as me: that means 20 stiff drams per bottle instead of just 15! At the same time, the price difference is sometimes
less than 10%. That's music to any malt maniac's ears. Unfortunately, litre bottlings are becoming rare these days,
making the distinction useless. What's more, only official bottlings (OB's) are available in litre bottlings, giving them a clear
(and possibly unfair advantage) over independent bottlings (IB's). That's why I decided I had to remove this element from the equation.
So, these days I can calculate exactly how much 'bang' I got for my 'buck' using this formula;
As you can see I haven't squandered my youth by paying attention in math class.
Here's what the formula means to represent;
X = The 'fair price' in Euro's (in my case circa 40 Euro's around the year 2000)
Y = The actual 'street price' for the malt (in Euro's)
Z = The actual alcohol percentage (ABV) of the bottle
BB = The 'Bang-For-Your-Buck' score
Sounds complicated, you say? Not at all. Let me give you an example...
When we look at the Longmorn 15yo, the friendly price of 30 Euro's (in July 2001) adds a cool (40-30=) 10 points
to the original 81 'quality' points, pushing it to a cool 91 value points. It is bottled at 45%, so that means two more
points for power. As a result, the final 'BFYB' score is 93 points; not too shabby, I would say... Another example; a
litre of Dalmore 12yo costs only 32 Euro's in 2001 (43% bottling), so the initial score of 80 points translates into
(80+8+1=) 89 value points. Let's do one more - an expensive one this time. The Macallan 18yo went for +/- 75
Euro's in 2001. That means we need to subtract (75-40=) 35 points from the original score of 89 points, putting
it at 54 BFYB points. The fact that this 'Mac' is bottled at 43% pushes the score up by one point, but it's clear that
55 BFYB points isn't a very good 'value' score.
Applying these calculations produces a list that looks quite different from my Hit List.
Actually, this new 'Bang-For-Your-Buck' list resembles the actual content of my shelves a lot closer.
However, after I finished the list I realized it may have been the ultimate exercise in futility. First of all, there are considerable price differences between different shops and countries. The Dalmore 12 may set you back 32 Euro's here in Holland, but it's probably cheaper in France and more expensive in India or Taiwan. And that's not the only problem; the 'fair price' you're willing to pay (in my case 40 Euro's) is directly related to your discretionary income. Some people may consider 40 Euro's a lot of money while others have no problem spending 200 or 300 Euro's on a bottle of single malt whisky.
That means that the formula is only useful for fellow Dutchmen with an identical consumption pattern.
Effectively, everybody will have to figure out his or her own personal 'Bang-For-Your-Buck' formula. And that's not all - shortly after I published the first 'BFYB List' I became aware of a disturbing phenomenon. That phenomenon is called 'batch variation' and it means that official bottlings can show considerable differences between consecutive batches.
I didn't include independent bottlings in the original list because I felt it would be pointless to list bottlings that were released in very small numbers - you wouldn't be able to find them anyway. Well, as it turns out the same is true for specific batches of official bottlings. The BFYB value of the 'White Horse' Lagavulin 16yo from the early 1990's was phenomenal, but the more expensive 'Port Ellen' bottling that's available these days doesn't offer quite as much 'value'. After some careful consideration, I decided I had to to drastically chance my approach. Building a 'definitive' BFYB-List that will still be useful in five years time is simply impossible.
So, while this website has been growing larger and larger, this 'Bang-For-Your-Buck' List kept getting shorter and shorter. This has nothing to do with the availability of affordable single malts; keeping a full list with the 'BFYB' scores of all malts I've tried became difficult when I passed the 100 malts mark and virtually impossible after I passed the 500 malts mark. So, over the years I've seperated the chaff from the grain, first by removing all independent bottlings from the list (simply because there are only a few hundred bottles of that particular expression available), then the bottlings that were released over 5 years ago. I finally reduced the content to the twelve bottles listed above, but for your entertainment I've included the version of the list from the early noughties. The list below shows the BFYB score first, followed by the malt, the calculation and a brief description.
Ye Olde 'Bang-For-Your-Buck-List' (+/- 2000 AD)
Attention: Prices and ratings were valid valid for batches of whisky available in Holland during 2000.
Check the Universal Currency Converter for conversion into your own currency.
*** Best Value for Money
97 Laphroaig 10yo
96 Talisker 10yo
96 Lagavulin 16yo
96 Glenfarclas 105
96 Highland Park 12yo
95 Macallan 12yo
95 Dalmore 12yo
94 Glenmorangie 10yo
93 Dufftown 10yo
93 Glen Ord 12yo
92 Longmorn 15yo
92 Balvenie 12yo DW
91 Balvenie 10yo
91 Glenlivet 12yo
90 Bunnahabhain 12yo
90 Glenfarclas 10yo
C/43.0%/1.00) - At 35 Euro's per litre, this is the quintessential BFYB malt.
C/45.8%/0.70) - Guaranteed to deliver a peppery punch at less than 40 C.
C/43.0%/0.70) - My beloved gentle peat monster still reigns on the Hit List.
C/60.0%/1.00) - Insane value at 60% ABV; cornerstone of any malt bar.
C/43.0%/1.00) - Another affordable malt that
feels at home in any collection.
C/43.0%/1.00) - Still one of the best (affordable) sherried malts, but slipping.
C/43.0%/1.00) - Not a 'stellar' score at 80 points, but
the perfect daily dram.
C/43.0%/1.00) - You can't go far wrong if you're in the mood for a light malt.
C/43.0%/0.70) - I've always had a soft spot for this highly
C/40.0%/0.70) - An enjoyable malt with just that extra bit of 'Highland' spunk.
C/45.0%/1.00) - A full flavoured Highlander; 37 Euro's buys a litre at
C/40.0%/0.70) - An ultra-smooth Speysider with just enough sherry influence.
C/40.0%/0.70) - 3 Euro's cheaper than the 12yo, but I prefer the
C/40.0%/0.70) - Another cornerstone of any drinks cabinet; the reference malt.
C/40.0%/0.70) - Not a peat monster like its Islay neighbors, but a great
C/40.0%/0.70) - This isn't quite as sherried as the Macallan 12 - great balance.
89 Cragganmore 12yo
89 Connemara NAS
88 Tomatin 10yo
88 Ardbeg 10yo
86 Glen Scotia 14yo
86 Glen Grant NAS
86 Inchgower 12yo
86 Oban 14yo
85 Glen Grant 10yo
85 Ardbeg 17yo
85 Glen Garioch 15yo
85 Tamdhu NAS
85 An Cnoc 12yo
84 Bruichladdich 10yo
83 Tamnavulin 10yo
82 Glengoyne 12yo
81 Dalwhinnie 15yo
80 Cardhu 12yo
C/40.0%/0.70) - Fairly light and subtle in style, but with a lot of heart.
C/40.0%/0.70) - An excellent Irish alternative for
the Islay peat monsters.
C/40.0%/0.70) - Not a 'high profile' malt, but amazing value at just 27 Euro's.
C/46.0%/0.70) - Not the cheapest Islay malt around, but what a
C/40.0%/0.70) - The friendlier priced Springer alternative from Campbeltown.
C/40.0%/0.70) - Only 65 points, but at 19 Euro's it beats most premium
C/43.0%/0.70) - Hardly a remarkable dram, but reasonably friendly priced.
C/43.0%/0.70) - One of Diageo's 'Classic Malts' - not my personal
C/40.0%/0.70) - Better than the NAS version, but hardly worth 6 more Euro's.
C/40.0%/0.70) - An amazing smooth Islay malt from the shores of
C/43.0%/1.00) - A fairly average malt that makes it this far in a litre bottling.
C/40.0%/0.70) - Here's another malt I have a soft spot for - just a nice
C/40.0%/0.70) - Fairly good dramming at 28 Euro's a bottle. A blend beater...
C/40.0%/0.70) - Maybe my least favourite Islay malt, but still decent
C/40.0%/0.70) - One of the best summertime malts you'll find below 30 Euro's.
C/43.0%/0.70) - Maybe just a tad too light for my tastes, but good
C/43.0%/0.70) - Another malt that's a little lighter than I would have preferred.
C/40.0%/0.70) - No high flyer, but blends twice as expensive can't beat it.
79 Miltonduff 12yo
79 Royal Lochnagar 12yo
79 Glenmorangie Port WF
78 Benriach 10yo
78 Benromach 12yo
78 Speyburn 10yo
77 Glenmorangie Madeira
77 Glen Elgin NAS
77 Glenkinchie 10yo
77 Auchentoshan 10yo
76 Glen Deveron 12yo
76 Strathisla 12yo
76 Littlemill 8yo
75 Balblair 16yo
74 Inchmurrin 10yo
74 Arran NAS
73 Laphroaig 15yo
73 Glenlivet 21yo
73 Glenfiddich NAS
72 Balvenie 21yo Port
71 Glenturret 12yo
71 Springbank NAS CV
C/43.0%/0.70) - I know I'm a penny-pincher, but 36 Euro's seems a bit much.
C/40.0%/0.70) - I guess it's nice to try a fairly
'obscure' malt once or twice.
C/43.0%/0.70) - This is a malt I love, but I can't afford too many bottles.
C/43.0%/0.70) - A score in the lower 70's doesn't warrant a
price of 34 Euro's.
C/40.0%/0.70) - 37 Euro's is a tad rich for an 'average' single malt in my book.
C/40.0%/0.70) - Hardly expensive, but still too high a price for a
C/43.0%/0.70) - I love this one just slightly less than the Port Wood Finish.
C/43.0%/0.75) - Simply not a very attractive price/performance
C/43.0%/0.70) - But I should probably add that this is a very personal opinion.
C/40.0%/0.70) - Once I must confess to prejudice towards young
C/40.0%/0.70) - A friendly price, but the Tamdhu is a far better alternative.
C/43.0%/0.70) - Certainly not a bad malt, but arrogantly priced at 39
C/40.0%/0.70) - Another young Lowlander bites the dust - hardly worth it...
C/40.0%/0.70) - With such an average score a more average price seems
C/40.0%/0.70) - Just not good and/or cheap enough to make my heart flutter.
C/43.0%/0.70) - But I imagine the quality will go up as the stocks mature.
- A WONDERFUL malt, but a tad pricy for those of limited means.
C/43.0%/0.70) - This is a recommendable whisky, but the 12 offers better value.
C/40.0%/0.70) - Still not
my favourite malt, but they seem to be improving now.
C/40.0%/0.70) - An excellent dram for special moments, too bad about the price.
C/40.0%/0.70) - What were they thinking, charging 38 C for sub-standard stuff?
C/46.0%/0.70) - Not a bad malt, just an average one - overpriced at 46 Euro's.
69 Tormore 12yo
67 Deanston 12yo
67 Lochside 10yo
67 Glenmorangie Sherry
67 Tobermory NAS
66 Edradour 10yo
66 Isle of Jura 10yo
66 Loch Lomond NAS
64 Tullibardine 10yo
64 Drumguish 3yo
63 Macallan 18yo
53 Glenmorangie 18yo
48 Bowmore Darkest
08 Loch Dhu 10yo
C/43.0%/0.70) - But I should probably add that I have a personal aversion.
C/40.0%/0.70) - Before I tried it I didn't
understand why Deanston is so rare.
C/40.0%/0.70) - Here my problem with overly 'oily' notes reduced enjoyment.
C/43.0%/0.70) - By far my least favourite of 'Morangie's
special wood finishes.
C/40.0%/0.70) - Once again the oily elements keep me from enjoying this one.
C/40.0%/0.70) - And I've heard that some other batches were really
C/43.0%/0.70) - Yet another 'oily' malt that doesn't quite deliver the goods.
C/40.0%/0.70) - A single malt that reaches my Shit List without the help of oil.
- Oily and a bit 'herbal' (eugalyptus, fennel?) which I don't like.
C/40.0%/0.70) - Even at a measly 16 Euro's this single malt offers bad value.
C/43.0%/0.70) - A great
malt, but at 68 Euro's I can get two good ones instead.
C/43.0%/0.70) - Nice enough, but certainly not worth twice the price of the 12.
C/43.0%/0.70) - Are they daft? This malt is simply WRONG! Not even worth 25 C.
C/40.0%/0.70) - The biggest disaster in recent malt history. WORST MALT EVER!
So there you have it...
Because these 'value' ratings are based on my personal 'likability' ratings, they are coloured by my preferences.
But I just don't see how you can determine the 'value' of a malt whisky without taking the pleasure it provides into account.
And pleasure is, as we all know, a personal and subjective experience. An alternative approach to the system I've used would include a fictive standard malt with a 'fair' rating and a 'fair' price - for instance 80 points and 40 Euros. From there, you can calculate a fair price for each rating on your scale and determine your own 'value' range when it comes to whisky.
I hope the information on this page will help you to spend your malt money as sensible as possible.
Check out the Shit List for tips on how to spend your money unsensibly - or the Hot List if you want to know which whiskies are 'hot' now.
The Ardbeg 'Lord of the Isles' shown at the left is a very nice dram, but at a price at more than 150 Euro's a bottle it's hardly what I'd call a sound investment. That money will buy you three bottles of the amazing Laphroaig 10yo Cask Strength - which is, quite frankly, an even better whisky in my book. And since the early noughties, the prices of Ardbeg bottlings has sky-rocketed even further.
This means I can drink at least 3 bottles of Lagavulin 16yo for the price of
one bottle of Blue Label. Hardly a hard choice, is it? No, I didn't think so either.
But then again, it isn't quite so easy when you're actually standing in front of the shelves of a liquorist
with your money burning in your pocket. In an attempt to rationalise my purchasing process, I played
around with my calculator for a couple of hours, trying to find some 'formula' to calculate exactly how
much 'bang' I could expect in return for my 'bucks'.
In other words; I didn't really put my money where my mouth was...
In my defense: I'm Dutch... I can't really complain about the availability of
single malt whisky here in Holland, but because malt whiskies can't be sold
in supermarkets, liquorists don't have to worry about competition too much.
So, prices are usually a tad higher than in France or Germany. That means
that around the year 2001, your average 70cl bottle of your average 10yo
or 12yo single malt whisky would typically cost you around 40 Euros.
That's quite reasonable, but not quite as cheap as in France, Germany or
even Italy. And older malts are much more expensive here in Holland by
comparison. For example, in 2001 a bottle of Macallan 30yo cost +/- 300
Euros. As far as I'm concerned, that puts it far outside the realm of reason.
Before I came up with the 'leaner and meaner' Bang For Your Buck List on the
other page on this web site, the BFYB-List used to be much longer. However, a
few years after I launched the Malt Madness site, I became aware of a growing
discrepancy between my Hit List and the actual whisky bottles on my shelves.
(Please note that nowadays these
prices don't look quite so outlandish.)
Or how about a bottle of the top-of-the-line
Johnnie Walker Blue Label that I already
mentioned earlier. If you're really lucky you
may find a bottle for circa 150 Euros. That's
just plain lunacy, as far as I'm concerned,
especially because some liquorists still offer
the Lagavulin 16yo for less than 50 Euros.
Although the price range of single malts stretches from less than 20 to over 100,000 Euros, it's not
necessary to pay more than 50 Euros for a great malt. That's the street price of Laphroaig 10yo CS.
CS means: Cask Strength - so you will be getting whisky that can
have a proof of anything between 55% and 65% ABV. Fine malt
whiskies like the Talisker 10yo, Balvenie 12yo, Higland Park 12yo
and Glenfarclas '105' can be obtained at an even lower price.
I sometimes pay more than 50 Euros for a bottle, but that's usually
for a very special occasion. Under 'normal' circumstances I'd have to
pay an average price of +/- 40 Euros for a good single malt whisky.
Paying twice as much probably won't double my fun - and the
odds get worse at higher prices.