Wednesday, March 31, 2010

John Henry and Laphroaig 15

I feel like I'm cheating on my regular liquor store if I go shopping anywhere else, but there is one high-end looking store I often pass on my way to work, and I was curious to see their selection.  It's a nice little shop with a good variety of Scotch.  The clerk bragged that it offers one of the largest selections in Metrowest Boston.  However, the Scotch bottles are all perched high up on rafters and spread throughout the store, which places the customer in the awkward position of making the clerk carry around a 6-foot ladder to retrieve bottles for inspection (or even a price-check).  After asking about a few bottles, I finally settled upon Ledaig 10, which is a highly peated non-Islay whisky.

I must look like someone who it is important to impress, because the clerk also boasted that John Henry, the owner of the Boston Red Sox, had purchased a bottle of Laphroaig 15 from the store.  This rather puzzled me.  First of all, why would John Henry find it necessary to travel twenty miles west of Boston to get what is a fairly common Scotch?  Now, the 15-year-old had been deprecated in favor of the new 18-year-old, but it was still pretty widely available.  I'm sure several stores in Boston still carried it, and at the time I believe you could still buy the 15-year-old in New Hampshire state liquor stores for something like $60.

Did John Henry really personally visit this out-of-the-way shop just to buy a fairly common, under-$100 bottle of Scotch?  I wanted to be nice to the clerk though, so I acted impressed and didn't question the story.

Let's play along though.  In a way, this is a good story for non-billionaire Scotch drinkers like me, as it suggests that you can buy pretty much the same quality of Scotch at under $100 as anything out there.  I've suspected that the quality of Scotch plateaus rather quickly once you reach a certain point.  I've only tasted a handful of 25 or 30 year-old Scotches, and some have been sublime while others have been somewhat pedestrian.  I like the idea that my $80 bottle of Talisker 18 or Ardbeg Uigeadail is pretty much as good as it gets.

Still though, I've tasted Laphroaig 25 and rate it as the best drink I've ever had.  At $450 a bottle or so, it's well beyond my reach.  But if I were John Henry, that's what I'd be drinking every day.  What's the extra cost to a billionaire?  But then I got to thinking that this could very well be a reason he's a billionaire while I live in a multi-family home.

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