Sunday, November 16, 2014

About trophy beverages

When I was in the alcohol business in the late eighties and nineties there were a few wines that were allocated. Products that had such a scarcity the distributors doled them out to favored accounts. These were generally wines that had a high score from either the Wine Spectator or Robert Parker. Once the publication came out, the wines would generally disappear from shelves, or get an additional mark up by the retailer until they sold.

Where I worked was not one of the favored accounts so we'd get the phone calls asking if we had that wine Robert Parker gave a 97, a wine that only had 500 cases available. If you think that wine would ever show up in Columbus, Ohio you were sadly mistaken.

Back then, one of the trendiest and sought after wines was made by Silver Oak. Their wines were released once or twice and if we were lucky our shop would get a bottle or two. That's it. And how do you decide who gets it? It was a tough call. Thing was, I had the wine and was never impressed with even the better vintages. There were better wines available at far less cost, but do not tell a person who has their heart set on it. We always seem to want what we cannot have more than what is in front of us, that's human nature I guess.

These days, there are many other wines that have high ratings and are even scarcer than Silver Oak ever was. Now I see Silver Oak in Kroger and have a little chuckle each time.

I'm amused at the fever that is going on for a bourbon called Pappy Van Winkle. I'm told it's good, and its price point, which if it's not given a jack up by a retailer, seems fair enough for the quality I've heard about. But the lines I've seen of people waiting to purchase a bottle are turning into a Best Buy experience, and no liquor is worth that. There are plenty of excellent bourbons available.

Again, people want the most what they cannot get and will ignore a salesperson's recommendation. I've never had Pappy Van Winkle and have no desire to get on the Trophy Beverage bandwagon. There used to be wines on my bucket list, but I can't even afford to look at a bottle of what I'd like to try anymore. I saw a bottle of Domaine Romanee Conti for 3,500 bucks last month and cracked up because it was in a locked plastic case. Wine displayed as art.

Sure, if offered to buy a shot of Pappy Van Winkle I'd probably spring for it. I lucked out a couple of years ago by getting to try a bit of Westvleteren, a Belgian Trappist brewery that is not readily available in the U.S. It was good stuff, but nowhere near worth what the person paid for it on the grey market. That same night I had a sip of a North Korean plum liquor, which was not as bad as it sounds - and how many of us can say they tried a bottle of that and lived?

I could not care less about Hop Slam and was very entertained by the social media controversy last year when a local retailer tried to corner the market on it by buying an entire grocery store's stock. Can't wait to see what happens when next year's allocation is released.

The liquor cabinet here is nicely stocked, and I'm still trying to find a dark rum I like. That's the hunt I enjoy more than looking for a specific brand.

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