Monday, July 27, 2015

What is Value?

One of the nagging questions in the rapidly evolving world of spirits is what does value mean? How is it measured? How has it changed?

It is undeniable that good spirits are more expensive now than they ever have been before. The glut of the 1990s and 2000s has morphed into scarcity almost everywhere you look, with prices rising while quality frequently slips. This has led to an increasing number of people chasing a decreasing number of good values.

As a participant of a number of different corners of the internet devoted to the discussion of spirits, variations on the exclamation "I just got X for Y (units of currency)! What a deal!" have become increasingly common. And a good chunk of the time I think they're nuts, paying wildly inflated prices for what are often mediocre spirits. But these people genuinely believe that they have gotten good deals. While it's true that something is worth whatever people are willing to pay for it, that willingness is influenced by a number of different factors. So what is it that drives people to spend increasing amounts of money for spirits regardless of their underlying quality?

This series will explore what I believe to be the main drivers of hype and inflation - the search for novelty, the fear of scarcity, and the simultaneous growth of both information and disinformation. The three are often intertwined, playing off of each other to increase the prices of spirits with decreasing quality.But I would also like to argue that value has not entirely disappeared from the world of spirits if buyers are willing to educate themselves and look outside their niches, so each post will also offer ways to extract ourselves from the hype and inflation that are plaguing the industry.