Why Is Scotch So Expensive? (11 Reasons Why)

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Maisie Hughes

Maisie Hughes is a 20-year veteran of the culinary world. She has worked as a chef in some of the most prestigious restaurants in the country, and she currently volunteers her time at local food banks.

If you are getting into the variety of alcoholic drinks available, you may have likely been curious about scotch. For frequent drinkers, scotch is often the drink of choice since scotch is said to be good for a refined palate.

If you wanted to try scotch, you might have wondered why it is so expensive. I did the research, and here is what I found!

Why Is Scotch So Expensive?

1. Brand Name

The brand name of any product will define how much it will cost, especially when it comes to scotch.

Typically, any brand name that is popular or known for having “high-end” scotch will mean that the scotch will be expensive.

For instance, Isabella Islay’s is an extremely expensive scotch worth around $6.5 million per bottle.

However, it is worth noting that Isabella Islay costs that much because of the brand name and bottle with gold and diamonds, not that the scotch is actually that good.

Another expensive scotch that people are more likely to know is Macallan, and people will often buy Macallan scotch based on the brand name alone.

Also, people are more likely to buy brand names since it gives the buyers peace of mind that they are buying a high-quality product.

2. Importing Costs

While scotch may be popular in various parts of the world, the only place that scotch can be made is in Scotland.

In fact, whiskey can only be considered scotch if the whiskey was distilled following specific rules in Scotland by law.

Therefore, this means that scotch will always have to be imported to other countries since real scotch can only be made in Scotland.

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For instance, the United States is the biggest importer of scotch, but that is also why scotch is expensive in other countries.

When importing products, you will have to pay for import costs, transportation fees, etc., which will be factored into the total price of the scotch.

3. Barley

Most types of alcohol, like scotch, are made from a form of wheat, and scotch is primarily made of barley.

However, barley is generally more difficult and expensive to grow than other types of grain, which adds to the scotch prices.

Additionally, it takes a large amount of barley to make scotch since a ton of barley creates only 400 liters of scotch.

Finally, most people prefer to opt for the pricier single-malt scotch, which means that barley would be the only grain used to make the scotch.

4. High Demand

Scotch is considered alcohol that is high in demand since many people want to try a high-end drink.

While scotch can always be found in most liquor stores, the scotch distilleries have to churn out a lot to meet this demand.

Therefore, to meet the high demand, scotch’s prices will be higher as the demand stays high.

5. Aging Process

5. Aging Process

Another reason scotch is so expensive is that scotch requires a lot of time to mature before it can be sold.

Generally, scotch needs to mature for at least three years, but the more expensive variants of scotch would age for much longer.

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As such, distillers must prepare their scotch years before they can begin selling it, making the scotch more expensive.

Also, this is especially true for older scotch since most people state that the best scotch has to be aged for ten years or longer.

6. Taxes

Other than the cost of import and transportation, a huge factor in the price of scotch is the taxes.

How much the taxes will be will depend, but in 2021 there was a 25% tariff on European products, including scotch in the United States.

Therefore, the stores that imported the scotch want to make up for the cost of taxes by adding it to the final sale price of scotch.

7. Marketing

Surprisingly, marketing methods can increase the actual price of the scotch by inflating the cost.

For instance, a strong marketing campaign can influence people to think that scotch is high-end and luxurious, which will make more people want to buy it.

Additionally, these marketing campaigns are made by marketers who have to be compensated for their efforts in promoting the scotch.

Thus, the marketers’ salaries will be included in the final price of the scotch.

8. Labor Costs

Creating scotch takes a lot of skill and patience, and staffing is still needed to develop scotch today.

Therefore, many distilleries have to hire employees to create the scotch while making sure the scotch is up to standard.

That said, this means that the distilleries also have to pay the employees, and their salaries get factored into the cost of scotch.

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9. Barrels

When scotch ages, the scotch needs to be stored in barrels to impart woody notes to the scotch.

Generally, oak barrels are the best to make scotch, but oak barrels are fairly costly, especially when you need to buy hundreds of oak barrels.

10. Storage

As stated earlier, scotch has to age for many years before scotch can be sold, meaning that scotch will have to stay in one place for a long time.

Therefore, scotch distillers must pay for a warehouse or storage space to store the scotch as it ages.

11. Luxury

A huge reason scotch is expensive is that scotch is seen as luxurious alcohol.

Of course, anything that is luxurious is often expensive, especially since people will be willing to buy luxury products believing they will buy a part of the lavish lifestyle.

To learn more, you can also read our posts on why Baileys is so expensive, why WhistlePig is so expensive, and why milk is so expensive.


Scotch is expensive because it is costly and time-consuming to create, which distillers will factor into the cost of scotch.

Also, all scotch is made in Scotland, which means any scotch you see in other countries had to face taxes, import costs, transportation, etc.


  • Maisie Hughes

    Maisie Hughes is a 20-year veteran of the culinary world. She has worked as a chef in some of the most prestigious restaurants in the country, and she currently volunteers her time at local food banks.

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