How many whiskies I have. And why.January 12th, 2010
I promised in my post yesterday that, if I got 150 people to confess how many whiskies they have, I would do the same. In actuality, we’re already over 200. So, here goes.
For those of you who are only interested in the numbers and don’t care about the “why” part, here they are:
Single malt scotch: 834
Straight whiskey (bourbon, rye, wheat): 286
Irish whiskey: 99
Blended scotch, blended malts, grain whisky: 46
Canadian whisky: 33
Japanese whisky: 15
Miscellaneous artisan (e.g. micro) distillery whisky: 13
I have too many whisky samples (50 ml-200ml) to count and track (hundreds), so I am excluding them here.
If my math is correct, that’s 1,326 bottles. 466 of these bottles are open. Regarding the ones that are open, all the bottles are at least 1/4-1/3 full. I have a policy that, when my bottle gets down to that level, I either give it away to someone who’s going to drink it or I invite friends over and we drink the bottle together.
I am an equal-opportunity drinker. I also love wine (168 bottles kept in a wine cellar), drink more beer than anything (have two beers on tap and over a hundred bottles in a beer cellar–a lot of Belgian and Belgian-style), and have dozens of bottles of rum, tequila, cognac and Armagnac.
Now, I’d like to address the “why” part of my whisky inventory.
First, let me say that, in all honesty, I would rather not have this many bottles of whisky. When I tell you how many bottles I have, I am not bragging. I’m actually quite embarrassed by it. (Kids, don’t try this at home. ). If it weren’t for my job, I would have only a fraction of these whiskies.
How does one accumulate this many whiskies? (It really is more of an accumulation rather than a collection. I don’t believe in collections. Whisky is for drinking.) Well, it all started innocently enough, just like most of you. Except I got a head start.
When I first got turned on to single malts back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, whisky tastings and whisky festivals didn’t exist. And the restaurants around where I live didn’t have much to offer. So, when I traveled on business (as a scientist at the time) I would go to specialty whisky shops and just buy the whiskies (with MJ’s Complete Guide To Single Malt Scotch in my hand), hoping that I would like them. Fortunately, the prices at that time were not as bad a they are now. (And I was also fortunate that sometimes I had people like Joe C. at Sam’s Wines & Spirits at the time who let me sample whiskies at his shop.)
I wanted to try as many whiskies as possible, so I bought as many as I could afford (without upsetting the wife too much ). Three bottles led to 30 bottles, and that’s when I started getting the “hairy eye ball” from my wife and that’s the first time I ever heard her utter the phrase “OCD” to me. ) . Parlaying my passion into a legitimate business is the only thing that allowed me to justify buying more whiskies. It was for research…
It was–and still is–my intention to have zero bottles of whisky left when I die. (I will need some help from friends, of course.) You see, one day, about ten years ago, I sat down and did the math. At the rate that I was drinking whisky, there was no way that I was going to finish my stash of whisky even if I lived beyond 80 years old. (I didn’t want to be one of those people who die with a large stash of whisky that shows up at some auction somewhere.) And that’s the day I practically stopped buying whisky. I can count on two hands how many bottles of whisky I have purchased in the past decade. I only buy one or two bottles a year. They are usually whiskies that I like that I can’t get here in the U.S. (For 2009, I bought two bottles of whisky.)
My job actually puts a “double whammy” on the amount of whisky I currently have and continue to accumulate. First, I get review samples. Realize, that I get samples of most every whisky that comes into the U.S. (much more than I actually review formally) in addition to whiskies that aren’t imported here. Second, by the time I am done tasting and reviewing whisky, usually the last thing I want is another whisky. (Thus, the reason why I have all the other booze to drink–especially beer.) So, as long as I am doing what I do for a living, I will be accumulating whisky.
Still, I do try to do my best to keep the whiskies to a manageable level. For the whiskies I don’t need–or no longer need–professionally, I use them at the whisky tastings I host. (Like the one I have in Philly the first week of March.) I also donate bottles to many charity events. And, I promise you that all of my local friends never go thirsty for whisky.
So, without going into the specifics of which whiskies I have, which ones mean the most to me, etc. (I’ll save that for a different post), I hope this gives you a general idea of what I have. And why.