Whisky Advocate

Make today that “special day”

June 17th, 2011

This applies to many of you–if not most of you. You have bottles of whiskies stashed away, waiting for that special occasion to open them up and enjoy them. Maybe it’s only a bottle or two, but I know some of you have dozens–perhaps even hundreds–sitting somewhere collecting dust.

My advice to you is this: make today that special day! Don’t wait. That’s exactly what I did last night, when I opened up this wonderful bottle of 21 year old Glen Garioch, distilled back in 1965.

It wasn’t my birthday. It wasn’t my wedding anniversary. I didn’t get a raise or win the lottery. It’s not even Father’s Day yet! I just pulled the trigger and opened it.

I certainly don’t need to open up another bottle of whisky. I have 100, maybe even 150, open already as part of my job. So, if I can do it, you can do it.

Why? For starters, I’ve seen too many whisky auction catalogs with pages of whiskies from dead whisky enthusiasts who never got to appreciate their special whiskies. And if you think you are going to live to be 100 and don’t need to worry about it, glance through the obit pages of your local newspaper for some perspective.

Plus, every year that bottle sits on the shelf increases the chances that the whisky inside will begin to evaporate or become accidentally adulterated somehow (by heat, light, etc.). Or worse: it gets dropped and breaks, it gets stolen, or your son’s high school friends open it up when you are out of town on business and chug it just to get drunk.

Please take my advice. Grab a special bottle and open it. Make it the special occasion. And while you’re at it, share it with as many people as you can. The best things in life are meant to be shared. Then I can guarantee it will be a very special occasion. And you will be all the better for it.

51 Responses to “Make today that “special day””

  1. Morgan Steele says:

    Wise advice. Drink to absent friends while there are stil friends to drink with.

  2. Gllaguno says:

    Damn John! this week I hesitated to open a bottle (i have a small collection of 30 bottles), but now with this post I am going to do it! I think my wife and I will enjoy this night! thanks for the small “push”

  3. Andre says:

    Great idea indeed !!! How was that Glen Garioch 1965 ? Was it worth the little push ?

  4. I agree 100%, life is too short not to drink good stuff


  5. bj reed says:

    OK, I have the 30 YO Glenmorangie I got at the distillery in 2010 – Maybe tonight is the night 🙂

  6. Mary says:

    That is good advice! I had a friend who developed ALS years ago….she decided to live her life to the fullest – even from a wheel chair & inspired me to do the same. Don’t wait until tomorrow – it may be too late. Enjoy those whiskies (or whatever) w/your friends/family – make some memories.

  7. Louis says:

    I am willing to commit to a Royal Lachnagar 11yo/1998 (Signatory, 59.2%), having just opened four pretty decent bottles in the last month. My top tier bottles will be opened along the way, but for significant birthdays and anniversaries, as I don’t have all that many of them. Funny though, that a good mid-priced bottle will turn into a collectors item down the road. For my 25th wedding anniversary, I cracked open a 1984 Macallan 18 year old. It set me back $80, but The Whisky Exchange was asking L280 or something like that.



  8. Ryan says:

    Great post. If there is one whisk(e)y verb I long to see discarded and replaced by ‘share’… it is ‘bunker’. Would be outstanding if sharing, rather than stockpiling, was cliché.

  9. Mark says:

    Agreed! I did just that Wednesday night with a good friend with a special toast to my recently deceased mother-in-law. Great whisky is best enjoyed with great friends – don’t wait for a particular future moment.

  10. Greg Adams says:


    It’s been over 101 degrees here for the last week. Tonight I opened a bottle of Eagle Rare 17 and enjoyed a pour on the front porch after the sun went down. It went well with the Cohiba I lit.

  11. JWC says:

    yes. even though i have gotten into the whiskey collection game late, i have built up a sizeable bunker. big enough that i have reached the point where i cannot drink it all before i die. maybe. i’ve already spoken to my daughter about what to do and what NOT to do with my whiskey collection in the event of my early demise. heaven forbid that the whiskey i spent so much time, effort and money collecting ends up mixed with ginger ale or coke.

    • A. Marina Fournier says:

      It’s rather like having a will that specifies what do do with one’s remains, one’s literary estate, or special collections. Of course, you could provide the opened bottles for your wake…

    • Texas says:

      Hey man..I get the sense I am a few years older than you, but if something happens I am just a short jog down I-45..I can guarantee it will never see coke or ginger ale!

  12. Chris says:

    amen John. at risk of paraphrasing the movie Sideways, the day you open that special bottle, that’s the special occasion

  13. Brian B (Brian47126) says:

    I guess I could help you drink that bottle to show my support–it’s the least I could do. ; )

  14. NBlair says:

    Just now seeing your post, John, but heeded your sage advice earlier today. Had a nice fat pour of some Very Old Fitzgerald distilled in 1961, just because!

  15. Jerome says:

    Good advice, John, especially if one doesn’t have any relatives who appreciate good whisky. However, if one does then these precious bottles can serve as a nice occasion to remember the deceased. I have bottles marked for very specific occasions, but if I don’t reach them all I know they could still be enjoyed by others.

    Which Glen Garioch 21yo 1965 are you enjoying?

    • John Hansell says:

      It’s the one pictured above.

      • Jerome says:

        Yes, of course. Didn’t realize I could click on the picture and it would give me all the info I was seeking. Thanks.

    • Red_Arremer says:

      I’ve known people who inherited old bottles Jerome. They often don’t know what to do with them. Often they get tossed in the trash. My advice– if your not going to drink them all in your lifetime, then have a special person lined up– someone who you know’ll appreciate them…

      • Jerome says:

        Good advice. I certainly could not drink them all in my lifetime, even with a little help. However, I have family members whom I’ve introduced to good whisky over the years and I’m confident they will be enjoyed.

  16. Drew says:

    Spot on John! Great whisky is meant to be enjoyed, to be savoured, and best of all to be shared. As we get more in the stockpile, there is all the more enjoyment to be had with side by side tastings, great contrasts, even more sharing. Your advice, carpe diem, makes the day better!

  17. JC Skinner says:

    Whiskey ain’t like fine art – you can leave a painting on the wall and enjoy it for years then sell it on if you wish. Whiskey was made for drinking, and pretty though a row of bottles can be on a shelf, it doesn’t come into its own until it’s in the glass and on the palate.
    In the spirit of John’s post, I’m packing up a bottle of Old Comber 33 year old pure potstill Irish whiskey distilled in the Fifties and bringing it up to share with my Dad for father’s day tomorrow. There aren’t many of these left, and I’m down to only a couple of them. There’ll be one less left tomorrow, but it will have been enjoyed, and that’s the point.

  18. Murrell Kinkade says:

    John this is the finest column you have ever written. I am going to take your advice, why have a
    whisk(e)y collection that you never taste. Thank you for putting it into proper perspective.

  19. A. Marina Fournier says:

    Well said! This is a parallel to the dicta that say one should tell one’s loved one that they ARE loved (but in an active voice, rather than the passive), wear that special clothing, see that special place/work on your bucket list, have that special meal, etc.

    Indeed, what good is sitting alone on your shelf, come watch the liquid pour. Life is to celebrate, dear friends, come over–share a dram!

    It is much more enjoyable to pour in company, allowing your friends & family to share something special. When I get that special Laphroaig Cairdeas 2011 – Ileach Edition, which we Californians have to find out of state, drat it, I shall take it to my favorite spirits buyer and share the first pour, even though I know he’s going to get to taste it later on as part of his (poor dear) job, because I want to share that joy.

  20. MrTH says:

    Unfortunately, I’m otw for a while, but as soon as I’m off, I’ll take your advice and open one of the special bottles. Someone around here once said it makes more sense to mark celebratory occasions–weddings, births, birthdays–with good but reasonably standard bottles, because you’re not really going to be paying proper attention to them, anyway; the special bottles should be occasions unto themselves. Makes sense to me.

  21. PeteR says:

    Wonderfully put!

  22. Dave Baxter says:

    Excellent advice John. I’m enjoying an excellent Signatory Dufftown, in memory of my late Dad.

  23. Red_Arremer says:

    Actually, in a few minutes, when I rendezvous with my parents for father’s day I’ll be putting 26 bottles– many of them very “special”– in the trunk of their car, ultimately destined for cooll-storage in their basement (my tiny studio apartment has no AC).

    I have plans to drink some old bottles of blended from the 1970’s (weird duty staps on the caps and everything) this summer though– A liter of Clan MacGregor, a 750 of Passport, and a huge 1 1/2 gallon of Chivas (which has no handle– that’ll be fun to pour 🙂 ). So that’s all pretty special.

  24. Danny Maguire says:

    I’ve got one in the house my wife says I’ll die if I ever open, it’s a bottle from the last cask filled at Dallas Dhu, all I want is 24 hours notice.

  25. Andre Girard says:

    For myself, took the last dram i’ve kept of Highland Park Ambassador Cask III. Happy father’s day guys. You deserve it !

  26. Patrick says:

    I think you might choosen a worse whisky than this one! These old Glen Garioch are part of my favorite whiskies.
    To come back to the original topic, it it true that whisky should be enjoyed as such. Since I do not drink much whisky and my storage sapce is very limited, I tend to open up new bottles only when old ones are empty. However, I do not mind opening a special one, if deemed appropriate

    And by the Way, congratulations for the 20years of Malt Advocate. I really enjoyed the last issue and good luck fo the next 20.

  27. David Markle says:

    Definitely. I’ll add to that sentiment with a little story. I had been telling myself that when my buddy had his first daughter, we’d open up my bottle of Pappy van Winkle’s Family Reserve 23 Year Old. So when it finally happened, we did. Turned out that the day of the occasion was not my best day to be drinking whiskey. I was stuffed up, and didn’t get half of what this whiskey had to give. So, at least for me, it was a bit of a waste. Far better to drink it on a day when your nose and palate are ready, and you’re mentally ready to pay full attention to what your whiskey has to tell you.

  28. I find it very funny how the sentence “as part of my job” is added to make people not incredibly jealous of your 150 open bottles!

    Have a good one, wish I could try that Glen Garioch too!

  29. Red_Arremer says:

    Friend of mine was just telling me he knows a guy who sells him all his best bottles because the guy can’t bear to drink them himself– This sort of behavior indicates a need for a

    Whisky Hoarders Anonymous (WHA)

  30. DenisL says:

    Thanks John. Wise words indeed. You never know if you will be around tomorrow, so drink up!

  31. You gave to people good piece of an advice! I hope that they are not skinflit kind of people and will open at least one-two precious bottles of whisky and share with their friends.

  32. Matt MacLean says:

    Thanks John for the lift today, I have been eye balling the 15yr Pappy Van W for awhile now. I have recently found a 20yr and tried it last night. Big on cherry and cinnamon I felt. I have managed to grab a 66′ and 74′ Balvenie single cask from NY and will wait a bit longer to pop the cork on those babies. Curios about the PVW 23yr, have you tried it and which do favor among the 3 editions? Oh, You have any insight on why Glenrothes has some bottles “Restricted Release”? I have a 72, 78, 79 that say RR. What gives, is it the same whisky from the same barrel as the other vintages? Any help? Look for Glenrothes 95′ vintage should be out soon, if you haven’t already tried it and the 88′ pretty tasty stuff. All the best to the crew, and family!!!

    • John Hansell says:

      I have had good bottlings of all three ages. Sometimes the 23 can get a bit woody, but the ones I’ve tried of late have been really good!

      • Matt MacLean says:

        Hello John,
        I love Glenrothes, however now trying Ardbeg Im starting to think the more I try Glenrothes the more they taste the same. The Restricted Release editions like the 72′, 78′ 79′ particulary, what is different about these than the limited or standard releases? 2. When have you heard the 95′ is coming to the states? Berry Bro and Rudd have it for sale currently, any help? Matt MacLean, San Diego, Ca.

  33. Douglas Fischer says:

    John, my wife and I were just talking about this very thing the other day. We have probably 15-20 unopened bottles that feel like they “deserve” a special occasion to justify venturing past the foil and cork. About once every two weeks or so, though, I think about how sad it would be if something happened to those bottles (or to me or my wife for that matter) that would prevent us from enjoying the contents.

    I guess with drinking whisky – like with most things in life – there is no “perfect” moment, and certainly the quality of the dram will not be better if it is consumed in conjunction with some landmark personal event. In fact, some could argue that the dram could be upstaged by the event and not receive the focus, attention and memory it well deserves.

    Besides, my wife and I have agreed our collection will not grow beyond its current 150 bottles, and there are lots of expressions out there I want to acquire, so the sooner we greet the bottom of some bottles the sooner we can welcome some new additions to the shelves.


  34. Danny Maguire says:

    I’ve probably got 60-70 bottles, not a deliberate collection as such just a slow realisation that some of the bottles I’ve had longest are now worth a lot more than I paid for them. When do I open another bottle? When I’ve finished the one I’ve been drinking. In all honesty I’ve got one open here and another at our place in Scotland. If you don’t feel like having a good, or even bad, whisky- don’t, you won’t enjoy it and they should be drunk, and savoured, for enjoyment. It doesn’t matter if you are on your own or enjoying good company.

  35. David Russo says:

    Exactly Right-on, John! I opened 50 of my best Springbanks this Summer, to celebrate my 50th birthday, and even thought this WAS an occasion and not just a random impromtu, some of the attendees were aghast at the “hit” my collection had taken, valuewise, but my attitude was: There isn’t any better fate these bottles could have had than to be drunk, in happy circumstances, with good company who could appreciate the whisky. Enjoy while you can!

    Slainte! Dave

  36. […] of you might remember my post here back in 2011. Well, I took my own advice and opened another bottle of whisky last week. It […]

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