Why are you buying whisky?July 8th, 2013
What triggered me to write this? The onslaught of whisky collections that I see people posting up on Facebook. I’ve never seen so many unopened bottles of Pappy Van Winkle, A. H. Hirsch, Ardbeg, Brora, and Port Ellen. People speak of putting whisky in their “bunker” like there’s another World War or Prohibition imminent. It’s amazing what happens when you combine passion with disposable income.
I should know. I confess that I was guilty of “Whisky OCD” myself once, but I’ve been reformed. Instead of buying whiskies and stashing them away somewhere in my house, I’m opening up my whiskies, drinking them, and sharing them with like-minded friends.
What changed my attitude on whisky? Two things. It began when I was perusing a coffee table book about an Italian whisky collector, and it included pictures of his whisky collection. Many of the bottles lost so much volume do to evaporation, the quality of the whiskies were obviously compromised. Instead of being impressed with his collection, it made me sad to see so many bottles wasted, all for the sake of amassing this enormous whisky collection.
The second thing that changed my relationship with whisky was when a very prominent whisky collector and enthusiast passed away. He died before he could even enjoy and share the 1,000 plus whiskies he had accumulated. Instead, his wife put them up for auction!
It was at that moment I decided that I’m not letting any of my whiskies go to waste. The first thing I did was stop buying whisky. The second thing I did was go through my bottles and see which ones looked like they were beginning to evaporate due to imperfect corks or metal enclosures and immediately put them on my “whiskies to drink next” list, so I could enjoy them before they go bad.
The third thing I did, which brings me back to the title of this post, is take a look at the whiskies I had and ask myself why I bought them in the first place. It was usually for one of three reasons: it was rare, great tasting, or it had sentimental value to me.
I took all the whiskies I purchased because they were rare and immediately started opening them and using them in the many whisky tastings I was hosting at the time. I figured this might be the only opportunity these people will have to taste them. Some of you reading this might have been to one of these tastings. They weren’t necessarily great-tasting whiskies, but they were rare. I also sold some at auction because the prices people are paying for rare whiskies these days, whether they taste good or not, is ridiculous.
Then I looked at my remaining whiskies (the ones that taste great or are special to me for sentimental reasons) and mapped out a plan on what to do with them. Some I’m sharing or giving away as gifts, some I’m saving for special occasions, and some I’m opening up for no particular reason at all–the whisky becomes the special occasion. My goal for these whiskies is to make sure they are enjoyed and consumed–preferably while I’m still alive!
Why am I taking the time to tell you about this? It’s not to talk about how many whiskies I have (or had) or what brands of whiskies I have. In fact, I intentionally did not mention quantities or brands, because that’s not the point of my post. I’m hoping you will take a step back and ask yourself why you’re buying whisky (especially if you’re buying and hoarding them like some of the pictures I’m seeing on Facebook). Is it for the right reasons, and what are those reasons?