Whisky Advocate

When your bottle (and heart) breaks…

January 28th, 2010

Okay, it’s time to get the box of tissues and tell us about that special bottle of yours that broke (or was stolen, lost, burned, emptied into a punchbowl, etc.)

I already told you the sad story about how my rather generous sample of White Bowmore was crushed back in 2008. You can read about it here. I’m still getting over that one.

How about you? Has anything like this ever happened to you? If so, take your shoes off, lie down on our virtual couch, and tell us all about it.

It’s good therapy and, as the saying goes,  “misery loves company.”

52 Responses to “When your bottle (and heart) breaks…”

  1. Sam S. says:

    It was a while ago (before Costco started selling it cheaper), and it wasn’t whisky.
    But here goes anyway.
    I was returning from a trip to Mexico with 2 bottles of Kahlua in a shoulder bag.
    We were just about to put our stuff into the trunk of a cab, when the shoulder strap broke.
    The odor was wonderful, but it was oozing out onto the street.
    Sad day for those 2 bottles.
    Thankfully, I haven’t had any major incidents with scotch.

    • G Llaguno says:

      Sam,

      You should have brought with you a nice bottle of a good tequila, allow me to recommend you tequila el Milagro or Maestro Tequilero, they aren’t that expensive and you are getting a premium tequila

      • Monique at the Dell says:

        On the tequila note, sorry to digress, but have you tried Del Maguey Single Village Mezcals? They are smoky and fascinating. Like tequila used to be!

        • Mark says:

          I love those! The first time I had one was in a martini at Rick Bayless’ main restaurant, then we attended a tasting of the range at Binny’s. Like the best Islays, they remind me that Earth isn’t a bad place to find yourself — and not just because it’s so much better than known alternatives.

      • Sam S. says:

        Thanks for the recommendation.
        It was a long time ago, and I have since moved on to other/better things, which is why I’m in this forum.:)

        • G Llaguno says:

          Hey guys, i live here down in Mexico, so if anyone wants some info I can gladly help you in case you need anything regarding Tequila or Mezcal… (Or in that case try Sotol) ; )

  2. G Llaguno says:

    John,
    My condolences for your bottle.
    I learned my limits for drinking whisky during a camping trip with some old friends i’ve got a little anesthetized and when I was about to put the bottle back into its place when I move it and I didn’t noticed the rock on my side, so when I turned around I just hit the bottom of the bottle with the rock. The most curious thing that happened was that the bottle just broke from the bottom. The entire bottle was ok, but it didn’t have a bottom, obviously all the contents of the bottle were lost and some little ants had the party of their lives but for me I was wondering how was possible that my precious Glenfiddich bottle could break like that…. Anyways.. sad and curious story.

  3. Rick Duff says:

    Biggest sadness: recently.. put some new spirit from Scotland into a bourbon 2 gallon barrel. 50 days later, very little left. I have very greedy angels in my house. Winter is so dry (little humidity) and my angels really indulge themselves.
    On another note.. not a loss.. but I’ve had multiple 200ml bottles of Diageo Scotch (including a bottle of Blue Label) where the cork simply disintegrated when trying to open the first time. Got to love bits of cork in your scotch… and not being able to reseal the bottle.

    • sam k says:

      Rick,

      A coffee filter suspended in a strainer over a pitcher will take care of the fiber in your scotch quite handily!

    • John Hansell says:

      I’ll second what Sam K said. I always keep a strainer (and spare corks) handy for just these types of emergencies.

      • Rick Duff says:

        I do strain them… but unfortunately no spare corks in this size (diageo 200ml)… they are the size of a pencil eraser.. or close to it. Diageo needs to change their 200ml design.

        • Red_Arremer says:

          John– something I’ve been wondering about for a while– I recork with the only corks I have, which are used cords. How much damage to the profile of a whisky can a cork from another whisky do? Obviously, I don’t put ex-peat corks in non peat whiskies, but beyond that do you think it’s somehting to worry about?

  4. JMF says:

    About two months ago I found a liquor store with two bottles of Laphroaig 15 yr. left. Being a lover of that particular (near extinct) age of Laphroaig I quickly snapped them up along with a cold bottle of prosecco for the wife (the original reason for being in the store in the first place) The fates must have deemed my find to precious because on the walk home the prosecco bottles got the bottom of the paper bag wet and all three bottles fell out through the bottom and smashed on the street. I believe a lot of people witnessed a man in his mid-twenties stand dumb-founded and shedding a few tears over spilled whisky for the first time. I still have sad flashbacks to it.

  5. JWC says:

    NO, NO, NO! John, I will most likely be moving soon and I am/was already worried about my whisk(e)y collection and what may happen to them during my move. While not a HUGE (relatively speaking) stash, it’s big enough that I can’t baby every single bottle. Heck, I actually had a nightmare about it last night. Now you’re asking this question? If anything happens to a single bottle during my move, I’ll personally blame you and the bad mojo you created by posing this question! ;)

    BTW, anyone have recommendations on how to SAFELY pack about 60 bottles that will be shipped by a professional (hopefully!) moving company – most likely a ship?

    • Ed says:

      U-Haul sells wine shipping boxes on-line that come with inserts that protect individual bottles. I think you can get them in 6 and 12 bottle combinations. That’s how I store my “extra” bottles of whiskey.

    • Matt G. says:

      I just moved. I kept my whisk(e)y safe by putting each one in a sock and packing them into a plastic tub. I filled the rest of the tub with more socks and some shredded paper. Not a single breakage and it was free (as I already had the socks, paper, and tub).

    • Louis says:

      Just to deal with possible future situations such as this, I never throw out bubble wrap, or let my kids pop it.

      • JWC says:

        Ed, Matt and Louis, thank you for the advice. Now, it’s packing and finger crossing time.

        • Red_Arremer says:

          And keep them Crossed JWC– when I moved this Past Sept. I shattered a Macphail’s Selection Glenrothes 30 and spilled out 1/2 a bottle of Bruichladdich 20 3rd ed. & thought I was being careful. Good luck. And watch out for doing anything with your bottles towards the end of the unpacking process when you’re feeling all worn out.

  6. Monique at the Dell says:

    The worst I’ve ever heard, a gentleman out on the east coast called the Dell to see if he could replace some of his father’s collection. What happened to dad’s stuff? I asked… His parents went to Florida for the winter, while they were gone, neighborhood teens broke into their basement and stole everything, we’re talking Black Bowmore, Glenmo Claret, old Macallans, along with wines…. When his parents returned home, their first clue was an empty 30 yo Macallan bottle in the ditch by the house. Those darn kids probably drank all those fine single malts with Coke to boot.

    I pray that they had the worst hangovers ever!

    • Abinash says:

      Monique, I think this is the most terrible thing to happen. Kids, no matter if they are own or not, can be scary considering what they can do with your alcohol stuff. Many of us have done the same in our youth. OK, maybe not breaking in to some place, but in our home we may have “tasted” some of our parents’ drinks. What I mean with terrible here is that “tasting” parents’ precious single malts is a little bit more than tasting the low-cost booze available. The latter can be thought of kind of normal behaviour, but the previous cannot be understood by us into “better” drinks. Am i a little bit selfish here?

  7. Richard says:

    This wasn’t actually my bottle but I paid for it.

    A couple of years ago my wife and I bought a bottle of Macallan 15 Year Fine Oak for her brother for his birthday. Getting out of the car and heading into our apartment she droped in on the concrete and shattered the whole thing. We bought him another bottle but I almost weeped when she told me.

  8. MrTH says:

    The Forty Creek Double Barrel Reserve was originally a limited one-off, and I had a friend in Toronto pick up a numbered bottle for me, which I picked up on my next trip there. I won’t go into the peculiar circumstances that led to this, but when I got home, I managed to drive over the bag it was in. I didn’t run the tires over it, but the bag rolled underneath the vehicle. I still use that bag–it got scuffed up a bit, and one of the zippers is messed up, but it still functions. My toiletry kit was a soup of shampoo and toothpaste and liquid soap…and the bottle of Forty Creek was smithereens. Not even the label was salvageable. It sure smelled good, though.

    The Double Barrel Reserve has since been made a standard bottling, and I have one going now. But I lost my numbered first edition, and at the time, I thought it was unreplaceable. Yes, I very nearly cried.

  9. Tom says:

    My wife recently broke a bottle of Quilceda Creek that I received this Fall from the mailing list. She was moving some of my wine around and it slipped out of her hand. The ironic and agonizing part of this is that it was by far the most expensive and hard to find bottle that she touched that day. It’s almost as if it were fate. I can replace it by buying it from a retailer but the mark-up is way more than the mailing list cost. I excepted the loss and have moved on until she said how awesome it smelled when she was cleaning up the remnants.

  10. Mark says:

    Not whisky, but A.E. Dor Napoleon…A friend turns to show it to his wife, saying, “Look, I love this la…” as the bottle hits the corner of the granite on our island. She still got to see the label, lying intact but wet on the floor.

    We’re still friends, but now I hold the bottles.

  11. Ben Horne says:

    Like Sam S, my sob story is not about Scotch. I bought a growler of beer from O’dell’s Brewing Co. in Fort Collins, CO. It was one of their experimental batches, an IPA. O’Dell’s experimental IPA’s are almost always fantastic and tend to run out quickly. At any rate, I got home with the growler, and my friend picked it up from the front seat of my car. As he did so, the bottom fell cleanly away from the rest of the growler filling my passenger-side seatwell with a gallon of hoppy beer (I think Chinook and Simcoe were the main bittering hops.). If you’ve ever had milk in your carpet, the smell was better than that. However, it was still pretty rank. I recall that the hop smell went away before the malt aroma. For about two months there was a heavy sweet malt smell every time I got in the car- not fresh malt like home brewing but a musty malt odor. On top of that, we had to settle for just a pint of IPA at the brewery the next day, instead of a night of hoppy goodness with a gallon at home. I never did figure out what happened with the growler, but I suspect that, like G Llaguno’s Glenfiddich bottle, the bottom was knocked flat against something.

  12. bgulien says:

    Friends of mine, beer and wine aficionados, but knowing I collect/appreciate fine single malts, bought a bottle of Bowmore Legend in the South of France just for my birthday.
    Arriving in the Netherlands after a trip of 800 miles, the bottle didn’t survive the trip.
    The aroma in the car was a heady mix of diesel, bowmore and other fine aroma’s that built up after a very long trip.
    The profusely apologized and bought a bottle of Bowmore Tempest instead. Was I lucky or not!!!

  13. WHISKYhost says:

    Happened to a friend (honest!). My friend was hosting a bar-b-q at his house. He was outside grilling while one of his friends nipped inside for a drink. The friend comes back outside (at which point my friend said his ‘spidey-sense’ started tingling) with a tall glass of what looked like coke and ice and proceeded to comment that this was a great whisky and coke. The only whisky in the kitchen was my friend’s Glenfarclas 105!

    Ouch!

    Jason @WHISKYhost

  14. osu33jp says:

    I am Japanese andI live in USA. A few months ago, I bought “1993 The cask of Yamazaki heavily peated bottle” at on-line store in Japan and had the shop sent to my parent’s house. Last month, I went back to pick up my bottle and no one knew where it was. My dad said that it should be in my room which was not. My elder brother said that he didn’t steal it. I searched it in everywhere, but I couldn’t find it. I don’t know if I still need to look for or need to order another bottle while it is still in the market.

  15. B.J. Reed says:

    Monique will remember this one –

    When we were in Grantown-On-Spey in 2007 we had just finished one of those wonderful distillery tours (cannot remember which one) and we parked in front of the hotel about 8 o’clock at night – We had received tasting glasses from the Lochside Hotel and they were all in a box – as we started to get out of the van the box started to tip so Bill Wakefield, my partner in crime, reached to grab the box and as a result his recently purchased bottle of Serendipity went crashing onto the curb –

    As we watched the wonderful dram slowly make its way to the street drain you could hear gasps, cries of anguish and disbelief.

    The only good news is later in May we had four bottles shipped from Glen Moray Distillery to London where we were staying and we carried it all back – safely I might add!

  16. Jon W says:

    I have clumsily spilled a nice dram or two in my day, but have never had a bottle broken, lost, stolen, etc. (knocking on wood). The only real incident I had was once when I had a bottle of Laphroaig 30 shipped to my place. I could smell it before I even opened to box (wonderful smell!). The capsule was ripped and there was a small leak (not really sure what happened, and I didn’t rip the rest of the capsule off to see). But in any event, the retailer was kind enough to exchange that bottle for an undamaged one.

  17. Greg G. says:

    A friend sent me two bottles of Yellowstone from 1976. It started in Texas and made it to within 5 miles of my home in VA before the delivery guy dropped/crushed/mutilated the box. Thankfully I had two replacement bottles within a couple weeks…..it was a very sad two weeks.

    The other sad tale was my future brother in law mixing my 1965 Old Fitz Bottled in Bond with Diet Coke. He never made that mistake again.

  18. sam k says:

    Greg, you just reminded me of one! It’s been long enough ago that I can’t for the life of me remember what specific brand it was, but I had won a pre-Pro bottle of Pennsylvania rye in an online auction. It made it TO MY HOUSE, but I wasn’t home, so UPS kept it to return again the next day. In the interim, the driver crushed the entire package. It was totally destroyed and my money refunded. Hell, I had forgotten all about it, and now I’m sobbing again!

  19. John Hansell says:

    Sam, I’m sorry to bring up those old memories again.

  20. MrTH says:

    It occurs to me…I’ve only broken one bottle of whisky, but I’ve had my spirit crushed many times.

  21. Sol R says:

    In the final weeks at my last job (before going out on my own 5 1/2 years ago) I was wrapping up my management of a large repair project at a pair of apartment towers. The director of maintenance for the 2 buildings gave me a bottle of Dalwhinnie 15 as a gift. I walked out of the buildings, with the bottle tucked under my arm, made across the street when the box shifted, the bottle slipped out the top, and shattered on the sidewalk. I nearly cried.

  22. Red_Arremer says:

    Two recent things that sucked:

    1.) There was a single 1.75 Lt magnum bottle of Speyburn 12 at a tiny liquor store in the middle-of-no-where Southie, Boston. It was marked at 31$– crazy! I called up a friend who never has much money and asked him if he’d like to split the bottle with me and have it stay at his house. He was down. We tasted it once (green melon notes and an extremely drying finish I remember) because before I got another chance–
    THE TRADGEDY: His wild gf and and two people she knew drank the whole bottle while he was out one night! Man, but I wasn’t as angry as he was…

    2.) I had this bottle of Longmorn 15, the old distillery bottling, which I’d been nursing for a while. The cork fell apart and for some reason I decided not to recork it with an old cork from another bottle as I usually do, but with one of those plastic and rubber ones– the type that has a lever on top that makes the cork fatter when you lock it down. Somehow the lever mechanism broke without me knowing it and as a result–
    THE TRADGEDY: This bottle, which is discontinued and is a big favorite of mine, sat for weeks (months?) completely unsealed. Without the lever action the cork was only a little thicker than a crayon. The whisky was completely transformed. It mellowed to a ridiculous degree losing almost all alchohol, and it tasted pretty different. Considering all that though it was still pretty drinkable (my girlfriend liked it better even, but I definetly didn’t).

  23. Louis says:

    This only involves a miniature, but nonetheless. Early in my SMS life, Park Ave. Liquors had a Bowmore 4-pack, Legend, 12, 15 & 21 for $40. I had already had bottles of the first three, but the 21 was over $100, WAY out of my price range at the time. I bought the 4-pack, and clearly remember throwing away the receipt, because why would I ever need it? When I pried open the cannister, I smelled whisky. And yes, it was the 21 that has leaked, and what was left was Bowmore flavored water.

  24. I can honestly say I never had anything like this happen to me. But a close friend of mine was opening a box of American Tribute Wild Turkey for us to drink and the hinges in the box came out and the bottle came out and crashed on the floor. I never ran for a straw so fast in my life! He was literally crying! That was the worst I have ever personally experienced.

  25. H.Diaz says:

    Dropped a Laphroaig 10 y/o on my drive way once. Watching the puddle increase in size on a hot summers day left me stunned and motionless.

  26. Tadas says:

    I was coming back from Europe. During stop over in London I bought a bottle of Glentauchers 29yo (1976-2005) Mackillop’s Choice Single Cask bottle. I was happy to get it for such a good price. I landed in Detroit airport, got all my luggage, put everything on the cart, caught a taxi and forgot the bottle to take with me from the cart…. Damn I was upset about it after I remembered 15 minutes later…. I guess somebody was very happy to find it ;)

  27. Patrick says:

    It happened 3 time to me:
    the first time was with a bottle of Glenmorangie Single Cask available at the distillery. During the drive back to the B&B, the cork got loose and the whole content emptied in my bag with all my cloves. The next time, a bottle of Chu Dhub slipped from my hands when I was putting it back to my bag in the WC. The smell was awful and the last one happened to me this weekend when a bottle of Manager dram got smashed by the post. Only a lovely smell left….

  28. I bought a bottle of John Locke’s Pure Pot Still Irish whiskey from the 1940-50’s era on ebay a few years back. Paid peanuts for it and was pure gold dust. However I got that sinking feeling when the package arrived all sodden and leaking … bottle was broken. The seller was great and I got a full refund but it is still to this day the one and only major regret I have had in relation to a whisky. I’ve been collecting old pure pot stills over the years and hope to have a tasting of them at some stage but this alas will not be among them. :-(

    Don’t think I’ve ever broken a bottle otherwise.

  29. JayS says:

    Again, not whisky, but precious because I lost vacation souvenirs. And painful because it was so very my fault. Completely forgetting the new rules a couple years back, on a trip to Turkey, I had a bottle of Raki and a bottle of beautiful olive oil taken away at airport gate security. I forgot about the newly instituted no liquids policy for carry-ons. I was so mad (at myself) and at security I took the bottles back, left the gate and went back to a Starbucks kiosk in the airport. I gave them as a tip to a bewildered coffee guy.

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