...where distraction is the main attraction.

Monday, February 18, 2013

So, I bought a bottle...

Warning: This post may be a bunch of diary-style navel-gazing.  Or at least more so than usual.

I bought my first whisky bottle in five weeks.  The purchase didn't come easy.  Thirty-four days ago, I'd posted a little bit about my internal struggle with amassing whisky, so I wasn't going to break the fast easily.  I continued window shopping, but I always asked myself "Why?" each time a bottle drew me in.  Nothing stood up to that challenge until this past weekend.

There's been only one Lowland whisky I've actually enjoyed, and mostly because it was anything but a "Lowland Lady".  It was a weird earthy clay-grass-and-white-pepper malt bottled at cask strength by one of my favorite independent bottlers, priced far below anything else of its type.

So, I pestered six different employees at two stores about it.  Why did I pester?  One of the stores had an incorrect listing that was actually selling an older bottling at the same price.  Same distillery, same bottler, but a different cask type, different age, different year, different ABV.  A few months ago, I would have exclaimed, "Woo hoo!  I'll take both!"

But not now.  Despite having a chance at a great deal, I knew nothing about the older bottling.  Never tasted it.  No reviews of it to be found.  It wasn't the bottle I actually wanted.  Again, I'd tasted the one I was looking for and I liked it.  I was willing, for the first time in memory, to turn down a better bargain for a potentially decent whisky.  So, I did.  I turned it down.  And I called and travelled around, questioned and questioned and questioned employees (who are at the mercy of distributors) until I found my whisky.

I returned home with one bottle rather than two.  To me this is a victory.

During this very journey I also came upon three additional exceptionally priced whiskies.  Each are on my Someday list.  Previously, I would have returned home with those three in hand as well.  But they remain on the Someday list, not the Today list.  Today I'll have some great whisky to drink, and the whisky is already in my possession.

There's much less desperation for accumulation.  Though there are other purchases I'm considering, I no longer feel a rush to do them immediately.  And if I miss out on a limited or disappearing bottling, then so be it.  Hopefully a good whisky lover gets it, opens it and drinks it and enjoys it.

Do I believe that last paragraph?  Today, yes.  Tomorrow, I don't know.


  1. I've been feeling that way lately as well. The last few months involved a few more big orders than I really wanted to place, so it felt like a good time to take a break. And unless there's something that's going to get a big price hike at the end of the month, I might keep that up for a while. It's really hit the point where I feel like I'm physically taking up too much space and it's time to pare down. I'll probably keep searching out things at local bars (hell, I dropped $50 doing a Glen Scotia vertical tasting this last weekend), but at least that doesn't contribute to the problem (other than occupying time and liver capacity that could be spent drinking booze I've already paid for).

    I've generally prided myself on being the kind of person who has a fairly low threshold for 'enough' and I'd like to keep it that way. All too easy to let things get out of hand.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Jordan. I'm starting to have that space issue too. The whole not-enough-room issue is a constant reminder for me. One could make that argument that we don't drink enough, but...well...I'd love to hear that argument.

      Sadly, the whisk(e)y prices in Southern California bars have become a deterrent to any verticals. That's what has motivated me to switch to buying samples. Those wind up being half or a third of the price even though they're being shipped from another country, as opposed to being poured from the bottle five feet away from my seat.

    2. Yeah. I've been focusing on trying to finish off more of the bottles that I already have open. Most of the bourbon is going to go (I'll keep on wheater, one mid-rye, and one high rye around for sipping and cocktails) and I'm knocking the rum collection down similarly. Alongside that, I'm trying to not keep more than a handful of scotches open at any given time, both to cut down on oxidation and to make myself drink something for a while before writing a review, both to slow myself down and to keep myself from just moving to whatever catches my fancy at the moment. It can be hard to resist the impulse to crack open a bottle you just bought, but I'm doing pretty well at it.

      Thankfully there are a ton of bars here and only a few of them have really outrageous prices. Most seem to charge about 1/5 the price of a bottle for a full pour, which isn't cheap, but it isn't too expensive either.

    3. I think that 1/5 bottle price would be great around here. Sometimes it can be found, usually not. Was at a bar last week that was pouring Glenfiddich 12 for $14 and Glenmorangie 10 for $15. That bar lost itself a customer.

      We have similar bottle approaches. I try to have three scotches open at once, but a fourth one always seems to open itself. I have a pair of open blends for cocktails or palate testers. Then a rye or two and a bourbon. With oxidation, I'm trying to avoid it but also curious to study its effects, so there's some occasional decanting into smaller bottles. You ever do any decanting? Specialty Bottle is always a joy for me.

      Slowing down the whole process is a great idea. I'm working on it.

    4. For better or worse it looks like my stand won't last beyond the end of the month. Just got a look at Oregon's March price list and a whole bunch of good stuff is going on close-out.

      On the upside, I did manage to rearrange my collection this morning to get back a shelf. The battle is slow, but it will be won.

    5. I actually did a rearranging last week, as I'd run completely out of room. Now I have room for three more bottles. Yay?

      It is a slow battle indeed, but good luck with the close-out bargains!

  2. Well, my wallet is seriously hating the Davids right now. While K&L is waiting for their cases of Ealanta to come in, David Driscoll ended up grabbing a few cases of Bruichladdich Bere and I couldn't resist buying a bottle even though I have too many open bottles. The whisky is made from an ancient strand of barley brought to the Hebrides by the Vikings for crying out loud!

    Man, it's tough living so close to a good store.

    1. I work about six blocks from the Hollywood store. Been avoiding it. Won't even drive near it!

      Oddly, I just bought a bottle of the 2006 Bere from Europe two months ago immediately after I'd read about it, thinking it would never be sold in the US. It's actually the next bottle I'm going to open. Very very geeked out about it.