...where distraction is the main attraction.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Whisk(e)y at Home

It has become increasingly apparent to me that a lot of you good folks have substantial volumes of whisk(e)y at home.  My own selection has quadrupled since last year at this time.  Employment has its occasional benefits.  Though I now have an Official Whisky Cabinet (yay!), this rapid growth has now been curtailed.  It's time to enjoy what I've got.

Everyone has his own way of approaching his whisky.  Some folks open everything upon purchase.  Some keep a couple dozen in going at once.  Some say they'll only keep 2 open at a time, but are totally lying.  Not naming any names, Guy In The Monitor's Reflection.

The collection used to fit in our general liquor cabinet.  But then it grew.  Before the Official Whisky Cabinet arrived, I stashed my bottles in a sunlight-free corner of our condo.  In the process of collating the whiskys, I started ordering them not by distillery name or age, but by when I would drink them.  A tier system started, and continues today with bottles segregated in The Cabinet.

Here's my system:

Tier 3 - Tumbler Whisky
This is the anytime stuff, the whiskies that can be opened without reservation, poured generously at all times, enjoyed without guilt.  I also call them the House Whiskies.  For instance, Power's Gold Label is the House Irish.  Buffalo Trace is the House Bourbon.  Currently, Bank Note is the House Blend.  Other Tumblers have been Glenfiddich 12, Johnnie Walker Black Label, Tullamore Dew, Jameson's, and Isle of Skye 8.  I call them "Tumbler" whiskies because I can dump a splash of it in a tumbler (rocks glass), even over some ice(!), and settle into an evening or a lunch or a game on TV.

Tier 2 - Weekend Whisky
These are limited to the weekends or after great (or terrible) work days, in order to not burn through the bottles so fast.  Think Glengoyne 17 or Bruichladdich Bere or oh my friggin' gosh I don't have any indie bottles open.  Weekend Whiskies are opened per the season.  When we had an insane heat spell last year, I found the cask strength heavily peated stuff really did not cater to the weather.  But when the cool evenings came back, so did the Islays.

Tier 1 - Event Whisky
These are to celebrate achievements, friends, beauty, and life.  Or sometimes just the existence of whisky itself.  I remain hush-hush on the sealed Event Whiskies, but I'll discuss 'em once they're open (see the birthday Balblair from last year).  I look forward to a lifetime full of Event Whiskies.

Though price partially plays a role in determining a bottle's tier, cost does not get the final say.  For instance, Sullivan's Cove is an expensive whisky but due to its mild quality and impressive performance in club soda, it has become my current House Malt (Tier 3).  I have a bottle of Johnnie Walker Green Label stashed away to be my final one (*sob*), and though its price would make it a Tier 2, the event of its demise qualifies it as a Tier 1.

On that note, I have noticed some sub-tiers which come close to drifting between the levels.  For instance, Collectible Whisky.  First off, I'm drinking all of my whisky.  None will languish for eternity.  BUT, I recognize the short supply of certain bottles and thus will take that into consideration when determining the tier.  For instance, I have Kilkerran bottles that are out of circulation.  Their price would make them look like Tier 2s, but I put in some sincere footwork (or mileage on my Accord) to get them, so I ain't opening them just for gits and shiggles (thus trending towards Tier 1).  But once they're open, I will be drinking them for gits and shiggles.  Ultimately, they will be Tier 2s.

Another example of a sub-tier is American Whiskey.  I tend to find bourbon to be a Tier 3, always.  This may change once I delve into more barrel strength behemoths.  I also have yet to find a bourbon that I'd spend typical Event Whisky-level cash on.  I've tasted Pappies and a number of famous dusties, but none of them have inspired particular devotion (financially or otherwise).  Maybe if a Stagg falls into my hands someday, it would get a Tier 2.  For safety purposes.  On the other hand, I am LOONY about barrel-strength rye.  I want to make them Tier 3, but I would run out of money and white blood cells much too quickly.  They're Tier 2 in name, but Tier 3 in my heart.

There are other borderliners, like Redbreast 12, that I would love to make Tier 3s, but for financial purposes will remain Tier 2s.  Plus with whiskies like Redbreast (and Willett rye), I do not want to tire of them, nor do I want to get used to them.

So how do you guys (and gals) choose to open your whiskies?  Have you determined a tiered system?  Is that nomenclature based on tangibles or passions?  Do you find your system changing with time?

A little blog Spring Cleaning

I'll be doing some mild tinkering to the blog here and there this Spring.  For instance, there's a clickable list of whisky labels (distilleries, etc.) now in the lower right column of the page.  The labels used to be shown in a clumpy pile.  And those distillery "labels" are new.  I added them today to each whisky post.  Thinking it would take at most a half-hour, I was quickly reminded how many freaking whisky posts I've done!

I've also updated the "Whisky Rankings" page, splitting the whiskies up into different categories.  In fact, I'm on the fence about even keeping the rankings.  The more whiskies I review, the more obtuse it is to try to compare apples to hubcaps.  So, for now at least, whiskies are ranked within their types.  If y'all prefer that I continue to compare apples to hubcaps, let me know, and I'll mush all of them back together.

And that Dram Quest is moving along well.  Does anyone know where a whisky brother can get him a single toot of Loch Dhu?  My sources have all run away screaming upon hearing my inquiry.  It must be some amazing stuff.