It’s time to hear me whine! Actually, probably not whine as much as implore you to not wait.
When you are in a whiskey group that is the size of WBSE (over 47,000 strong), you run into all sorts of people and opinions. Like most whiskey groups, there are also the common posts that you see everywhere, “What should I buy for someone?”, “Was this a good buy?”, “Look at all of my bottles!”, “Russo pour!” and others. By themselves, they are fairly innocent, but with everything the devil is in the details.
In particular, when people post their bottle collection, many (if not most) will complain if most of the bottles aren’t open. The whiskey community, or at least the large majority of people, do not collect whiskey. They might have a small group of bottles, but many people do not have the means to have a collection of 100+ bottles. In addition, most people buy these whiskeys in order to drink them. There are also those evil doers that buy expensive, rare or generally very good whiskeys in order to sell them for a large profit, also known as flippers.
So, when someone posts a large collection of bottles with a large majority of them unopened, chaos ensues. Admins get notified repeatedly, comments are made, not-so-witty retorts are posted and things devolve into the ugly fairly quickly. Granted, there are some people that are collecting those whiskeys, solely to collect them. They might crack one open with a friend at some point, but they treat the collection much like those people that have a large wine cellar.
Regardless of the reason why, these people get vilified. They try to defend themselves with comments like “I’m SaViNg iT fOR a sPeCiaL OcCaSioN”, “I can do whatever I want”, “I love the hunt” and other meaningless tropes. I do not partake in those comment wars, or at least not very often, but I am here to complain about them.
OPEN YOUR DAMN BOTTLES!
Yes, I said it. Open those damn bottles. Don’t save them for a very special occasion or some other tired excuse. Open them. Open them all.
And I have a very good reason. You might not be there to enjoy them.
We have seen this in our own group. We’ve lost a few members over the past year, two that I knew fairly well and were well known in the group. I know others in the group have lost friends and family members. I know there are some special occasions which are not very far in the future, and maybe it makes sense to hold that unicorn bottle (George T Stagg will be mine one day) for your next birthday. The problem is that you never know what is going to happen.
This is also a topic near and dear to my heart. I never got to share a good whiskey with my oldest brother Lenny. Like many people, he was not a big bourbon drinker. He liked a Jack and Coke at times, but never really dabbled into any quality whiskey. He lived about 5 hours away, so I didn’t see him often. He used to laugh about me getting so interested in various whiskeys and didn’t understand the allure. He drank beer mostly, but he did like good craft beer. So, we would argue over the phone about whether his love of craft beer was similar to my love of whiskey.
Then one day almost 8 years ago, he had a heart attack. He wasn’t sick, had basically no significant health issues and exercised regularly. I talked to him the day before. We talked about how we should get together later in the summer and I would bring some interesting whiskey for him to try. And then he was gone.
He never tried that whiskey because I had waited. So now, I don’t wait to open those bottles. If I have something special that I know I want to share with someone, I just call them and we figure out how to get together. Suddenly losing people I know in the group has reinforced this. Even as I am writing this, a neighbor came over for a drink. I poured them the Lagavulin 11 Charred Oak Casks because I know they love Lagavulin. Was there a special occasion? Yes, they came over and we wanted to share a drink.
A few years ago, Freddie Johnson of Buffalo Trace shared a story with a group of members in Kentucky. He talked about how he was sitting with his father and wasn’t opening a bottle because he was planning to save it for a special occasion. His father reprimanded him, what is more special than sharing whiskey with friends or family. Those are the moments that we need to cherish, those moments with friends and family, those people who are special to us.
So, find a friend, find your spouse, find a neighbor, and open that special bottle.