September 27, 2023 3:03 pm

What’s a Bottle For?

In the short time I’ve been in the whiskey world, there are a few unspoken truths that I’ve learned – the first is that bourbon is better sipped, not shot. The first time I had whiskey, I tried to drink a glass of Elijah Craig Small Batch like a beer – not only did I miss the layered complexities of caramel, vanilla, and fruit sweetness in the Bourbon, but trying to bury a 94 proof whiskey like a Bud Lite was quite painful.

Here are a few more whiskey truths from my point of view; make of them what you will. Never put ice in a Glencairn. Try the pricey bottle before you buy because every palate is different and what may be delicious to one may be unpalatable to another. Finally, if you’re lucky enough to find an allocated bottle, buy as much of it as you can. Take it home and keep that bottle for you and yours.

It’s with this attitude about allocated bottles that I walked into a particular local store for the first time. I checked out their bourbon selection, shot a glance at their store picks, then moved to leave – only to be stopped by a store employee. She wanted to know my tastes and what I thought of Keeper’s Heart Distillery. After realizing I was relatively new to whiskey, she offered to let me sample some bottles she had open, then told me to come back on Friday evening to try more. I said I would, not knowing what to expect.

It turns out, this was no store event, but a spontaneous bottle share.  Every Friday evening, people would gather to share bottles they had obtained that week. Not the whiskey you buy to share, but really incredible bottles – Elijah Craig Barrel Proofs, Larceny Barrel Proofs, Old Forrester Barrel Proof Store Picks, Jack Daniels Barrel Proof Rye, Russel’s Reserve Store Picks, and bottles from the Weller lineup. All were new to me, and I tasted each for the first time there. I was blown away by the bottles people were willing to share with strangers. On top of that, the very first time I went, one of the guys there asked what bottles I’ve been hunting for and offered to keep an eye out for those bottles. In the weeks following, he’s given me several leads on where to find certain bottles in the area. I’d just met this guy, so his willingness to help me find what I’ve been looking for has left a distinct impression on me.

Any initial guilty feelings of obligation I had about bringing my own bottle to share were quickly replaced by genuine enthusiasm because of these people who were so happy to share what was theirs – I found sharing a cool bottle to be almost as great as finding the bottle itself!

Conversing about these pours has birthed new relationships that I’m excited to engage with every week. Whiskey has quickly turned from primarily a solo experience to a communal one.

This experience has taught me one more truth –a good bottle of whiskey is meant to be shared. I’m glad I learned this one earlier rather than later. Cheers to good whiskey, shared with old and new friends alike.

"Whisky is liquid sunshine."

George Bernard Shaw

“The light music of whiskey falling into a glass – an agreeable interlude.”

James Joyce

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