Tuesday, February 5, 2013

"Alright, we only have six left on the list"
"What's the total"
He counts silently. "Eighteen"
"I don't know if I can go on like this, we could be at home drinking really good whiskey instead of driving around this shithole."
"Yeah, but I keep passing that Bobkat liquors and its just laughing at me."
"OK. Damnit. Four more."

So. My friend and I have a whiskey problem. It's not really a drinking problem, we don't (usually) drink that much. We just can't stop buying the stuff. Or stop reading about it. Or talking about it. We've been driving our wives crazy. We just spent four hours in the car, going into 21 liquor stores in economically troubled areas of south jersey, hoping to find neglected bottles of bourbon. We burned a quarter tank of 93 octane gasoline driving like maniacs and managed to unearth two 200ml bottles of mid 1980s I.W. Harper and a 10 year bottle of Evan Williams 1783. We spent more on gas.

We got started in the Van Winkle Craze of 2011. I'm not going to pretend that we liked it before it was cool. We spent a work day with our phones set to ring us when a twitter feed updated with availability in PA. We bought a sizeable amount of the state's allocation. Then the BTAC. Then a flirtation with scotch, EC18 when it got scarce, a focus on the Cream of Kentuck/Medley ryes until the market was dry. Dusties were our last hope.

Starting with stories on Steve Ury's blog, we were led to believe that every shitty liquor store was full of unspeakable jewels of neglected bourbon. I made a brief foray into Gloucester, to a store that smelled of cat urine and found two bottles of Wild Turkey Old #8 and they were fantastic, we were, in retrospect, irrationally enthusiastic.

We spent an evening compiling a list of every liquor store in a 15 mile radius that had no website and made our dusty hunt with the results above. We  returned tired, hungry, thirsty and sore from 4 hours in the car. We decided we would never do that again. We each have enough American whiskey to last several years.

It is time to enjoy it.


  1. Hey Ryan. Just saw your post at SourMash Manifesto. After reading this first entry, we probably have a lot in common. I started my fascination with great boyrbon in 2007, but at that time, all of the now ghost bourbons (Van Winkle line and BTAC) were all still available on the SHELF! I like you, buy much more than I actually consume. I don't buy cases upon cases of the hard to finds, rather 1 bottle of anything worthy that I can find. My goal is to get verticals for comparison purposes. My current verticals include: EWSB 2000 - 2002, PVW 15 2007 - 2012, PVW 20 2008-2012, George T Stagg 2009-2012, Parkers Heritage 2011-2012, a
    Anyways, I look forward to reading your blog and giving my 2 cents on your selected topics. Just curious what are your Top 5 whiskeys?


    1. Hi Josh,
      Thanks for stopping by to check out the blog. I look forward to hearing from you again. The vertical idea is very cool and have been looking forward to doing similar myself! In particular, I'd like to hear the results of your Stagg vertical. I find the 2012 seems a touch thinner than the 2012. In any case, top 5 is hard but a desert island bar might be (in no particular order):

      PVW15 (I like better than the 20 or 23)- recent BT version

      Hirsch 13 rye (made by Medley)- can still be tasted at Southwark in Philadelphia

      Hirsch 16 bourbon (made by Michter's)- can still be tasted at Elements in Princeton

      Arbeg Uigeadail- I like at least one peated Isay at all times. I don't think I've had better than the oogie (better than Supernova, Octomore, frog 18, Kilchoman, Port Charlotte or Caol Ila imho).

      #5 is probably a three way tie between Nikka "from the barrel," JPS17 and Stagg.

  2. Can we get some Four Roses reviews? Or did I just miss it?

    1. Don't worry, a 4R series is coming. Greg and I have been ammassing LE's and Barrel Strength bottles. Once the 2013 SmB LE comes out I think we will probably go nuts and have 2-3 articles worth.

    2. Nice. I just picked up 3 bottles of the 2012 LE FRSmB this week. A local liquor store in a large market that i was visiting for a business trip called the distributor to check and these 3 were sitting in the warehouse?!? Ask and you shall receive I guess.

      Looking forward to your thoughts on that bottling in particular...

    3. That is a great score! I had a sample and can't wait to open the one full bottle I have. It is really great stuff. As much as I like the regular 1B better that the SmB, the limited edtion SmB are, I think, the best things these guys make. Thanks for reading and commenting!