Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Bourbon - The art of dusty hunting pt 1.

In some other posts I've mentioned dusty bottles. Many bourbon enthusiasts acquire numerous bourbon releases whether they be current production they enjoy or limited release stuff like the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection. Another aspect of collecting involves looking for bourbon that is no longer in production. Believe it or not, there's a lot of older bottles still sitting on store shelves or in some liquor store basement. You may ask "how can this happen?", well it does and it's surprising how much older bourbon is still sitting on shelves waiting to be purchased. I'm fortunate to live in an area that is well stocked with older bourbon. For instance, back in 2007 I found a bottle of Old Fitzgerald Bottled in Bond sitting on a store shelf that was distilled in 1965 and bottled in 1971. I bought that particular bottle for a whopping $11.95 and for any bourbon enthusiast they understand there's really terrific bourbon in that bottled distilled by the now obsolete Stitzel Weller Distillery.

In a series of blogs, I'll go through and explain what dusty hunting is. I'll start with the following....

If you're dusty hunting in your home you're probably spending the afternoon cleaning the house. If you're a serious bourbon enthusiast and dusty hunting, you're more than likely lurking in some seedy downtown liquor store looking for that special "dusty" bottle of bourbon. I'll mention that most of the older bottles of bourbon I've found had layers of dust on them.....thus, dusty bottle.

Dusty hunting can be described as looking for that out of production bottle of bourbon that once found makes you giggle like a little girl. As you hold the bottle in your hand, you turn it over looking for those special markings that give tell tale signs that what you now hold is truly something special. That's right, an older bottle of bourbon will have visual markings that give away its heritage, age and many times, the goodness that resides within.

While finding that special bottle is terrific, that's only half the game. The other half is the actual hunt. Moving from store to store scouring the shelves for bottles that are no longer in production, just sitting there waiting for someone to notice it.

Of course the goal is not to acquire and then display the bottle as a conversation piece but to actually open the bottle and enjoy a taste of yesteryear. What's particularly great is tasting bourbon that is no longer produced and comparing that to something current. I see a lot of folks who inherit grandpa's old bourbon bottles, or someone picks up some stuff in an estate sale and they invariably ask the question "how much is this bottle worth?". My answer is typically not as much as you think but to me the real value is enjoying something rare and out of production. So, if you inherit grandpa's bourbon and you enjoy sipping on a dram now and then, keep the bottle, open it and drink to grandpa's memory.

I'll post additional information on the tactics to use when dusty hunting so stay tuned. I'll caution you though, once you start hunting, it becomes addictive.

Next, part 2.

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