Do we really need all these bottles to be happy whiskey drinkers?
Dan and I always say that we don't have whiskey collections. We just have bottles of whiskey we haven't opened yet. The reality is that we do have quite a few bottles of bourbon lying around regardless of what we call it. So, do we really need so many if we aren't planning to keep them all forever without opening them? The answer is no, we do not. There isn't any practical reason to have a pile of Elijah Craig Small Batch bourbon stashed away. It isn't going anywhere and the price has been stable for a few years. Same with other favorite daily drinkers such as Wild Turkey 101 or Larceny.
What about bottles that are difficult to find today that were plentiful only a few years ago? What about Weller Old Antique or Booker's? Isn't that a reason to stockpile our favorites? If we could see the future, of course, we'd load the wagon with everything that will be scarce in the coming years but we can't see the future, and market timing is no more likely to be a valid strategy in whiskey than it is in the stock market. Investing in spirits and wine is certainly a thing but it is not happening at average consumer income levels or volumes. Flipping bottles isn't investing especially if you're the one paying $650 for Old Rip Van Winkle this year.
We started this podcast with the premise that there are wonderful bottles of bourbon, rye, Irish, and Scotch whiskies sitting on shelves that you can buy today at reasonable prices. There is no logical reason to chase unicorns or pay absurd secondary whiskey market prices to enjoy whiskey. That may be truer today than ever. The market has exploded with new craft distilleries that are bottling delicious whisky and expanding our minds to what is possible without spending 8 years in barrels tucked away in Kentucky rickhouses. Heritage brands have produced so much bourbon that age statements are coming back and prices are stabilizing. It truly seems that there will be great whiskey to drink for us all and we don't really need to have 10 or 20 times the number of commonly available bourbons stashed in our own houses than we'll ever drink. Could I be sitting on a bottle I paid $20 for last week that's worth $100 in a few years? Sure, it's possible but so very unlikely and it's the longest of shots. It's more likely that we have 50 bottles squirreled away that we can still buy in the coming years for about the same price.
It seems a more enjoyable and better use of our disposable income to focus on the whiskey we truly enjoy drinking rather than collecting bottles with little chance they have collectible value in the future. Invest in the experience and try new whiskey from around the world. Let liquor stores carry the inventory burden and keep your powder dry for when the opportunities come around to snag special bottles and when that happens, open the bottle and share it with friends.
Of course, it's your money and if you have plenty of it, buy all the bottles if that makes you happy. I could be way off on all this but it's how I enjoy the hobby. Maybe there will be much regret years down the road when I could have had cases of whiskey that dusty hunters are questing for in 2030. I'm sure that's what baseball card collectors have thought for generations but for every Honus Wagner, there are thousands of folks who collected my buddy Tommy's rookie card just before he blew out his elbow and never pitched again. Cheers!