Lately, I've been trying to make room on the whiskey shelves. My stash has gotten too big.
It has gotten too big to hold more. Big difference. You see, I'll be in Bardstown, KY for the Kentucky Bourbon Festival in September. And I plan to bring home some things which aren't available here in Minnesota. Some will be special things. Some not so much. In any case, there will be a lot of them and I need the room. In an effort to develop a system for which would be on the ol' chopping block first, I came up with the system hinted at in previous posts. Namely FIFD. That's right: First In, First Drunk (or is it drank? eh...whatever).
Now as I was doing this inventory, I noticed something: the ones that had been on the shelf the longest were, for the most part, also the ones that cost the most or were the hardest to find. And that thought tickled something in the back of my brain. It took a little while for the tickle to congeal into something more concrete, but here it is:
I'm missing the point of whiskey.
I didn't want to drink the whiskey on the shelf precisely because it was too expensive or too rare to "waste" on an ordinary occasion. In other words, I was paying (what for me is) a lot of money in order to open a bottle to the air and then not drink it. For some, this won't seem very strange so, please let me illustrate with a story.
I used to watch grown men pay good money for toys and then not open them and not play with them (I may or may not have been among them). A friend of mine in college, who interned for Hasbro, used to complain about how much that pissed him off. He said good artists spent a lot of time designing and creating those toys precisely so children could play with them. A lot of pride was taken in the fact that their creations bring joy to the children of the world. Because, ultimately, that's what toys are for. The joy of playing. In his view, these guys were missing the point of toys. And even worse, they were keeping them out of the hands of those that did know the point of them. I immediately went home, opened all the "collectable" toys that I had and gave them to my daughter to play with. She was happy. She'd been eyeing them, so eventually it would have happened anyway. And you know what? It felt good.
I have an almost instinctive aversion to collecting these days. I'm afraid to let things become so precious to me that I lose perspective as to what is really important. In the case of whiskey, it offends me doubly. Much like a toy, whiskey is created to be enjoyed. Even if marketing later steps in to sell it for thousands of dollars, I doubt that was the intent of the spirit as it came off the still six, twelve, or even forty years ago.
As with many things, greed has corrupted something extremely simple. Whiskey is sensuous beauty in a glass. If you buy it only to look at it or to sell it later at a premium, you are not only missing the point, you are keeping it from those who would enjoy it as it was intended. In a glass, with friends or family.
Art is for viewing.
Whiskey is for drinking.
Drink yours. Invite a few good friends to share it with you. And hey, if it's a precious one, remember that memories last even longer than whiskey.