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Do you have a cabinet "system?"

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@valuewhisky
valuewhisky started a discussion

I like structure and organization, so I am trying to come up with a "system" for my whisky cabinet that I can stick to. The system is how many bottles I can keep open at a time, and what those bottles are. For example, one system might be to keep one bourbon, one un-peated scotch, and one peaty scotch open. Or, just one bourbon and two scotches. Or, any three bottles. Price is a factor too. I have to buy some cheaper stuff some of the time to balance things out, so should I always keep a cheap bottle around, or just sandwich it in between expensive ones? Obviously, the possibilities are endless, and I keep changing my system constantly. And once you create a couple of categories like "peated malt" or "sherried malt" there's always that bottle that doesn't fit a category. I'd like to find a system that works though. Any advice out there of what has worked and what hasn't worked for you?

11 years ago

16 replies

TomH replied

My comments may not be real useful to you since I take great pride in my lack of organization, but here are my thoughts.

I really advise keeping some type of control on the number of open bottles. I have a small area in my family room (near this computer) where I keep about 10 bottles that are what I drink from most evenings (right now there are 2 rums, 5 bourbons, scotches, and 1 spiced canadian (Spicebox) that my wife is currently drinking (if you math is good you will see that I've already exceeded my desired count of 10). Then in our laundry room I use 1 cabinet shelf to store my other open bottles (it holds about 40 bottles and is currently full). I do not open another bottle until I have a physical opening on one of these 2 shelves. I do this rather than allowing 1 bottle for a category because I want to be able to open what I'm in the mood for rather than feeling like I need to finish the current open Islay before opening a new one.

As far as what to keep open, here is my philosophy.

I keep 1 mass market "Top of the Line" bottle of liquor open for guest (e.g. Grey Goose Vodka, Herradura or Patron Tequila, Makers Mark, Chivas Regal, etc (I don't stock Gin)). I keep one open bottle of bourbon (current Very Old Barton BIB) in my kitchen for cooking. As I said before I keep all other open bottles in the laundry room and bring out bottles based upon the tastes of the folks visiting. If they're impressed by names I bring out the name stuff, if the appreciate great whisk(e)y I bring out the real stuff, if I know they just like to drink I bring out the cheap stuff.

Tom

11 years ago 1Who liked this?

@valuewhisky
valuewhisky replied

@TomH Thanks Tom, I can partly relate. I don't really have drinking guests enough to make a difference, and my wife doesn't drink whisky so it's just me I have to worry about, which means 40 bottles would take me about 3 years to get through, so I can't have that many! I hear you about not wanting to have to rush through something like an Islay. I need to find the balance between number of bottles and not being forced to rush through some of them.

11 years ago 0

@tjb
tjb replied

I don't really have a system as such, it just happened to end up this way. I know it is really retro but i have a globe bar in my lounge which holds 8 bottles (I love it). These are my favourites and the ones I drink most often. Then I keep unopened ones in my office. These are a couple of duplicates and ones I don't want to open yet. e.g. I have an unopened Batch 002 and Batch 003 Laphroaig Cask Strength as spares for when I finish my current stock. I then keep the rest in the kitchen with the general alcohol. This is for general use or if I have "drinking friends/family over". The Globe only gets opened for myself and/or shared with people who appreciate what it contains. I am no expert, i just like what i like. Tom B

11 years ago 0

@rwbenjey
rwbenjey replied

I think once--and if--the stocks dwindle down, I'll probably start such a system with these being the core:

  • Ardbeg 10
  • Laphroaig 10 Cask Strength
  • Highland Park 18
  • Balvenie 14 Caribbean Cask
  • Edradour 10

  • Bushmills 16/21

  • Jameson

  • Wild Turkey 101

  • Pierre Ferrand Reserve

  • Ransom Gin

  • Plantation Rum

11 years ago 0

@valuewhisky
valuewhisky replied

@rwbenjey So, you think it's best to have a system with a core of bottles you know you love, then "explore" with additional bottles? For example, if you wanted to try a Port Charlotte, you'd add it onto the core rather than rotating it with Ardbeg or Laphroiag? I'm not putting you on the spot, just curious about other peoples' thought processes with this.

11 years ago 0

@YakLord
YakLord replied

@valuewhisky - I try to limit the number of bottles I have open to between 10 and 12, and I decant partially empty bottles into smaller 37.5cl and 20cl bottles, which leaves the illusion that I have fewer bottles open than I actually do.

I try not to have "system", but to have at least one bottle peated whisky, then a mix of others, including ex-sherry and ex-bourbon matured expressions, plus some world whiskies - Amrut, Penderyn, Nikka, etc. As for a "core" concept, I think I've anchored the cabinet on an Aberlour expression (I really like Aberlout, so I try to have one bottle of Aberlour), plus whatever else I have on hand as I don't want to feel limited by the need to have a "core" range of bottles.

I have, however, plotted out my unopened inventory and determined what I will open when I have room: the Aberlour 12 is to replace the Aberlour 10, the GlenDronach 12 is to replace the Balvenie DoubleWood, Bowmore 12 to replace the Laproaig QC, etc., etc.

11 years ago 2Who liked this?

@valuewhisky
valuewhisky replied

@YakLord Thanks for the response. I'm leaning toward a system like yours. I have thought about it, and I don't like the whole "stick to categories" approach because it's too rigid, and you'll end up buying stuff that you're not into, and not buying stuff that doesn't fit a category. And I also am leaning toward expanding my number of open bottles to around 7, because having too few can sap the fun out of it, and make you feel like you're forcing yourself to drink. I think 7 is about at the upper limit of what I'd try without decanting - as this gives an average shelf life of around 6 months for me. Any more and I'd definitely need to decant.

I'm sure it'll work out that I'll generally have certain categories filled, but I'm not going to force myself to keep them that way. I'll always have a couple American whiskies, a heavily peated scotch, a lightly peated scotch, and whatever else. I'm not going for the "core" set either because I don't think I've ever bought the same whisky twice in a row in my life. Some I purchase regularly, but not as soon as a finish the last bottle.

As for unopened bottles, the past year or so I've been generally living with about as many unopened bottles as I have opened ones, and I've found that this ends up disappointing generally. Because you buy a whisky that you're excited about, but then a few months down the road when you get to open it, something else has caught your eye and you'd rather have that. So, since I happen to have exactly 7 bottles in my cabinet right now (a couple unopened as yet), I think I'm going to try to just open them all up, and not stock up on anything. Just buy when I polish one off. I think I'll live with 5 or 6 bottles for a couple weeks until I procure a suitable replacement, though you wouldn't know that from the way I have been stocking up! ;-)

11 years ago 0

@markjedi1
markjedi1 replied

My system - if you can call it that - is much more straighforward and simple. My cabinet (in the living room, in the corner where I have my workstation) can hold up to 40 bottles. They are all open and nealty put together according to region: Scotland (Lowland, Highland, Islay, ...), Ireland, USA and ROTW (rest of the world). All other bottles are in my study (which has become a warehouse of sorts). The only 'rule' I apply is to replace an empty bottle in the cabinet to keep it fully stocked, but then and only then do I buy a new one (which usually ends up either in the cabinet or the study). My collection of Auchentoshan is 'hors parcours' and is on display in my hallway. Luckily my wife agrees that these are not to be counted in the total alloted space/budget limitation - LOL.

11 years ago 2Who liked this?

@valuewhisky
valuewhisky replied

@markjedi1 That's a lot of bottles! You don't worry about your whisky sitting in open bottles for so long? With 40 bottles, some must last for years.

11 years ago 0

@markjedi1
markjedi1 replied

@valuewhisky I'm not worried, no. The 'oldest' bottle in my cabinet is only 3 years old, so they move pretty quickly (I do trade quite a few samples, so it's not just me having a problem :))

11 years ago 0

@maltster
maltster replied

I have currently over 80 open bottles and they last for years - if they are not exposed to sunlight or big temperature changes Whisky is not "getting bad" - as Whiskys are cask strength or older they had a long period of oxidization in the cask or can handle the oxygen better because of their higher strength. I use private preserve which is an inert gas and it is basically heavier then oxygen and can therefore protect the Whisky from contact with oxygen. I use it since several years and it works perfect.

As in music I want to adapt the Whisky to my moods and I want to have a large variety to choose from...so my system is that I order the bottles after spirit (Whisky, Rum, Cognac etc...), Regions of origin (scotland/japan/u.s. etc...) and their Style (peaked/unpeated/malt/blend/sherry/bourbon...).

Most of my bottles are in a large racks with blinds and there is also a cabinet - no visible Whiskys tolerated in our living-area.....

11 years ago 3Who liked this?

@valuewhisky
valuewhisky replied

@maltster I hear you - I enjoy being able to drink a particular whisky when it suits my mood - and I don't like being forced to drink a whisky when it doesn't suit my mood. I think perhaps I need to adapt and expand my cabinet a bit (still, I don't think I'd ever let myself get above 10 open bottles... I wouldn't have anywhere to put them otherwise!). I think there are two reasons I have battled against this: 1) I'm just really conservative. I have never been one to splurge on myself (I'm not stingy with others - just myself), and I have this voice that says "Ryan, why do you need three different bourbons open!? You used to be fine with just one!" Of course, I used to drink bourbon just to "have a drink" and now I drink it to appreciate it... and also to have a drink :-P and 2) Shelf-life. I think that malts are really expensive, and I just think it's a total bummer to think that what you're paying for might disappear in a few months, if you don't drink it quick enough. I think I just need to let go a bit. As long as I keep fewer than 10 bottles open, they shouldn't last more than a year, so I guess I should be fine. Only the ones that are my least favorites will last the longest anyway, so it doesn't matter!

11 years ago 0

@PMessinger
PMessinger replied

Awesome discussion point. My non experted system is to keep the number of open bottles to anywhere between 1 & 5 at a time. The cabinet system is three sheleves Frist one is Islay & all other peated ones. Second shelf is all other whiskys blended and malted, and bourbans. Third shelf is all whisky still in packages and tins, those are rotated to the proper shelf when needed to replace ones used. Then third shelf whisky is replaced when one lable is moved from third to frist or second. Most of the open bottles are used in slow enough time to enjoy yet fast enough to avoid being outdated or oxidized. Thanks again for awesome dicussion.

11 years ago 0

@mosis522
mosis522 replied

my system is pretty simple, i have a kitchen "bar trolley" which has 3 shelves. I can fit 12 bottles on the top tier and then the other shelves stock my glasses etc below... I have decided to keep 4 bottles at the back unopened until i finish one of the ones at the front at which point i will purchase another bottle. I am kind of thinking i might need to start a second shelf though, as my habit seems to be spiraling out of control...

11 years ago 0

FederalNate replied

I tend to keep around 20 bottles of scotch open, as that's what I tend to drink on any given night. This allows for a minimum of 3-4 peated expressions, 3-4 sherried expressions, 3-4 which are both peated and sherried, and 3-4 which are neither, and then a few extras in any given category depending on what happens to get opened for a special occasion. Having a few bottles open in any of these categories allows for enough variety with regard to age, style, etc. within each category that I never find myself craving something my shelf can't provide, but I'm generous enough with the whisky (my girlfriend is also an avid scotch drinker) that I rotate through bottles quickly enough to keep things interesting (no bottles lasts much longer than a year). I have an ever expanding bunker of unopened bottles (currently up around 80 I think) so that I can replace a whisky in a particular category with one from the same category so I don't lose that variety. This seems about a perfect level for keeping me most happy. Besides scotch I keep 3-4 bourbons, 3-4 ryes whiskies, 3-4 dark rums, and 6-7 gins and probably a dozen different bitters around with a variety of mixers (whatever interests me at the time) for mixing cocktails, which I do only infrequently but just often enough to justify the space. Of course, I recognize that this is a bit excessive but I think I'm in good company here.

11 years ago 9Who liked this?

@WhiskyBee
WhiskyBee replied

I'm now up to nearly 50 bottles in my whisky cabinet (not counting my assortment of gin, vodka, rum, and tequila), and I admit that almost all of them are open. I can't resist trying something new when I buy it. So I have several bottles that are but a few drams down, while my favorites are at about 1/2 level.

As for organization, my system amounts to shove 'em in and hope they'll fit.

11 years ago 0