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Opening habits

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Wierdo started a discussion

Just a bit of a discussion thread.

Last night I opened a Hazelburn 13 bourbon cask that I've had in my stash for just under 2 years.

I'm curious as to what people do with a bottle when they buy it? Myself I do sometimes open a bottle straight after buying. The Speyburn 15 my wife brought me for my birthday I opened that day. I also have bottles I've had unopened for the best part of 10 years. For example a Highland Park 18 I brought and then a few months later they changed the livery. So I decided to keep hold of it. I'd say as an average there's probably 12-24 months between me buying a bottle and opening it.

Part of this for me is space. I can only keep around 20 bottles open at any one time. But I've also realised part of it is I like the anticipation and knowing I have a really nice bottle waiting to be opened. So I sometimes like to keep them sealed for a while. I always open them eventually though.

Just wondered what other peoples habits were? Do you always open them straight away? Do you sit on them for a while? Do you buy specifically for the hoard knowing the bottle won't get opened for years?

11 months ago

7 replies

YakLord replied

I try to open bottles that I get as gifts as soon as possible, but right now I'm generally only buying things for future group tastings or that I've earmarked for special events (birthdays, anniversaries, etc.). I do have some bottles that have been in inventory for coming up on 10 years as the opportunity to open them hasn't yet come up.

11 months ago 7Who liked this?

RianC replied

I used to open them as soon as I got them but, as my consuming has decreased, my buying has possibly increased, so now they tend to just get added to the pile ... Although the odd one or two do still get popped on arrival!

Because of this I now have a kind of conveyor belt system, whereby I have twenty or so bottles (mostly recent buys, but not all) that are next in line to be opened once I finish a bottle. Mood, or the style, usually dictates which bottle I pick from that smaller pile, i.e. If I have a few peated whiskies on the go, I'll opt for something different.

I only tend to have ten bottles or so open at a time, and I do think about having more open; but, given some are lasting two years of more, nowadays, I worry they will deteriorate before I finish them.

I do however buy some whiski knowing that I won't be opening it for a good while. These are usually repeat buys of something I enjoyed or a token malt I'll save for a more special occasion. Which, to be fair, could simply be that it's a miserable Tuesday in January and I want cheering up grinning

Other buys that will sit around are many of the older blends I've picked up at auction. Most, If not all, are to drink (at some point) but, again, I only want to have two or three blends on the go at any one time; so, given the rate I drink at, it takes a few months before I have space.

And, like @Wierdo, some are bottles that have older labels or are not around anymore. Now, being honest, if down the line I felt I could get a good price for any of them, I might be tempted to sell - with profits most likely going back to the whisky fund yum . But, ssssshhhhh, don't tell 'her' that wink

11 months ago 5Who liked this?

Nozinan replied

I have always bought more whisky than I can drink. When I was starting out I would buy bottles and put them on the “to open” list. Some never made it.

If I did open a bottle and liked it, I would get 1-2 more to have for the future. And of course when the opportunity to get stuff that became unobtainable came up, I did add to my collection. Given that it takes me several years to get through most bottles… well, they added up.

Some bottles I have purchased for specific future opening. For instance I have a 1994 Glendronach single cask that I will open when retire, because it was distilled when I started my career.

More recently, I have dabbled in bottle splits, which mandate opening. I like this, because I’m pretty sure I will never open all the bottles I currently have, and I have no room for sealed bottles anymore.

If I see something I want to get, I either split with a friend or open soon after I get them.

I will pick up a spare if I really like something, but the initial bottle usually gets opened quickly now.

Of course, if I were to come across a BTAC at the LCBO auction, or something like that, it might stay sealed until a special occasion.

11 months ago 6Who liked this?

PeterG7 replied

When I'm gifted a bottle I open it. When I buy one or more then they usually remain unopened. There are many waiting in the cue for their turn to be opened.

11 months ago 4Who liked this?


Depends on what it is and what else I have open. I currently have 20 opened and 8 unopened. Hovering around 30-40 total seems like a good number for me. Always have a good variety to choose from.

11 months ago 3Who liked this?

Victor replied

@Wierdo if "habit" is seen to be a consistent repetitive behaviour then I have not had any bottle opening habits. My bottle opening patterns have changed according to my level of experience and also according to other circumstances.

In the years after I had decided that I wanted to do a deep exploration of whiski, starting in approximately 2007, my first priority was on getting as much experience as possible. This meant exploring full bottles and also trying everything which was reasonably available for me to try. I had no prejudices. I was tabula rasa, out to get my own unvarnished experiences. And it was easy too, because I knew not one single human being other than my wife and my sister who had any interest in or opinions about, whiski. Bottles were rather inexpensive then, because the popular whiski madness had not yet begun. US domestic whiskis were particularly inexpensive in those days prior to 2013. In those days $ 100 bought me a handful of bottles, most of which I liked very much.

So I bought a few, then a few dozen, then a few score, then a few hundred bottles. By 2012 I had at least a couple of hundred bottles. I was completely ignorant at first about the effects of air and heat on open bottles, so I opened every new bottle label as soon as I got it because I wanted to know how it tasted and smelled. In 2011 I inadvertently carried out my grand learning project on air and heat effects on open bottles of whiski by choosing to use no air conditioning during a very hot summer. WELL, I found out the hard way that the bottles change a lot after you open them, and with hundreds open I wasn't going to be finishing off many of them soon, so the vast majority of my bottles stayed open for years at a time, prior to being finished off. I had the quality of maybe 15 or 20 of my 200 or so open bottles destroyed by the combination of air and, especially, HEAT.

After that I had the task of looking out for my air exposed bottles to prevent any possible further degradation, and to take notice with future bottle openings that things change with the taste of the whiski once you open the bottle. I used noble gas to limit effects of air exposure with my open bottles, and cut way down on opening any new bottles. Over time I have come to prefer decanting into smaller sample sized bottles with small air spaces over use of inert gases as a preservative. I generally don't worry at all about air effects with whiskis above 60% ABV or which are heavily brined and peated. High ABV and heavy peat and brine I find to be preservatives.

After a few years of exploration it became apparent that quality varied tremendously and that a particularly excellent batch of any whiski was worth stocking up on, because exceptional bottles were...the exception. I also learned of the existence of excellent premium products which required hustle and moxie to get into one's possession, such as BTAC whiskeys and Van Winkle whiskeys. I became acquainted with VW and BTAC in 2010, and started to systematically pursue them. This was about 2 years before the madness struck with full force. I was able to buy and put away quite a few bottles of them before the prices went vertical and arbitrage made the supply start to dry up in late 2012. By 2015 all of these were becoming relative unobtainium, even for someone like me who had made excellent friendships with some liquor store dealers BEFORE the madness set in.

So, by 2014, I still had 150+ bottles open and now also scores of the now-nearly-impossible-to-get bottles stored for the future. Yes, storage space for the whiski has been an issue for me for a long time now. As my late wife used to ask, "What are we going to do with all of this whiski???" Drink it, of course, but as with my good friend Dr.@Nozinan, that could take a century.

For a couple of years, around 2015-2016 I was telling Nozinan, "I really mean it this time--I think I am finally ready to cut purchases way down!" Well it didn't happen just then, but it did occur by 2017. And then when my main-drinking-buddy wife got sick and passed into spirit in 2018 not only did my rate of bottle acquisition become near zero, but so did my alcohol consumption for quite a long while. It remains very low, unless I have the opportunity to do some tasting with friends.

Nowadays I will open a new bottle mostly for one of two reasons: either I have a whiski friend visiting and there is something unopened that I want them to try with me, or I run out of one of my top 20 or so faves and choose to engage another bottle of it for more supply. I do have several bottles now for 8-11 years of whiskies that I have never tasted, mostly because I'd prefer to finish off some old bottles first...but with little consumption of alcohol these days the date for finishing off those bottles gets pushed farther and farther out.

In summary: I have mostly completed in my own mind my study of taste, smell, and texture by means of the study of whiski. At this point I consume them mostly for enjoyment and appreciation, and not as a learning vehicle. Because I avoid rather than seek out the alcohol effects of whiski I now drink the whiskis primarily as a shared social experience, with solitary appreciation of the whiskis being.for me more of an occasional pastime. The opening of new bottles of whiski in my house does take place, but it is at this point in time an uncommon occurrence.

11 months ago 8Who liked this?

Timp replied

Interesting comments.

I used to open everything due to a curiosity to taste what I just purchased, however this year I have been drinking very little and am enjoying buying and building a stack of unopened bottles for the future.

I have about 60-70 open and twenty or so closed.

I am replacing nice bottles I once had ( if I can afford them ) or buying things I think will increase in price over the next few years as looking at some of the bottles that I drank the prices at auction are now too steep for me.

I do get concerned about the quality of open bottles deteriorating so I am making a concerted effort to put stuff in smaller bottles or drink it up while taking a decent sample off for the future.

10 months ago 2Who liked this?

Liked by:

@Timp@OdysseusUnbound@Nozinan@Victor@RianC + 2 others

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