View Full Version : Attention All Collectors

03-15-2001, 12:09
I see from another post that Whiskey magazine may be doing a story on collectors. I too would like to do a story on collectors for The Bourbon Country Reader (http://cowdery.home.netcom.com/page9.html).

For my purposes, if in your home now there are ten or more whiskey bottles that still have whiskey in them, you are a collector.

We all know I collect only empty bottles, with is more a matter of inevitability than design. Actually, that's not entirely true. I have a few bottles of Old Taylor made at Old Taylor in its final season, a few bottles of Michter's, and a few of pre-Heaven Hill Henry McKenna, but that is the extent of my full bottles collection.

I have the following questions for collectors. Feel free to answer in private or public, as you prefer.

1. Do you collect other things? Do you think you have a collector personality? What sort of satisfaction do you find in collecting? How does collecting whiskey differ from other kinds of collecting?

2. How were most of your holdings acquired: (a) retail purchase, (b) purchase or trade with another collector, (c) purchase from private individuals who are not themselves collectors, (d) gifts or inheritance, (e) liquor store heists.

3. What is the exact scope of your collection? (e.g., all whiskies, all distilled spirits, all American Whiskies, novel packaging, etc.)

4. Your collection's statistics: How many bottles total? How many unique bottles? How many unopened bottles?

5. If there were a marketplace where you could trade with and buy from other collectors, would you use it?

6. Is there anything else about your collection that you think is unusual or interesting?

Finally, let me know if you are willing to have your name used or if you would prefer to remain anonymous.

--Chuck Cowdery (http://cowdery.home.netcom.com)

03-15-2001, 14:24
Hello Chuck
I guess that i'm a collector or maybe a fanatic of Stitzel-Weller products.
I've bought mine retail in Kentucky and i usually don't collect other things except maybe distillery glasses and or other products.
Here is the list:
1. 8 bottles of Very Very old FITZgerald 12yrs-100proof-7 unopened- distilled in 68 and bottled in 80 and thanks for your info previously on these bottles. 2. 2-bottles of Old FITZ-101proof-don't know the year-1-unopened
3. 6-bottles of Old Fitzgeralds-1849-has gold foil seal with Stitzel-Weller name and Very old Fitzgerald on the foil with cork stopper. label has date of 1970-don't know if thats distilled or bottled date. I do know that it is PURE AMBROSIA and still can't tell whether its better than VSOF. doesn't matter anyway cause both are so excellent, wish you could try them with me. 5-unopened
4. 8-bottles of Old Fitzgerald BIB-1985-says that on the case.liter size with seven unopened.
5. 1-opened bottle of W.L.Weller special reserve -label says 1977-don't know if i can go by the year on the label.says 4/5ths quart. taste real good tho.
6. 1- opened bottle of Rebel Yell with label date of 1974-real good too.
7. lots of other bottles sealed and opened-various distillerys-all new tho.
8. hopes this helps and you can use my name. Life is Good!-- Den.

03-15-2001, 15:20
Chuck while I have more then ten bottles of bourbon I don't really consider myself a collector. For me bourbon is part of my lifestyle and not a hobby.

Here are my unopened bottles:

Kentucky Spirit - 1
Blanton's - 4
Russell's Reserve - 2
Very Special Old Fitzgerald - 1
Woodford Reserve - 1
Evan Williams Single Barrel 1990 - 2
Elijah Craig 12 YO - 6
Old Grand Dad - 5
Virginia Gentleman 90 proof "The Fox" - 2
Ancient Ancient Age 10 YO - 2 1.75l
Old Forester - 2 1.75l

That's it. You can see I'm running low. I'll pick up a bunch of bottlings this Sept in KY, of the bourbons that I can't get here. Everything was a retail purchase.

I do have a collection of about 100 shotglasses.

I do not consider my battery of firearms a collection, but rather an assortment that allows me to defend my family and engage in the types of hunting and shooting sports that I enjoy.

It would be wonderful if we had a swap-mart on our forum.

Linn Spencer

Have Shotglass. Will Travel.

03-15-2001, 17:00
A short reply:

1) I do collect other things. Coins, typewriters, straight razors, and (of
course) books. A couple of pipes. I like owning things that are well
designed, historical, or somehow intresting. I like owning things that
make me proud to be a (human being / American / engineer / classicist / etc.),
so the "identity" thing is there for me.

2) Most of my whisk(e)y was bought retail, much of it from Sam's in Chicago
and the Wine and Liquor Depot in California (if you consider those retail...).
I have split a number of bottles with other enthusiasts in the past.

3) My collection tends to be high end stuff, interesting stuff. Things you
probably can't get at a bar or a small liquor store. Mostly bourbon/scotch/rye.
I also have cognac, port, and gin. I plan on getting into rum a bit too, but
haven't yet.

4) Stats? My gosh. Probably only about 25 bottles total, all open and being
consumed. I tend to keep empty bottles, but I don't count those as part of
my collection.

5) A Marketplace? I might use it to buy things I can't buy off the shelf,
especially historic stuff. I'd also be interested in splitting bottles
with people, i.e. trade 1/3 bottle of Blanton's for 1/3 bottle of Booker's
(or whatever). My guess is that a marketplace might not get enough traffic
to make it worthwhile.


03-15-2001, 20:58
Hello, Chuck. I have the following sealed bottles. Not quite sure I would call these a collection rather than a hording of Bourbons. Over the years I have collected rare coins, golf clubs. and sports trading cards although most of all of these are long gone. I have the following sealed bottles of Bourbon right now, would you like a drink. 1-Bookers. 1- Blantons 1-Benchmark Single barrel 5-90 Evan Williams Single barrel. 1-liter Buffalo Trace. 3-sazerac Rye 2-17ye eagle Rare 3-weller 19yr. 3-20yr Hirsch 3-16yr Hirsch. 2-23yr Vanwinkle Pappy Reserve 1-old 20yr Vanwinkle Pappy Reserve 2-new 20yr Vanwinkle 20yr pappy Reserve 4-Vanwinkle 13yr Family Reserve Rye. 3-15ye Vanwinkle 107 Proof 2-Vanwinkle 12ye Family Reserve.2-10yr Weller Centenial. 1 Each 14yr & 16yr Black maple Hills Ltd. 1-Wild Turkey kentucky Spirit. 2- Wild Turkey Rare breed. 1-12yr Old Wild Turkey 1-George Dickel 10yr Special Reserve. 2-Jack Daniels Single Barrel 1- Jack Daniels Gentleman Jack.2- 1-Knob Creek. 1-Russel Reserve. 2-Jeffersons Reserve. I may have missed a couple bottles but this is what I have for the most part. I have say 8--10 opened bottles some of the above and some different. i plan on adding 8-10 different Bourbons when i return from Ky this summer. Creggor.

03-15-2001, 23:45
I'll attempt to answer your questions in the order that you asked them:
1.) In addition to American whiskey, I also collect fixed blade and tactical folding knives, Winchester shotguns, fishing lures, and Hewlett-Packard calculators (yeah, I'm an engineer-geek). I'm not sure I know what a collector personality is, but I enjoy "classic" items. Items that started at the top of their game and will still hold their own today. The items that I collect are uniquely American forms of art in their respective areas. Although American whiskeys are an art form, I do drink my liquid collection and the empty bottles, unless particularly unique, go into the trash.

Also, the things that I collect have brought me much closer to some very interesting people (such as the members of this forum). The people and the objects I collect form a symbiotic relationship.

2. Most of my holdings were purchased, a few were traded, and a couple were obtained in liquor store heists /wwwthreads/images/wink.gif.

3. My whiskey collection consists of American whiskey, although I have one bottle of Canadian rye. I also keep a few bottles of Tequila around.

4. I currently have 171 bottles of American whiskey, about 20 are somewhat unique, about 50 are unopened (backup inventory or waiting for that special occasion).

5. I would definitely buy/trade if there was a marketplace catering to my interests.

6. My friends think my whiskey collection is unique in that it reflects on my lack of sanity, but in reality it's what helps me cope. After 10 to 12 hours at work, I need something to totally remove me from my job (which I love or I wouldn't put in the hours, but we all need a release).

Lastly, feel free to use my name.


03-16-2001, 01:05
Hi Chuck,

April is just around the corner. I can't wait to see the article (Malt Advocate) you did on my family. I hope they used my favorite picture of them in front of the old Jail House.

I have just started to collect a few bottles of Heaven Hill single barrel bourbons. They gave me a gift set (3) Evan Williams Single Barrel Vintage, Elijah Craig 18 year, and Henry McKenna 10 year. It has a oak tray that they set on with the names engraved on it. I have others, but they are special because they were given to me and yes Linn I will not drink them they are proudly displayed on a massive antique side board.

I also collect a lot of infromation about "Master Distillers", Joseph L. Beam in particular. Of course you know that. It is just a unique trade that I believe has to born within. All the bourbon we drink today is the rusult of very hard work that they did in their lifetime and right now a lot of people will read this and wonder who is Joseph L. Beam. Someday, I am going to track down to date where he was a Master Distiller through out his lifetime along with his 7 sons. I could almost bet that they have been in almost every distillery in Kentucky.

I also collect labels. I have a very nice collection . Don't know what I am going to do with them but I do like collecting labels, HH of course. Elijah Craig wooden tray, Fighting Cock wood plaques, Christian Brother tins, embroidered Heaven Hill Distilleries, Inc. sign etc. I use all this stuff at the booth at the bourbon festival, meanwhile it decorates my shop throughtout the year.

I would not sell anything that I have all will be passed down to my children.

you can use my name,

Bettye Jo Boone
great-grandaughter of Joseph L. Beam, Dean of all Master Distillers.

03-18-2001, 10:26

1) In addition to bourbon, I collect rare writing instruments (fountain pens), old nautical charts, compasses and other devices used to determine geographic direction.

2) The majority of my bourbon collection was purchased in liquor stores, some on the web, some traded with fellow forum members or bought overseas. No heist.

3) My collection is all Kentucky Straight Bourbon, no rye or Tenn. whiskey.

4) I have 50 bottles, half are sealed. My primary interests are a) older bourbons (15 years or more), b) unusual packaging and c) export-only bottlings. Most unusual bottles in collection:

Four Roses Single Barrel,
Four Roses super premium Platinum,
I.W. Harper President's Reserve,
Very Olde St. Nick, 240 moons old
Virgin 21 yo.
L & G President's Choice
Wild Turkey Stampede '55
Wild Turkey Kentucky Legend
Old Montana Red Eye
Cock of Walk 15 yr.

I'd be interested in a forum trade mart.


Andy Traxel
03-24-2001, 14:43

1) I'm a pack rat. I collect jazz & blues cds, books, and hand tools too. Collecting feeds my neurosis. There's always the chance with whiskey that the space taken up with the collection will stabilize if I drink enough. Everything else just keeps consuming more and more space.

2)Virtually all of it was bought. All the good stuff was. The Beam white, CC and Seagram's 7 are the sorts of things that show up as gifts.

3) I have a liquor cabinet full of assorted things for guests. But only one brand of things besides North American whiskey.

4) I have 20 bottles of NA whiskey. 10 bourbons, 2 ryes, 5 Canadians, 2 blends and 1 Tennessee. 10 of the bourbons and ryes are small batch/single barrels. 2 of the Candians could be classed as ryes (Alberta Premium and Lot #40). 11 are unopened.

5) I'm not sure if I'd do buisness with individuals by mail order.


Andy Traxel
03-24-2001, 14:46
I forgot to say that you may use my name.


Andy Traxel
03-24-2001, 14:52

Interesting to see that 3 out the 8 respondents to this post are engineers (me included).

I don't think this reflects the usual suspects here. But it may say something about who collects. And who has "data" on their collections.


03-28-2001, 12:08
In addition to the people here on StraightBourbon, I have known two pretty serious collectors. One collected any kind of spirits, the older the better, mostly because he fancied the old bottles and labels. He was also a drinker, but his collection was different from his stash. The collection was not for drinking.

The other guy also had both, a collection and a stash. He would be the ideal collector if there were other people like him, which there don't seem to be. He had some things in quantity. (I am referring to him in the past tense because we have lost touch, but I presume he still has all this stuff.) For example, he had cases of pre-1972 Old Taylor and at least a case of Very Very Old Fitz. His thing was bourbon produced at now-defunct distilleries.

Unlike these two guys, most of the people here do not make a distinction between their collection (not for drinking) and their stash (for drinking). It's all for drinking. Unopened bottles are just bottles that haven't been opened yet. Is that a fair conclusion?

--Chuck Cowdery (http://cowdery.home.netcom.com)

03-28-2001, 19:00
With the exception of just a couple or three bottles of sentimental value, that would describe our collection perfectly.


03-28-2001, 19:23
Hello, Again Chuck. You have that right. i really do not consider my self a collector of Bourbon. I have just acquired what i find to be some of the better Bourbons available today. I think of a collectible as something that is special, unique, and possible of future appreciation. I realize a lot of people collect items for all different reasons. Just having grown up collecting real collectibles. Rare coins, sports cards and old gold clubs I tried to collect what was rare and had potential to appreciate in value. I do not consider my Bourbon as something that will go up in value. Quite the opposite. i keep drinking it and replacing. Most of what I have has been bought at liquor stores. if I hear about another Bourbon that I am curious about and If money is available I may go out and buy it. Right now after trying many of the better Bourbons I am content to drink the 5/6 that I reall like and can afford. leaving some of the higher priced stuff for special occasions. creggor.

03-29-2001, 07:57
Anyone seriously into collecting needs to check out this page: http://www.theonion.com/onion3710/everything_collectible.html


Jim Butler

03-29-2001, 08:18
A fair conclusion? Why Hell Yeah Chuck. Surely you must remember the Bourbonian's Creed is DRINK IT MAN, DRINK IT!

Linn Spencer

Have Shotglass. /wwwthreads/images/smile.gif Will Travel.

03-29-2001, 17:27
I love The Onion. And that article is a riot!!


03-30-2001, 20:09
Hello Chuck
Quite a few of my old bottles, such as the VVOF and the old bottlings of 1849 which i believe to have been bottled in 1970 will never be opened because they will be passed on to my young ones.I have enough to enjoy plus to save at least three unopened bottles of various older whiskys to pass on. Also it looks like i should stock up on various bottles of George Dickel. This seems to be an ideal time to save bottlings of the very best bourbons that we all like that have been discontinued or closed down.wish my folks would have saved some old bottles for me. --Life is Good!--Den

04-06-2001, 11:46
Greetings, All,

I have been, up 'til now, a lurker here, though a few of the regulars here know me by name. I would probably be classified as a "collector", though very few of my bottles are particularly old or particularly rare. I've only been accumulating (and consuming) bottles for about 4 years now. I don't distinguish between my drinking-stock and my "collection", as just about everything that is unopened is awaiting an occasion to be opened and consumed. Sometimes I will "stock up" when it appears that a bottling will soon become scarce and/or more expensive. I leaving open the possibility that I might trade a few of an item I have in quantity -- to obtain something else that I don't have (and would like to drink) or of which I have fewer.

I have most categories of spirits represented in my "collection", though the overwhelming majority of the bottles come from only three categories: Whisk(e)y, Brandy and Port. About 75% of my collection in whisk(e)y -- predominantly single malts Scotch and Bourbon. I originally intended merely to have a "well stocked bar" and to broaden my experience, but I am the kind of person who has little truck with moderation. I either have no interest in a subject, or embrace it enthusiastically. I do not "collect" things per se -- but I do tend to have a lot of objects related to fields I enjoy -- for example: bicycling (bikes, accessories and tools), books, music, glassware (glasses, decanters), tools. I like to have the things I might need (or want) to hand. On the flip side, I did not own a car, TV or camera until very recently. I tend not to acquire things until I see a need for them. But if I really like something, I tend to pursue it passionately!

I currently have about 2500 bottles in my collection. I try to keep the open bottles down to about 50 or 60 at a time (to minimize deterioration). I usually will look for an "occasion" to open a new or special bottle. Sometimes a premeditated event or gathering, sometimes an avid friend stopping by, or sometimes merely the emptying of the previous bottle of the same or similar whisky (or whatever). I don't seem to have too much problem keeping a fair assortment of bottles open! It's harder to exercise restraint, so that I don't have too high a proportion of bottles open! With this many open, and in reserve, it's hard to give them all the attention they deserve!

Most of my bottles have come from retail purchases, though a few have been trades or gifts. Whenever I make a trip to another state or country, I keep in mind the potential whisky-shopping opportunities, as each state or country has its own unique set of offerings. I've hand carried many of my bottles from other states or countries, and have sometimes had trusted friends carry bottles back for me from wherever they are visiting. I have also, likewise, procured bottles for my enthusiast-friends many times. I have found that the Internet has been instrumental in helping me find like-minded enthusiasts, and the best retail sources. All of my American Whiskey has been sourced in North America, but my Scotch acquisitions have been more global in nature, as so many bottlings never make it to the US.

I have a MS Access database I maintain to keep track of my purchases and "holdings", so I know what I have, and reference prices when I go shopping (YES, DAMMIT! I AM AN ENGINEER BY TRAINING, TOO!) I have about 500 different bottlings of Scotch Whisky (450 different single malts), and about 200 different American Whiskeys. I try to have at least two of each bottle, so I can try one and still have at least one intact, for "later". If I REALLY like something and it's getting scarce, I'll get as many as I can, so I'll never run out (and maybe have some "trade bait")! There are some rare and/or expensive bottles of which I only have one. I may also buy one of something, intending to taste it in the near-enough future to buy some more -- if it pleases me sufficiently.

It would be great if we could buy, sell and trade directly (and legally), as collectors of any other legal good (sports memorabilia, stamps, coins, Pokemon, etc.) are entitled. It seems strange and ridiculous that if I trade you a spare bottle of "X" for a bottle of "Y" that you have and don't want, we are both criminals!

I try to buy bottles that I will enjoy drinking and sharing with my friends. At this point, I will probably NOT get around to all the bottles that I already have. But the joy and the glory is in the attempt!

Accumulating whisky (as opposed to "collecting", which to me means putting it on a shelf and admiring it) is an interesting endeavour, as it is both (relatively) non-perishable and consumable. You can either "have your cake" OR "eat it"! I try and do both. To me the biggest difference in "state" is the difference between having even one bottle of something unopened, in reserve, and having only an open bottle, or none at all. Each unopened bottle has the potential of adding a wonderful pleasure to some future day. And it will wait until the time of my choosing! I can only hope that I will live long enough to experience and enjoy all the "pleasures" I have stored up for myself (and my friends)!


01-29-2003, 06:00
Howdy Chuck.
Can you tell the difference between the two H Mckennas-I'm talking about the bottle labels, I guess. (And the regular, $10.00 a bottle version of Mckenna-not the single barrel, or small batch? not sure what they call it).
Do you think there is much difference between the two in taste, or did HH keep it basically the same?

Thanks, I have been appreciating your stuff here and on your site. And a fellow Illinoisan!


01-29-2003, 22:15
I don't think Heaven Hill made any effort to duplicate or retain the McKenna taste. Current McKenna is just standard Heaven Hill whiskey.

01-29-2003, 23:11
There is an account from 2 sources , HH Kroll and The Regans. That say basically the same thing. That Stafford McKenna sold to Seagrams in 1941 , but did not sale the recipe. So The real McKenna Whiskey dies that year. If it was aged 5 or 6 years then the real charge may have taken place toward the end of the forties. Depending on how much stock was on hand at the time of the sale. The current product from Heaven Hill is in name only. However Seagram probably made a decent product. It is feasible that some of the pre 1941 exists somewhere, that would be interesting to try. Whatever Seagrams was making may still be in production and used to make blends with, how sad.

01-30-2003, 12:47
In response to your questions.
1.. Do you collect other things? Do you think you have a collector personality? What sort of satisfaction do you find in collecting? How does collecting whiskey differ from other kinds of collecting?
Yes, I consider myself a collector, and a packrat. I collect beer steins, coasters, microbrew beer bottles, porcelain insulators from high tension wires, motorcycle memoribilia, and most recently bourbon and bourbonobilia. I associate certain events or periods in my life with each holding. Its kind of like a photo album in several different media. My bourbon collection started when I moved to KY five years ago. (When in Rome) The fascination started when I saw a Maker's Mark bottle with white wax and started investigating. I have two distinct collections; My drinking (or Linn) Collection and My Keep for Posterity (Paradox) collection. Every so often something crosses over. I think the satisfaction comes in being more than superficially aware of a product. The deeper you get the more interesting it becomes and you get deeper and deeper.
2. How were most of your holdings acquired: (a) retail purchase, (b) purchase or trade with another collector, (c) purchase from private individuals who are not themselves collectors, (d) gifts or inheritance, (e) liquor store heists.

Most of my holdings were retail purchases. I have traded for some rare items or acquired as part of a benefit auction or fund raiser. (Tax deductible whiskey!!!) Some were gifts and none were heists.
3. What is the exact scope of your collection? (e.g., all whiskies, all distilled spirits, all American Whiskies, novel packaging, etc.)
Except for two JD special bottlings from the 70's and 80's, a 60's Old Overholt pint and bottle of Scotch my grandmother left in my possession, all whiskeys are bourbon. The largest portion of my collection are the early Maker's collectibles (Keeneland, Louiville Football, Tennessee, UK etc). I branched out to Woodford Derby and Breeder's Cup and have a few signed bottles of more recent bottles. (Jimmy Russell, Booker Noe, Jim Rutledge, Elmer T. Lee, Julian VW)

4. Your collection's statistics: How many bottles total? How many unique bottles? How many unopened bottles?

I have exactly 112 bottles. 73 are unopened and most are part of the Posterity Collection. If its in the LInn Collection, I usually open within 3 days of acquisition.
I don't have anything I would consider "rare", but many that are traded or sold as collectible. Its more the story of how I acquired it, when, why etc that makes it unique.

5. If there were a marketplace where you could trade with and buy from other collectors, would you use it?

I contemplate what a wonderful swap meet would occur if all whiskey fanatics could bring their tradeables and rares for review and trade. It would make acquiring 32 Makers Mark NFL bottles easier. (As some have done).
6. Is there anything else about your collection that you think is unusual or interesting?
I record each purchase date, location and price on a tag on the bottom of the bottle. I do this for my drinking collection as well. It helps my memory. I save (Pack Rat) my old empties, if they are anything but bottom shelf.
Finally, let me know if you are willing to have your name used or if you would prefer to remain anonymous.

You can use my name and PM if you have additional questions.

02-04-2003, 02:20
I have some of the Seagram-made McKenna product and it tastes like a Seagrams bourbon (think Four Roses) as opposed to a Heaven Hill bourbon. Usually when minor brands are acquired no real effort is made to preserve the taste profile. That's why so many of us were concerned when the Weller and Fitzgerald brands were sold because, as wheaters, they have a distinctive taste.