View Full Version : Bourbon Hunting

08-08-2007, 10:40
Quick question for the bourbon hunters.

Do you literally go store to store to see what they have or do you 'let your fingers do the walking'? In hunting for the BTAC I've found that calling is easier than visiting, but obviously hunting dusties may require the hands on approach.

Considering how many liquor stores exist and how many just carry 'well' or standard top-shelf items, it would seem a lot of ventures into stores is wasted time.

On the other hand, I've also noticed a bit of a language barrier while on the phone...

I suppose this is why they call it hunting. Any thoughts or comments?

08-08-2007, 11:13
The phone can definately be a good tool in hunting, but I've found too many barriers to locating things this way. Either the people on the phone have no idea what I'm talking about, language barrier, etc. Then there are the people who will raise the pricing on something that's been sitting around forever once they know someone wants it, the people who hold stuff in the back room for "special customers", etc, etc, etc.

It's a useful tool, but it just can't replace walking into the store and poking around. IMHO, of course.

08-08-2007, 11:25
I generally frequent 3 stores within 20 minutes from home. I know the brands they carry and prices. If these stores don't stock something I want, I will check the yellow pages and make phone calls. I also enjoy stopping by unfamiliar stores to check their stock if I happen to be driving by. Sometimes I can find something different or a sale.

08-08-2007, 11:32
The language barrier is one issue. The other is that the people answering the phone will usually have no idea what they have in stock or not (especially dusty bottles). I was in a store in southern California a few months ago in a nicer neighborhood and asked the clerk if he had any AH Hirsch bourbon. He looked at me strangely and said that he had never heard of it before. As I was walking out the door, I saw 2 bottles of the AH Hirsch 20 year in a glass case. Just goes to show you...

Dusty bottle hunting is a huge time (and gas/money) drain, but is very rewarding. Contrary to popular belief, there are still plenty of dusty bottles here in southern California (ORVW15, ER101, ND OGD & OT, OO, GTS, WLW, THH, etc). I should know as I have left many of these bottles on the shelves while hunting. In addition, there are many stores that I have come across with lazy clerks who won't get off their arses to move old bottles around so you can see what they have buried behind them. There could be MANY treasures hidden within but you will have to get the right clerk on the right day to work with you. Happy hunting! Those "eBay poachers" haven't got to them all yet...

08-08-2007, 12:37
I agree with the folks above. Phoning has not been very effective for me, even when I am looking for something in particular. (One clerk excitedly told me, "Yes we do have GTS." When I asked how much it cost, he came back and said, "er, um, actually we don't have any, we just sold out.") I have a route that I will take once a month and covers up to 7 locations in about an hour or so. (I actually just got home from doing just that.) I can keep my eye on specials and prices and who is carrying what. (I know where the best prices for all my standards are.) I also like to look out for stuff that I've never heard of before. (Saw something called 'Prichards' today, never heard of it.) Not possible to do over the phone. I guess with all the gas spent on the drive, I'm probably not saving that much if any. But it's still fun and it's a trip that I look forward to every month.

08-08-2007, 13:10
Maybe I'll get a job at a wholeseller and access their database to find out who they shipped what where. That would make it a LOT easier!

I have been asking clerks if they store anything in the back. One guy got all excited and enthusiastic so I got excited until he pulled out a few boxes of old nasty rot gut scotch.

I figured dusties would be an inperson kind of hunt, but are you finding the ORVW and BTAC and other lines are turning up at the most odd ball locations?

08-08-2007, 14:54
I did a search on 'dusty bottles' it seems some of you guys here are fanatics. And in my area FlashPuppy seemed to be pretty prolific in hunting but suddenly stopped in Jan of this year. I wonder if he ran out of room?

Thankfully it's given me an eye as to what to grab first if push comes to shove money wise. Pretty interesting!

08-08-2007, 19:05
And in my area FlashPuppy seemed to be pretty prolific in hunting but suddenly stopped in Jan of this year. I wonder if he ran out of room?

He's off serving our country. Left in Feb.


08-08-2007, 19:33
Just to throw my .02 cents in, calling on the phone rarely get the results I'm looking for. If you're dusty hunting....forget it. Don't even bother calling. For dusty hunting I get my list of "what to look for" and my map with all the stores pegged and hit the city around 10:00 a.m. and work my way through about 20 stores that day. Each time I've done this, I've scored some pretty nice (and old) bottles of great bourbon. Unfortunately, most of the stores I go into have Plexiglass partitions around the liquor and you can't get to them. It's especially hard to see when the Plexiglass is old, faded and hard to see through. I've had some luck in getting proprietors to let me behind the counter to look through the shelves but not always.

For newer releases, the phone may yield results but typically, those that answer the phone aren't much help.

08-09-2007, 08:47
Best wishes for FlashPuppy then...also explains why my PM went unanswered. I hope he comes back safe and all in one piece.

08-09-2007, 19:01
When your looking for dusties, it's best to find parts of town that have recently(last 10-15 years) gone down hill in status. They have all the old stuff. Also, stores that have been open long enough to have something 20 years old or older.
Jeff Mo.

08-10-2007, 05:35
I'll throw out one more bit of advise. When dusty hunting I plan to go during times of the day that reduce the risk of problems. For instance, my dusty hunting is in D.C. I don't go to Southeast D.C. in the evenings. I would be stupid. I plan my trips for early morning on a Saturday when the stores are just opening up (9-10 a.m.) and begin my hunting. D.C. is a wonderful city but as the previous post indicated, there are some parts of any city that are rather unsavory and D.C. is no exception. My only point, use caution when shopping in tougher neighborhoods. Many of those stores that have the bullet proof partitions are cash only businesses and when you hit the mother load of Old Fitz BIB from 1975 and you pull out your wad of cash...you want to make sure your're shopping during low traffic times.

08-10-2007, 18:00
I've never had much luck dusty bottle hunting. A lot of it probably due to living in a rural area. But DAMN! bullet proof partitions, bad parts of town. Man, @#&$ that noise.

08-10-2007, 23:35
San diego seems to be only going uphill in stats over the last 2 years.

However...in hunting a very asian part of town, I hit bottles #2 and #3 of Lot B....which to me is pretty rare. Not like the old dusties or the new limited rares....but still....fairly rare.

I also saw a bottle of RR 10 yr...not sure how rare that is, and something else I can't remember...I wrote down notes to refer...but they're in the car.

I'm thinking of bringing my 2nd Lot B to a friend for his 28th bday and pickingup the 3rd for the bunker.

the COOL side of this owner, and I have no idea of how often this happens to others was A) he pulled out his catalog and said order what you want...I can get it all. Which meant to me his markup was somewhat negotabile...and

B) he gave me a 50ml of Rare Breed for free. $3 shelf value....but in spending 30mins talking to the owner about rare spirits he appeciated those willing to spend time looking and hunting for the good stuff.

This was a no=name, I'd never walk in for anything, type place. and while not stocked with the old shit, he had 3 bottles of $1,500 bottles of the shelf 'just in case' someone walked in looking for it.

Anyone ever have this expierence?

08-11-2007, 03:38
Anyone ever have this expierence?

The corner store right down my street is similar. I was buying milk one morning and noticed a huge gathering of premium tequila and scotch on the high shelf behind the counter. We're talking more $100+ bottles than almost all of the premium liquor stores in the entire county, and it's a dingy little corner store that sells fishbait and cheap snacks. You just never know. Pays to scope EVERYTHING :)

08-11-2007, 07:14
I've never had much luck dusty bottle hunting. A lot of it probably due to living in a rural area. But DAMN! bullet proof partitions, bad parts of town. Man, @#&$ that noise.

Now you see why I shop early morning. What's even scarier is that when my brother and I go, depending on the neighborhood, one of us stays in the car with the engine running while the other sprints into the store for a quick look. It's certainly an adventure......:bigeyes:

08-15-2007, 10:03
I have to agree with the board, it's rare to find a bourbon drinker on the other end of the phone or even someone that has an idea of inventory. You can find most current releases by phone but it's work.

I had know idea of the dusties until last week on this site "WOW!"

I think I need to do a little more reading before I go looking though! Not sure of what to look for ad what havew you??

08-15-2007, 11:12
That's what I'm doing right now...to find out what old dusties are good, read all the threads in the "Collections" section. Usually the guys put up pics and as I"m more visual at least now I will notice something older. But learning the details of labels, tax strips etc....is rather intimidating. There are a ton of limited editions and what not that are worth hunting down in addition to older dusties that taste great and are cheaper.

It's crazy, but I've gone back to different stores a month later and with 'new' knowledge I"m seeing things I hadn't noticed before!

Quite frankly the BTAC '06, the BHC and the PVW's have eaten up a ton of cash. While not even 'old', they are hard to find AND expensive!

The best thing I'm doing is scouting....visiting stores when I'm in an area just to see what they have. Usually it'll be a bust, but it never hurts to take inventory and remember where bottles of Lot B or BTAC are so when funds free up you can revisit them.

It will be interesting to see what happens to 1 store that has the BTAC '06 at $70 when the '07 comes out they said would initially be priced at $50. If they drop the old stock back to $50 I'm gonna be pissed! Either that or they'll have to seperate them on the shelf. I dunno.

It is a fun hobby and just read read read and then search and then ask questions when you can't find what you're looking for.

**Edit** AS a side note, when the shop owner asks me what I"m looking for, I just say I'm browsing. And while I do look hard at the bourbons, if I see something I like but won't purchase, I also take some time to look at scotch/tequilla. I don't want that owner noticing what I"m doing and then raising prices or some other BS when I leave.

08-15-2007, 11:33
**Edit** AS a side note, when the shop owner asks me what I"m looking for, I just say I'm browsing. And while I do look hard at the bourbons, if I see something I like but won't purchase, I also take some time to look at scotch/tequilla. I don't want that owner noticing what I"m doing and then raising prices or some other BS when I leave.

Well, my tactic has been when I see items I want, I hit em and hit em hard. I pick and purchase so fast they don't have time to react. I do a pretty good job of cleaning the stores out as typically, the stores are smaller and the older stock isn't significant. My brother and I keep the owner/owners busy while we're loading up items on the counter. For instance, last time I picked up many bottles of Old Fitz BIB from SW, I pulled every bottle they had, put them on the counter, did a quick total and told the guy I'll buy all of them with a discount. I said something to the effect of "Hey this will be a good sales day for you...you're gonna make an extra $300 bucks plus make shelf room for newer stock."

He looked at me and wasn't sure what to say....and simply nodded his head and said "ok".

I have to go back to that store and pick up some older HH, KY Gentleman and some Old Fitz Prime 80 (SW).

08-17-2007, 08:59
Hunting is fun, yes? There was a time, between customer appointments, I'd drive around looking for the signs of a potential client. Now, my tendency is to drive around looking for out of the way liquor stores. But, I should submit a caveat here, to dusty bottle hunting. Just because it's dusty, old looking, or has a tax stamp, doesn't mean it's necessarily good. I have brought home dozens and dozens of bottles which were worth the effort. But, also have brought home many others, only to find they tasted like crap. Which could be the reason they're still on the shelf. They tasted like crap to start with.

I would suggest that before your next dusty hunting trip that you review this board, jot down a few recommended dusties, and grab those when you see them. If you're not sure, leave them, post it up, get some feedback, then go back if you want them. Heck, they've been there a long time, they'll be there tomorrow.