Welcome to the Straightbourbon.com Forums.
Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 23
  1. #1
    Advanced Taster
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Louisville
    Posts
    185

    Question How to locate Dusty Bottles?

    After searching and looking through a ton of dusty threads, I did not find a lot of tips and hints on how to locate dusty's.

    I thought I would start this new thread under this heading so that it might be easier to locate this information in the future.

    I see that we have a lot of members that seem to have a gift for finding these lost treasures. I am hopeful that you might give us some insight into how you search for and find these dusty bottles.

    I am fascinated at the thought of finding a bottle that may have been out there for twenty or thirty years and is sitting on some shelf for retail sale. Have these bottles really been on a retailers shelf for this length of time? Or how else do they suddenly appear? Is there a certain kind of store that is more likely to have these? So far I only seem to find new product that seems to be rotated quickly.

    Any tips you have for newbie hunters would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanx!

  2. #2
    Disciple
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Portland, Maine
    Posts
    1,690

    Re: How to locate Dusty Bottles?

    I have limited experience in searching for dusties, but have notice a few things that are helpful. First, the regular clientele of the store in question are usually buying off the bottom shelf or going for name brands that are widely recognizable (JB, OGD, JD, etc.) rather than the lesser-knowns. Stores that specialize in tobacco sales (or something else, my biggest haul came from a pizza joint) but also have liquor tend to be especially good. Out of the way stores off the beaten path tend to be better then those that are in central areas & frequented by liquor purchasing consumers.
    A lot of it, however, seems to be where geographically you're located and how many stores you visit. The dusty hunting around my area is very bad as I live in a liquor control state, but I have still stumbled across a few things....I visited 15 or so stores in the past few days...I only found a few unusual bottles and one bona-fide dusty, but they are definitely out there, it's just a matter of perseverence.
    Happy Hunting!
    "A person can work up a mean, mean thirst after a hard day of nothing much at all . . . "

    Andy

  3. #3
    Guru
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    AZ
    Posts
    2,726

    Re: How to locate Dusty Bottles?

    Go to every store in the area you live or travel.

    You can never tell what each store will have until you go into it, but usually the older the better.

    Most important part, know what you are looking for. If you do not know what was made, by who and when, you will overlook treasures.

    I am not trying to trivialize dust hunting, but this is really how to do it.

    The visiting the stores is the easy part, its he learning of 100 years of bourbon info, codes, dates, bottles, names, etc that is the hard part.

  4. #4
    Bourbonian Of The Year 2013 and Guru
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Just East of the Big Chicken, GA
    Posts
    5,596

    Re: How to locate Dusty Bottles?

    The older the store the better. Also, those stores located in "bad" parts of town are fertile. Scout a store located near a large, but closed or reduced factory or business. This means there was once a lot of money and drinkers around, but the people are gone now...but the dusties may remain.
    Check out this thread below for additional info. The first few posts are specific to Florida, but some good general info is listed later in the thread. Others and I list a few pointers in posts there, on how to find "target rich" stores, and how to avoid not "becoming a target", yourself.

    http://www.straightbourbon.com/forum...highlight=neon

    From what I've seen here, the best way to find a lot of dusties, is to hang out with Brother Tony in Detroit! He da man.
    JOE

    Wag more.
    Bark less.

    "Every bottle is its own learning experience." -- Sensei Ox-sama

  5. #5
    Advanced Taster
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    154 miles N of Bardstown
    Posts
    187

    Re: How to locate Dusty Bottles?

    I'm a novice myself, but being Sunday in Indiana I figure today is the safest time to talk about dusty hunting without fear of compulsively running out to do it. FWIW, here are some rules of thumb that come to me immediately, but I'm sure there will be more- and revisions- as the hunt goes on.

    1. Go in every store you see (and see them all).

    Some stores might look too new/small/ghetto, but you'll never know unless you go in. I could've sworn the store with the larger-than-life pink elephant in McCordsville, IN would be a goldmine, but there was nothing. Don't drive aimlessley looking for stores though, see all of them at once via Google maps and a search of nearby towns. Then search nearby for 'liquor'. "Liquor loc: Memphis, IN" typed into Google Maps yielded 962 results (though most are probably Louisville). Planning a trip to Madison? Be sure to consult Google Maps! Some even have a street view, but that shouldn't matter because I go in ALL of them :-)

    2. Know what you're looking at.

    This can be hard, but thanks to this great site you should have a much better idea what is actually sitting there than 99.9% of the other bourbon buyers that have been in before you. Sometimes you might still get baffled, which happens to me often but one of the more memorable ones is when I saw a bottle of Kentucky Rain sitting on the shelf. All I could do was write down the name and come back to search the site. A Google search revealed only a single brief mention of it here on StraightBourbon, which made it interesting enough for me to want to go back and get (though I never did). Also remember that dusties are not always dusty. One of my worst cases of 'bourbons that I passed up today' was a 2006 wLw that I wasn't positive was actually the 06 because I hadn't memorized the proof-yr correlation, and it certainly didn't look like it had been there two years. Know that you're looking for bottles of Weller that say Louisville, but that all the bottles of Old Fitz are going to say Louisville. Know what DSP numbers mean buy versus leave. I.e. study this site.

    3. Develop rapport with the clerk.

    This one can be both easy and hard depending on the person behind the counter and whether there is plexiglass separating you. My first tactic is usually to simply be courteous and explain why I'm so picky. Plan B, if necessary, is not feeling guilty for being picky because they are in the business of selling liquor, and that this is how I shop. Sometimes they too are bourbon drinkers and will understand that 'they don't make 'em like they used to'. Some might get defensive if they sense that you want to buy something they didn't realize might be valuable, so I find that relating the fact that you really have tasted every single thing on their shelf and are just looking to compare older stuff helps. Each clerk is different though, so the best thing you can do is get a book or DVD on developing interpersonal skills and apply them rigorously. Begin developing the rapport in an understated way immediately after entering and build on it as they begin to realize you're not their average customer by explaining what it is you're doing. If you have found a great dusty or two you can now safely ask for a discount from sticker price by pointing out that 'this one has been sitting here 20 years, and therefore may not even be good anymore', and actually expect to get it.

    4. Don't lose sight of current releases.

    Wouldn't it seem silly if a bunch of guys were on a forum in 1979 discussing how much better the stuff distilled ten years earlier was? Instead they could just go out and buy something off the shelf and drink what we drool over today. Ten or twenty years from now people will be 'scoring' Rittenhouse BIB and Weller Antique with a bottle date 08. I envy a lot of the people here who have been doing it a long time, and were able to purchase what are currently considered dusties by the case. In my mind they too were great hunters, without wasting nearly as much gas as me. Also, I'm actually really impressed with how the current release of Weller Special Reserve stacks up to a Louisville with a tax strip from 1987.

    5. Don't limit yourself to liquor stores.

    I certainly hate to endorse *bay, but I noticed that you found some minis on there of stuff I'd love to try. Nice job. That stuff probably mostly, and I'm guessing, comes from estate sales. Keep an eye on the local auction ads and if you see any good estate sales look them up online to see if they list a bottle collection as one of the items. There are also stories on here of people being given decanters by relatives that they hadn't realized had been sitting in such and such place for the last ten years. There is also the possibility of trading for stuff with people on the forum. If you come across two bottles of something great consider letting it be known that you have an extra and are more interested in trying e.g. DSP 16 Old Fitz. This is something I wish I'd have done before drinking three liters of ER101, but in my defense that stuff is addictive. Keep your eye out for that one, know what it looks like from pics on the site and have your mind trained to instantly recognize it.

    6. Look high and low.

    Be sure to look on the top shelf behind the counter for odd bottles/decanters that have been sitting around awhile. When I first started drinking my bourbon eyes were always fixed on the second to top shelf, hmm old pogue or 1792 tonight? Now when I go in I'm usually most interested in the bottom shelf. One time after debating for awhile whether to buy the Old Taylor with a bottle date of 93 (I still hadn't learn how to read between the lines and this one spelled Beam) I explained to the clerk what it is I was trying to decide on and he said 'oh you want older stuff, these have been back here forever'. It was on a shelf out of sight and behind all the other pints. Invisible to all who had come before me and not taken the time to develop rapport (rule 3). He was a bourbon drinker himself and had raved about having tried the PVWs. He had trouble making the connection between Stitzel Weller and Pappy though, even after my (probably poor) explanation, and seemed surprised that I wanted to buy all four 375mls. Man I felt bad for not just giving him one after he hooked me up by putting the barcode in the system as $5 each, but not that bad.

    7. Hang out with like minded people.

    Luckily for me SWMBO (she who must be obeyed) tolerates my obsession and is willing to sit in the car or go in with me while I 'shop'. The person I'm usually with at work also groks dusty hunting (whose name happens to be Dusty), so we stop into quite a few stores time permitting. If it's not possible to shop with SWMBO or your boss then you're going to have to go solo, because stopping at every store you see will become really annoying to your passenger.

    8. Program your brain to see dusties.

    I remember when I first started I printed out all the pictures of bottles from some of the more popular dusty threads, along with notes (sometimes found in other threads) about what particular DSP/bottle shape made that bottling unique and whatever superlative phrase was used to describe the juice. I'm pretty sure that's still out in the truck, so if I see something I'm not sure on I can consult it if necessary. OTOH if you get into the habit of stopping at every single store you'll need to become much more efficient than a list will allow. The time I asked the clerk to see a bottle of WTRR 90 from behind the counter because I had never seen the 101 proof bottle comes to mind. Thats a waste of time for all parties involved, so program your brain to know that nothing is on the bottom shelf without even having to bend over. If you followed rule number three and developed rapport quickly then you can make a polite exit and be on to the next store (or ask for directions there)...

  6. #6
    Guru
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Wash DC Metro
    Posts
    2,409

    Re: How to locate Dusty Bottles?

    Spun makes a very valid point. You have to know what you're looking for in order for dusty bottles to catch your eye. I did a lot of research on out of production bottles before heading out and attempting to dusty hunt. Over time I increased my knowledge and fine tuned my purchasing based on what I like. Just seeing a bottle of Old Fitz BIB on the shelf is not too terribly exciting unless you can understand what the bottle is telling you. No UPC? That's a good thing. No Gov't warning? Good also. As you gain experience and knowledge, you should be able to go into a store and quickly scan the shelves and know if there's anything interesting.

    My experience has been that stores in the worst part of town are typically the ones that have older stock. Plexiglass partitions should be seen as a good thing. Be nice to the owners and try to gain enterance to the back store room where many goodies may be laying around. For instance, Spun_Cookie and I recently found 8 yr Old Fitz BIB SW bourbon and some UD OC12 yr from L'Ville.

    I would encourage you to go back through the Collectibles forum as there is a wealth of information that will guide you in your purchases. Also know the UPC codes and DSP numbers that distilleries use. Those are quick indicators of who made the whiskey. Don't forget to flip the bottle over looking for the two digit date on the bottom of the bottle.

    Be prepared to go back to stores you've visited. I've been to one particular store on 4 occasions now and each time I find new dusties.

    Last, when looking in the store, always look up to the top shelf.
    Last edited by ggilbertva; 01-25-2009 at 11:32.
    “Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.” - P.J. O’Rourke
    Greg's "bourbondork" blog

  7. #7
    Virtuoso
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Louisville
    Posts
    1,091

    Re: How to locate Dusty Bottles?

    I haven't found many, but I've found a few. Here's an analogy for you:

    My main hobby, when I have time, is taking road trips. I've driven all over the US and Canada and a good piece of the UK. While traveling I write daily reports about the places I've been and the things I've seen and email them to friends and family.

    They all think it sounds like a great time, which it is, and they all want to do it. That's when I explain that between the fun little museum I visited and the replica of Stonehenge made of cars I drove four hours with nothing by the radio and my own thoughts for company. Most reconsider at this point.

    What you read about here are the dusty success stories. What you don't read about are the twenty or thirty stores the person visited before striking gold.

    When time permits I stop at every old or big liquor store I've seen. I think I've hit about fifty. I've hit two with anything seriously dusty, and one of them may well have been an inspiration for smokinjoe's instructions in that other topic. It was a treasure of dusty bottles, for sure, but a lot of them I wouldn't drink if you paid me.

  8. #8
    Guru
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Wash DC Metro
    Posts
    2,409

    Re: How to locate Dusty Bottles?

    When dusty hunting in DC, I have a plan, a map, and a list of the stores I'm going to visit. I visited the DC ABC website and downloaded in Excel format every retail establishment that submitted an application for a liquor license. I then discounted all but Class A retail (liquor stores). That left me with a list of 200 stores in Washington DC. I then imported the spreadsheet into MS Streets and Trips. Now I had a map of DC with every liquor store plotted with address and phone number. I then split DC into multiple partitions of about 20-25 stores and started shopping. As I shop a store, I note what I found (if anything) and what I left behind. I then edit the map icon either red (nothing found) to green (good stuff left behind). As I shop, my map then reflects where I've been and what's left behind. This method keeps me focused on a specific area of the city without driving around aimlessly.

    One other thing. If you dusty hunt in the big city, like DC or LA, etc. I tend to hunt on a Saturday morning from about 10:00 a.m. to about 3:00 p.m. When visiting the tough parts of DC, early Sat mornings helps me avoid the loitering crowds that are typical late afternoon and evenings.
    “Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.” - P.J. O’Rourke
    Greg's "bourbondork" blog

  9. #9
    Bourbonian Of The Year 2013 and Guru
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Just East of the Big Chicken, GA
    Posts
    5,596

    Re: How to locate Dusty Bottles?

    Craig alludes to a very good point. Just because it's old, dusty, or tax stamped, doesn't mean it's going to taste good. I've opened many of these bottles, licking my chops in anticipation, only to spit out the first drink because it tasted aweful.
    I've said before, there may well be a good reason that bottle is still on the shelf since 1974. Because, it sucked then, and the locals knew it, and didn't buy it.
    JOE

    Wag more.
    Bark less.

    "Every bottle is its own learning experience." -- Sensei Ox-sama

  10. #10
    Disciple
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Austin, Texas
    Posts
    1,606

    Re: How to locate Dusty Bottles?

    While, I agree that one should show some restraint when purchasing dusties....I also, believe that, if you have not ever found a dusty....don't be too picky. Buy the first one you see, if it is affordable.

    Start trying to understand the differences between dusties versus current versions. You may be completely satisfied with current products...so, therefor, no need to waste time, gas and money hunting down dusties. There are quite a few current bourbons that are as good as many of the dusties I have opened.

    I am rarely dissatisfied with any dusty I have purchased. Sure, they are all not Pappy VanWinkles, but the experience of tasting each distillieries product is one of the things that I enjoy most about dusty hunting. Every bourbon I have tried has had it's own unique flavor and texture. Some are good while others have been outstanding.

    The worst bourbon I have ever had was better than the best vodka. So, I will never be too dissapointed in a dusty.

 

 

Similar Threads

  1. Newbie's "dusty" bottles
    By BobA in forum General Bourbon Discussion
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 05-14-2005, 21:32

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Back to top