The discussion about the Hirsch 16 gold foil got me thinking about this, but it comes up all the time.

There are people -- you know who you are -- who are on a quest for the whiskey version of the holy grail, that one bottle that stands above all others. For many, the only way they can think of to identify it is age, maybe proof, maybe utter rarity become it is from a defunct distillery.

Sometimes this last one manifests itself simply as an obscure name.

Recently on eBay, someone (I suspect we would know him by his Teutonic lilt) was selling part of his collection. It consisted almost entirely of bourbons aged 20 years or more from non-distiller bottlers. Though he was selling it as a set, the average price was $150/bottle.

People, maybe the whiskey holy grail exists, maybe it doesn't, but it definitely will not be a 20+ year-old bourbon from a non-distiller bottler. Most of that stuff is too woody, some of it is undrinkable, and almost none of it is worth the price. Most of it is stuff Heaven Hill made and won't sell as anything you can trace back to them. Figure it out.

I know the problem is that ignorant people think American whiskey is just like scotch, though even there older is not necessarily better. The Hirsch/Michter products happen to be older bourbons that are very good, as are the Van Winkles, but they are exceptions to the rule.

A fool and his money are soon parted, and we're not supposed to feel badly about that, but I do feel a duty now and then to put the truth out there for any fool who might be inclined to be a little less foolish.