Did I say "by mail"? Let's see now; I ordered through a website; Sam's shipped my order via UPS. Hmmm... No matter; I'll post about linguistics in the Off Topic forum one of these days.
Up until now all my purchases of alcoholic beverages had been in person. It had never even ocurred to me that I could have it shipped to my door until someone on a guitar newsgroup mentioned it.
Never mind that that benighted soul was joyous at having found Redbreast Irish whiskey for a mere $51.25 plus shipping from Tippin's of Durham, NC. You see, that's what he was drinking when he met a certain lovely lady in London, and he was sure it would taste just as good back home in Beaverton (no pun intended), OR. (Idea for a future thread: "Bourbons That Tasted Better While on Vacation/Holiday".)
As misguided as he may have been, he certainly guided me in the right direction (although it was a member of this forum who recommended Sam's, whose prices are lower). Nevertheless, I was concerned that a bottle might arrive broken; my recent experience with filing claims with shippers has been totally unsatisfactory. I should not have worried.
The folks at <A target="_blank" HREF=http://www.samswine.com/homepage.asp> Sam's Wine & Spirits </A> inserted each of my four bottles into an interlocking, two-piece styrofoam cylinder, whose walls were about one inch thick, the tops and bottoms even thicker. They placed the four cylinders vertically inside a cardboard box, much heavier than I'm used to, and filled the space around the sides with bubble wrap. The box was marked "This Side Up", all around. The closure was heavily taped. (They even abbrieviated their name in the return address as "S.W.S", so my wife wouldn't know what was inside. )
One minor drawback is that the styrofoam cylinders are apparently designed to accomodate wine bottles, not the more stylish forms of bourbon bottles. My Elmer T. Lee fit just fine, the Elijah Craig 18 and the Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit distorted their containers a bit, but the Rock Hill Farms split the body of the cylinder, and the top stuck so tightly over the stopper that I had to break the styrofoam away in pieces. From the producers' viewpoint, I suppose this is a small price to pay for having a distinctive bottle shape, but it wouldn't bother me if all bourbon came in Old Grand Dad shaped bottles.
BTW, as I write this, I am finishing off my first bottle of Woodford Reserve. I'm beginning to appreciate its flavor, even though it has a much different character than other bourbons that I still like somewhat more. Perhaps my road to becoming a taster will involve identifying differences between bourbons that I like, rather than learning to relate their flavors to spices, herbs, and berries. Maybe a comparison tasting between WR (I have another bottle) and, say, Virginia Gentleman red label, will get me started. (Or maybe I was born to be drinker, not a taster. )
Retiree, Musician, Dog-Lover, Whiskey-Drinker