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Bottle Backstories


jvd99
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We all have special bottles.
 

We hear it all the time...those bottles we're saving for a special occasion, a predetermined event, for a family member not of age. Lots of us also have bottles resulting from and epic hunt or a miraculous find in an unexpected place. A dusty or not so dusty. Some bottles may be sentimental or have some other special meaning. There have to be a million different ways one of your bottles has a cool backstory.  Doesn't matter if its bourbon, rye, single malt or something else. Doesn't matter if it's open, closed or long gone. Some stories may have been told before, but are worth repeating.
 

 Let's hear all the cool bottle backstories.

 

I'll kick it off with a bottle of 12 yr. Cardhu single malt I found when clearing out my dad's liquor cabinet in 2015 shortly before he went into a memory care facility. He passed away about a year later, which is when I opened the bottle to have a dram with some family members. I'm as much into single malts as bourbon, and I always looked down on Cardhu as not being a top flight distillery and being more known as a component of Johnnie Walker. I didn't have high expectations when I opened the bottle, especially when the cork broke. However, as a sign from above, the cork actually came out, then broke. It left no detritus in the bottle and I didn't have to re-bottle it. Much to my surprise, it's a fantastic single malt. I've nursed this thing for years, taking a small dram every once in a while remembering dear ole dad, making sure to parafafilm the closure so it stays good for as long as possible.

51A2E753-EC0D-4148-9656-F3FAE3A89208.jpeg

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Good idea for a new thread.  It's going to be tough to top that back story, but let's all think about it and come back with some stories.  Nice tribute to the memory of your dad.  Cheers to the memory of all our dads and moms that are no longer with us, but live on in our dear memories.

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Back in the fall of 2015, my most sought after bottle was the 4R SmBLE.  One taste at a bar and I was head over heels about it.  Tried every store in town and even some secondary market trade deals, all of which failed miserably.

I finally gave up on it and emotionally moved on.

 

Well, one of the locals here used to do paper signup lottery drawings for Christmas

(before the new electronic $$$ spent = points = bottles going the biggest spenders system they use now).

 

Their lottery came and went, along with Christmas.  I didn’t get drawn.  About a week after the lottery pickup deadline, I was in the store buying whatever, and asked the manager if he had any unclaimed lottery bottles.

”Just one, but it’s nothing exciting….just that yearly 4R small batch”

 

—Stunned silence and disbelief as he pulled it out from behind the counter—

 

I told him my whole story and he just smiled and said “Sounds like it was meant to be”

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I'm not as eloquent as many on this board, but I think I can contribute to this thread, so here goes....

 

Back in the day, (early 80's),  thanks to the kindness and generosity of my best friends parents, who let me live in their home when my Dad got stationed back in Va.  I was family to them and  Mr. Johnson was like a father to me.  He was a hard-working, honest, self-made Man.  There are too many anecdotes concerning his kindness that it's hard to pick just one so, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I'll share this.

 

Mr Johnson wasn't much of a drinker but, somehow, came into possession of a few of those special edition "Belle of Lincoln" Jack Daniel's bottles.  They were pristine, in their nice boxes, that he kept under their basement bar.   Well go figure, me and my best friend,(Mr. Johnson's son, who lived there too),  not quite 21 yet, decided we wanted to drink and went rummaging through the bar and ended up cracking one open.

 

We carefully removed the stopper, poured some hefty shots, then back-filled what we took with iced tea🤫    Being young, and stupid,(and slightly drunk) we proceeded to "wash, rinse, repeat", until we killed a 3rd of the bottle.s

Fast forward to many years later, on a Thanksgiving day, is when  Mr Johnson, told us to come downstairs because he "wants to share a drink with his boys....I've been saving these for a special occasion, and today is that day!    Well, you can imagine the looks of horror that my buddy and me exchanged, when he reached below the bar and pulled out one of those "Belle of Lincoln" bottles😲

We were dying!!    Thankfully, he pulled out one of the boxes that we hadn't tampered with, poured some whiskey and all was right in the world.

 

Mr Johnson has been gone for 22 years now and, while I don't think about him as often as I should, I always think about him around Thanksgiving, because we all hunted deer together, (rifle season  falls around Thanksgiving for those of you who don't hunt).   I still hunt with the rifle that he gave me when I turned 18, (Sears & Roebuck Ted Williams Model 53).    Not too long after he passed he passed, his son gave me this....

Belle of Lincoln.jpg

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Back in 99, I was more apt to have a cocktail with Southern Comfort or Crown in it. Nevertheless, I was at one of my customer's Christmas parties and availability was not to my liking. As I can't stand clear booze, the only thing close to my taste at the party was WT101. I probably mixed that with coke, to boot...

Move ahead a couple weeks after the party, closer to Christmas & the Doc hosting the party calls me in to say, "I noticed that you are a Wild Turkey guy, so I got this for you. Merry Christmas!"

That handle became my medicinal cocktail mix (cough syrup - WT mixed with honey, lemon, peppermint) as well as the occasional cooking ingredient as I wasn't really a WT guy...

 

Move ahead 'bout 20 years, give or take, while being introduced to My Son's Fiancé, he spotted the handle and proclaimed, "Oh look, it's my childhood bourbon!"

 

So, in celebrating Thanksgiving, I have whipped out the only WT product I have, ye old, gifted handle from 1999. Yep, that's a new picture, but the old bottle. I thought it had lost some pizzaz the last time I had tried it, but that's not the case here; Maybe because it is so early in the morning...

 

Anyway, Happy Thanksgiving, All!!!

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I've told this before but 51 years ago a new guy got a job at the ice cream store I worked after high school.  He was 3 years older than me and going to Cal.  We became friends and when I turned 18 and he turned 21, we got an apartment together.  He worked several jobs to support himself, including at Ledger's Liquor in Berkeley.  Doug and I became best friends.  We were there for each other's first broken hearts, and later, when we each met the women we were meant to spend our lives with, we were best man at each other's weddings.  He married my closest girl friend from high school and they had 3 children together.

 

In 2017, we lost them both to cancer.  They died within 3 months of each other.  Last year I made a trip to Berkeley, and found the liquor store he had worked at all those years ago.   They had a store pick of Wilderness Trail, so now I have a special bottle to toast him and his wife on their birthdays, anniversary, etc.

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This is more the distilleries back story than mine. Back in 2010 The Glenfiddich Distillery got beset by a massive snow storm that collapsed one of it's warehouse roofs. They decided to take much of the whisky that was of age from the damaged warehouse and do a one-time, unique blend. They put it in a cheap tin and called it Snow Phoenix. I grabbed three bottles. One for me and one for both of my sons. At that time I believe it was about a $60 retail. The Whisky was stellar and my bottle did not last long. I told the boys to hang on to theirs to see what happens. Last time I checked it was worth about $1600 a bottle.

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A few years ago, I got a Peloton bike installed and the guy who did it was kind of a young guy, at least to me. We talked about stuff while he was installing and we got onto bourbon because I've got a bunch of empty LE bottles on a shelf in the stairway to my basement he walked past. He seemed like he'd tried a bunch of bourbon, mostly inexpensive stuff. Said he couldn't really afford anything else. He talked about researching all the LEs even though he'd probably never get a chance to taste one. So at the end of the install, I surprised him and gave him a 2 oz. sample of PVW23, which I'm sure, even though it was only a sample, was a special bottle to him. I knew he would probably enjoy that 2oz more than me. He was very grateful to say the least. 

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1 hour ago, jvd99 said:

A few years ago, I got a Peloton bike installed and the guy who did it was kind of a young guy, at least to me. We talked about stuff while he was installing and we got onto bourbon because I've got a bunch of empty LE bottles on a shelf in the stairway to my basement he walked past. He seemed like he'd tried a bunch of bourbon, mostly inexpensive stuff. Said he couldn't really afford anything else. He talked about researching all the LEs even though he'd probably never get a chance to taste one. So at the end of the install, I surprised him and gave him a 2 oz. sample of PVW23, which I'm sure, even though it was only a sample, was a special bottle to him. I knew he would probably enjoy that 2oz more than me. He was very grateful to say the least. 

That young man will never forget that gesture.   What a wonderful thing to do Sir...

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2 hours ago, jvd99 said:

A few years ago, I got a Peloton bike installed and the guy who did it was kind of a young guy, at least to me. We talked about stuff while he was installing and we got onto bourbon because I've got a bunch of empty LE bottles on a shelf in the stairway to my basement he walked past. He seemed like he'd tried a bunch of bourbon, mostly inexpensive stuff. Said he couldn't really afford anything else. He talked about researching all the LEs even though he'd probably never get a chance to taste one. So at the end of the install, I surprised him and gave him a 2 oz. sample of PVW23, which I'm sure, even though it was only a sample, was a special bottle to him. I knew he would probably enjoy that 2oz more than me. He was very grateful to say the least. 

Great story. I often tell people that most of the people I meet through bourbon are incredibly generous. I'd say I drink less than half of each of my really hard to get bottles because I'd rather share them with people, give out samples, or bring them to a bottle share. Some bottles I share with a smaller group of family and friends, but I don't have any bottles that aren't improved by drinking them with those you care about.

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21 hours ago, jvd99 said:

A few years ago, I got a Peloton bike installed and the guy who did it was kind of a young guy, at least to me. We talked about stuff while he was installing and we got onto bourbon because I've got a bunch of empty LE bottles on a shelf in the stairway to my basement he walked past. He seemed like he'd tried a bunch of bourbon, mostly inexpensive stuff. Said he couldn't really afford anything else. He talked about researching all the LEs even though he'd probably never get a chance to taste one. So at the end of the install, I surprised him and gave him a 2 oz. sample of PVW23, which I'm sure, even though it was only a sample, was a special bottle to him. I knew he would probably enjoy that 2oz more than me. He was very grateful to say the least. 

I have done similar things for a few folx I've encountered over the last several years.   One in particular, an orthopedic doctor/surgeon I've seen several times that was just getting into Bourbon when I saw him the first time.   He was very pleasant and knowledgeable, and gave me great advice (avoiding surgery still) for a hand issue.    When I found out from his attending nurse that he was getting into Bourbon as a hobby, I brought a 2-ounce sample bottle of PVW-23 to the next visit.    He almost turned himself inside out thanking me!    I've brought several rare and/or difficult-to-source samples over the last 6-7-years, and one Christmas I gave him an unopened bottle from a GBS pick (RRSB that we did in the rickhouse with Eddie Russel) that was/is one of the best pours I've ever had... just to show him that those other limited or extremely limited bourbons didn't have the aroma and flavor markets cornered.   His eyes were appropriately opened.  I've thoroughly enjoyed the experiences ...probably as much or more than he did... maybe.    Bourbon Zen on  display, I guess.

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