There comes a time of reckoning in the life of every whiskey lover: the moment when you have more whiskey than you can comfortably store. Whether you’re outgrowing the little cabinet above your fridge (hint: don’t store your whiskey there, it’s probably too warm) or coming to terms with the fact that the extra-large fully-insured room you’ve rented down at the wine storage facility is bursting at the seams, you need help: you need to finish some bottles.
It may not sound like a problem to the average drinker, but for collectors, sometimes drinking your whiskey is more fraught than not. What if you need to taste that again? Will you be able to find it? Will you recall that perfect combination of fig and graham cracker, or burnt toffee and nutmeg, that so captivated you in the first place? But remember – over time, opened bottles will deteriorate, so eventually, you’ll have to drink up.
The key is to work systematically. Just as there will always be bottles you want to hang onto, the odds are good that your liquor cabinet contains some low-hanging fruit, some whiskeys that, while good, won’t send you into a state of mourning on their final trip to the glass recycling bin.
First, go through your collection and find those bottles. Don’t just pick plonk; you want to actually drink the whiskeys you’re culling, not conveniently forget them at a party or use them for cooking. These are your “Whiskeys of the month.” Aim for about eight or 10 bottles, enough to keep your interest, but not so many that it’s hard to make any progress. Remember, your goal here is to actually finish some lingering bottles in your cabinet.
Then, find a special spot to collect those whiskeys, maybe even one that’s out in the open, like a bar cart. Now, whenever you have people over, or you’re ready to fix your after-work Old Fashioned, only choose whiskey from that spot. As soon as you finish one, replace it with another bottle you’re ready to see in the rear-view mirror. Repeat, as needed, until you can comfortably close the doors to your whiskey pantry once again.
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Margarett Waterbury is the author of Scotch: A Complete Introduction to Scotland's Whiskies and a full-time freelance writer and editor. Her work has appeared in Whisky Advocate, Food and Wine, Spirited Magazine, Artisan Spirit, Edible Seattle, Sip Northwest, Civil Eats, Travel Oregon, Artisan Spirit, and many other publications. She is...