Column: Open The Damn Whiskey Bottle

“Score,” “haul,” “unicorn,” “in the wild,” “thoughts?”

Y’all tend to make me hate everything about whiskey this time of year. Fine, you kind of get on my nerves all year long, but the hunting season is the worst season of all. Ridiculous pictures of BTAC boxes filling the back of your pick ups. Crotch shots out the wazoo. Granite counter tops filled 6 deep with every color of Weller. Shots of your receipts. Long diatribes of how to befriend your local retailer just to get that Pappy out of them.

Bragging. Boasting. Hoarding. Antagonizing.

We’re better than this. Typically, social media shows the sunny side of life, with all the negativity filtered out. But our bourbon groups trend in the opposite direction. I know that IRL, bottles are cracked and shared with friends. Overnight raffle lines turn into parking lot parties and new best friends. Samples are portioned out and shared with the less fortunate. We convene over glasses of commonality.

Buffalo Trace 2016 Antique Collection

Bottles like these are meant to be opened (image via Buffalo Trace)

Where are those pictures, though?

2020 has been a rough year. It’s been isolating out of necessity. Lonely for those of us living alone. Scary for those of us with high risk family and friends. Horrifying for those of us who have lost loved ones by the handful. Anxiety-ridden, stressful, disconnected. 2020 has been a rough year.

Not everyone feels comfortable wading into retail this year. Maybe they have an immuno-compromised spouse. Perhaps they haven’t had work since March. It may be that they simply haven’t been able to find the holy grail on the shelf or have personal convictions about secondary prices. What will a couple of ounces cost you? More importantly, what might you gain?

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This is where the bourbon community could shine. We could come together, offer a hand up, check in on each other. Instead we solicit validation and admiration of the social media world by parading purchases and stockpiling bottles. We brandish our bunkers with braggadocio.

I won’t delve too far into how it appears that your self worth, indeed your net worth, is inextricably intertwined with how many bottles you can collect. Or how it seems you let your ego get tied up in the ability to overpay for a mediocre bottle of whiskey. But I will urge you, beg of you, my fellow enthusiasts, OPEN THE DAMN BOTTLE.

Open the bottles, share them with friends. Hell, share them with strangers. Use those Facebook groups to reach out and expand someone’s horizon, make someone’s day. This year, especially, but next year, too. And the one after that. Because bourbon is for sharing. It is unlikely you discovered a passion for the liquid in a vacuum. Someone shared it with you first.

My overwhelming experience among you is that we are a generous, hospitable, considerate, and even charitable bunch of people. Those are the moments I wish we shared out there in social media land. Set a good example for the “newbies.” Open the bottles. Share a dram or three. Most of us have more whiskey than we could consume in a lifetime.

So, in the spirit of the season, I issue a challenge to all you: show your softer sides.  Give props to the guy that helped you score that unicorn. Open the bottle and share it with him. Shout out to the store that held back a bottle just for you. Open the bottle and share it with them. Brag on your buddy that hauled in a load… and then opened the bottles and shared them with you.

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I know y’all are out there, solving world problems around a fire pit, over amazing pours, together. Post those pictures. Share those moments. Let me love you again.