Thursday, March 24, 2016

Hoarders Are Already in Hell

Back in January I wrote a piece titled "All Flippers Go To Hell." It was an observation, not a command, and I was expressing my disgust with the people who bought rare releases of beers and whiskeys with no intent other than turning around and reselling them at a sharp markup. They distort the entire market, they make it harder for people who really love the drinks to get them, and they pervert the intent of the makers. Ergo, I opined, they are likely to wind up in hell (assuming such a place exists in your philosophy, Horatio...)
Almost to The Bunker...but the Wasters are Waiting
I also said that wouldn't be my final word on the subject, and here is Canto II of Bryson's Inferno: the Hoarders and Wasters. I couldn't find flippers in the Divine Comedy (I'm looking at the people who flip genuine bottles, not counterfeits). But the Hoarders are already there in Circle Four, pushing about huge, unmanageable amounts of whatever drove them in life, only to meet the Wasters, who hurl identical loads at the Hoarders, smashing their loot. Then the whole thing starts over, of course. (I'm not really sure who the Wasters are; drunks? Don't stretch the analogy too far.)

What Hoarders am I talking about? These guys. And these. The guys who hear that a whiskey is being dropped, or changed, or may be in short supply...and immediately go out and buy up every bottle on the shelf to put in their "bunker." It's in short supply, they say, better stock up.'re part of the problem! It doesn't take a math genius to see that if you're buying up all the stock you see, that someone else is going to find nothing, and report that as a shortage.

Is there even a bourbon shortage? There is a shortage of some bourbons; rather famously, Van Winkle is no longer simply placed on the shelf, but allocated and auctioned and apportioned. Weller is harder to find, but I bought my last bottle (about two months ago) right off the shelf. There have been some bourbons change to No Age Statement (unhappily, the Elijah Craig 12 is one), and those quickly disappear. Buffalo Trace bourbons in general are harder to find (some of that is their relatively small production; Willett suffers from a similar problem). But I have not seen any shortage of excellent bourbons like Baker's, and Woodford, and Evan Williams Single Barrel, and Old Grand-Dad 114, and Old Forester Signature, or any of the bonded bourbons I love.

Hoarders tend to be driven by single-mindedness. They feel they simply must have a supply of the bourbon (or bourbons) they think are the best. I empathize, but the fact is...things change. We don't want them to, but they do, inevitably. You can find lots written on how whiskeys have changed; sometimes for the better, sometimes worse. For every regret, there is a corresponding joy, but nothing is made the way it used to be. Nothing. Hoarders are the Canutes of Consumption, trying to hold back the tide of change by stashing away booze. You know what happens when you stash booze? This. And this. And most of all, this

Hoarders put away the booze, and all too sits there. Doing nothing. Contributing to a panic over nothing. I'm guilty myself, or I was. I hoarded beers, big beers, specialty beers. I was saving them for a special night, a special friend, a special occasion that just never seemed to come (because when it did, we were having too much fun drinking fresh, delicious beers). Last year I decided I would start drinking them. And what did I find? Now they're nothing but a curiosity, and aside from a perishing few exceptions that aged well, mere shadows of what they were when fresh. I'm in hell, a hell of my own making.

Whiskey, happily, has never met that fate in my home. No matter what, out it comes when thirsty guests arrive. Lesson learned; hell avoided. Hoarders: learn the lesson. There are always good whiskeys available, good beers available. Stop worrying and enjoy them. Relax with your whiskey, enjoy beer as it happens, or...well, as Slayer says, Hell Awaits.


Bill said...

It's been nice not having enough money to fall prey to the temptation of hoarding!

I enjoyed your All About Beer article on asking oneself why one chooses what one chooses, be it beer, lodging, etc. Good for me to step back and try to suss out what matters to me in what situations, and to choose things in a mindful manner. Often enlightening, sometimes embarrassing!

Jeff Frane said...

I never hoarded beers but I definitely cellared them. At a wedding a few years ago, I shared them with about 10 people, ranging from beer geek to "gimme". Some aged well and others didn't. A few, like a bottle of Fuller's Vintage Ale and a bottle of Westmalle Tripel, were transcendent and some of the most incredible beers I've ever tasted. In both of those cases the beer was so fantastic that even the untutored were amazed.

What constitutes hoarding? Are people with hundreds of bottles of wine in their cellars hoarders?

Jim Nemeth said...

Bravo Lew! Bakers and OGD 114 are both underappreciated whiskies, IMO. And these greedy douches hoarding booze are ruining things for a great many of us. Extra points for the Slayer nod!!

Jim Dorsch said...

This is a matter of getting over a hump, and it pertains to all kinds of stuff. Once you're over that hump, you realize you don't need "stuff" to be happy. In fact, life is simpler and easier. First, losing that obsession leaves your mental house uncluttered and peaceful. Second, your physical surroundings are less cluttered. You pretty much know what you have and where it is. Can't beat that.