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Is it hard to believe that not long ago you could stroll into your neighborhood liquor store and walk out with your favorite bottle of 15-year-old bourbon? To some extent, yes it is!
Just a few years ago you didn’t have to do a special order, a secret handshake or a stratospheric markup. Buying a top-shelf whiskey from a used bourbon barrel was so easy.
Bourbon is the first love and the production, the brands, brown booze has increased, but the rare stuff has indeed become hard to grab!
As easy as finding bottles was a while ago, the more difficult it has become now to hunt down a good bourbon bottle. Hunting down limited edition bottles has become an art now!
We care for you and have come up with 10 tips that will keep you from standing around and complain that your glass is dry! These tips will certainly help you score a taste of rare bourbon.
1. Work with the Clock
- Avoid being the schmuck who enters a bar and demands the best 20-year old bourbon straightaway.
- You can procure your favorite bottle of whiskey only when you keep track of your favorite limited-edition bourbon beginning its long journey from distillery to the liquor store.
- Ask the bartender for the details. You may get some in case you are lucky! Memorize it!
- Generally speaking, a lot of the big bourbon releases happen in the fall.
- However, there can be exceptions. In case you are thinking that you can snooze the rest of the time, then you may lose your bottle again!
2. Befriend the Shopkeeper
- Take the spirit buyer at the local liquor store out for lunch. Make him your buddy. Building relationships are always important, even in bourbon hunting.
- Try to figure out what stores in the area get the limited-release bourbon.
- The next step is to visit the store owner more frequently. Try to become a regular customer.
- Learn the employees’ names, their kids’ names, and their hobbies too.
- Gather information about their likings in beer and bourbon.
Ask for recommendations from them. Check their knowledge of aging spirits. But first be knowledgeable yourself, read Everything You Need To Know About Aging Spirits.
Until your stock arrives, try them. As these have been suggested by a bar owner, they have to be great in taste!
- However, don’t always talk about bourbon with them, or they will assume that you are there just for the bourbon. Make them feel important too!
- Buy from them once the stock arrives. Buy frequently. Merchants might not always remember names and faces, but rarely do they forget a great customer.
3. Become a Social Media Stalker
- Social media is booming. Many retailers now communicate with their customers through social media such as Facebook and Instagram.
- Nothing beats the in-store face time with bourbon gatekeepers, but if you are not stalking them on social media then you might be missing something.
- It is common for stores now to send out info on allocation and how they plan to deal with limited-release bottles, on their Facebook or Instagram feeds.
- Follow them, put post notifications on, especially as release dates come near.
4. Play Wherever You Get a Chance to Win
- Retailers are now turning to lotteries to deal with the massive demand for some rare whiskeys.
- Be on the hunt for online as well as offline chances in your areas to win lotteries.
- Enter every single store that has an organized lottery.
- It might be a long shot, but luck favors the brave!
- You don’t want to spend your evening sipping some low-end bourbon from your glass.
- Add the liquor store phone number on your contact list to not miss a call from the liquor store.
5. Find Your Way to a Great Whiskey Bar
- Guarantees don’t come from cheap products in the real world.
- So, if you are really determined to taste the best bourbon, then keep the cash flowing.
- Hit as many of the whiskey bars and restaurants across the country as you can.
- Target bars and restaurants that sell limited-release whiskey, and be prepared to shell out your pennies. Like, $50-plus-per-exotic-shot.
6. Take Pictures of the Shelves
- You might befriend someone who has a store that does not mind their customers to keep their phone out. Be careful not to upset them.
- Try sneaking out and taking a snap of the picture on the liquor wall.
- This is a big task in bourbon hunting as it allows you to read the image later.
- Don’t try to remember all of the prices as you may forget them before even reaching home. You are not an X-men!
- So to be on the safe side, take a photo.
7. Never Give Up
- Bourbon Hunting is a game of numbers. You should never stop your search after only 1 or 2 random stores.
- You use to be able to visit 2 or 3 bars and score the bourbon you wanted. It no longer works like this!
- A good bourbon hunter will know that hunting requires an ample amount of time and hard work.
- Patience is a virtue! An impatient individual might return home empty-handed. They may be close to their bourbon but their impatience will win out and they will walk away empty-handed.
- Even if you are short on cash and are determined to finish the hunt, keep walking. You might come across some nice overpriced bottles, but it is always a possibility that you find a cheaper one at the next stop.
8. Use Google Maps
Google Maps will help you find liquor stores near you. This will make bourbon hunting easy for you.
Maps will also help you add a label to the location that you have already visited. It will act as a reminder of the places you visited.
You can employ the following symbols for your use:
- Starred/yellow star – Been to, nothing interesting.
- Favorites/red heart – This is worth going back
- Saved/green tab – Places left to visit
9. Look for Oddly Sized Bottles
- All bourbons are available in 375 ml, 750 ml, or 1 and 1.75 L bottles.
- Earlier, America didn’t allow the metric system to infect our boozing and products came in pints, quarts, and gallons.
- The most popular was the flask pints.
Oddly sized bottles may seem odd as the name suggests, but who knows what they have in store for you?
Question: Ever wondered why a 750 ml bottle is called a fifth?
Answer: It is just because before the metric system it was labelled 1/5th of a gallon.
10. Don’t Act so “THIRSTY”
- Avoid acting like you have been thirsty for good bourbon for ages.
- A lot of liquor store owners assume their unsold bottles are the ones to push on someone when they are desperately looking for rare bourbons.
- So, avoid sprinting into stores aggressively demanding rare bourbon.
- Learn to determine the age of the bourbons from the bottle.
- Also, learn how to read a barcode. The numbers will tell you who bottled the bourbon and when was it done.
You can be a good bourbon hunter or a bad one depending upon the skills and patience that you possess.
- You are fortunate if you live in a town with more than one liquor store.
- There are chances that one of them has a proprietor with the good sense to sell the good stuff at retail price.
- The demand for rare bourbon is high and the fiery bourbon hunters are many, so it is certain that many of these bottles never make it to the shelves.
- Do not under any circumstances walk into a store and ask them if they have the rarest bottle of bourbon.
- Also, don’t follow the distributor’s truck from the used bourbon barrel warehouse to the store. Avoid calling the stores and asking them for bottles.
- Prefer walking in and viewing the selection yourself.
Barrels are not just used for aging spirits. Rocky Mountain Barrel Company sells old bourbon barrels that can be put to use in many ways at homes or businesses.
Hundreds of customers are coming from all over the world; our barrels are being transformed into the coolest of things. Our customers have transformed barrels bought from us into patio furniture, meat smokers, and wine racks. Check out our barrel section for more ideas on how our barrels can serve you!
Rocky Mountain Barrel Company offers the greatest used bourbon barrels and the best customer service. We have expanded our operations over the years to multiple countries with a wide variety of barrels.