Friday, March 8, 2013

CSI For Whiskey Enthusiasts

So you're down in the basement at Grandpa's house, a few days after the funeral. Mom says you can keep anything you find.

After wading through box after box of carefully washed tomato cans, you find a weathered wooden crate. Inside it are several clear bottles of dark liquid, and the label says "1895." Then you wake up.

Finding a cache of old whiskey is a popular fantasy, but when it actually happens it can be hard to figure out exactly what you have.

About a year ago, Adam Herz heard about an intriguing stash of bottles that has been making the rounds. He was able to examine them in person and even taste the contents. Then he donned his CSI sunglasses and went to work.

The result is "Adventures in Whiskey, the Case of the Strange Fitzgerald." It's on the web site of the L. A. Whiskey Society, where Herz is the most prolific contributor.

With old whiskey, labels can be monkeyed-with but bottles don't lie. Herz's article is one of the most authoritative you'll find on how to use bottle markings--intentional and unintentional--to accurately identify what's inside. In his Fitzgerald case study, Herz can't answer every question, but what he does discover is remarkable. Both his science and reasoning are unassailable and he tells the story in a zippy way.

These days, a lot of people write about whiskey. Most of it is earnest but ill-informed opinion. In contrast, what Herz delivers is fact-based information that will expand your knowledge of whiskey, whiskey hunting, and whiskey history.


Anonymous said...

Gary says:

Great read! Love that they were able to date the bottles to within such a fairly narrow range, and some of the theories. Goes to show that like anything, buyer beware (and the more you know, the better off you are!)

Adam H said...

Thanks for the post and the props, Chuck!

Richard Manning said...

Excellent article. Well worth the read for any bourbon fan. Thank you!

Gary Gillman said...

Very interesting. But for me, the real nugget was the taste note. One thinks or hopes that whatever the provenance, this whiskey will taste like a cross between, say, the best Cognac you ever had and A.H. Hirsch 20 year old bourbon. That wasn't the case I gather, at least for the bottle that was sampled. Still, very interesting again with commendable investigations and theories.