Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Infinity Bottles, from Order to Anarchy

The so called "infinity bottle" started out as a way to consolidate the last little bit of multiple open bottles into a single container, to reduce the number of open bottles in your collection. The idea was that you would then put that bottle into your rotation, drink from it from time to time, and add to it whenever you again had a bottle with just a little bit left. That's how it started, but what has it become?

In his January 2017 "Punch" article, Aaron Goldfarb called the infinity bottle "a phenomenon among whiskey nerds." He traced its formal origins to a Ralfy Mitchell video from 2012, although Mitchell used the term 'solera bottle,' a reference to the way sherry is produced. Already the dichotomy was set. A solera is a very deliberate system, a form of fractional blending that results in a product made up of liquids that have spent different amounts of time in wood. An infinity bottle may be made that way, or it may be a random thing, essentially a housekeeping exercise, a product created entirely by chance.

People can do whatever they want, of course, but if you want to call it an infinity bottle, it probably should have something infinite about it. it's not an infinity bottle unless you are constantly drinking from and adding to it. Which means it's constantly changing.

Then the question becomes, do you try to control those changes, or just let them happen? For some people, order simply comes in the form of logging the additions, so you know what the bottle contains. This can be especially useful if the bottle seems to go south on you suddenly, you'll want to know what was the last thing you added.

Some people religiously add the last few ounces of every bottle they finish. Still others contribute the first few ounces of every bottle they open. Others just let it happen and don't fuss about it too much.

As with Ralfy's solera bottle, you can also try your hand at blending, using the same techniques professional blenders use. That's a house blend, not an infinity bottle, but people are going to use terms they like to describe the things they want to do, and 'infinity bottle' seems to be a popular term right now even if it is being used to describe projects that vary widely.

Do I have an infinity bottle? Sort of. My travel flask is a kind of infinity bottle. If I don't finish it on a trip, the next time I go somewhere I top it off with something I have open. It is what it is. For the most part, if everything you put in is something you like, then the mixture probably will be likable too. I haven't been disappointed.


ZX said...

Yep, time to geek out. I have an Infinity Bottle, only restriction is that it's American whiskeys and my goal is to keep it north of 100 proof. So I've got bourbons, ryes, malted whiskey, etc. I always add 100 ml from near the bottom of the donor bottle. I always drink 50 ml. This makes it possible to track the ABV on a spreadsheet. Cause that's important.

Rare Bird 101 said...

I have an infinity bottle that’s all Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Bourbon selections. The proof stays the same (110) but the flavor evolves. It’s fantastic. I’m biased (of course).

Anonymous said...

I have 3
single malt
heavily peated single malt

Brian (AKA The Dean) said...

Mine is a haphazard thing, much like Chuck's. Only mine is my "trunk bottle". I keep it in the trunk of my car. If I'm ever in a pinch away from my house, there it is. I pour the odds and ends of just about anything (only bourbon) into it. It has never let me down.

Anonymous said...

1) Rare Bird 101 blogger spotted :) I like your idea of only vatting the various single barrel remnants - sounds like you can't lose! :)

2) Personally I geek out about many things, including whisk(e)y and other spirits and I think this "infinity bottle" is a cool concept but I just never got around to it. And ever since being cooped up at home I've been going through and finishing off low level bottles but had no inkling to start an infinity bottle. I don't know why. Probably a defense mechanism from having too many geeky things at once ;)

Stein A. said...

I have a bottle consisting of the last remnants from bottles of Jack Daniel`s Single Barrel and I started doing this to recreate the OLD no.7 which was 90 proof.