Whiskey Decanters

Whiskey Decanters

Hello Whiskey Benders! I have decided to widen the scope of my blog and basically include anything about whiskey that tickles my fancy. Today’s post is about, you guessed it, whiskey decanters. I remember when I was a kid and my Dad had a nice collection of decanters on the bar at the house I grew up in. Some people use decanters to put bottom shelf booze in so guests aren’t all judgy about what the host is serving. Not my Dad. He put the good stuff in there. I remember him lamenting how one of his guests made himself right at home and had the self-serving audacity to mix his finest cognac with Coca-Cola. Oh, the horror! So, here I am in the prime of middle age with my very own decanter collection. You’ll notice I have an equal opportunity bar as it has everything to make a mean Long Island Iced Tea. A dangerous concoction but that is another post. Anyway, my first decanter was given to me by my folks and is appropriately branded with a “spade” on it. A Kate Spade decanter to be exact. Right now it is holding what is left of some Eagle Rare 10 year old. The next decanter was given to me by my wife and is from Tiffany & Co. It holds a bit of Ron Zacapa 23 rum, which is super sweet and delicious. My latest whiskey decanter acquisition is from WhiskeyDecanters.net and holds Larceny Bourbon. I wanted so much to like it but, to me, it had the bitter taste of thin paper husks that surround peanuts you shuck at the ballpark. I really like the decanter it is in because it has the little bead of negative space at the base, which is hard to explain so you just need to see it. Known as the Lexington Whiskey Decanter, I’m happy to have added it to my collection. The rest of my decanters are more decorative in nature and hold tequila, vodka, and gin (oh my!). Perhaps the most lusted after whiskey decanter of the moment is the Old Rip Van Winkle 23 Year Old decanter set. If you can find one and have about $5K to lay down on it, I say pull the old rip cord! The set included a beautiful  leather lined cherry wood box, two rocks glasses and a handcrafted glass decanter filled with 23 year old, 114 proof Van Winkle bourbon barreled in the spring of 1986. These dates are indicative of true Stitzel-Weller barrels which is always very exciting, but I am not the biggest fan of Pappy Van Winkle 23 Year (PVW23), so I am hoping these barrels prove unique. –...

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Old Fitzgerald Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Old Fitzgerald Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Today’s post is a salute to distiller Stitzel-Weller and the brand Old Fitzgerald. These bottles, all unopened, range from the prohibition era up to the mid sixties or maybe a little later. I’m more in the mood of posting photographs rather than storytelling at the moment, so for an exhaustive and fun historical read, please visit The Coopered Tot’s Old Fitzgerald post. I find myself continually visiting this article for the detailed dates and tasting notes....

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Dusty Whiskeys – 2014 Year in Review

Dusty Whiskeys – 2014 Year in Review

Hello fellow Whisky Benders! This time I’m going to let the pictures do the talking as I share photos sent in for appraisal or general information during 2014. Some are good, some bad, and some ugly. All of them interesting. Scroll down to see last year’s crop. Thanks to everybody who sent photos to me last year! Please keep them coming so we can learn more about these old dusty whiskeys and share with other enthusiasts. Here’s to a great 2015. Cheers! Scott Invalid Displayed...

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Golden Wedding – Barreled in 1898

Golden Wedding – Barreled in 1898

A fellow whiskey enthusiast and a reader of this blog (aka a “WhiskeyBender”) sent the following amazing specimen of a pre-prohibition bottle of Golden Wedding Whiskey. For those of you who remember my Dad’s Golden Wedding post, this is quite the polar opposite of those examples. Distilled by Jos. S. Finch & Co. of Pittsburgh, PA, this beauty has held up well over the years and looks like it would be Mmmm mmm good. You don’t see old stuff out of Pennsylvania that isn’t Rye very often. This bottle comes to us from Slovenia. How it got there, I have no idea. The owner plans to open it upon the receipt of “first great news.” I would say getting up in the morning would work for me! Send samples, please. Here is the reverse....

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Old Rip Van Winkle – Pappy would be proud…

Old Rip Van Winkle – Pappy would be proud…

Here is one of my favorite bottles in my collection. I’ve seen two others out there that are sealed and unopened and one is a permanent guest at the Getz Whiskey Museum in Bardstown, Kentucky. Scroll to the bottom of this blog post from the Alcohol Professor to see one of them (among some other great bottles). Obviously, the Old Rip Van Winkle brand has been around a long time. In fact, according to the ORVW website: The Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery has a four generation history. The Van Winkle family’s involvement in the bourbon industry began in the late 1800s with Julian P. “Pappy” Van Winkle, Sr. He was a traveling salesman for the W.L. Weller and Sons wholesale house in Louisville, traveling around the state by horse and buggy. Pappy and a friend, Alex Farnsley, eventually bought the wholesale house and also purchased the A. Ph. Stitzel Distillery, which made bourbon for Weller. They merged the two companies and became the Stitzel-Weller Distillery. Their prominent brands were W.L. Weller, Old Fitzgerald, Rebel Yell, and Cabin Still. Now, with this setup, where does this bottle come into play? Did Pappy make the whiskey inside? Upon closer inspection, the answer is an interesting “no”. More on that in a minute. You see, back in the days of prohibition, whiskey was consolidated into government warehouses around the country by the millions of barrels. What actual whiskey went into a particular bottling wasn’t very important. Slap a brand name label on there and you’re good-to-go as evidenced by my Black Gold collection. Most of the prohibition hooch sat way beyond the number of years it was supposed to. That is why you see a lot of 16, 17, and 18 year old prohibition era medicinal whiskies. This was not necessarily a good thing as over aging can make whiskey taste like licking a barrel stave, as I’ve heard Chuck Cowdry put it. Let’s take a closer look. First, the label and bottle are perhaps the most beautiful you will ever see on a prohibition pint. Great art, great color, and great embossing. The embossing starts with Old Rip Van Winkle’s hat adorned head on the back while his long whiskers flow from his face all the way across the front of the bottle. I’ve tried to get a good photo of it but it didn’t come out as good as it looks in person. Unfortunately, with this bottle, the tax stamp has faded to the point where the barreling and bottling dates are illegible. Based on other bottles I have from the same era, this whiskey was most likely barreled in 1916 (see Getz example at link above) and bottled somewhere between...

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101 Rare Whiskey Flasks

101 Rare Whiskey Flasks

It has been too long since my last post, what with life and all. I have so many delicious whiskey posts planned but with so few Spock mind-meld techniques at my disposal, I must submit to the available hours and the speed of my fingers. I’ve been blessed to have been born into whiskey royalty. My father, David M. Spaid, and his (and my) very good friend Harry A. Ford, Jr. put together a not-so-small effort to share some of the rarest miniature whiskey bottles known. Not content to make it 99 bottles, as the song goes, they made it 101. 101 Rare Whiskey Flasks. So rare, I don’t own any of them. Believe it or not, there are a few copies of these 48 page booklets hanging out in the bowels of my father’s garage. You can still buy one for $10 including shipping if you want one. Printed in 1989 in black and white (color was crazy expensive back then for the short run they did) 101 Rare Whiskey Flasks will curl your toes and grow hair on your chest when you see the various rare brands and their designs. With permission from the authors, I present to you the Introduction from 101 Rare Whiskey Flasks. Scott Spaid Editor, WhiskeyBent.net 101 Rare Whiskey Flasks – $10 US including shipping (US only). INTRODUCTION Welcome to the world of miniature whiskeys. That’s whiskey with an “e”. The majority of people who have this book will use it as a guide and are already converted to the bottle collecting “faith”. For those of you whom this is your first look at miniature whiskeys, you’ll see many which would be considered the “best of show”. There are a good many questions which collectors might have about this book. Some of these will deal with pricing, some with why certain bottles were chosen and others were not, and finally, why the era of the 1930’s and flasks or flats instead of just any style bottle. To begin, let’s look at the title of the book, 101 Rare Whiskey Flasks. Not exactly snappy, but it does get the point across. There are 101 bottles here because it seemed to be a nice number, not overwhelming but more than a small sample. 101 also seemed to be important because the two of us could each show 50 of our favorite bottles and naturally one which both of us have in our collections. The idea of flasks and the 1930’s sort of go together. Probably most collectors would easily agree that the 1930’s were the golden age for miniature liquor bottles and miniature whiskeys in particular. And, the best of these bottles were the flasks. Flats or flasks are very seldom...

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Up through the ground came a bubblin crude (whiskey, that is, Black Gold)

Up through the ground came a bubblin crude (whiskey, that is, Black Gold)

<movie_trailer_voice> Imagine a world where Coca-Cola is bottled in Pepsi containers. Imagine a world where Pepsi is put inside RC Cola cans. Imagine a world where the new Brand Promise is no promise at all. Welcome to Soda Prohibition. </movie_trailer_voice> While there was no such thing as Soda Prohibition, unless you consider Mayor Bloomberg’s attempt to super down-size sugary drinks a qualifier, there was a prohibition on alcohol. Not some encouragement by the First Lady to plant flowers or get in shape (admirable, nonetheless) but an amendment to our Constitution. That’s some serious Messin’ with Sasquatch right there. So, what exactly is a Brand Promise? A Brand Promise is the assurance that Toyota means reliable (not so much lately). A Brand Promise is the notion that your McDonald’s Quarter Pounder will taste exactly the same every time everywhere. A Brand Promise is the guarantee that the Coke in your cola is “The Real Thing”. During prohibition, this sort of promise was such an after thought that you you might  say some of the whiskey brands were, well, kinda slutty. So, what’s in a name? Enter Black Gold Whiskey. Put yourself squarely in the middle of the Great Depression. Times where tough, to put it mildly. If you were lucky enough (or smart sick enough) to get your hands on some Black Gold, would you care where it came from, who distilled it, who bottled it, or who distributed it? Me thinks not. When I put myself in those worn out shoes I have to admit that I would be silly happy to get my grubby mitts on a pint of “Aged in the Wood” juicy juice no  matter where it came from or how over aged and “oaky” it might be. With that said, let’s take a look at a broken Brand Promise: Black Gold. Our first example, and the oldest as far as the distillation date goes, is this straight forward Black Gold. 18 Summers Old (sexier than 17 years) this bottle is beautifully embossed both front and back. The provenance of the liquid, according to the back label and tax stamp, is as follows: Bottled for: The American Medicinal Spirits Company Distillery bonded warehouse No. 19, 5th District of KY Produced for: G. G. White Co., Distillery  No. 9 6th Dist. of KY Our next contestant features a more traditional label and relatively boring straight glass container. Where our 18 summer old variation is labeled as whiskey on the back label, here we have a bona fide Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. Sounds promising. 16 years old, a common age for the era, this Black Gold has the following heritage: Distilled by The Nelson Distillery Company, Louisville, Kentucky Bottled by The American...

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Four Roses Straight Whiskey Mystery

Four Roses Straight Whiskey Mystery

As a relative newbie to the American whiskey scene, I am truly fascinated by the heritage of the brands, distilleries and those old pre-prohibition whiskey men (and women). I have a penchant for all things Americana and I love collecting artifacts that shaped who we are now as a nation. My original collecting sin was (and still is to a degree) vintage baseball cards for which I have deep admiration. My affection is not just for the cards but also for the game and its history. My favorite cardboard edition is the 1914 Cracker Jack set. The only way to get one of these cards was to purchase a box of the famous confectionary delight, fish around for the prize, and keep it for 100 years. And I don’t care if I never get back. So, how do 1914 Cracker Jack baseball cards and Four Roses whiskey intersect? Your first thought might be Babe Ruth, but he isn’t the crux of this biscuit. It is a romantic connection I make on my own, which I hope you enjoy. You see, there is something about pre-prohibiton, pre-depression America that holds an innocent allure I find captivating. When I hold a 1914 Cracker Jack card that survived the grimy mitts of a crazed tween looking for their next sugar fix in one hand and an unopened pint of Four Roses Straight Whiskey that survived the crusty knuckles of a bulbous nosed tippler in the other, the g-spot in my mind gets suitably tickled. For those items to survive 100 years and be in my possession is like owning pieces of history. Now, on to the Whiskey Mystery. Disclaimer: This post was written while snorkeling Four Roses Single Barrel hand picked by my local liquor store.  Four Roses Warehouse GW, Barrel No. 37-2B, to be exact. One oddity of Prohibition was the fact that tens of thousands of barrels of pre-pro hooch was still around from various distillers, both operating and defunct. Those barrels made their way to what were known as consolidation warehouses. The bloodlines of whiskey royalty were thrown into the equivalent of the Great American Melting Pot. Back then, whiskey was like a box of chocolates — you never knew what your were going to get. I’m sure not many people cared and were just happy to get some “Alcoholic Stimulant” that was aged in wood. A prime example of this is my pair of Four Roses Straight Whiskey pints. Exhibit A: Four Roses Straight Whiskey. One Pint. Distilled by United American Co. Made Spring 1917 Bottled Fall 1934. As lore goes, we started running out of pre-pro whiskey and the government allowed distilling of new stuff for medicinal purposes around...

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You can thank Prohibition for this Marvelous Whiskey

You can thank Prohibition for this Marvelous Whiskey

Being a marketing guy by trade, I really admire these old advertisements from National Distillers (circa July 1934). Create sense of urgency. Check. Weave a tale of romantic scarcity. Check. Create F.U.D. (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt). Check. The only gaff by today’s standards is the typical wail of the modern ad agency client: “There’s way too much text. Nobody’s ever going to read all that.” Thanks, Internet. Personally, I read every word of these ads with the same savory satisfaction I get from slow sipping my new found friend: Evan Williams Single Barrel. Please forgive the alliteration indulgence. Anyway, this ad predates my first post of this ad campaign by about 3 months. I think this is the first one in the series as I’ve found a couple more that were published at later dates.  They just get better over time like whiskey in the wood. Get yours while it...

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Old Fitzgerald Strikes Back

Old Fitzgerald Strikes Back

This week, as I devoured the blog posts of my fellow whiskey bloggers, I realized I’m more of a museum curator rather than a historian. That’s ok because now I know my place in the WWW (Wonderful World of Whiskey). Don’t get me wrong, I love the history. As your curator, today I’m taking you down the hall to the Old Fitzgerald exhibit. Old Fitzgerald is to RC Cola as Jack Daniels is to Coke. Both have been around for ages while those in the know quietly enjoy their RC Cola as the majority of the world say, “Coca-Cola rules!” To each his own. You may ask yourself why I titled this post “Old Fitzgerald Strikes Back.” Well, its not my fault because The Coopered Tot started it with his Old Fitzgerald post, which I highly recommend if you enjoy deep dive whiskey research like I do. All geeky Star Wars references aside, I was inspired by his post to the point where I felt I just had to answer back. So, Mr. Tot, if you’re reading this (and I’m sure you are) you’ll have to post another article in the future called “Return of the Fitz.” Old Fitzgerald Whiskey 1/2 Pint ◄ Back Next ► Picture 1 of 7 Made 1917 Bottled 1932. W.L. Weller & Sons on front label. Mary M. Dowling on tax strip. A. Ph. Stitzel, Inc. on back label....

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