The Dusty Hunting Manual

BourbonDrinker.com/The Dusty Hunting Manual => This dusty hunting guide is posted here with permission of its author,  BourbonDrinker.com member ggilbertva. Thanks Greg! It was originally posted

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Offline dzell

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The Dusty Hunting Manual
« on: October 27, 2009, 11:01:30 PM »
This dusty hunting guide is posted here with permission of its author,  BourbonDrinker.com member ggilbertva. Thanks Greg!

It was originally posted on his excellent bourbon blog at: http://bourbondork.blogspot.com/
Favorite Bottles:
1) George T. Stagg (All Years)
2) Russel's Reserve (101 proof)
3) Rock Hill Farms
4) Vintage Bourbon 17-Year

Offline dzell

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The Dusty Hunting Manual
« Reply #1 on: October 27, 2009, 11:04:59 PM »
The Dusty Hunt

In some other posts I've mentioned dusty bottles. Many bourbon enthusiasts acquire numerous bourbon releases whether they be current production they enjoy or limited release stuff like the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection. Another aspect of collecting involves looking for bourbon that is no longer in production. Believe it or not, there's a lot of older bottles still sitting on store shelves or in some liquor store basement. You may ask "how can this happen?", well it does and it's surprising how much older bourbon is still sitting on shelves waiting to be purchased.I'm fortunate to live in an area that is well stocked with older bourbon. For instance, back in 2007 I found a bottle of Old Fitzgerald Bottled in Bondsitting on a store shelf that was distilled in 1965 and bottled in1971. I bought that particular bottle for a whopping $11.99 and for any bourbon enthusiast they understand there's really terrific bourbon inthat bottled distilled by the now obsolete Stitzel Weller Distillery.

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_C6iWGgmB45Q/Soy65vmlPvI/AAAAAAAAAB8/P_9SXHQPHco/s1600-h/65oldfitz.JPG height=176
The Dusty Hunting Manual


In a series of blogs, I'll go through and explain what dusty hunting is.  I'll start with the following....

If you're dusty hunting in your home you're probably spending the afternoon cleaning the house. If you're a serious bourbon enthusiast and dusty hunting, you're more than likely lurking in some seedy downtown liquor store looking for that special "dusty" bottle of bourbon. I'll mention that most of the older bottles of bourbon I've found had layers of dust on them.....thus, dusty bottle.

Dusty hunting can be described as looking for that out of production bottle of bourbon that once found makes you giggle like a little girl. As you hold the bottle in your hand, you turn it over looking for those special markings that give tell tale signs that what you now hold is truly something special. That's right, an older bottle of bourbon will have visual markings that give away its heritage, age and many times,the goodness that resides within.

While finding that special bottle is terrific, that's only half the game. The other half is the actual hunt. Moving from store to store scouring the shelves for bottles that are no longer in production, just sitting there waiting for someone to notice it.

Of course the goal is not to acquire and then display the bottle as a conversation piece but to actually open the bottle and enjoy a taste of yesteryear. What's particularly great is tasting bourbon that is no longer produced and comparing that to something current. I see a lot of folks who inherit grandpa's old bourbon bottles, or someone picks up some stuff in an estate sale and they invariably ask the question "how much is this bottle worth?". My answer is typically not as much as you think but to me the real value is enjoying something rare and out of production. So, if you inherit grandpa's bourbon and you enjoy sipping on a dram now and then, keep the bottle, open it and drink to grandpa's memory.

I'll post additional information on the tactics to use when dusty hunting so stay tuned. I'll caution you though, once you start hunting, it becomes addictive.
« Last Edit: January 13, 2010, 08:50:26 AM by dzell »
Favorite Bottles:
1) George T. Stagg (All Years)
2) Russel's Reserve (101 proof)
3) Rock Hill Farms
4) Vintage Bourbon 17-Year

Offline dzell

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The Dusty Hunting Manual
« Reply #2 on: October 27, 2009, 11:06:48 PM »
« Last Edit: January 13, 2010, 08:56:00 AM by dzell »
Favorite Bottles:
1) George T. Stagg (All Years)
2) Russel's Reserve (101 proof)
3) Rock Hill Farms
4) Vintage Bourbon 17-Year

Offline dzell

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The Dusty Hunting Manual
« Reply #3 on: October 27, 2009, 11:08:24 PM »
« Last Edit: January 13, 2010, 08:59:37 AM by dzell »
Favorite Bottles:
1) George T. Stagg (All Years)
2) Russel's Reserve (101 proof)
3) Rock Hill Farms
4) Vintage Bourbon 17-Year

Offline dzell

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The Dusty Hunting Manual
« Reply #4 on: October 27, 2009, 11:12:07 PM »
The Dusty Hunt - Part 4

We discussed in the previous blog the Universal Product Code (UPC) on bottles of bourbon. As I stated,knowing the UPC will assist you in identifying the distiller for a particular bourbon but there are other indicators on the label that will also narrow down the provenance. Some bourbon is designated with a Bottled in Bond (BIB) statement on the label and this relates to the Bottled in Bond act of 1897. In short, the act in effect provided a guarantee with this designation since whiskey back then was adulterated with all types of additives primarily for purposes of greed. Coloring and flavorings were added tainting the whiskey. The Bottled in Bond act ensured to the consumer that what they were buying was genuine"straight whiskey". I mention this one, because it's interesting, but also because on each bottle of bonded whiskey, the label will indicate the Distilled Spirits Plant (DSP) number of the distillery. This is important because many distilleries in production 20, 30 or 40 years ago are no longer in operation. Knowing the DSP of a bottle of bonded whiskey tells you exactly who made the bourbon. I'll go back to my example of the Old Fitzgerald BIB which indicated DSP-KY 16. This tells me it was distilled by Stitzel Weller Distillery. Today's Old Fitzgerald BIB is designated DSP-KY 1 which is Bernheim Distillery that is now owned by Heaven Hill. Armed with this information while dusty hunting will quickly tell you whose bourbon is in the bottle. Now before you start looking for the DSP number on each dusty bottle you find, chances are good you won't find the DSP number on any non-BIB bottle. This is because distilleries are required by law to indicate the DSP on bonded whiskey. For example, a bottle of Old Grand Dad 86proof bourbon indicates it's from the Old Grand Dad Distillery which in fact does not exist (anymore) and is distilled by Jim Beam. Likewise,Old Weller Antique is not distilled by W.L. Weller & Sons butrather Buffalo Trace Distillery.

As a general rule, I like my bourbon at higher proof. There are few types of bourbon I will drink at 80 proof just because it's not a very exciting dram for me at the lowest legal proof. The exception to this is a couple of dusty bottles I found recently that I do enjoy even at 80 proof. Early Times Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey (KSBW) from early 80's and older and early80's Old Crown and older. The reason I like these two is because I believe they contain glut whiskey. What's glut whiskey you say? Well,this would be whiskey older than what's stated on the label. Because whiskey sales had gone soft from the mid 70's and into the 80's, a lot of product sat in the warehouses aging not going to market. Because of this, bourbon was typically older than what the label stated.

Other indicators on the bottle include the proof, age statement and location of bottling or distillation. There are a number of occasions where distilleries have lowered the proof of their bourbon in order to stretch profits or maybe because they like making silly decisions, but whatever the case, understanding when a proof change happened is another key indicator of dating a bottle. Age statements on bottles are also a way to know when a bottle was produced. For instance, Old Fitzgerald's 1849 used to carry an 8 year age statement. Today, there's no age statement. Evan Williams 1783 used to be a 10 year old bourbon.In 2007 Heaven Hill dropped the 10 year age statement and now the 1783simply says Old No. 10. Fancy huh? What's now in the bottle is a younger whiskey. Finally, knowing when the location change happened ona label is another factor in dating a bottle. Many times, the change in location (e.g. Louisville, KY vs Frankfort, KY) is a change in ownership. An example may be Old Charter 12 year Classic 90 which was produced by United Distiller showing Louisville, KY on the label. When Buffalo Trace picked up the brand, the label then indicated Frankfort,KY.

While this seems like a lot of information, it is. But,if you're serious about dusty hunting and want the ability to zero in on dusty bottles, this information is necessary in your quest. You don't want to purchase blindly as you may end up with a dusty bottle that's also a nasty bottle.
« Last Edit: January 13, 2010, 09:09:36 AM by dzell »
Favorite Bottles:
1) George T. Stagg (All Years)
2) Russel's Reserve (101 proof)
3) Rock Hill Farms
4) Vintage Bourbon 17-Year

Offline dzell

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The Dusty Hunting Manual
« Reply #5 on: October 28, 2009, 08:21:18 PM »
The Dusty Hunt - Part 5 (Final)

So here we are having gone through a number of posts talking about dusty hunting. This last post will cover some safety and etiquette practices to employ when hunting.

Keep in mind that retail store owners are looking to make a buck so don't get too greedy when looking to score the big dusty. While I've negotiated the price down on bulk purchases, I don't make insulting offers but am simply looking for fair prices. On the flip side, it's not your job to educate the owners on what they have. You've done the research and leg work so there should be some reward for arming yourself with the relevant bourbon information.

To set the environment, most of my hunting is done is stores that have bars on the windows and scratched up Plexiglas between me and the cashier so the clientele are what's to be expected in a place like this. It's good practice to strike up a conversation with the proprietor on mundane topics; weather, latest football game, etc. assuming they're open to chatting. If the store is busy, I'll tend to stand back and scan the shelves before approaching the counter and engaging in conversation. What I want will take time whereas most other customers are looking to purchase their Wild Irish Rose and a lotto ticket. There's been many times I'll just wander about waiting for the lotto line to die down before asking to see a bottle of bourbon. When engaging the owner or cashier, be open and friendly. If I see something of interest, sometimes I'll buy a soda and chips or candy bar and snack before getting down to business. Don't be anxious or pushy as many folks will be curious or guarded toward you at first.I've found that most store cashiers or owners have no clue about bourbon so when asking to see a particular bottle, expect that they will grab the wrong one or be unsure what you are asking for. Be patient in directing them to what you want to see. It's key to not appear too excited about the bottle and showing indifference will many times help with the total sale price in the end. There may be instances where you experience a language barrier and trying to get the bottle you want can be difficult. Again, have patience and be respectful; in the end this will help you achieve your overall purchase. Be sure to thank the store clerk for assisting you along the way. There's been many times once the comfort level sets in where the owners or clerks will begin to help you find additional bottles. When you get to that point, it's a simple process of digging through all the shelves or back store rooms to find those elusive dusty's. Remember, if they don't feel threatened or irritated by you, chances of getting behind the counter or storage room are pretty high.

Let's talk safety.  The reality is, many of the best bottles are found in the nastiest places.  I wouldn't recommend hunting alone in areas that are prone to violence or drug problems. Having someone along with you projects strength in numbers. There are times when I've shopped with 2 or 3 other guys and we're left alone for the most part.When you shop is important, especially in more dangerous areas. Most of my shopping is done on Saturday mornings shortly after stores open,usually around 10:00 a.m. Most folks that are up and around early on a Saturday and most likely going to work or shopping. The baddies are typically sleeping off all their rabble rousing from the night before.Shopping at night is not recommended. Keep in mind that if you hit a store that has a good selection of dusty's, chances are you will be buying quite a few bottles and doing so will attract attention.Finalizing your purchase and getting back on the road is a good thing.Hanging around, not so much. Finally, use common sense and if you feel uncomfortable in a certain area or feel something isn't right, listen to that inner voice and move on. You can always go back another day.

Hunting for old bottles is fun and certainly thrilling when you hit the mother lode. When shopping you may not be able to purchase everything you see as has been my case. I take notes as I shop, recording the store name,address and what was left behind.

Have fun hunting but please use common sense when doing so.
« Last Edit: January 13, 2010, 09:06:13 AM by dzell »
Favorite Bottles:
1) George T. Stagg (All Years)
2) Russel's Reserve (101 proof)
3) Rock Hill Farms
4) Vintage Bourbon 17-Year

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