Saturday, September 25, 2010

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Saturday? Reorganize the Liquor Closet

Liquor is my business. Well, part of it, anyway. Writing is my real business, but liquor is one of my favorite topics.

I am also a bit of a completist. This means that it's not enough, for instance, to buy a single book on whiskey — I've got to own everything I can get my hands on about distillation from its earliest days to the most recent blogs, to go into the field, to spend time with distillers, to understand quite thoroughly how a still works, and to do sampling. Lots of lots of sampling.

Whiskey Forge back stock
The result? Bottles. Lots and lots of bottles. I think of them as my liquid library. If I merely want to enjoy a nice spirit straight up with no mixers or want to follow, adjust, or corrupt a recipe, it's a simple matter of going to the library, grabbing the bottles I need, and rolling up my sleeves.

But the library's not what it used to be.

We did our damnedest to drink down the liquor cabinets when it seemed like we were moving to Louisiana earlier this year. Our guiding principle was not to move open bottles — and no more than a dozen of the rarest samples would make the move. After ten months of having friends help us knock back the stock, we were down to about 200 bottles. Sounds like a lot, but many of them hold just a few ounces and I'm concentrating on finishing those to clear space for new stock.

Now that we're staying put in San Diego, we've been rebuilding, bit by bit, the liquid library. We've added more whiskeys, a lot more rums, some moonshine, strange bitter distillates from far-away places and, yes, even Scotch whisky for guests.

This morning, I put new shelving in one of our liquor closets to accommodate the growth. There are two booze closets in the house, plus a rum-laden bar cart and a copper-topped dry sink freighted with whiskey. It's not the ideal storage, but the closet shelves are away from direct sunlight and outside walls (light and condensation are the enemies of just about everything in a pristine state, including spirits and cork).

I'll never be able to fit all the books in one room, but one day, just maybe, I'll be able to do that with all the bottles.

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