Poll Result: If You Found The Last Bottle…

by Oliver Klimek on June 1, 2012

An almost philosophical question was the topic of the latest poll:

“Imagine you find a miniature bottle of a long lost distillery or brand on the flea market. A whisky lover’s dream becomes true. You had given up any hope to ever be able to try it. But here you have it in your hands. It may be the last bottle in existence. What would you do?”

After roughly three weeks, 112 readers have answered the question, and the result turned out to be very interesting:

  1. Open the bottle and drink it – 62 votes (55%)
  2. Keep it – 24 votes (21%)
  3. Sell it – 14 votes (13%)
  4. I don’t know – 12 votes (11%)

More than half of the people would open the bottle and drink the whisky, even if it might be the last remaing bottle of a long gone distillery. I somehow expected this to be the top answer but I was honestly suprised by the margin it won by.

If you are wondering how I answered this question: I would keep the bottle by all means.

Two comments the poll received I found quite stunning:

“If you are not collecting mini bottles there is no sense in keeping such a fleeting sample.”

“We’re talking miniature here and I’d be surprised if it hadn’t all evaporated, but my choice is drink it. Now had it been a 70cl bottle, I’d probably have voted differently.”

Come on, you may be in possession of the last drops of Glen Whatchummacallit on the entire planet, and there would be be no sense in keeping it? And why would the last 70cl bottle be worth keeping but not the last miniature?

Call me sentimental, but I am always sad when old distillery buildings are torn down like not too long ago at Caperdonich – witnesses of whisky history demolished forever. How could I be happy then to destroy the last liquid witness in exchange for an hour of dramming delight? Can there be a greater whisky treasure than such a bottle? I would keep and cherish this bottle, no matter how much my palate yearned to taste the content.

Usually I am all in favour of the ‘open and drink’ attitude, even with rare and expensive whisky. But for me, this situation is the one and only exception where I love whisky just too much to drink it.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Josh Feldman June 1, 2012 at 11:15 pm

You are made of sterner stuff than I. I crave experience and thus voted I would drink it. Now I feel a bit ashamed. I definitely see your point. I realize now that I didn’t reflect deeply enough. I would drink it only if it were a dram I suspected of being really excellent. If it were say, a Glen Kieth 10, I might leave it to science. But what would science do with it? Gas spectrography will not tell you how to replicate the subtle details that we so prize.

Honestly, it’s whisky. Someone is going to drink it eventually sometime. It might as well be you – now. If you have reason to expect a replica would be made you might have an argument, but I suspect a miniature is too little to allow the comparative tastings required. I think the argument that a miniature is as good as a full bottle isn’t such a throw away.

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Oliver Klimek June 2, 2012 at 6:56 am

To be honest I did not think of a possible replication in the first place. For a Shackleton-style replica a miniature would certainly be not enough.

The only reason why I introduced the mini bottle in the question was to rule out the obvious ‘drink some and keep the rest’ answer. I intended this to be a ‘gun against your head’ situaton. Leave it closed, and you’ll never be able to taste it. Open it and taste, and nobody will ever be able to taste it anymore. Maybe not quite as brutal as “Would you shoot the last Siberian tiger for the fur?” but to create a dilemma going into the same direction ;)

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Keith June 2, 2012 at 5:39 pm

Oliver, personally I wasn’t at all surprised at this result, purely because you did specify a mini. I know there are some mini collectors around, but they aren’t as prolific as ‘normal’ bottle collectors and minis also tend to suffer from greater evaporation problems. I personally voted “drink it” but if it were a full-size bottle I would never have done so. I disagree with the idea of drink some, keep the rest for many obvious reasons, not least of which are oxidation over time and the un-saleability of open bottles.

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Oliver Klimek June 2, 2012 at 5:58 pm

I see your point, but it looks like you ultimately see this under the aspect of classic ‘collectability’ or even resale potential. Which in this case is entirely out of the question for me personally. I wouldn’t give a heck about the evaporation in that mini bottle, given he chance that these may be the last 3.8 cl in the world. ;) Actually the less there is left in the bottle, the more valuable the remaining drops become.

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Keith June 3, 2012 at 3:23 pm

Yes, that was really my point. This wouldn’t be so collectible due to further evaporation, so another reason to drink it.

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Thomas Tannenberger September 27, 2012 at 1:42 pm

´where I love whisky just too much to drink it.´
Oliver, you shocked me! (I would have voted ´keep it´ though, too).

Keith, evaporation is not a problem with minibottles when you seal it with Parafilm. I think. at least my 6 layers of Parafim M around each bottle of my own collection should be ok for the next few atombombs, whiskydrinkerinvasion, cellar rats and others.

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Ricardo January 22, 2013 at 1:57 am

Sorry I didn’t vote on this initially. But if I had the last bottle of a distilleries output I would probably sell it if could fetch a tidy sum and purchase other bottles that interested me with the proceeds.

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Ricardo January 22, 2013 at 2:00 am

Maybe Broras and Port Ellens and like while they’re still available.

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