After spending so much time talking about my enthusiasm for Independent Bottlings in part 1 and part 2, it might seem unusual why I wouldn't review any of them here on the site. As partial explanation, I offer you this story:
A new family moved in across the street when I was ten. I was excited to see they had a boy about my age, and I went over to play as soon as I could. During that first and only visit, the little shit wouldn't let me touch any of his toys. He'd just fiddle with them about three feet away from where I sat and stow the toys underneath his bed when he was done. I asked him why I couldn't look at any of them myself. "They're special," he said.
Part of me relives that very moment when whiskey reviewers drone on about how good a one-off bottle was that they sourced from a dead distillery. At worst, it strikes me as somewhat masturbatory to regale your audience with the great pleasures that you had, but they won't ever be able to. You might as well read these pieces in a Gollum-like voice and imagine the author petting the bottle.
But even with the best of intentions, who gives a shit?
How much mental energy would you devote to a 17th-century account of how to best survive an attack from a pack of Dodo birds? How interested would you be in a user manual for a 1984 Dodge Omni? Would you care about a buddy's movie review if you knew you could only watch the same film at an independent theater in Paraguay?
Whether I succeed or not in the goal, my hope is that this site at least feels communal and convivial. And as such, my objective is to let you know what's good, what's really good, and what I think you should avoid. That's impossible without putting myself in your shoes and first asking, "Is this relevant?" Bottles erased from existence no longer fight for your hard-earned dollars. A horrible product no longer on the market doesn't continue to haunt store shelves like a third-rate boogeyman.
Besides, where mental conversations on this site go, a discontinued product ends any possible dialogue between me and you. Even if we never end up emailing one another, I think it's important to create that space, regardless. Probably, we would have a great conversation about shared experiences or your take on a particular spirit. With most everything up here on Spirit Animal, the opportunity is there for you to check out all of these things and move the experience from a vicarious one into something that could actually happen.
True, regional differences and a limited selection at your nearest retailer may reduce the access you have to the things I talk about here. But with IBs, the door to the same experience I had is almost always shut to you, never to reopen. And that's my major beef with a lot of spirits writing: there's never a consideration given about how to let the reader in. It's one of the reasons I have so much affinity for what David Driscoll does for K&L through his spirits journal. As a writer, he understands that every piece should (ideally) resonate with someone beyond the author.
Again, Independent Bottlings can often be supremely good, and I would encourage you to see what's out there in terms of scotch, rum, bourbon, and whatever else you might be interested in. But the reality is this: by the time I'd get around to writing about the experience of one of those products, and by the time you stumble upon it here, that particular 1-of-300 bottle is probably gone, gone, gone. Which means you and I have better things to talk about.