whisky antique

Shopping For Birth Year Whisky In Italy

Avid readers of this blog (do they exist?) have probably noticed the lack of new content over the last month. The reason is twofold. Firstly I’ve been enjoying the fairly good weather in The Netherlands. I’d rather sit outside enjoying a whisky and/or a cigar, than sitting inside sweating out another post. And secondly, I’ve been vacationing in Italy, where I’ve enjoyed a smartphoneless and WiFi free two weeks. But just because you haven’t heard from me on this blog or via Twitter and Facebook, that doesn’t mean I haven’t been practicing my favorite hobby: whisky!

Italy is home to some of the biggest whisky collectors in the world. Diego Sandrin of Lion’s Whisky in Venice is very well-known, as is Guiseppe Begnoni of Whisky Paradise in Bologna. I actually tried to schedule a visit of Begnoni’s showroom, since I stayed within an hour of Bologna, but sadly Begnoni wasn’t available during my time in Italy. Lucky for me, there was a great alternative not far from Bologna: Whisky Antique in Formigine (near Modena).

Heaven and hell

Whisky Antique-owner Massimo Righi and his father have been collecting whisky for decades, and the collection they have amassed is truly impressive. There are endless shelves stocked with the most exclusive and difficult to find whisky. Just have a quick browse of their website and you’ll know what I’m talking about. I don’t think there’s a shop in Europe that compares. Maybe there are some with more floor space, and others with a higher volume of bottles. But as far as I know there’s no other shop of this size with a collection this rare.

Simply put, Whisky Antique is heaven to any whisky lover. But – and this may sound strange – it is also a whisky hell. Because with exclusivity and rarity come matching prices. So many great whiskies seem within reach, but are also still so far away. After I accepted the monetary situation (‘You’re here this one time, Thijs, make the best of it’) came the difficult task of finding whisky I was willing to spend money on.

Child of the whisky depression

I was born in 1985, which makes me a child of the whisky depression. Were I born a couple of years earlier or later, I wouldn’t have had much trouble locating excellent whisky from my birth year. The early eighties have given us some great liquid, just think of al the different Brora and Port Ellen bottlings. And there seem to appear new single cask bottlings from the late eighties and early nineties every single day. But if you were in diapers anywhere from 1984 to 1987, than your shit out of luck.

So now that I find myself in the most extensive whiskyshop I’ve ever been in, surely there must be some decent whisky from 1985? The answer is yes. I’m now the proud owner of three different whiskies from the great year of 1985. Two older bottlings: a cask strength Bladnoch 1985/1995 and a Strathisla 1985/2000, both from Gordon & MacPhail. And a recent Longmorn 1985/2014 from Adelphi.

Now I just have to find an occasion to open them, and I think I know when that’ll be. Next april, I hit the big Three-O, exactly the right time to enjoy a good whisky.

1985

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