My friend Peter has been in town for the past couple of days. He has been residing in San Diego for a while, but his parents still live in Yonkers. The family visited Prague, where Pete's parents were born, for a family reunion, and Peter stopped in New York to visit friends.
Over a decade ago, Peter wanted to learn everything there was to know about a very, very, very specific subject that had little-to-no practical value. He finally settled on the whiskys of Islay. He purchased a bottle from each of the distilleries located on the island, and tracked down a bottle from the Port Ellen distillery which had just closed. It was a bottle of the 1980 vintage 18 year-old whisky:
Back in the day, Peter had arranged a tasting for a bunch of us, with bottles of each of the whiskys and water and ice if we didn't want our whisky neat. I usually drink my whisky with the tiniest "teardrop" of water- dip the finger in a glass and add one drop, please. In the course of the event, we partook of the 1980 18-year Glen Ellen. On Sunday, a bunch of us got together and Peter busted out the bottle, which is about half-full.
If you look at the collectors' prices for Port Ellen scotch, they range from hundreds of pounds to thousands of pounds. If it had remained unopened, Peter's bottle would probably have been worth about $750-800. Sharing the bottle was worth a lot more, and he'll be bringing the bottle back with him to San Diego, where one of his co-workers is a Scotch aficianado. The whisky is a rarity, and it will be a treat for this guy to try a nip of such a nonesuch.
I take a pretty dim view of "collectors", probably due to the sort of people who hoard comic books and toys, driving up the prices so that families with little kids can't afford them. Toys were meant to be played with, books to be read, and whisky to be drunk. If Peter had held onto the unopened bottle, he could have sold it at a handsome profit, but the stories that he'll be able to tell about sharing the scotch will friends are so much more valuable.