“Dusties” Are the Latest Whiskey Collectors’ Item

Clay Risen offers tips on finding historical and rare bottles of whiskey at Wine Spectator as he shadows Greg Gilbert, who hunts “dusties — American whiskey brands, often long forgotten, that have sat in stores for years.” While dusties don’t boast much monetary value, they are all important for their historical value. 

Bottles of American whiskey capped in the ‘50s and ‘60s still lurk on the shelves of old liquor stores. Risen recommends looking for bottles from distilleries that are defunct today — like National Distillers or Stitzel-Weller—and sealed with tax strips, pieces of plastic tape over the bottle tops. Bottles measured in English measurements (pints, quarts or gallons) were capped before 1979, which is promising.

But why look for these old bottles of whiskey? “Before industry consolidation and automation in 1980s and 1990s, distilleries were relatively small and frequently tinkered with recipes, creating flavors that were often deliciously inconsistent and nuanced from one batch to the next,” writes Risen. 

Next time you are at a liquor store, keep an eye out for Old Overholt Rye from before 1987, or 100-proof Bourbon from Maker’s Mark. “It’s refreshing that anyone can walk into a liquor store and find a truly rare —and great tasting whiskey — at a fraction of the cost,” writes Risen. [Wine Enthusiast] [Photo: Flickr/Sam Howitz]