What is as old as he is?
May 30, 2015 11:20 AM   Subscribe

Our friend is turning 40 - we were thinking of a 40 year old [wine,scotch,bourbon..?] as a gift. But we have no idea what to pick?

Since we are not familiar with the particularities of these liquors/spirits, can you please suggest liquors that are perfectly aged at 40 years old? We will be purchasing it in Chicago if that matters.

posted by xicana63 to Food & Drink (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
What about a wine or whiskey bottle with a custom label? A number of vineyards and brewers offer this as a gift option.
posted by LittleMy at 11:23 AM on May 30, 2015

It may help to indicate the price range you're hoping for.
posted by jaguar at 11:24 AM on May 30, 2015

Response by poster: Thanks Jaguar - we are open to <$175
posted by xicana63 at 11:26 AM on May 30, 2015

Best answer: For that price range, I think your best bet is Armagnac. We've got this one available at some Binny's locations.
posted by HumuloneRanger at 11:40 AM on May 30, 2015

Vintage port is another option.
posted by primethyme at 11:41 AM on May 30, 2015 [3 favorites]

For that price range, I'd suggest looking at ports. It looks like 1975 was considered a good year for the Portuguese ports.
posted by jaguar at 11:41 AM on May 30, 2015

Here are some 40 year whiskeys of various types. But really, if you're buying booze, just go to Binny's and ask. If you're nice, and they have it open, they'll even let you sample before you buy.

But "perfectly aged at 40 years" is sort of an odd concept for whiskey. Whiskeys are aged in the cask and don't change after bottling and whiskey that sat in a cask for 40 years before bottling and selling would be something of a loss for the distillery. Plus, there's no agreement that longer aging times really improve whiskeys. You don't often seen whiskeys more than 25 years in the cask.

Scotches must be aged for at least 3 years, but the age on the bottle is the age of the youngest stock used in the bottling batch. Bourbon has no (legal) aging time requirement; although you'll often see a two-year minimum quoted places, American whiskey of the bourbon sort can legally be labeled bourbon as long as it is cask-aged for some period of time (Well, "straight bourbon" has a two year minimum" but not "bourbon". Most age for 8-12 years, some much shorter). 15 years is considered long aging for bourbon.

Now, finding something bottled in the birth year might be a nice idea--both for wines or ports or scotches--but will be more difficult. If it was a notably year; the bottles will be both expensive and rare. If it wasn't, who's gonna have it?
posted by crush-onastick at 11:43 AM on May 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

Yeah, what you're looking for is likely going to be a special order. Forty years is arguably over-the-hill for a lot of wines and liquors, which may not be the message you're trying to send!

That said, it looks like Graham's 40 Year Old Tawny Port is available online in your price range, but doesn't ship until June 3.
posted by jaguar at 11:50 AM on May 30, 2015

Oh, it looks like Binny's might have the Graham's 40 year old at some of its Chicagoland locations.
posted by jaguar at 11:56 AM on May 30, 2015

Best answer: I jumped in to talk about port, so I'll just nth that port is a great choice. A friend is a scotch expert and has explained that 40 years is most of the time too old for a scotch. They start a slide downhill at around 35 years. Plus they can be ludicrously expensive.

A 40 year old port can be amazing and incredible.
This one is likely to be phenomenal. I'm partial to Sandemans.
posted by asavage at 12:26 PM on May 30, 2015 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Port, armagnac, or madeira (maybe the best deliciousness/price ratio available, since it's surprisingly unpopular/unfashionable) are what you want. Wines are over the hill (except for the great Bordeaux you can't afford) and the concept doesn't really apply to whiskey, as crush-onastick says.
posted by languagehat at 12:31 PM on May 30, 2015

Anecdata: my wife and I received a 30 year-old bottle of port as a wedding gift and it was amazing.

We didn't drink it for a few years after the wedding because I was waiting for a suitably "special" occasion...when I told that to the friend who gave it to us, she said "Any time you open a 30 year old bottle of port, it *becomes* a special occasion."
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:44 PM on May 30, 2015 [4 favorites]

I've looked into things like this on a few occasions, and my heuristic is that you can get the year or you can get the age, but not both.
posted by rhizome at 1:52 PM on May 30, 2015

I'm happy to see you're being steered towards "40 year old" port, which is indeed an excellent drink. There are also vintage ports, and there are 1975's on the market, but the wines were fast maturing & rather light so I'd avoid them. (The 1970's and 1977's on the other hand are still holding). Despite the name on the label, a "40 year tawny" is likely to be a blend of different vintages, mostly but not entirely around 40 years old. The blending means the wine is pretty consistent, without regard to "vintage" years.

I differ with languagehat on one point: 1975 dessert wines (Sauternes in particular) are likely to be just fine, and within your price range (as they're out of fashion). I'd risk a 1975 Sauternes over a 1975 vintage port any day.
posted by mr vino at 7:00 PM on May 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

> I differ with languagehat on one point: 1975 dessert wines (Sauternes in particular) are likely to be just fine, and within your price range (as they're out of fashion). I'd risk a 1975 Sauternes over a 1975 vintage port any day.

Absolutely right; I forgot about Sauternes!
posted by languagehat at 2:44 PM on May 31, 2015

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