The Orphan Whiskey Flask

The Orphan Whiskey Flask

The joy of discovering long lost hip flasks

Thoughts from... 23 Mar 2018 | Interviews | By Fred Minnick

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Let’s move the dresser cabinet TV thingy,” my wife tells me at the start of the weekend. She referred to a giant piece of furniture taking up our bedroom for the past decade. It was time to move it. She wants new furniture.

I embarked on the cleaning process in which I pulled out books, pieces of paper, pens, axe (yes, I have an axe in my cabinet thingy; a Carrie Nation axe, to be exact), coins, old passports and a bunch of other stuff.

This thingy collecting dust was where I dropped my wallet and everything in between apparently.

As I was digging in the back, pulling a few wires, flip cell phone cords, I saw a reflection. It was in the corner, so I had to reach back, sticking my whole arm into the corner.

The cold stainless steel flask swished and sloshed as I pulled it forward. It was circular and pristine. The reflection showed my face with perfect carnival-mirror shape.

Hmmmm, what’s in here? I wondered looking at it.

I twisted the cap off and looked underneath the lid. Sometimes rust forms in flasks sitting away.

Rust really throws off the flavour of whiskey, too, so always make sure you’re buying the stainless steel flasks. The nickel, manganese and chromium make it rust resistant.

I then brought the half-dime size opening to my nose, waft it around. Whoa, what’s in there?

I started pondering my lost flasks; and frankly, I couldn’t remember what I poured. Then, on the second smell, I recalled a special bottle I snuck into the Kentucky Derby once via flask.

At the time, it was one of my favorite Bourbons – Jefferson’s 17 Years Old Presidential Reserve, a beautiful number distilled in 1991 at Stitzel-Weller. I poured it in a flask, had one sip at the Derby and thought I lost it at the track, probably at the betting window. Or was it in the paddocks area?

No, I surely dropped it in the gift shop when reaching into my pockets.

Circular and pristine. The reflection showed my face with perfect carnival-mirror shape


As you can see, that day was a haze; I lost a lot of money, too. So I had my doubts that this flask contained the golden liquid.

I put the flask to my lips. It was cold. Tilted it back and expected burn. For some reason, when drinking from flasks, I find the burn is more prominent. My best theory is the whiskey overwhelms the part of the tong it hits in concentrated bursts.
If you sip from a glass, your tongue can maneuver the whiskey how you want; if you sip from the flask, it hits one spot.

This didn’t burn. It was velvety, layered with flaovurs of toffee, nougat, vanilla and caramel. By God, it was Jefferson’s.
I remembered the balance and complexity as if it were yesterday.

Elated to find this old flask, filled with one of my favorite Bourbons of the past decade, I put it in another cabinet to enjoy later and went back to cleaning out the cabinet drawer thingy with a smile on my face. I was just reunited with one of my favorite whiskeys.

What was next? Did I have Pappy 23 hidden in a shoe? Or better yet, would my signed Ed Foote Old Fitzgerald bottle suddenly get refilled and be hidden behind the thingy?

Alas, these things didn’t happen. There were no more hidden whiskeys or treasures.

But I reminisced on that day when I bought the bottle and how I later bought as many 17-year-old Jefferson’s I could. How I felt silly for when I told the Jefferson’s co-founder, Chett Zoeller, I thought the 17 Years Old had a brandy-like nose.

Mr. Zoeller probably doesn’t remember this, but we were in the break room of the Kentucky Book Fair. He was signing his book; I was signing mine. Chett looked at me funny and then uttered, “That’s what my son and I were going for.” I don’t know why that conversation stuck out in my mind; the brain does funny things, such as allowing one to misplace a charming whiskey for the best part of a decade.

I’m glad the memories hit, and I could reminisce for a bit. As I finished up the cabinet drawer thingy, I asked myself, “I wonder if I’ll ever find that missing wedding ring.”
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