Those brilliant and suave VLO friends among you who follow our members-only Facebook group know that a few weeks ago, someone mentioned an infinity bottle in a thread, which prompted me to start one, which now has its own thread going. Tony said to me, “Jason, I know you’re brilliant and good-looking, which is the reason people engage with VLO, but it might be cool if you gave One More For The People™ by means of a blog post so that everyone understood this concept.”
After a bit of reflection, I said, “You make good points, sir; I shall do it!” So here goes.
What is an “infinity bottle?”
Sometimes called a solera bottle or a living bottle, an infinity bottle is a container (often a glass decanter with a sealing top) that collects different kinds of spirits. Usually, people pour the last ounce or so of a spirit into the infinity bottle, thus — over time — creating a proprietary blend.
The idea is common with whiskey, but other spirits could work, too. Just don’t mix spirits — it’d be nasty to ruin a lovely whiskey-based infinity bottle with a pour of a London dry gin.
Beyond that, the question of what goes in is up to you. I, personally, will reserve mine for rarer whiskeys that I can’t get just off-the-shelf at a mid-tier store in Michigan. So, e.g., no Woodford Reserve, even though I like it. And instead of pouring the last of the bottle, I’ll add 2.5 ounces early on — both to preserve ratios, and because 2.5 ounces is roughly 75 ml, so I can capture roughly 10 different “full pours” of whiskey at any given time, less any opportunity I’ve had to sample or share some with others.
How do you use one?
Easy. Pour spirits into the bottle. Don’t spill any, heathen.
Sometimes people log what goes in. I built a paper-based tracking sheet I keep on my spirits shelf. It records the date of an addition or deletion, the spirit, its proof level, the ounces in/out of the bottle, and relevant notes. For example, I started my bottle with three whiskeys:
5/18/19, Blood Oath Pact No. 3, 98.6 proof, + 2.5 oz.
5/18/19, Old Forester 1910 Old Fine Whiskey, 93.0 proof, + 2.5 oz.
5/18/19, Jefferson’s Ocean Aged at Sea Cask Strength (Voyage 18), 112.0 proof, + 2.5 oz.
5/18/19, sample tasting, – 0.5 oz [leaving 7.0 oz. remaining in the infinity bottle]
This kind of sheet lets me know, should I feel impelled to do the math, what the relative proof value of the bottle is at any given time.
What kind of bottle should I buy?
Up to you. A bottle that can handle 750 ml seems wise, as that’s what a typical spirits bottle contains. You could even clean and repurpose an especially elegant bottle for this purpose, so you don’t incur any extra expense.
Is there any special protocol for these bottles?
Yes. A well-curated infinity bottle is a precious thing. Never help yourself to someone else’s bottle — don’t even ask. Wait to be invited to sample it, and then, don’t begrudge a short pour. And if you’re not offered, don’t take it personally. #YouAreNotEntitled
Should I worry about just randomly blending spirits?
The cool thing about an infinity bottle is that you can try different things. Assuming you follow the rule of “one kind of spirit per bottle,” you’ll find that adding X on one day makes the bottle better but adding Y a week later makes it worse. If you think you’ve got a good head for flavor and proof and esters and all that jazz, by all means go full Sheldon Cooper on your bottle. For most people, though, the variation in the experience that comes as relative mixes of whiskeys wax and wane over a period of years adds to the enjoyment of the bottle.