“You’re One of Those Internet Tequila Hoarders!”
This is what the store owner said to me after he asked if he could help me (about 20 seconds after I entered the store) and I responded “Do you have any Fortaleza?” (I do this when I want them to stop asking me questions).
I took great exception to his labeling me, and to his dismissive approach, and I then pointed out how in fact, I was not ONLY a collector (Hoarder is such an ugly word, Merriam-Webster says it’s “Someone who buys too much and doesn’t throw anything away, even as the stuff piles up and impedes normal life.”) but also a lifelong tequila fan and drinker of the spirits I buy. Further, I went through a list of additive-free Tequilas that I own, drink and seek out regularly — Tapatio, Arette, Pasote, Ocho, Cascahuin, Terralta, Wild Common, El Tesoro. Of course it’s silly at some point to protest your interests, bona fide fandom or cred to a stranger, but I did it anyway, and following that we had a good conversation. I surmised from that that he does not list all of his inventory online lest he be swarmed by non-local, non-regular customers who seek only to empty his shelves of rare product, without developing a relationship with him, the store or the community, and simultaneously depriving his customers of those same rare bottles.
Of course, as I looked around the store,I thought, “there is good stuff here.” On just one shelf was Diablito, Arette Gran Clase XA, Tears of Llorona and 7 Leguas Siete Décadas (and nearby Tapatio XA). Usually I’m lucky to find a store with one or two of these, but to see them all together was astounding. I kept looking, and then I saw something that literally made my jaw hit the floor.
This shelf, picture above, is something I have never, ever seen in my tequila-collecting life. It was all three “Special” Tequila Ocho Anejos at their original MSRP on the shelf. Moreover, there were at least three of each. My jaw dropped. I looked around. Am I being pranked? I tried to keep my excitement hidden. I breathe. I try to breathe. I continue to walk around. I am thinking about how many bottles I can buy, which on fast calculation, is not many. On this trip, I had mapped out stops to stores in different states and already used most of my budget on those bottles, which included an El Tequileno Rare Reposado, an absolute favorite of mine. I did not expect to find one of these bottles—let alone all three, let alone multiples of all three!
This is where I really started to think about what the store owner said. I do think of myself as a collector, not a hoarder. And even though the word “hoarder” is used commonly, they really mean “flipper,” someone who, on finding 9 bottles of rare Ocho, would simply sweep them all into their shopping cart and leave with all of them, with the idea that they would sell them at 2-3x or whatever the market will bear. I know these “Bourbon People” who seek “Taters” (rare finds) along with their villainous behavior seem to be slowly moving into the Tequila world, and by acting in the same way, ruining it. Obviously I am as helpless as the next guy to do anything about them, except secure my own collection, which perhaps makes me look just like them to the outside world.
With the largest difference being that it never entered my mind to buy them all. I did think “I should buy all three and another “Transatlantic” that I can drink, but then I realized I would just be drinking them all eventually so I didn’t need to do that.
What’s the point? Do I want credit for not 1.Taking everything for myself and not leaving anything for anyone else? 2. Immediately posting the location of this on some FB group or subreddit? No, I just felt like there is a force out there growing, who by design or default, is buying up all the Fortaleza so they can drive the price up and sell it back to us at a markup (is that what Wall Street speculators do?) I want to say to the vocal (social) force that say “don’t post pictures of you tequila finds,” “Don’t show off your collection” and “You are not a real tequila fan, you just want to buy bottles, show them off and leave them closed, preventing real fans from getting it” that I am a real fan. I’m a real student and fan and collector who loves to hunt rare bottles and display them and collect them. But also drink them! I am not going to buy the Diablito Rosa for $700 (because I don’t have it) but that doesn’t appeal to me. I am not going to buy the $800 Fuentenesca because that doesn’t appeal to me. I have enough G4 that I don’t need the 55 or 6 Months and I guess I don’t need every version of El Tesoro and there is no way on earth I can keep up with El Tesoro.
Though this doesn’t matter, since I have never wanted to sell any of my bottles, but I don’t know how I would sell any bottles. I know there are auctions; I know there are groups on the web that do this. Feels shady to me; and though I love being part of the tequila fan-base, I cannot in good conscience buy a bottle and ship it to a stranger, though I have been asked to.
As for rare collectibles, there were two bottles I did lust after. The 8/8/8 Tequila Ocho because I love them and nearly every thing they have made (especially Puntas and Widow Jane). And the Cabeza Extra Anejo, because I loved the blanco so much. I bought the first bottle in 2015 and continued to buy it until it was discontinued. Then I thought “How much can I conceivably buy and keep and drink?” The last bit is an open question, but I don’t think I can have more than three bottles of anything except my most favorites.
I also understand that the price of tequila has gone up and is going up, whether it is scarcity; supply chain issues; simple COGS analysis, or the effect of celebrity invasion into the tequila world (at the top-liquor awareness level) which eats up agave plants, resources like water and glass bottles and takes up space on store shelves. Or, the effect of these tater-seeking-bourbonites (at the valuable, deeper level) that simply spend their time discovering what is rare and ensuring that it is even rarer.
These things are of course going to drive the cost of great tequila way up; even if it’s not the ‘in’ bottle. Villa Lobos (Distiller’s Cut) , a favorite of mine, has literally doubled in price since five years ago when I got the first bottle. And some will pay whatever the price, but that’s still only WHEN you can find the great bottles you want.
I did learn through COVID that if you have a house built in 1920 with almost no closets (that tells you about what 20th Century humans who built houses thought of hoarding) you can only buy lots and lots of toilet paper, but probably not enough so you never have to buy any again. And it’s the same with Tequila for me. I can’t ensure I will always have a bottle of Tequila Ocho Puntas, but I am certainly damn sure that I am going to enjoy every bottle I have.