You never know when a NPR marketplace story will be useful

Last month I heard a story on NPR’s marketplace show about how policies concerning bourbon illustrate the long standing urban-rural divide in our country. It was an interesting piece, but not one I expected would have any impact on my life.

A month later some good friends were cleaning out their liquor cabinet and offered several of their friends the opportunity to take a few bottles. I looked through what they had. Most of the liquor we wouldn’t use, but they did have a bottle of bourbon. We use bourbon when making mulled wine, bread pudding, and bourbon ball cookies.

The bourbon bottle looked fancy. I recalled a bit of the story on marketplace. I thought to myself “Is this that crazy expensive bourbon?” I told my friend about the story and used Google to find the story. Ah, the expensive bourbon was called Pappy Van Winkle, and it looked like we could buy bourbon made by WL Weller for around $70. Since it’s wasn’t absurdly valuable, I took the bourbon home.

Something was rattling around in the back of my head. The story about Pappy’s talked about how the retail price was reasonable but because it was produced in limited amounts, the street price was often much higher, much like tickets to some concerts. I wondered if this bottle was worth more that $70. I texted a picture of the bottle to a friend of mine who loves bourbon and asked him if he knew anything about the bottle I had.

It turns out it’s made by the same distillery as Pappys. It’s not worth $10,000 a shot, but the bottle was conservatively worth $1500. He indicated he would love to buy the bottle from me for that price, but offered to help me find someone who would pay top dollar. He thought it could go for more than $2000. This bourbon probably should not go into a mulled wine, bread pudding, or cookies.

At this point there were several things I could do. I could try and maximize profits and find someone who would pay top dollar for the bourbon. I could give the bottle of bourbon back to my friends and let them figure out what to do. I could’ve opened it to find out what a $1500 bottle of bourbon taste like.

My solution with a three-way win. I offered the bottle to my bourbon loving friend for $1500 since that was what he thought it would be worth to him. We could’ve made more money, but I’d rather my friend be able to enjoy something that he might not otherwise have had a chance to try. He along the few friends agreed to buy the bottle. Next I checked with the original owner of the bottle and found out what their favorite charity was, which turns out to be SV Habitat for Humanity. You can guess who just got a check for $1500. My friends were delighted, because something that they gave away because it was just taking up space funded something they deeply believe in. What did I get? A fun story, and the satisfaction of making some connections.

As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.

I Timothy 6:17-19

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