I was at Costco the other day and happened to walk by the alcohol section. I roamed around looking at what’s available and stumbled on the scotch section. Scotch after scotch, each one seemingly nicer (and more expensive) than the other.
Then, I saw the 50-year old bottle.
The bottle came with its own wooden case in which to display it. I marveled at the bottle’s beautiful design (forgot to take a picture of it – sorry!). It wasn’t just any old bottle of scotch. It looked the part. It was designed to draw people in with its subtle curves and dark, rich amber color.
It was bold and purposeful.
And naturally, I read the label next to the bottle. I glanced at the price.
That bottle of 50-year old scotch cost $20,000.
“Holy F”, I said. “20-grand for a single bottle of scotch? Of course, it does come with its own decorative case made of real wood, but shnikies!”.
It’s funny what preservation does to fine liquors. I’d wager the folks who originally made that scotch have long since deceased. But, we 2017-ers can purchase that refined liquid gold for $20k, enjoying the fruits of their enriched labor in the comfort of our luxury homes. In-freaking-credible!
Then, I started to compare the aging of scotch to retirement ’cause I’m good (read: weird) like that. All personal finance bloggers would do the same, right?
How do aged scotch and retirement mix?
Aged scotch gets more refined with age. It’s smoother and tastes richer. Sipping aged liquor is generally a much more enjoyable experience, though I would never pay anywhere near $20,000 for a single bottle of scotch.
I don’t care how good it is. That’s just crazy. Be that as it may…
The incredible power of aging with liquor, when applied to the buttery-sweet lifestyle choice of early retirement, is remarkably similar, though, isn’t it? What happens when we age our retirement?
Or heck, how about our jobs? Our hobbies?
We get better, don’t we? Smoother. Way more refined in the way that we think and operate. We become well-oiled machines, navigating our way through retirement like a boss. Generally, we know what’s up.
Our investments hum along like they always have. We don’t even have to touch them much. They just…go. They do their thing. It’s a process, just like scotch in the cask. Scotches age in the perfectly round cask and draw their flavor, as well as color, from the wood. The longer it ages, the more time it has to fully mature into a well-flavored, substantive drink.
In retirement, we’re typically fully-automated. Everything just happens, generally without our involvement. Money gets pushed around. Our level of happiness pegged at the maximum. We still make mistakes, but we’re pretty damn good at what we do, aren’t we? The more we do, the better we get. Our retirement, I suppose, matures.
We might also be the envy of those around us. Curves or not, most people want freedom, though they may not know exactly how to get it. Or more accurately, they aren’t doing the things necessary to achieve that wonderful goal.
That’s kinda how I felt staring at that $20,000 bottle of amber heaven.
Incredibly, scotch also accepts ingredients from the surrounding air that can be sensed and tasted in the flavor of the scotch. In salty coastal climates, for example, the drinker might pick up subtle notes of sea salt.
In retirement, our ingredients differ. While some amass a small fortune before retiring, my wife and I don’t even have a million. But, we also live full-time in our 30′ Airstream and lead an incredibly cheap lifestyle of travel, leisure, and unbelievable happiness.
Regardless of the ingredients, we’ve gotten good at what we do.
Until one day, our retirement turns into a $20,000 bottle of scotch, sitting in a locked glass case in a Costco waiting for the right (richest?) customer.
But in reality, our retirement isn’t that $20,000 bottle of scotch. It’s still in the cask, aging. It’s getting better. More refined. It’s a slow process, but it’s working. Things are happening. Every day, we are better at this whole “retirement” thing than we were the day before.
It’s a journey toward maturation.
What are you doing to make your retirement more mature? Or if you aren’t yet there, how’s your process going? Is your lifestyle getting more flavorful? 🙂
P.S. I just wrote nearly 700 words on how scotch relates to retirement. Wow. I hope this made sense, and I promise I did not enlist the help of scotch to write this post!
P.P.S. For those who enjoy expensive liquor, I have a question for you. Do you…drink the stuff, or would a $20,000 bottle of liquor be used more as a showpiece for guests (a decoration) than something to actually consume?
Steve is a 38-year-old early retiree who writes about the intersection of happiness and financial independence. Steve is a regular contributor to MarketWatch, CNBC, and The Ladders. He lives full-time in his 30′ Airstream Classic and travels the country with his wife Courtney and two rescued dogs.