Prepping for both short and long-term emergencies is important. When the electricity goes out, there’s flooding, or there’s a natural disaster, you’re really going to want to have been prepared. But you’ll also want to be prepared in the case of a long-term crisis: like in the case of large-scale social and/or economic collapse.
When it comes to prepping for these long-term SHTF situations, you’re going to want to remember that trading and bartering will become very important to your everyday life. Without stores to go out and purchase what you need, if you happen to run low on something, you’re going to have to propose an exchange to your peers. Typically if you have something good to trade – something that they want – they’ll give you what you want in return.
Under social collapse, we as a species have always bartered, traded, and formed cohesive micro-societies. So don’t think that just because the SHTF, everything will suddenly change and every person you encounter will be an isolationist. Even in war zones, having the perfect items to trade – something other than simply ammo and food – can make a good friend out of an enemy. That perfect item is more times than not alcohol. But why alcohol? Well…
Why Should I Bother to Stockpile Alcohol?
1. Alcohol is often used as an economic baseline.
To put it simply, alcohol is a commodity that everyone understands the value of. Its worth is inherent, both in its immediate effects as a pick me up/environmental painkiller, and for the more serious uses that in general alcohol (though especially spirits) can be used for. These two reasons make alcohol an absolutely fantastic commodity to trade with.
Relative worth is easier to ascertain when you’re trading in bottles of booze. It’s much easier to use a bottle of whiskey as the baseline currency, as opposed to a bag of apples, or 20 caplets of painkillers. Why? Well the apples gain value the hungrier you are, and pain killers gain value the more pain you are in. Alcohol is like ammo – its value can be ascertained accurately without being dependent on a time frame or state of mind.
2. Alcohol is a social lubricant.
In times of strife, we have to cut down – way down. It’s hard to do this, and just because we cut down, that of course doesn’t mean we cease to be humans. As social beings, we occasionally want to feel normal, even when our environment is anything but normal.
Selco from SHTF School discussed in length why and how people seek normalcy whilst living in a war zone:
When you are inside your head in complete chaos, so many different emotions, using drugs to get away from everything to get one feeling that you know, even if feeling is not real and just you taking something, it is relief. It feels like you get to place you are familiar with in world that is full of chaos and suffering.
From tobacco to whiskey, we all have our vices, and as TEOTWAWKI or some pretty severe SHTF situations become our new normal, we will gravitate towards those vices as something to help cop with life.
And for celebrating special occasions in a post-crisis world: alcohol is a huge help. Don’t forget that life goes on even during a crisis. Though you might find it hard to imagine what, psychologically, things will feel like – you can teach yourself through reading about other people’s experiences. For the sake of this post, however, just knowing that, if not you, many of those around you will want alcohol to help cope and celebrate is enough – because it means that having alcohol around to trade is very useful since many others will want it.
3. Alcohol has utility and first aid applications.
These are absolutely important in a post-crisis world. The obvious example here is that alcohol can be used as an effective disinfectant. That being said, it of course has many more extremely valuable applications as well. It can be used not only as a way of keeping wounds free from infection, but for keeping nausea at bay, or for making dental work more bearable for the patient.
Its historical value in the field of medicine is rich, and it still continues to be used heavily in first aid applications in more recent SHTF events. During the Balkan wars and the Argentinian economic collapse, alcohol was commonly used as an alternative to more “modern” medical supplies because it was much easier, and less expensive, to get a hold of. Don’t underestimate the value of a spirit when it comes to SHTF first aid!
So Which Alcohol Should I Be Stockpiling?
Okay, so now that we’ve cemented your understanding of some of the different ways that booze can be helpful in a SHTF situation, we’ll show you exactly which types are the best to stockpile.
Traditionally, when discussing which booze one should hoard, focus tends to lie exclusively on spirits like vodka or whiskey. There’s really very good reason for this, which we’ll delve into further a little later, but there are actually a few other alcohols that would make the cut if you’re interested in some variety with regards to your stockpile. That being said, if you’re not a variety kind of person, it’s safe to say that sticking to purchasing a few crates of rum, whisky, and vodka will certainly be enough to do you worlds of good.
To show you (instead of just telling you) which alcohols are best for stockpiling, I’ve created a nice table for visual reference that’s good for comparing different alcohols across the charts when it comes to most important factors to help you determine which alcohols are best to stockpile: average alcohol percentage, average proof, and expiry date.
Here’s what you should be looking out for…
- Anything above 60% can be used as surgical alcohol.
- Anything above 40% can be used to disinfect wounds for first aid purposes.
Alcohol proof is another way of measuring the percentage of alcohol in each beverage. I’ve included it in the chart because sometimes proofs are included on labels rather than percentages. To get the percentage of alcohol from the alcohol proof, simply divide by 2. Vice versa is also true (double the alcohol percentage to get the alcohol proof).
- Anything above 120° can be used as surgical alcohol.
- Anything above 80° can be used to disinfect wounds for first aid purposes.
Obviously, the longer the alcohol will last without expiring the better. Just as a heads up, the higher the alcohol percentage and proof, the further away the expiry of the alcohol tends to be. Also, while wines and beers, for instance, need to be closed in order to keep their shelf life, spirits and moonshine/Everclear can be opened and still last indefinitely.
One disclaimer before I get to the chart. Please note that I’m using the average alcohol content and shelf life. I feel pretty confident that some smart ass will pop over to quip that a Belgium lambic beer can be stored for over a decade with no detriment, but that is an anomaly, not the rule. Beers and wines typically do not last anywhere near that long, and if you don’t believe me, snap up a cheap Zinfandel and open in 10 years – it’ll basically be vinegar.
|Type||Average Alcohol %||Average Proof||Expiry|
lives 1 year
lives 6 months
to 2 years)
Now for a much more in-depth breakdown (and for those who don’t much like charts…)
Types of Alcohol Assessed by Overall Stockpile Value
Wine is not traditionally considered stockpile-worthy booze due to its relatively high cost and its limited versatility. Its alcohol content is not high enough to serve as an anti-septic, and when looking at pure ABV (alcohol by volume), its bang to buck ratio is pretty dismal.
They’re also not the best alcohol when it comes to their expiry dates – typically their smack jab in the middle; not so bad as beer, but not anywhere near as good as spirits. I’ve mentioned this before, but they also only keep if they’re closed (whereas spirits keep even if they’re open).
It should be noted that some wines do consistently go up in value, so for investment purposes, fine wines do have their place. With that said, the market for fine wines is not as established as the market for precious metals or other more common commodities, so I would personally hesitate with regards to recommending wine as a solid hedge against economic woes. A possibility, however, if it’s something you’d like to look into further.
Some red wines do benefit greatly from being stored in cool, dark environments (cellars basically). White wines do not normally last more than 1-2 years past the expiry date on the bottle, so not very good for long-term stockpiling, but if you know what you’re doing when it comes to properly storing the red wines, then by all means hoard some of your favourite red stuff.
For much the same reasons as wine, beer is also not quite ideal for stockpiling purposes.
Beer has quite a high cost relative to its number of uses, and unfortunately its shelf life is not even near as long as the shelf life of wine.
Resell value for investment purposes is negligible compared to wine as well. Even the far more versatile spirits have more potential when it comes to investment/hedging against inflation.
I love beer, but I have to admit, it’s not the best prepper commodity. I’m not even sure it deserves to be considered a prepper commodity at all.
Liquors (or liqueurs) are very similar to spirits, except for the added sugar and the lack of hard-set rules about the alcohol being above 20% ABV. This level of flexibility inherent to liquors makes them unpredictable with regards to viability for medical purposes or with ascertaining shelf life. Grand Marnier, Cointreau, and Schnapps are examples of what a liquor is, and shelf life will vary pretty considerably amongst them.
Some liquors even have cream added to them, Baileys for instance. According to the manufacturer, they recommend storing these types of liquors at 41-95 degrees Fahrenheit (5-35 degrees Centigrade) for a shelf life of up to 2 years. Again, as with beer, not exactly an ideal prepper commodity. I’d typically pass on the liquors for a stockpile.
And of course as we all know by now, spirits are the de facto option for hoarding. This has to do with a lot of positive factors; most that ultimately stem from how high the alcohol percentage is when it comes to spirits.
Shelf life is generally extremely long (they basically never expire) as fermentation, which leads to the degradation of alcohol over time, comes to a standstill past 20%. Yes, they can still live forever even if you’ve opened them to have a sip, but you should still make sure the containers your spirits are kept in are air tight. Mason jars are actually quite good for these purposes, so if the original container isn’t available anymore *say the lid broke or something along those lines), store ’em there and you shouldn’t have any surprises.
20%+ alcohol is always useful in long-term SHTF situations, both for first aid and for trading. I think pretty much everyone knows what whisky/rum/vodka is, whilst not everyone knows what a Tia Maria (a liquor) tastes like, which should make it a little bit easier for trading, though I’m sure the Tia Maria will be gone, too, if you’ve got it.
I personally favour stockpiling decent whisky for my own consumption as well as cheap(ish) vodka for emergency uses. Of course I do often drink through my stock and have to replenish, but that’s not because it’s expiring anytime soon!
In my relatively short life, the cost of alcohol has never gone down, so I would say it’s a decent investment if you’re looking at things purely from an economical standpoint. In terms of bang-for-buck, it’s second only to moonshine/Everclear, but has the added benefit of actually being drinkable ;). My opinion only, moonshine-lovers!
Coolers are those fruity vodka-infused, pre-made cocktails. Bacardi Breezers are an example. They’ve been in vogue for the past decade or so amongst the hipster crowd. I don’t expect you to care for stockpiling them, and I personally don’t see the point in them myself. Just included them in to be as thorough as possible.
They don’t have a good shelf life, don’t have high alcohol proof, and they’re typically pretty expensive for what you’re getting. Basically, they’re the bottom of the barrel for prepper-use, so I would strongly suggest you stay away from stockpiling these.
If you’re a fan of their taste, and really think they’d be nice to have in a crisis, stick to buying spirits and make your own cocktails with them post-crisis. When you buy coolers, you end up paying beer-level prices for what is essentially sparkling water with a splash of vodka + some additional flavoring (can you tell I’m not a fan?). Make that yourself with a spirit for a fraction of the cost and an infinite shelf life!
Moonshine and distilled grain spirits like Everclear are the final category. Strictly/technically speaking, they are also spirits, but the sheer strength (especially of the 90%/180 proof Everclear!!) of them puts them in a different league from common spirits.
I would personally rather assemble a still and make my own distilled spirits as opposed to buying this type of booze. Everclear is basically undrinkable, as your body treats anything in the 90% alcohol range as basically being a poison. You have to mix it with another beverage to drink it, and even then it’s really not too tasty.
In terms of sheer bang-for-buck, Everclear reigns supreme. I had one of my friends bring me back a bottle from the States (it’s literally not sold anywhere in Canada) and a whole 1 litre bottle only set me back 20 bucks or so. That being said, back to the taste – just not paletable at all. There’s is a reason hobos don’t drink this stuff, and if you take one sip, you’ll understand for yourself why that is. I would still keep a bottle around purely for medical uses, and it would surely come in handy if it were the last alcohol around to be consumed/traded, but I’m one of those people for whom alcohol does not keep long (not an alcoholic, just enjoy a good drink!), and yet that bottle of Everclear has remained in my pantry for years.
If you want to stockpile moonshine (strong moonshine, not the weak mass-produced stuff you see sometimes) go for it. Just be aware that its bartering value will not match vodka when taking into account the cost and utility of moonshine vs vodka will be almost the same.
So there we have it. Spirits certainly take the win, though if you have a thing for fine red wine and want to test your luck in keeping it for investment purposes, that’s definitely an option as well. Everclear takes the win for the best bang-for-buck alcohol you could stockpile, though you should probably stick to using it for the medical/first aid applications, and although you could stockpile moonshine easily because of its long shelf life, it’s not as easily traded as spirits are in a TEOTWAWKI situation. It’d be a great benefit to have at least a small still to make your own moonshine with, so if you can learn that – huge asset to you.
Other than that, obviously there are many different kinds of drinks you could stockpile within the realm of good alcohol for stockpiling. When it comes to spirits alone, you can hoard whisky, rum, gin, vodka, tequila, brandy, or all of the above. If you’d just like to stockpile a few, I’d recommend sticking to spirits like whiskey, vodka, and rum for maximum bang-for-buck and potential uses, both medically and socially.