Bourbon Truth

Don't Drink the Purple Kool-aide the crappy booze companies are feeding you

4 notes

Wheated or Not

A couple months ago follower and blogger from Denver made some claims about being able to tell a Wheated from none Wheated Whiskey. I said it’s very rare to accurately do it at a high percentage. I said I’d invite a few followers with him to the test. When I asked him before his package went out if he still wanted the samples he never replied several times. 10 people got or are getting samples with the following tasting sheet. I’ll post results when they are ready.

Taster/Twitter Handle_______________________________________________

Please complete within a week and take a photo and email it back to or fill it in from the blog post. Thanks and have fun.

1 Bourbon Wheated ____ Bourbon Not Wheated____ Other Guess__________________
2 Bourbon Wheated ____ Bourbon Not Wheated____ Other Guess__________________
3 Bourbon Wheated ____ Bourbon Not Wheated____ Other Guess__________________
4 Bourbon Wheated ____ Bourbon Not Wheated____ Other Guess__________________
5 Bourbon Wheated ____ Bourbon Not Wheated____ Other Guess__________________
6 Bourbon Wheated ____ Bourbon Not Wheated____ Other Guess__________________
7 Bourbon Wheated ____ Bourbon Not Wheated____ Other Guess__________________
8 Bourbon Wheated ____ Bourbon Not Wheated____ Other Guess__________________
9 Bourbon Wheated ____ Bourbon Not Wheated____ Other Guess__________________
10 Bourbon Wheated ____ Bourbon Not Wheated____ Other Guess__________________
11 Bourbon Wheated ____ Bourbon Not Wheated____ Other Guess__________________
12 Bourbon Wheated ____ Bourbon Not Wheated____ Other Guess__________________
13 Bourbon Wheated ____ Bourbon Not Wheated____ Other Guess__________________
14 Bourbon Wheated ____ Bourbon Not Wheated____ Other Guess__________________

Choices that tastings “Might” be. Please fill in/match up the list below by placing the letter where you think it belongs.
. Willett Potstill
. Old Fitz HH BiB
. Willett 6 Year Rye
. Michters 2013 Bourbon
. Four Roses Small Batch Regular
. Red Breast Irish 12 year
. Crown Royal Waterloo XR
. Dickel 14 Year
. Jack Daniels Silver label
. WL Weller Special Reserve
. Buffalo Trace Experimental Wheated
. EH Taylor Single Barrel
. Ancient Age 10 Star
. Prichard’s Chocolate Bourbon
. Parker’s Different Mashbills
. Weller 107
. Larceny
. Rebel Yell
. Bernhiem
. Van winkle 10
. Van winkle 12
. Van Winkle 15
. Makers Mark
. Beam Double Black
. Old Heaven Hill BiB
. Buffalo Trace Bourbon
. None of the above

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Left Sample Blind (sticker on label bottom of glass)
Nose a bit quiet, creamy, sweet, cinnamon.
Taste Astringent, a little bitter with some nice fruit and spice hiding in the back. Cherry. Not loving it but it’s OK.
Finish just can’t get past the bitter. Not bad but it’s not something I’m looking for another pour of tonight. 2.75.

Right Sample Blind (sticker on label bottom of glass)
Similar nose as above. A tiny bit more shy.
Taste-friendlier, evolving nice fruit and spice, not bitter.
Finish-more pleasant not bitter. Perfume and floral. Winner 3.25
Reveal is Diamond. Ok, so I like this one more. $125 vs $33 Value hmmm. One bottle of Diamond for geek factor to have it but it’s generously worth $50 not $125+

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Settling on our Yellow Light Whiskey

I’m not sure when I had my first drink of whisk(e)y but I know it wasn’t my first taste. How good or bad never really crossed my mind for a long time and I’m not sure I could really tell the difference other than maybe good or not. Over the years I’ve learned more about “tasting” not drinking, tried more and treated it as a passion, not a game. I don’t have the best palate and if I’m lucky, it’s average.
It gets a bit harder for a good friend or bartender to offer me a glass of something “good” only to find out it’s just average to me. I may be a bit of a whiskey snob and perhaps too critical of someone saying its a Green light when it’s really Yellow or Red in Whiskey Traffic school. It’s really that simple. It’s good, it’s not or it’s not really good or bad.

The Smooth Ambler discussion on twitter got me thinking. Have we started to “Settle” on the Yellow light? Has lack of and a shortage of a real Green light caused a shift? Have we stepped on the gas blasting through a Yellow light whiskey intersection that’s really Red and telling ourselves the light was Green?

I did a blog post last year where I questioned if the movement to take the cream off the top (best barrels) and put it into special releases has caused the standard stuff to take a step back. What happens when you take the cream off the top for too many years? Even the best stuff starts being average. Whiskey years are like dog years as a follower said and it flys by. Five years ago the chase for the best hardly existed. Great Rye could easily be found. Old Black Maple Hill, Pappy, AH Hirsch, GT Stagg weren’t that hard to find in stores. In 10-20 years American Whiskey has gone from forgotten to furor. There are lots of new Whiskey fans. 6-12 years ago distilleries didn’t see this coming. There just isn’t enough great stuff ready for a bottle so THEY settle too. Yellow is the new green for many of them. It could be much worse. If it wasn’t for Honey and Cinnamon flavored whiskey the truly bad stuff wouldn’t have a place to hide.
I keep drinking booze that’s “supposed” to be good. Disagreeing with others ratings/reviews are just my opinion. Maybe it rightfully makes me look pompous at times, it isn’t my fault. It’s simple—Does it smell like something I want to sip immediately? Does it taste good enough that I anticipate my next sip? Does it finish with a nice long pleasant taste? It’s that simple unless you “settle”. Maybe the nose is just “nice”, taste is “good enough” and finish is a bit shorter and that little subtle bitterness or astringency isn’t that bad. I hear “what else are we supposed to do”, “it’s not bad”, “it’s pretty good”, “it’s better than the 2013”, “I hear its good”, “if I don’t get it now someone else will”, settle, settle, and more settling.
Nasty young Craft stuff—settle
Rushed not peaked big name stuff-settle
Fancy bottle LTD release with average quality—settle
The two guys from the their blog with no clue say its good-settle
The store’s whiskey guy or owner picked the barrel so he says it’s great so it must be-settle

Trust your own taste and struggle to find a good nose, great taste and finish.
I guess I gotta take a step back and ask if its me? Then I try a Old Heavan Hill Gold Bottled in Bond for $12 and it’s damn good and better than that stuff the store owner picked out selling for $70. Maybe I have some $25 Four Roses Small Batch and it’s better than the 12 year Van Winkle that’s not close to the brands nose, taste, finish of a couple years ago. It reminds me I don’t have to settle, the answers right there.

Green isn’t Yellow and don’t get use to anything else or it’s like being bit by a Whiskey Zombie and your a goner!
Don’t Settle!

5 notes

Pappy in a Panda Suit-Drilling down on the honesty issue until it hurts!

If you’re a Whiskey Geek that hasn’t been stranded on a Desert Island you would have noticed that the Non-Distilling Producer (NDP) subject finally hit the big time as of late. This “Exposing” piece made the mainstream national media but didn’t come from “one of our own” but the Daily Beast.

Although it’s a well known issue in our world it’s not something A-list Whiskey writers want to tackle properly.

Honesty, Transparency, Label Limbo with the NDP games was the gist of the piece. BUT —-if we are going there, really going there from a National perspective we MUST pick the scab off this one and it’s going to bleed! None of it will be surprising. I’ll equate it with a Zoo publicizing the acquisition of a new almost extinct Panda Bear only to find out it’s really Julian Van Winkle III in a Panda Suit!

Putting it another way, blinded by its “specialness” it’s easy to overlook the warts of the Van Winkle brand.

How is Pappy different than so many other NDP’s looked down on?

Both Julian and Preston Van Winkle are both on record saying that the 23 year old Stitizel Weller distilled Van Winkle was done as of 2013. Then again, there are lots conflicting reports too so Kentucky Fairy dust could be sprinkled on some new found barrels etc.. It also doesn’t mean something creative like rebatching some Stitzel Weller bottles for bottling new bottles can’t happen. “Still Stitzel Weller in every bottle” Blah Blah Blah. (Wow, did I really use “bottle” three times? Yup!)

In actuality, no “muggle” knows for sure the brand’s inner workings other than the historical fact that the Stitzel Weller Distillery closed in 1992, 22 years ago and what’s left (if any) is in bottles.

A Van Winkle has never been a Master Distiller. On the Buffalo Trace Tour in Frankfort KY, tourists have been shown the “Van Winkle Offices” that are actually at 2843 Brownsboro Road in Louisville, 51 miles away.

The Van Winkle Bourbon labels denote the “Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery” (ORVW) of Frankfort KY that doesn’t exist. Some labels state “bottled by” and others are “Distilled and Bottled” by ORVW. They are far from alone with this ruse.

Then there is the how it’s made and why it’s special marketing “massage” or is it message?

The “official” story on the Buffalo Trace website and stated on some expression labels are that—

"bourbon was crafted according to our exclusive family Wheated recipe"

Well, it’s not. It’s the standard Buffalo Trace Wheated Recipe that doesn’t use the exact same distillation, distillation ABV, Yeast, or Barrel Entry Proof as the original Stitzel Weller/Old Fitzgerald Wheated recipe. Even the actual Stitzel Weller recipe was thought to change a bit the closer to the 1992 closing that they got. The Yeast is actually now a bagged dry yeast at Buffalo Trace that is used by most if not all of what’s made there.

I’m also unsure of this “three generations of Distilling experience” from the label above as JVW3 has none.

To be fair, the Van Winkle website history is a bit clearer and correct—

“Recently, the Van Winkles entered into a joint venture with the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, KY. All of the Van Winkle’s whiskey production now takes place at Buffalo Trace under the same strict guidelines the family has always followed in order to produce a superior quality product.”

I suspect there is a bit of a Tug of War on how the brand is represented, marketed, and promoted by its two Masters. One thing that is certain is the Wheated barrels being used for the brand are given the Rolls Royce treatment.

In 1992 the Stitzel Weller Distillery closed. In 1999 Sazerac bought the Weller brand and in 2002 Van Winkle officially moved to Sazerac/Buffalo Trace. Those 7 or 10 years are gap years and who knows what whiskey is going into a Van Winkle bottle from that period. They don’t/won’t say. It’s presumed to be from Bernheim or contract distilled at whatever you want to call Buffalo Trace back then.

Is this any different than us criticizing a brand using MGPI/LDI with a story while not disclosing it? I don’t think so. Just because you’re a potentially deserving Golden Child doesn’t absolve them of the same transgressions and criticisms.

I’m not addressing quality or how it tastes. It’s not an issue any more than Whistle Pig being a pretty good tasting Rye being sold with a deceiving message. Most Bourbon geeks love ORVW and most that want it could care less what the real back story is. I’m not knocking or bashing the juice or what’s in the bottle. I’m talking of the Transparency, lack of or mixed messages.

"Yes, its true (as a Buffalo Trace Tour Guide points and says) that Pappy is made right there”. Yes, in the same giant Column still making the other bourbon. They could do something special but I’ve never heard they have. Within Buffalo Trace is a full blown self-contained Micro Distillery.

They could use any recipe, special yeast, in small batches and even call it the Van Winkle Distillery if they chose to but they don’t. Why bother when the current way works so well.

What it’s not is this mythical Unicorn stuff made in a special place, a special way, by special people from a special family. It’s made in a giant Whiskey factory that puts out Millions of bottles. It’s unfortunate the family hasn’t made a drop since 1972 or 42 years but it’s the truth.

Let’s not be hypocrites bashing the “Ugly” brands for doing much of the same thing as the deceptively beautiful Van Winkle brand.

3 notes

Predictions of an occasionally talented idiot

Well the title says it all. I am smarter than Clyde and the dogs although one of the dogs has her moments. Some of my Whiskey predictions for two-three years out—


Elijah Craig 12 year selling for around $50-$60 or more.

Van Winkle prices would have increased by at least 50%, reason shortage blah blah blah

Buffalo Trace Antique Collection priced at $99 a bottle. Reason—-blah blah blah

Diageo has a big new Whiskey Brand or line extension.

Jack Daniels extends brand outside of Tennesee Whiskey.

Willett Releases Bourbon and it’s real hard to get. Duh!

Custom Barrel aging where a private barrel customer can pre buy barrels and determine how and where barrels are aged, finished.

TTB levies large fines on violations, doubles application fees to support a larger more dedicated staff.

The Bourbon Festival has a second event maybe not in Kentucky or even the USA.

Almost any Age Statement 8 years or longer will cost 30%-50% more.

MGPI releases their own brand/s (or the new name) unless they are bought by Bev company.

MGPI Distillation Business is spun off into a new company, Stock and IPO.

Sazerac or Buffalo Trace is bought or the part owned by Takara (mostly silent Japanese partner) is bought out,sold off.

Blantons Straight From Barrel Released in the USA for hefty premium. Maybe around 50%-100% of current price of regular.

Suntory puts a load of money behind Jim Beam brands to significantly improve it’s market share. Releases new super premium line.

Whiskey Bars that are large and well funded start putting Micro Distilleries on site.

Bourbon Tourism in Kentucky Doubles

Mini Barrel Aging at home becomes the new rage, this really helps sales of new make and putting it into larger 1.75 sizes.

Small Home Distilling is legalized but many local Fire Departments won’t allow them.

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Be prepared and I’m not talking Boy Scouts!

The Boy Scout motto of “Be Prepared” should be the watch word of anyone making Whiskey at so many levels. Brian Davis is the “Lead Distiller” of Lost Spirits. He wrote a short book “How to make Whiskey” 89 pages long. In the Safety chapter he says “Don’t heat your still with an open flame” as he talks of Darwinian mistakes, blowing yourself up and such. In Oklahoma a new Distillery while making Vodka and in the middle of a newspaper interview had a major fire. The still was modified beer kegs on a wooden pallet on the back of a forklift being heated by an open propane flame.
The person working the still (I won’t call him a Master Distiller) was on his first week. It appears his experience was in sales at another distillery and he was hurt badly when a line broke and the still exploded in a fireball.
Tuthilltown Spirits had a major fire and explosion in 2012.

Lack of preparedness shows up in ignorance of TTB requirements also. Such basic knowledge such as what Bottled in Bond (BiB) is and labeling requirements are is simple. I’ve seen at least four violations of this. One a Alcoholic beverage less than 80 proof with TTB approval, a 88 Proof Whiskey that Defiant Whiskey put a “Bottled in Bond at 88 proof” strip across the cap as a seal. Recently I saw another BiB label that didn’t have the required DSP of the distillery. I asked the company what it was and they refused. I informed them their product was in violation of the laws even though the TTB approved it. They informed be they have now surrendered the approval and presumably will study up and label the products correctly.
I was speaking to an industry insider recently and his fear was that eventually this lackadaisical and incompetent approach will eventually make it into a bottle that’s sold and sicken or kill someone. If that happens the level of trust in new and mom and pop brands will take an enormous hit. Maybe it extends to all brands.
Being prepared is knowing what your doing. These trends are getting worse and more common. Lack of experience, moving from home brewing to Industrial Distillation, is like going from a riding a Bicycle to racing a motorcycle. The knowledgable consumer must ask them self if a Distillery can’t get a label right, do you really want to be drinking what’s in the bottle?

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Jack is back with an Aged Rye. Cost about $44 and just 80 Proof. At 80 it’s going to be tame or should be. Although the Straight designation means it must be at least 4 years old unless an age statement is given, it still must be two years minimum. This is tricky only saying its over 24 months. 
Nose is subtle, bland, a bit grassy, corn. I’m not expecting this to be much more (if any) higher rye content then the required 51%. I think I was once at a miniature golf course that smelled this way. The back label has these cleaver amateurish “errors” like text from a typewriter with an over strike and another skipped space to give it this homey back woods-ish feel. Got to love the marketers.  2.25 points out of 5

Taste-Very inoffensive which is sort of good. A little sweet but practically no personality at all. It’s not bad, it’s just not much of anything. In my book bad variants overtake neutral variants. To put it another way, I’m not as critical of bland as I am bad.  I gave it, 2.5.

Limp Dic*. It’s a finish that’s living in its parents basement. It’s there and just keeps to itself with a much higher expectation. With some more time and proof some future potential but I doubt it will be given either. 2.0

Value-no, not a second bottle. At $43 with much better choices at $25-$40 not a good value. 1.0
I’ll give the total a 2.0. I’d go lower if there was something I hated but there isn’t, it’s just void of hardly any good. It’s safety rye and I wonder if it’s exactly the unassuming,blah, they were shooting for?

Jack is back with an Aged Rye. Cost about $44 and just 80 Proof. At 80 it’s going to be tame or should be. Although the Straight designation means it must be at least 4 years old unless an age statement is given, it still must be two years minimum. This is tricky only saying its over 24 months.
Nose is subtle, bland, a bit grassy, corn. I’m not expecting this to be much more (if any) higher rye content then the required 51%. I think I was once at a miniature golf course that smelled this way. The back label has these cleaver amateurish “errors” like text from a typewriter with an over strike and another skipped space to give it this homey back woods-ish feel. Got to love the marketers. 2.25 points out of 5

Taste-Very inoffensive which is sort of good. A little sweet but practically no personality at all. It’s not bad, it’s just not much of anything. In my book bad variants overtake neutral variants. To put it another way, I’m not as critical of bland as I am bad. I gave it, 2.5.

Limp Dic*. It’s a finish that’s living in its parents basement. It’s there and just keeps to itself with a much higher expectation. With some more time and proof some future potential but I doubt it will be given either. 2.0

Value-no, not a second bottle. At $43 with much better choices at $25-$40 not a good value. 1.0
I’ll give the total a 2.0. I’d go lower if there was something I hated but there isn’t, it’s just void of hardly any good. It’s safety rye and I wonder if it’s exactly the unassuming,blah, they were shooting for?

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Rhetoric and Redemtion Barrel Proof Rye Rated
Diageo’s Rhetoric is the third Orphan Barrel series and is 20 years old like Barterhouse. It presumably comes from mostly (maybe all) the new Bernheim Distillery when Diageo predecessors owned it. I won’t get into the funny business of the whiskey as it’s been covered on twitter and prior posts. My bottle is numbered in the 20,000 range and 90 proof. Since Diageo won’t talk numbers who knows what value that info has or why it’s done that way. It seems odd at first that Rhetoric and Barterhouse are both 20 years old. Rhetoric is $100 where Barterhouse was released at $75 and has been found on sale for as low as $50. Rhetoric will be an annual thing and will progressively get older and more expensive. So two 20 year old bourbons of the same brand “Orphan Barrel” same story, released a few months apart and similar if not same juice is 1/3 more expensive. I’m confused why this is/was done, it really is odd.
On with the tasting
Noise-Maple, Sweet, Cookies, not real complex but it’s high corn low rye for sure. 3.5 out of 5 points.
Taste-about the same as the nose 3.0
Finish- actually pretty nice until a bitterness unfolds, juicy fruit, tutti fruity but still rather short and uncomplicated. 3.0
Total 3.25 of 5 points
Value it’s a good value at $40 when ones not fixed on age. At $100 it’s not terrible but not close to being worth it. I liked it better than Blow Hard or Barterhouse. Value of 3
Total rating 3 of 5. You won’t feel ripped off if you buy it. On a good day with extra spending money I might buy a second bottle. Might

Entirely changing gears is Redemption Rye Barrel Proof is 122 proof, barrel number 3.
I paid around $60 for this 6 year old LDI/MGPI juice. I love the Transparency. Dave Schmier, Redemption Bourbon dodges all the bull and the rantings of this blogger by telling the truth! Right on the bottle by law it says Indiana and my favorite label talks about what’s in the bottle and then “…..of Which is as close to sipping whiskey right out of the barrel as you can get short of owning your own distillery.” Honest sense of humor. It’s good stuff and we don’t own a Distillery. Thank you Dave, it’s so easy. Onto the booze. It’s in a squat bottle, wax dipped past the shoulder which is cool, never saw that before.
95% Rye, 5% Barley.
Very complex Nose, lots happening, Sweet and Spicy, Maple, Vanilla, Mint, Menthol, no burn or alcohol, lots more. 4 of 5.
Taste-All spice, Maple, Mint, Gingerbread Cookies, Fruit. 4.00 of 5
Finish-Spice, Fruit, Ginger, no burn, no bitter and smooth but a tad short. Still very nice. 3.75 and if a longer finish or two more years could easily be 4.

Value- yes, I’ll buy a bunch if I’m lucky enough to find them. I’d say 4. Keep in mind my scale gives bonus points for what I deem a great value as it should. It’s a very relevant item overlooked in most ratings. Get this one and you’ll love me for it. Do keep in mind every barrel is different and these are not easy to come by and released to little fan fare. I completely missed it in the pre release and was told of it after it was in stores, I’d be happy to pay $60 for this.
Total Score 4

I had some aged Gouda Cheese after writing this and while finishing the glass I picked up a bit of bitter and heat. I’ll have to look into it more but at least for me, this is the 3rd recent review that when I tasted on a non-clean palate it changed for the worse. I’ll keep my ratings using the highest but it’s interesting. Unless my palete and preference is a mess, try to taste these on a clean palate. I’ll need to do something more on this later. It’s like drinking Orange Juice before and after a Chocolate bar. Shifting flavors and traits. It became very different but I wouldn’t blame the juice.

6 notes

Wayne’s World
John Wayne’s son Ethan Wayne is the front man behind a new brand being introduced by Monument Valley Distillers or Duke Spirits or Popcorn Sutton Distillary. It doesn’t really matter as the address for the Monument Valley Distillers is a California mail drop (not anywhere near the real place), Duke Spirits of Lawrenceburg KY doesn’t seem to exist. I couldn’t find an office, mail drop or Corporate listing. As for the Duke name that Duke University is suing for use of—
The TTB label shows a “TM” symbol for the Trademark but there isn’t one as it’s been protested and doesn’t show on the bottled label. Guess TTB didn’t care to check or didn’t need to.

The most ridiculous part is ALL of it so let me break down this wild heap of Steaming Crap farce.

It seams that the partners of “One Hundred Acre Vineyard” are behind this with Wayne’s son and Wayne Enterprise the face. I’m pretty sure Batman and Bruce Wayne are in the clear. One of these guys Jayson Woodbridge has been in a bit of trouble one being producing Wine without a licence. He blamed his lawyer.
The marketing, promo stuff and label text shows all the things going wrong with the bastardization of American Whiskey.
“A Bourbon made from what John Wayne liked from his newly discovered bottles.”
“The Style of DUKE Bourbon was inspired by bottles from John Wayne’s personal whiskey collection, preserved for over 50 years and only recently discovered.”
What? Was this collection discovered in an old Horse trailer?

"From the Distillary he always dreamed about."
OK, I guess you think we’re that stupid and there still isn’t a Distillery. Although the TTB filing looks like this stuff was bottled at Popcorn Sutton Moonshine in Tennessee it’s labeled Kentucky Straight Bourbon with this on the back label “been crafted in collaboration with legendary Master Distiller Jimmy Russell”. Eddie is mentioned latter on the back label. It deserves note that I looked up what Whiskey John Wayne preferred and it appeared it was in fact Wild Turkey. Why the Russell’s have decided to permit their names to be put on this stuff is beyond me. I’m embarrassed for them. (Note that the Russell’s names have been removed from the retail labels that are for sale).

Ok, I’m on a roll, how about some more BS from their marketing mumbo jumbo—
“Meticulously blended to reflect The Duke’s preferred whiskey flavor profile from tasting notes left behind during the time he was planning his own distillery”.
Did they find the notes in Al Capone’s safe?

"Distilled the old-fashioned way; hand crafted in small batches and aged in new hand built heavily charred American Oak barrels. A selection of 5 to 10 year old whiskeys are chosen barrel by barrel and blended by hand before the DUKE Bourbon reaches the bottle, and ultimately, you."
That deserves a kick in the nuts or at least a splashed drink in the face of these people.

"For the Monument Valley Distillers team, Kentucky Straight Bourbon was a natural choice. Based on original bottles dating back to the early 60’s in John Wayne’s private collection the team meticulously blended rare batches to recreate the flavors and aromas preferred by the Duke. Made the old-fashioned way, the team employed small-batch aging in new, heavily charred American oak barrels." Rare Batches and Small batch aging, no such thing you batch happy idiots!
Did John train a Chimp to drink Whiskey with him and the Chimp is still alive? Wayne probably said he liked it spicy and smooth.

“When Ethan told us the story and we saw the original bottles from his Dad’s collection, we knew that we had to work to bring this vision to life and create a Bourbon that John Wayne would be proud to have in his whiskey glass,” said partner Jayson Woodbridge.”

Oh, FU, kill yourself for that one. It’s not that difficult, he liked Wild Turkey. Yeah, the same Wild Turkey in Lawrenceburg KY that Jimmy and Eddie Russell’s are Master Distillers for.

One last Blast-

"About Monument Valley Distillers
Monument Valley Distillers is an artisan distiller crafting small batches of superior bourbon, whiskey and brandy. Monument Valley Distillers was born in Calistoga, California, many years ago, over an epic dinner featuring wine, shared memories and laughter between founders Ethan Wayne, son of John Wayne, renowned vintners of Hundred Acre Wines, Chris Radomski, and great friend Richard Howell. Creator of DUKE Spirits, Monument Valley Distillers is committed to preserving the legacy of John Wayne by creating authentic products bearing his name.” More like money grubbing cash grabbers crapping on a dead guys memory by lying to people.

I haven’t had the stuff but if I wanted Wild Turkey without all the BS I’d go buy a bottle for $20 not $40 cause it’s got the Dukes name on it! Let this crap die on a shelf rather than get sucked into the memory of a dead guy. What’s next, Einstein Vodka that makes you smart?

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Is My Whiskey looking Crafty in its new Suit!

After my recent Loooong blog on the Straight designation and many “Craft” distilleries non usage of the term it got me thinking. What is Craft? That’s getting to be a old argument but there is much more to it. Big producers are muddling up an already muddled up term. It’s already been said that the term is the same as “Small Batch” at this point, meaningless with a steadily diluting definition. Let’s look at the levels of “Craft”. Lance Winters of St. George Spirits recently addressed the term and efforts to legalize it.
Part of the problem is the Craft Industry doesn’t know what it is. There are no less than 5 groups that now represent craft producers in some way and they have different requirements for membership let alone craft definitions.
The American Craft Distillers (now Spirits) Association doesn’t require you to be a Distiller. It’s interesting that they have been dropping the “Distillers” part of thier morphed name.

Almost every award competition allows a Non-Distilling producer to appear to have made the booze to enter along with real Distillers and people that grew the grain, ground it, fermented, distilled and bottled it.
So we have-
-Big Ass Conglomerate pretending to be small town yokel being Craft
-Big Ass Company that is making/marketing Whiskey in a “Craft style”
-Smaller but big company starting as craft that is now a Grandfather aka Legacy Craft Distiller
-Medium Size Craft place
-Small Size
-Sourcing ready to start up
-Sourcing pretending to be ready to start up “any day” without a Still on order
-Sourcing and just lying

If your sourcing and not lying then you can’t be calling yourself Craft or something similar.

Part of the issue and maybe the simplistic solution is you don’t get a DSP number from the TTB unless you actually Distill. Maybe even a “FDP” number, Fermenting Distiller Permit. A “DP”, just Distilling (some just re distill others New Make calling it their own), and a “NDP” Non Distilling Producer Permit. The designation has to be on each bottle with your number.

The “Artisan” term is now popping up to distance themselves. Farm to Glass, Dirt to Glass. It’s getting nuts.

The Kentucky Distillers Association does great things for their industry but adds to the confusion.
They have a major company member, Diageo that has no distillery in the State. Then a Craft Distillers category that includes Willett with a larger operation making the highest quality Whiskey in large Fermenters and several aging warehouses while other Craft Members are just doing new White Dog whiskey with little or no aging and fermenting in glorified large trash cans.
There’s a place for them all but before someone rushes to define anything it gets so much more complicated. With 1000 Craft Distilleries on target to be open within a few years and 600 or so open or readying to open, designations are needed beyond “Craft”.
Should the likes of Balcones, St George, Willett, be mentioned in the same breath as Johns Moonshine Shack and Hillbilly Bills Kick Ass White Lightning Factory? Should real Farm to Glass Hillrock (yes, they sourced early starter batches) be put in the same category as Whistle Pig that is now calling themselves Farm to Glass Craft when they have no distillery? The Pig’s deceptive smoke and mirrors marketing story is believed/parroted by many in the media (irresponsibly passing it to the public) that they have a real Distillery when they don’t. The Pig now says (if true at all) that Rye they now grow onsite is going into their product. It is a tiny amount I’m sure maybe like 1% of the total but it still won’t get to their 10 year bottles for around 10 years. They aren’t just deceiving the public and customers, they are lying to thier perspective employees with this job posting—
“…Accepted applicants will begin at WhistlePig Farm in March 1st, 2014 to participate in a six week sales training program, during which they will be introduced to the farm, distillery, and day-to-day operations of WhistlePig in Shoreham, VT. ……”
It was just this year after intense pressure they quietly admitted they had no distillery and their source was Canada. Yes, it’s one of the worst kept “secrets” in American Whiskey but they have kept it up in new deceptions since they have no distillery-yet. They keep saying soon but who knows if that will ever really happen. Worse is that a large majority of their customers have no idea they have been tricked.

If I’m paying 2x-3x more for a “Craft” whiskey I don’t want to spend 1/2 hour in a stores aisle or a bar Googling to figure out what it is or where it’s really from. Many times I still can’t be sure. It’s not my job to catch them screwing me. It’s really not fair to consumers or legit craft distillers and it’s only a mater of time until someone gets a class action lawsuit for false advertising or other deceptive consumer practices going. Don’t laugh if you are. This is the real deal because drinks giant Coca Cola just lost a major US Supreme Court ruling on deceptive labeling. This from the New York Times-
“The Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously allowed a false advertising suit against a Coca-Cola juice blend to move forward, saying the company’s practices “allegedly mislead and trick consumers, all to the injury of competitors.”
Here is a link to a different article not likely to get monetized (blocked) for reading—

I don’t know about the rest of you but I’m saving my receipts for every craft and shady brand I buy because the day may come where I’ll be sending it to a Class Action Attorney to get some of my money back for being ripped off. Maybe a few State’s Attorney Generals takes it on and imposes some big fines to line their State’s pockets.

The problem with “craft” is so much bigger than it seems. If something is going to be fixed, fix it, a legal definition is a band-aide for a festering wound. I’m not really sure who’s industry interest it serves the most to lead the charge for change or do these interests just stay quiet due to conflicts and complexities? Then again, they can wait for an inevitable lawsuit to force the matter.