Bourbon Truth

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

6 notes

Tyler Durdenesdurden is a Moron

My apologies to readers but you’ll have to indulge me on a slap down of a couple people. A buddy pointed me toward his Willett Facebook group recently as it exploded into a circus due to a brain damaged moose cock named Tyler Durdenesdurden and some special other tidbits from his like minded lot. Since Tyler Rumpelstiltskin or what ever his name is lost his nerve and deleted a good number of his posts, it’s hard to get the full gist of it now. Basically he didn’t like Willett 2 Year Rye and thought it was over priced. He did it really badly and made no sense. Mostly all responding comments were in support of Willett, some jumped both ways.
Then Drew Kulvseen (Willett family and Master Distiller) told this muskrat munching idiot Tyler not to buy the products. The Tyler dude with the Whiskey smarts of a toad then demands an apology and is appalled. Wait, blast a guy, his life, a brand and his family history and then when someone tells you to go away you get pissed? Shocked?
Is all Willett great? No. In fact as I blogged here a few months back, they changed to Synthetic corks due to a very rare industry wide natural cork taint issue in a tiny percentage of whiskey bottles. Stores and restaurants pick and buy barrels to be private bottled. If they pick the rare stinker that’s on them even if it reflects on Willett at times.
Universally, Two Year and under Rye usually sucks, rarely good from 95% of those that I’ve had. Willett is a very drinkable great Rye for two years. Does it beat something 3x the age, maybe cheaper? Sometimes yes, sometimes no but what’s the point! Two year is very rarely any good and this is very good for two years.
Some people commenting jumped on Willett about the price. There is an avalanche of crappy craft in .375 ML sizes that are $60 a bottle, tastes like swill and 3-4x the cost of a .750 ML Two year Willett Rye.
I know some distributers of Willett and they buy the two year rye for $17.50 a bottle. This is after Willett buys the grain, a $150 barrel, pays the labor and expense to make it, pays taxes, sits on the investment for two years, pays bottling expenses and much more overhead to make $17.50. This is also near a barrel proof rye. Rather than watering it down 10%-20% to make more money they don’t. When it’s sold at the Visitor Center it’s usually sampled and there’s other overhead. I doubt they come close to breaking even on tour costs so doing samples is more overhead. If they sold the Rye too cheaply the retailers (some 2-3 miles away) that need to sell it for $35-$40 wouldn’t be too happy. I’ll happily pay $40, it’s a great buy for what it is and represents.

Willett doesn’t have a billionaire Venture Capitalist as an owner/partner using it as a hobby, scam or adult binky. They use their own money, no loans and the 4 family members do without until they can. They could have put the rye out at 6 months or a year and they didn’t. They could have done the typical $70 white dog, they didn’t. They could put out a Root Beer “Shine”, they didn’t. They could put out a two year Bourbon now, they won’t.
Some Facebook people compare the new Oregon Black Maple Hill being bad and Willett’s fault when Willett has nothing to do with it! Nothing, it’s not their brand anyway. In fact the last batch of Willett produced Black Maple Hill was more or less a going away present so the guy that owned the brand would have some stuff before he got shut off.
Another idiot named Jeff on the group says that Willett is just another “big dog macro like all the other big name distillery’s” and they don’t have a Distillery which made no sense. He has no concept for the brand or history. Another guy talking out of his ass. Mind you they are fans following a Willett group. Amazing stuff huh? Lots of people did a great job in defense of Willett.
Who I really feel for is Drew. He has to put up with these idiots as a cautious but active participant on Facebook, Twitter, phone, email, you name it. The Van Winkles won’t give you the time of day. They complain that they need to answer the phone or emails when that’s pretty much all they need to do 363 days a year. The last time Julian Van Winkle III got his hands dirty was putting a golf tee in the ground with that days Celebrity or dragging his luggage to “another” award dinner. Drew will treat you like a friend and spend quality time with you if you put some effort into arranging your visit. He works early, late and plenty of weekends. His wife runs the Visitor Center. He does it because it’s in his blood and he wants the best. He could just as easily disappear like Willy Wonka and not be bothered. The Willett people aren’t paid salesman or Ambassadors that must “love” what’s on their business cards. They are as passionate as anyone in a family business as I’ve ever seen. The struggle to put out the best isn’t easy. When an idiot like Tyler jumps on line taking 15 minutes off from his Porn collection to crap on something he has no clue of I feel for the Kulvseens (Drews mother is a Willett).
Another group idiot called out Willett “Small Batch” as not being such. I’ve seen the tanks and they couldn’t do anything but a small batch if they wanted right now. They’re more comments I can address but I’m sure but I’ve made my point.

Lastly, if you’ve never been to Willett your really not in a position to criticize because you have no idea. Love them from afar but until you’ve seen the place and meet the people shut the F up if critical until you have because you just come off looking terrible. I’m about the most critical whiskey geek out there and taking Willett to task is like insulting Mother Teresa for eating food when orphans were starving. It’s unfortunate such idiots like Tyler and Jeff exist in this hobby. They would be so much better suited for flavored Vodka and Jaeger shots to have no clue about. I hope they never buy another drop of good Whiskey so those deserving of it have more. Someone please share this link to idiots Jeff and Tyler on the Willett Group Facebook site. Let them know in the future they might want to take their heads out of their asses and do 5 minutes of research or they will continue to make chimps look smarter.

4 notes

If only you were a little bit nicer!

That title says a lot. I hear that from some people I meet. Yes, I meet people, I talk to them on the phone and by email. Most are cool keeping who I am private. In a recent swing through Bourbon Country I was lucky to meet more. I truly appreciate their thoughts and impressions, it helps. Lloyd is a bit of the alter ego sub conscious of many whiskey geeks but it ends up bubbling to the surface sometimes like a turd in a punch bowl for the public to see. I do have my limits as I’ve taken many things off line and private. I’ve run across lots of gossipy truths involving Whiskey people in major positions that involve their lives and not the whiskey. I’ve got no business writing about who’s cheating on a spouse, screwing the tax man, or the inner politics and indiscretions of a Distillery because if it’s not about the Whiskey 99% of the time it’s not for Lloyd.
On the Distillery side it’s hard to get on the Christmas Card list when you bash a brand one day then pat them on the back the next. I’ve wondered why Beam can’t put out a great 12 year old while saying the Bookers 25th was brilliant and one of the best Whiskeys to ever come out. I’ve blasted Buffalo Trace on so many fronts I’ve lost track while saying they have put out the largest number of consistently great products of all the majors. As much as I hate the games Michters plays, they have put out some great releases in the past and to be fair I had to admit I really liked a recent taste of theirs I had. I blast Mark on Whiskycast but then will talk about the great job he did on Diageo. I blasted Whiskey Advocate on things then said how great a issue they put out and why it’s the only publication I currently subscribe to.
If I were much nicer I’m sure the rich’s of the Bourbon universe would descend on me but that’s not me anyway. I want the freedom to say a whiskey sucks, a publication is bought off by ads or give it to someone that never ever does a balanced or honest piece of reporting. I want to be able take it to a blog or site saying they’re a paid publicity conduit of its brand masters paying for bullshit content.
I’m not sure if I can be a little bit nicer. I do know I’ve gone out of my way to insult when I shouldn’t have so in that I’ve gotten smarter and careful. There have been things people would have gotten fired from that never made my blog or twitter. I was told two or three stories directly by major Master Distillers that would have made great reading at the expense of them catching hell that wouldn’t have been right. If and when I’m critical it’s almost always because the brand, outlet, or Distillery put themselves in that situation. I didn’t print the label, make up the story, lie, cheat or deceive so if Im going to come off as the bad guy and be scapegoated for their own warts, so be it. Yes, I could be nicer, I could become every distillery and booze PR hump’s Shirley Fucking Temple, I could be universally loved and showered with whiskey riches. I could have so many free bottles and samples pouring in I’d never open them. I prefer my truth and my truth hurts but it’s my choice and I’ll take trust over manufactured favoritism.

6 notes

Makers Mark Cask Strength

Label above is a demo not actual.
About a half year ago I posted this was coming. I took some heat as a few insisted on my sources and I was full of shi*. Since the news was about 3 months before anything else which was the TTB filing I waited. I’m happy to say it’s here and it’s good.
Makers has been experimenting with this for almost a year in quiet focus groups and private tastings. Until a short time ago Rob Samuals at Makers Mark had publicly stated that they did not believe in an over aged, over proof whiskey. With this said, Makers has released several “over proofed or over aged” whiskies a few years back in the Gold 101 and Black Wax 95 and others. The famous Black Wax only sent overseas mostly to Japan is a Whiskey Geek Wish list item.

http://whiskyadvocate.com/whisky/2010/01/27/five-makers-mark-bourbons-in-front-of-me-and-the-master-distiller-on-the-phone/

I was told by the former Makers Master Distiller at the time, Dave Pickeral that one day all references to the Black Wax were stricken as if it never existed and it was discontinued. I’ve had it as well as others. Jack Rose in DC still had some last visit. It was a bit hotter at 95 and thought to be a bit older. Geeks put this at their favorite Makers bottling.

If you believe all the Stitzel Weller lineage it is said that this is the SW recipe that Pappy gave Bill Samuals Sr. It is also said that the Makers Stills are the same type SW had and the SW yeast is being used. What had always been missing was the ABV to 107 and some extra age. Black Wax almost did that. As for this new Cask Strength it’s 113 Proof (variable) and age is thought to be anywhere between 4-6 years, uncut/unfiltered. At the end of Makers Mark tours visitors are offered a tasting of Makers that is White, Over Aged, Regular Bottled and 46. It’s no surprise that the great Whiskey palates there with me told Bill Samuals Jr liked it (even after he told us we should be tasting to much wood and bad tasting whiskey with the over aged product). It wasn’t bad and it was clearly the best of the bunch and we told him so. It’s scary to think what an 8-12 year Makers would do to the market at Cask Strength. Beam/Suntory Marketing folks could easily get $100 a bottle for it and geeks would be happy to pay that. After the 84 proof fiasco they should try it since they are obviously in an “Expermentin mood”. I have no idea of selectivity that went into these batches but I’d be surprised if some or much extra selection went into them. I am also drinking a pre-release bottle meant for non-mortals so who knows if this batch is the standard to be expected in the gift shop variety. Thanks to my buddy that got this to me.

Cask Strength is currently only TTB approved in a .375 size. No official word on its availability outside the Distillery gift shop starting on 9/1/14.  I’ve been told that Bartenders around the world are supposedly still being tasted/tested on it for a potential limited national rollout. Stay tuned.

If you have a Whiskey Mule in KY or the opportunity to get a bottle or two of this it will quickly become a cult favorite and I’d get some. Expect 3x mark up on facebook and 3rd party reselling.

Tasting notes scores out of 5

Nose-Tropical Fruit, Maple, a little spice. Not super complex, still a tad young  3.5

Taste-Tad Medicinal, Cinnamon, Maple, Fruity, not much burn 3.5

Finish- Yum, so hard to get a great finish and this one is long with my favorite Juicy Fruit, Cinnamon, Maple, light spice. A good 15 seconds. No bitterness. Very Nice. 4.25

Reminds me of a 6 year SW Old Fitz. 

Value don’t know yet but this is a special item so I think most would be acceptable of higher cost even with a .375 size. Good value up to $70 considering its current uniqueness. Comparing it to the crappy craft stuff being sold in the same size/$$ (to who knows), but they are buying it I don’t have a problem with paying more. As for the Makers value, no extra points but no deductions either.

I’m going to put this at a 4.0 score which is a super good score for me as I’m a mean bastard when it comes to this sort of thing and if it was older I could see this easily giving WLW and Pappy a major run for its money perhaps leaving them in the dust.

Makers Mark Cask Strength

Label above is a demo not actual. About a half year ago I posted this was coming. I took some heat as a few insisted on my sources and I was full of shi*. Since the news was about 3 months before anything else which was the TTB filing I waited. I’m happy to say it’s here and it’s good.

Makers has been experimenting with this for almost a year in quiet focus groups and private tastings. Until a short time ago Rob Samuals at Makers Mark had publicly stated that they did not believe in an over aged, over proof whiskey. With this said, Makers has released several “over proofed or over aged” whiskies a few years back in the Gold 101 and Black Wax 95 and others. The famous Black Wax only sent overseas mostly to Japan is a Whiskey Geek Wish list item.

http://whiskyadvocate.com/whisky/2010/01/27/five-makers-mark-bourbons-in-front-of-me-and-the-master-distiller-on-the-phone/

I was told by the former Makers Master Distiller at the time, Dave Pickeral that one day all references to the Black Wax were stricken as if it never existed and it was discontinued. I’ve had it as well as others. Jack Rose in DC still had some last visit. It was a bit hotter at 95 and thought to be a bit older. Geeks put this at their favorite Makers bottling.

If you believe all the Stitzel Weller lineage it is said that this is the SW recipe that Pappy gave Bill Samuals Sr. It is also said that the Makers Stills are the same type SW had and the SW yeast is being used. What had always been missing was the ABV to 107 and some extra age. Black Wax almost did that. As for this new Cask Strength it’s 113 Proof (variable) and age is thought to be anywhere between 4-6 years, uncut/unfiltered. At the end of Makers Mark tours visitors are offered a tasting of Makers that is White, Over Aged, Regular Bottled and 46. It’s no surprise that the great Whiskey palates there with me told Bill Samuals Jr liked it (even after he told us we should be tasting to much wood and bad tasting whiskey with the over aged product). It wasn’t bad and it was clearly the best of the bunch and we told him so. It’s scary to think what an 8-12 year Makers would do to the market at Cask Strength. Beam/Suntory Marketing folks could easily get $100 a bottle for it and geeks would be happy to pay that. After the 84 proof fiasco they should try it since they are obviously in an “Expermentin mood”. I have no idea of selectivity that went into these batches but I’d be surprised if some or much extra selection went into them. I am also drinking a pre-release bottle meant for non-mortals so who knows if this batch is the standard to be expected in the gift shop variety. Thanks to my buddy that got this to me.

Cask Strength is currently only TTB approved in a .375 size. No official word on its availability outside the Distillery gift shop starting on 9/1/14. I’ve been told that Bartenders around the world are supposedly still being tasted/tested on it for a potential limited national rollout. Stay tuned.

If you have a Whiskey Mule in KY or the opportunity to get a bottle or two of this it will quickly become a cult favorite and I’d get some. Expect 3x mark up on facebook and 3rd party reselling.

Tasting notes scores out of 5

Nose-Tropical Fruit, Maple, a little spice. Not super complex, still a tad young 3.5

Taste-Tad Medicinal, Cinnamon, Maple, Fruity, not much burn 3.5

Finish- Yum, so hard to get a great finish and this one is long with my favorite Juicy Fruit, Cinnamon, Maple, light spice. A good 15 seconds. No bitterness. Very Nice. 4.25

Reminds me of a 6 year SW Old Fitz.

Value don’t know yet but this is a special item so I think most would be acceptable of higher cost even with a .375 size. Good value up to $70 considering its current uniqueness. Comparing it to the crappy craft stuff being sold in the same size/$$ (to who knows), but they are buying it I don’t have a problem with paying more. As for the Makers value, no extra points but no deductions either.

I’m going to put this at a 4.0 score which is a super good score for me as I’m a mean bastard when it comes to this sort of thing and if it was older I could see this easily giving WLW and Pappy a major run for its money perhaps leaving them in the dust.

3 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 Bourbontruth@aol.com 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

0 notes

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+

5 notes

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.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/07/28/your-craft-whiskey-is-probably-from-a-factory-distillery-in-indiana.html

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.

http://whiskyadvocate.com/whisky/2012/06/11/whats-in-that-bottle-of-van-winkle-anyway/

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. http://lukasliquorstl.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/buffalo-trace-ofc-micro-distillery.png

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—

2015-17

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.

1 note

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. http://newsok.com/moore-twister-distillery-engulfed-in-vodka-flash-fire-not-allowed-to-use-open-flame/article/4919580
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. http://www.newpaltzx.com/2012/09/27/tuthilltown-spirits-in-gardiner-escapes-catastrophic-damage-thanks-to-quick-response-to-distillery-fire/

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?

0 notes

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.

Finish
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.

Finish
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?