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Rob Coffey

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Re: Dirty Secret of the American Whiskey Establishment

by Rob Coffey » Tue Jan 22, 2013 12:25 am

Rick G wrote:It seems that with the influx of all these so called "Speciality Bourbons" that have popped up the last few years that people are forgetting the bourbons that started it all. Bourbons like Maker's Mark. This is one of the first small batch bourbons. Now people are looking at these bourbons as though they're the "Bud Lites" of the bourbon industry. Everyone wants the new kid on the block, not doing their research on all these so called specialty bourbons that are actually bulk bourbon with a fancy name and label. Bourbons like Maker's Mark and other "old school" bourbons are the real deal. People need to quit ignoring these true bourbons and quit looking for the new kid on the block and do their research. If you haven't had a Maker's Mark or one of the other true bourbons lately now would be a good time to go back and try again. I think you would be surprised and would remember how good these bourbons are quit looking for the next great thing from LDI.


I think the better analogy would be Goose Island. Maker's is good quality, just like Goose Island, but despite its past, I know who the current owner is. The Samuels have about as much connection to MM as the Halls do to GI (actually, I guess with recent changes, the Samuels are slightly more connected).
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Jeremy J

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Re: Dirty Secret of the American Whiskey Establishment

by Jeremy J » Tue Jan 22, 2013 12:27 am

Yeah, I mean, you do realize that Beam owns Makers Mark now and have for a number of years right?
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Re: Dirty Secret of the American Whiskey Establishment

by Rob Coffey » Tue Jan 22, 2013 12:38 am

Jeremy J wrote:Yeah, I mean, you do realize that Beam owns Makers Mark now and have for a number of years right?


I actually didnt for a while...I did some work for Makers back when they were owned by Allied Domecq, and missed the sale to Fortune. I heard about it shortly after Fortune split off to form Beam.
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Jeremy J

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Re: Dirty Secret of the American Whiskey Establishment

by Jeremy J » Tue Jan 22, 2013 12:47 am

To call Makers Mark a "true bourbon" as opposed to other more recent brands is really pretty debatable. The Makers recipe is one of the Stitzel Weller B-recipes, that they opted not to produce, which the Samuels family bought in the 50s or 60s. I would never consider MM to be a "true bourbon" as opposed to others. MM is a "true bourbon" as much as any contemporary bourbon is. Its a legit bourbon to be sure, but I think of brands like Old Grandad, Old Forrester, Old Fitzgerald, Weller, etc...actual brands with a legacy.
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Jeremy J

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Re: Dirty Secret of the American Whiskey Establishment

by Jeremy J » Tue Jan 22, 2013 2:14 am

Rob Coffey wrote:
Jeremy J wrote:Yeah, I mean, you do realize that Beam owns Makers Mark now and have for a number of years right?


I actually didnt for a while...I did some work for Makers back when they were owned by Allied Domecq, and missed the sale to Fortune. I heard about it shortly after Fortune split off to form Beam.



They were actually sold to Hiram Walker in 1981, then to Domecq, then to Fortune, then split to Beam.
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Brett Davis

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Re: Dirty Secret of the American Whiskey Establishment

by Brett Davis » Tue Jan 22, 2013 12:09 pm

The fact a bourbon has a traditional label compared to a new one, does not make it any less of a bourbon. It does not matter if the owner of the label actually produced the juice or not nor if it's made in Kentucky unless is says Kentucky Straight Bourbon.

Also, don't get too caught up on the term "small batch" as there are no label laws that define how small a small batch is. Forget the marketing hype regarding family yeast strains, so called potstill production, water sources...etc. Sure, different yeasts bring out slight character differences but by the time you oak the crap out of the white dog with heavily charred American oak barrels, way less than 1% of bourbon drinkers can tell the difference.

I have found that the character differences in particular barrels of bourbons come more from the mash bill, the barrel, the barrel house, the location in the barrel house the barrel is aged and (finally) the chosen bottle proof. However, considering the majority of these barrel are blended into large batches, the differences in one bourbon label from the next are so subtle that it is a rare person who can tell the difference in blind tastings.
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David R. Pierce

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Re: Dirty Secret of the American Whiskey Establishment

by David R. Pierce » Tue Jan 22, 2013 1:14 pm

Brett Davis wrote:The fact a bourbon has a traditional label compared to a new one, does not make it any less of a bourbon. It does not matter if the owner of the label actually produced the juice or not nor if it's made in Kentucky unless is says Kentucky Straight Bourbon.

Also, don't get too caught up on the term "small batch" as there are no label laws that define how small a small batch is. Forget the marketing hype regarding family yeast strains, so called potstill production, water sources...etc. Sure, different yeasts bring out slight character differences but by the time you oak the crap out of the white dog with heavily charred American oak barrels, way less than 1% of bourbon drinkers can tell the difference.

I have found that the character differences in particular barrels of bourbons come more from the mash bill, the barrel, the barrel house, the location in the barrel house the barrel is aged and (finally) the chosen bottle proof. However, considering the majority of these barrel are blended into large batches, the differences in one bourbon label from the next are so subtle that it is a rare person who can tell the difference in blind tastings.


Good points Brett, especially the yeast. I enjoy reading the marketing crap about the prized family strain being stored off-site to protect it, only to watch the distiller open readily available 1000 gram packs of dried "distillers" yeast and pour into the mash.
Cheers,
David R. Pierce
New Albanian Brewing Co.
New Albany, IN 47150
Craft Brewing Louisville continuously since 1992
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Roger A. Baylor

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Re: Dirty Secret of the American Whiskey Establishment

by Roger A. Baylor » Tue Jan 22, 2013 7:46 pm

Great discussion. Thanks, everyone.
Roger A. Baylor
New Albanian Brewing Company &
NABC Bank Street Brewhouse
New Albany, Indiana
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Ellen P

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Re: Dirty Secret of the American Whiskey Establishment

by Ellen P » Fri Jan 25, 2013 10:28 am

Having worked in the industry for 14 1/2 years, there's a lot to learn and it's very interesting.
I wrote the dumps for Woodford Reserve for 4 years, sampling nearly 10,000 barrel samples.
With the master distiller, I went into the warehouses to find the barrels for the first Birthday Old Foresters.
I also created the liquid for Collingwood and JD Tennessee Honey.
Companies will make spirits for other companies due to many different reasons which means, of course, companies are buying for many different reasons. If a good bourbon is usually at least 6 years old, you can't start making it and selling it, so new labels are going to have to purchase from someone else. When they start making their own, it won't taste the same - it can be similar - that's where small batches can be accepting of those differences. Vodka and/or flavored vodka is obviously easier.
I am retired from that company, so if anyone needs someone with experience and knowledge ....:-)
Ellen
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