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Josh
04-27-2010, 08:50
This company came up in another thread, and there is info in a couple closed threads but I thought it might be nice to get the whole story in one place.

From what I've been able to glean from other threads and online sources:

-Blanton's, named for fomer Master Distiller Albert Blanton who worked at the distillery at Leestown in Frankfort (currently known as Buffalo Trace), is owned by Age International of Frankfort, KY.

-Age International is, in turn, owned by Takara Shuzo Ltd (http://www.takarashuzo.co.jp/english/index.htm), of Japan. It owns many other brands around the world including the Tomatin (http://www.tomatin.com/)distillery in Scotland.

-They were at one time a partner with Sazerac in the Buffalo Trace Distillery.

-Blanton's is manufactured and distributed by Buffalo Trace/Saz in the US, but by its parent company overseas. This accounts for only one version being available in the US, while multiple versions are available overseas.

-A question was raised as to whether Ancient Age is also owned by Age International/Takara Shuzo, but I have not be able to find anything indicating that BT does not own Ancient Age.

http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/showthread.php?t=13455

http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/showthread.php?t=10195

http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/showthread.php?t=9993

So what's the story behind this company? How did Age International come to exist? Why do they own a whiskey with Blanton's name on it? How did Takara Shuzo become involved in the bourbon business?

p_elliott
04-27-2010, 09:01
Well at the risk of sounding stupid I believe they contracted BT to develop Blanton's for them but I may be all wrong on this. Of course it is Elmer T Lee that is credited with developing Blanton's the first single barrel bourbon. I had brought this up in chat on a couple of occasions but no one seemed to believe me and/or were interested. Being a relative newbie some things people go yeah right.

nblair
04-27-2010, 10:29
Thanks for reminding me about this Josh. I just finished reading Chuck's book and could have sworn Age International was mentioned in there. I meant to look it up last night, but forgot. If I wasn't at work I'd do it now, I'm intrigued...

nblair
04-27-2010, 17:47
Ok, so I guess I lied. I didn't see it in the index...

cowdery
04-27-2010, 21:06
Ferdie Falk and some other guy (I'm working from memory here) and some other private investors bought the distillery and the Ancient Age brand from Schenley in the early 1980s, or thereabouts. They were into making and selling bulk whiskey mostly. It's never been clear exactly what Takara owned or when Falk and what's-his-name left the picture. Yes, I believe Age International also owns Ancient Age. When Sazerac entered the picture Takara was still in it and is still in it to the extent that they control Blantons. Heaven Hill was in the mix too, as they were Sazerac's bourbon partner before Age and Takara. Exactly what went down I don't know but the bad blood between HH and Saz persists to this day.

Gillman
04-28-2010, 05:31
While it is good to know the ownership background for the label, of course the bourbon is made at what is now called Buffalo Trace. And it is very much a typical Trace product. I just had some in Bardstown, it has a good full bourbon flavor, with notes of caramel and molasses, but with good rye presence. It is similar IMO to the various premium rye-recipe bourbons that come from that distinguished distillery, e.g. Rock Hill Farms. I feel similarly about Bulleit, i.e., it is not a Four Roses label since it is owned and distributed by others, but it is distilled there and it has all the Four Roses markers (spice, flowers, cinnamon).

Gary

bourbonv
04-28-2010, 11:55
If my memory serves me right, the Japanese bought into the distillery in 1992 or 93. There was an article in the paper and I remember clipping it for the archive. The company that was the main distributor for Blanton's bought a percentage of the distillery and the brand. It may have actually saved the distillery from going under at the time.

Mike Veach

Josh
04-28-2010, 12:57
Interesting. Thanks for the info guys.

bourbonv
04-28-2010, 13:32
I checked my timeline and it was 1992 when Takura bought into the distillery and they did purchase the Ancient Age brand.

Mike Veach

Doggerlander
04-29-2010, 08:20
So, I'm guessing that Blanton's uses Ancient Age recipe juice. Do other superpremium BT labels like Elmer T. Lee use the same recipe?

Josh
04-29-2010, 08:24
So, I'm guessing that Blanton's uses Ancient Age recipe juice. Do other superpremium BT labels like Elmer T. Lee use the same recipe?

Yes, mashbill #2 includes

Ancient Age
Ancient Ancient Age
Elmer T. Lee
Hancock Reserve
Rock Hill Farms
Blanton's

Doggerlander
04-29-2010, 08:40
Yes, mashbill #2 includes

Ancient Age
Ancient Ancient Age
Elmer T. Lee
Hancock Reserve
Rock Hill Farms
Blanton's

Thanks, Josh. Does that mean Stagg is the Benchmark mashbill (#1?)? Is there a mashbill thread I should be looking at?

Josh
04-29-2010, 11:17
I don't know, but there probably should be.

#1 has an even higher corn to rye ratio than #2. It is:

Benchmark (as you mentioned)
Buffalo Trace
Old Charter
Eagle Rare
Geo. T. Stagg (also as you metioned)

The other one is the wheater mashbill used for the Wellers and Van Winkles. And of course the Sazerac Rye mashbill.

The differences are really in the aging, length of time but especially location. ERSB and OC 10 are the same age but the current ER strikes me as much drier and smoother than the Old Charter. Old Charter (in keeping with its heritage as a very high corn bourbon) has more corn character and a bit more spice and wood, to my tongue anyway.

The relationship between AAA 10 and ETL is analogous. Both are around 10 y/o and ETL is a single barrel but is drier than AAA, with less spice and barrel character. I like them both, but at <$20, the 10 y/o AAA is hard to pass up.

Come to think of it, I wonder if the limited distrubution of Age International's AAA 10 y/o is due to a desire to limit the competion for BT's Elmer T. Lee outside of Kentucky.

Anyway, I'll stop rambling now.

Doggerlander
04-29-2010, 11:34
Josh, you sure know your BT!

In Ohio I can only get AAA 10 Star. What's the difference between this and AAA 10 Year?

Josh
04-29-2010, 11:49
Josh, you sure know your BT!

In Ohio I can only get AAA 10 Star. What's the difference between this and AAA 10 Year?

Thanks. I'm obsessive that way. :lol:

We can only get the AA and the AAA 10* here too, but I always grab a handle (1.75 ltr. bottle) of the 10 y/o when I'm in KY.

To me the difference is big. The 10* is a decent lower-shelf bourbon, but it is like Eliza Doolittle at the beginning of My Fair Lady, hot young, and unrefined (although less so than the regular AA). The 10 y/o is vastly superior. It's a great everyday pour that can hold its own against stuff that's twice the price. It does very well in manhattans and other cocktails where it's character can shine through. If I were at home (or at a different bar), I could give more detailed notes.

Along with Four Roses, Very Old Barton, and Old Forester, it's my favorite bourbon in that <$20 range.