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cowdery
06-21-2010, 16:20
The following question was posed to me today on my blog: (http://chuckcowdery.blogspot.com/2010/06/whats-difference-between-scotch-and.html)

Do you think a premium American blend could be successful? Something that was, say, 40% straight whiskies and the balance light whiskey, all of which was aged 8-12 years?

What do you folks think?

OscarV
06-21-2010, 16:44
Yeah, if Beam put it out.
They have the muscle to get it out on the shelves and in the public's face, see Red Stagg.

sku
06-21-2010, 17:15
Why not? Americans buy Canadian blends, Irish blends, Scotch blends, granted those don't contain GNS, but I think you could sell a blend if you marketed it well and it had a good flavor profile. It would have to be something different and you wouldn't be converting Jack or Jim's drinkers, but I'm guessing there are a lot of vodka drinkers out there who would go for something with a bit more flavor, but aren't up to sipping straight whiskey.

CorvallisCracker
06-21-2010, 17:57
I don't think you'd want GNS in it. You'd want to use grain ("light") whiskey as a base. If you're going to try to distance it from the cheap blends, you'd want to make a point of letting folks know it's 100% whiskey.

As for flavor profile, you might want to stress rye over corn, so as not to make it too "bourbony". A couple of weeks ago, during a gazebo chat, I followed some OWA with a glass of Saz 18 and was struck by how sophisticated it seemed. If you could acheive a similar flavor profile, maybe a little lighter in body, and lower in cost, that might appeal even to those who normally prefer straight whiskies.

With an effective marketing effort, who knows?

Res/st-or
06-21-2010, 18:55
I kind of like the HW Bourye.... I see no problem with blending if something unique can be the end result.

ErichPryde
06-21-2010, 19:35
I'd like to see more blends like the bourye than I would blends that include light whiskey again.

Josh
06-21-2010, 19:55
I'm less optimistic than you guys. I look at something like Early Times which in the US is a blend of bourbon with a whiskey aged in resused cooperage. It sells fairly well, but B-F is getting ready to convert it back into a straight bourbon. To me, that speaks volumes. If B-F, which isn't Beam big, but is still big, can't make something like that work, I doubt anyone else can. See also the Ten High "bourbon, a blend" experiment.

ErichPryde
06-21-2010, 20:03
If you make a quality blend and advertise it well, there won't be any problems. Early Times is nothing more than B-F's Toy Soldier in the Jack-Jim-Evan war, but the problem is that Jack has an automatic shotgun, Jim has a Garand, and Evan has some sort of an interesting repeating rifle. Unfortunately the only thing anyone could scrounge up for ET was an old muzzle loading musket. At least they didn't give him an blunderbus, I guess.

cowdery
06-21-2010, 20:17
I thought about the ET example. It proves a couple of things. At this point, the halfway-ness of ET is forcing them to shit or get off the pot. They either need to make it cheaper, to make it more profitable, or make it bourbon so they can stand shoulder to shoulder with other value-priced KSBW and make it more profitable by charging more.

But I agree with Scott (who actually started this) that "100% whiskey" would be the key differentiator, although that might start a pissing match since--100 years ago--blends got the right to call themselves "whiskey."

That's what I meant on the blog (http://chuckcowdery.blogspot.com/2010/06/whats-difference-between-scotch-and.html) about the "magic" of replacing 1/5 of your vodka with straight whiskey and transmutting it all into whiskey.

CorvallisCracker
06-21-2010, 23:17
If you make a quality blend and advertise it well, there won't be any problems. Early Times is nothing more than B-F's Toy Soldier in the Jack-Jim-Evan war, but the problem is that Jack has an automatic shotgun, Jim has a Garand, and Evan has some sort of an interesting repeating rifle. Unfortunately the only thing anyone could scrounge up for ET was an old muzzle loading musket. At least they didn't give him an blunderbus, I guess.

Why would B-F want ET to compete with JD? They own both.

ErichPryde
06-22-2010, 00:09
Why would B-F want ET to compete with JD? They own both.


Hmm. I see what you are saying. In that case, I'm going to go with: Jack, with the automatic shotgun, in warehouse #3.

cowdery
06-22-2010, 08:08
Brown-Forman's strategy has long been to use ET and JD to flank JB.

JB then tries to flank JD with JBW and JBB.

doubleblank
06-22-2010, 10:18
BT produced Charter Reserve, a blended whiskey, about 2 or 3 years ago. It came packaged in a velvet bag and fancy bottle. Guess who it was going after? A Republic exec said it didn't do very well and was pulled. It was only test marketed in areas that were large markets for Old Charter bourbons......like east Texas and a few other places. I bought a bottle out of curiosities sake but haven't opened it.

So it has been done recently and bombed. But I doubt BT put any marketing muscle behind it.....heck, what product do they push hard for that matter?

I had tasted it in BT's lab before release and while good, it was nothing special.

Randy

Dramiel McHinson
06-22-2010, 18:31
The following question was posed to me today on my blog: (http://chuckcowdery.blogspot.com/2010/06/whats-difference-between-scotch-and.html)

Do you think a premium American blend could be successful? Something that was, say, 40% straight whiskies and the balance light whiskey, all of which was aged 8-12 years?

What do you folks think?

There was an interesting article in 1972 that describes American distillers hoping for relief from regulatory requirements so they could make and sell light whiskey. ( http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,910362,00.html)

The article basically explains that American distillers wanted to compete with scotch and Canadian whiskey by introducing smoother, less aggressive whiskey using the same production techniques as scotch and Canadian distillers.

So what happened since then? Apparently Light Beer went over well but Light whiskey never seemed to take hold in a big way. Personally, I would think a blend as described above would work for people that also like other blended brown spirits. If the price to flavor ratio beat out imports then it might have a chance.

All you need is an add campaign that shows a bunch of bowling team buddies throwing their viagra in the trash after downing a bottle of Jefferson Davis Light Whiskey and having the ball polisher girl develop an obsessive compulsive desire to sit in their lap. :bigeyes:

CorvallisCracker
06-22-2010, 21:00
Dan, I think you've kinda missed the point of the question.

The light whiskies of the early seventies failed because they were going after the low end of the whiskey market, one that was already well saturated with low cost American and Canadian blends. Plus, with the exception of the Four Roses offering, they weren't blended, they were "straight" (can't think of a better term) light whiskies. The Four Roses product was less than 20% straight whiskey, which again, positioned it at the low end.

The question I put on Chuck's blog asked about a premium blend, i.e., the American equivalent of Johnnie Walker Black Label, Bushmill Black Bush, or Crown Royal; something in the $25-35 range, perhaps with a 12yo age statement.

The advertisement you describe sounds like Great Fun (I know I'd like to be in it :70358-devil: ), but I don't think it's what you'd use for this sort of product.

cowdery
06-22-2010, 22:02
The disconnect for light whiskey, I think, was that you can make whiskey the way the Scots do but that doesn't mean it will taste like scotch. The customer for whiskey cares about taste. Not just how relatively strong the taste is but the characteristics of the taste.

Light whiskey set out to serve a market that didn't exist.

Blended scotch works because there are a large number of distilleries in Scotland making very distinct styles. Most blends have at least a little peat, a little smoke, a little sherry, a little iodine.

Back in my college and immediate post-college days I drank a lot of cheap blended scotch. There may be blended scotchs that rank below the ones I drank, but the ones I drank did not taste like whiskey-flavored vodka the way American blends do.

Ireland is more like the U.S., with the limited number of distilleries, but Middleton has both pot stills and column stills and makes a bunch of different distillates. That's never been the way in the U.S., except to a limited extent with what Seagram's did. Seagram's tried to approximate that and still does, but within a very narrow range, i.e., it's all rye-recipe bourbon.

Finally, there may not be much difference between GNS and blending whiskey, but there is a difference.

Everybody knows I love tradition, but the tradition of calling something "whiskey" that is 4/5 vodka is a tradition I could bear to see die.

tmckenzie
06-28-2010, 14:39
I just got my hands on a 1968 bottle of seagrams 7. The rye jumps out of the glass at you. Why can't something like this be done again?

ratcheer
06-28-2010, 19:48
I just got my hands on a 1968 bottle of seagrams 7. The rye jumps out of the glass at you. Why can't something like this be done again?

I think the current Seagrams 7 is pretty good - certainly a lot better than I expected when I tried a bottle. Probably not as good as the '68, but still very respectable.

Tim

ILLfarmboy
06-28-2010, 22:08
....Everybody knows I love tradition, but the tradition of calling something "whiskey" that is 4/5 vodka is a tradition I could bear to see die.

That'd make a great signature......

jsbac
07-03-2010, 17:39
I just bought a bottle of the Charter Private Reserve -- haven't tried it yet. It was the first time I'd ran across it. I don't normally buy blends since getting into bourbon, but I like Old Charter, so I thought at the very least this would be a kewl addition to my small collection.


BT produced Charter Reserve, a blended whiskey, about 2 or 3 years ago. It came packaged in a velvet bag and fancy bottle. Guess who it was going after?

squire
12-14-2010, 19:38
A few years back I spent some time, say 6-8 months, blending vodka with straight whisky to get a lower taste profile that would please my companion.

Didn't work out as I never achieved my goal and she wouldn't drink any of them anyway.

p_elliott
12-15-2010, 07:43
A few years back I spent some time, say 6-8 months, blending vodka with straight whisky to get a lower taste profile that would please my companion.

Didn't work out as I never achieved my goal and she wouldn't drink any of them anyway.


You didn't know they already did that for you? :slappin:

squire
12-16-2010, 19:29
Oh yeah, I've tried them off and on for forty years now, just haven't found one blended to my satisfaction.

cowdery
12-16-2010, 21:22
Oh yeah, I've tried them off and on for forty years now, just haven't found one blended to my satisfaction.

What was your usual ratio of whiskey to vodka? With most American blends it's 20/80, except 'premium' Seagram's 7, which is 25/75.

squire
12-20-2010, 00:05
Chuck when I said off and on for those years is was always an effort to gradually introduce a female by steps to appreciate real whisky and I wound up having to drink the stuff myself. I did get one to drink Segrams 7 and 7up but I think that was because she was convinced imported whiskys were somehow 'better'. I didn't use blends even in my broke student days because we could get bottom shelf Bourbons (Kentucky Beau, etc.) for the same price as blends.

The experiment I mentioned in the post was not to come up with something I liked but to please the girl. It started at 50/50 and went down to 25% whisky and up as high as 75% but it was a no go. She had gotten violently ill off a bottle of Jack Daniels her freshman year in college and refused to touch anything with whisky on the label ever since.

Vodka rocks, yes, whisky, no.

CorvallisCracker
12-20-2010, 11:05
I did get one to drink Segrams 7 and 7up but I think that was because she was convinced imported whiskys were somehow 'better'.

Seagrams 7 is not imported. Seagrams VO is.

squire
12-20-2010, 23:01
shhh, don't tell her that.

ratcheer
12-21-2010, 09:51
So, this idea is just starting to light up, for me. You mean I could take a half bottle of WT 101 and a half bottle of, say 100 proof Smirnoff vodka and create a 100 proof blended whiskey with a flavor I would be likely to enjoy? I will probably be trying this, soon.

Tim

squire
12-21-2010, 10:48
Go for it Tim, the flavor will be diluted of course but the worst that can happen is you still have a 100 proof bottle.

Dramiel McHinson
12-22-2010, 02:40
I've noticed several new brands of "light" whiskey on the shelves, all of them with wonderful names like Bird Dog, the latest addition. The little woman can't break free from her early whisky training in her native Korea where blended scotch and Crown Royal reign supreme. I failed in every attempt to convince her to help me dispose of my bourbon in an acceptable way, which demands proper filtration through several major organs. You can imagine my reluctance to spend the money for some of these new lights on the market if there is a risk of rejection. Lucky for me, you all have positively influenced my success in this area. I recently took a bottle of Four Roses and adulterated it with 25% Roosky vodka. Voila! She likes it! The trick was she likes the looks and name Four Roses, and the now "lighter" taste appeals to her. Whoda thunk it.
Thanx brothers!

cowdery
12-22-2010, 16:06
Who cares what she drinks as long as she drinks something.

OscarV
12-22-2010, 16:18
Who cares what she drinks as long as she drinks something.



Yeah, and the higher the proof the better.:cool:

cowdery
12-22-2010, 19:20
Not necessarily, as long as the intake is steady you can get where you need to go with just about anything. Remember, I went to college in a town that only permitted 3.2% beer. It worked just fine.

smokinjoe
12-23-2010, 06:41
There was a reason that we always kept a decent supply of Little Kings and California Coolers in our fridge in college. :cool:

ILLfarmboy
12-23-2010, 11:39
I've noticed several new brands of "light" whiskey on the shelves, all of them with wonderful names like Bird Dog, the latest addition. The little woman can't break free from her early whisky training in her native Korea where blended scotch and Crown Royal reign supreme. I failed in every attempt to convince her to help me dispose of my bourbon in an acceptable way, which demands proper filtration through several major organs. You can imagine my reluctance to spend the money for some of these new lights on the market if there is a risk of rejection. Lucky for me, you all have positively influenced my success in this area. I recently took a bottle of Four Roses and adulterated it with 25% Roosky vodka. Voila! She likes it! The trick was she likes the looks and name Four Roses, and the now "lighter" taste appeals to her. Whoda thunk it.
Thanx brothers!

Take another bottle of FR, hide it, when she's sleeping or not at home pour out a couple ounces of your blend and replace it with a couple ounces from that hidden bottle of FR. Keep track of how many times you have done this and when the time comes to mix another bottle of FR/vodka replicate the last ratio she drank----and press on------------over time it should acclimate her to straights. :grin:

OscarV
12-23-2010, 12:38
Not necessarily, as long as the intake is steady you can get where you need to go with just about anything. Remember, I went to college in a town that only permitted 3.2% beer. It worked just fine.

Yeah sure, 3.2 beer worked for you but not all of us can be a silver tongued slayer like you, the rest of us needs high proof liquor.:grin:

SMOWK
12-23-2010, 12:41
Yeah sure, 3.2 beer worked for you but not all of us can be a silver tongued slayer like you, the rest of us needs high proof liquor.:grin:

Agreed. I just can't seem to drink enough beer to get me drunk. I have the same problem with spirits under 100 proof. A bottle or two of OGD114 usually does the trick.

ILLfarmboy
12-23-2010, 13:24
I now see what that "tastes great less filling" stuff was all about. Who wants to feel all bloated if part of the goal is intoxication? Not that one can't get drunk off of beer, even low alcohol beer, but it must take a greater degree of dedication than I would have ever wanted to put forth back in my wilder younger days.