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View Full Version : Harlen Wheatley talks BT and Pappy



jmpyle
03-10-2011, 07:40
I urge you guys to give this podcast a listen. It's from K&L Wines Spirit Journal, done weekly by David Driscoll. This week he has Harlen Wheatley, MD of Buffalo Trace.

It's particularly interesting around 20 minute mark. David asks Harlen about Pappy. Harlen is very open and honest in this interview, which I sure appreciated. And while Harlen doesn't speak in 100% absolutes because he didn't have all the numbers in front of him (his words), he does outline the following:

-The ORVW 10 year old and Van Winkle Family Reserve 12 year old (Lot b) is Buffalo Trace product, not Stitzel-Weller I think this has been commonly known and reported by many, but I'm not aware of either Julian Van Winkle, Harlen, or anyone else this close to the situation confirming this before.

-The 20 year old and 23 year old Pappy Van Winkle Bourbons are still all Stitzel-Weller stock. The rumors of 20 year old being close to dry was not addressed but Harlen mentions "being close" in terms of having product around that age.

-The 15 year old wasn't talked about in absolutes but Harlen mentions that he believe it to be a mix of stock between Buffalo Trace and Stitzel-Weller. This was the interesting one to me because I was thinking it was still S-W reserves. Very cool to hear. Again, this is one where he wasn't able to confirm 100%, but thought it was a mix.

Check it out.

http://spiritsjournal.klwines.com/klwinescom-spirits-blog/2011/3/9/podcast-10-buffalo-trace-master-distiller-harlen-wheatley.html

birdman1099
03-10-2011, 14:04
-The 15 year old wasn't talked about in absolutes but Harlen mentions that he believe it to be a mix of stock between Buffalo Trace and Stitzel-Weller.

I believe this to be true as well based on what I have heard from a couple sources, and my taste buds....

White Dog
03-11-2011, 00:02
At around 18 minutes while discussing the Van Winkle line he says, "...he does have a 10yr, I think."

I may be an ass, but hey Harlen, are you really that unaware of the 2 Old Rip labels?? Gimme a break. Can Kentucky Bourbon makers ever just be honest??:rolleyes: :rolleyes: (Later on he states that the Old Rip 10yr is certainly BT.)

New flash to Kentucky, when the Baby Boomers are all gone, you better start being more honest with consumers, or it will hurt your bottom line.

cowdery
03-11-2011, 10:25
At around 18 minutes while discussing the Van Winkle line he says, "...he does have a 10yr, I think."

I may be an ass, but hey Harlen, are you really that unaware of the 2 Old Rip labels?? Gimme a break. Can Kentucky Bourbon makers ever just be honest??:rolleyes: :rolleyes: (Later on he states that the Old Rip 10yr is certainly BT.)

New flash to Kentucky, when the Baby Boomers are all gone, you better start being more honest with consumers, or it will hurt your bottom line.

Buffalo Trace makes about 30 different bourbon brands with multiple expressions within those brands so should Harlen have them all top-of-mind? I don't think so.

craigthom
03-11-2011, 18:13
I listened to it, and I'm not sure he wasn't grouping all the wheated bourbon together, so went he talked about the "10 and 12" being all BT he wasn't talking about Weller.

Not that it matters, because we know no S-W whiskey is that young, unless someone dumped it ten years ago.

I also doubt that Wheatley is involved directly in the selection or bottling of the Van Winkle whiskeys. Julian does that. And, come on, asking him so much about S-W whiskey is like asking an engineer at Ford about how cool the old Dodge Charger was.

I also don't know what message boards the interviewer reads where people argue a lot and spread a lot of disinformation. It's certainly not this one.

I wish he'd pushed on the future Taylor releases. That would have been interesting. They also touched on the regular Taylor bourbon. I would have asked what they are going to use for it once the stock from Beam runs out.

White Dog
03-12-2011, 00:17
Buffalo Trace makes about 30 different bourbon brands with multiple expressions within those brands so should Harlen have them all top-of-mind? I don't think so.

Chuck, yourself, and many on this board can rattle all those products off and speak to them in detail. And you're not on the Sazerac payroll.

But in any event, I was posting after being over-served.:drinking: :drinking: Never a good idea. (Just like right now.:lol: :lol: )

jmpyle
03-12-2011, 09:52
I also don't know what message boards the interviewer reads where people argue a lot and spread a lot of disinformation. It's certainly not this one.


I certainly don't think this board is spreading disinformation, but obviously there's a lot of speculation out there. When speculation comes from informed, intelligent people that know their stuff, it can sometimes be spread as gospel. Many (all over the internet) have speculated about the 15 year old S-W being out. Some have said it's been dumped and held in stainless holding tanks. Contradictions abound around the 15, and Harlen didn't really hesitate to say that it's a mixture of S-W and BT. I haven't heard anyone officially confirm that the 10 and 12 are from one or the other. Harlen confirms they are BT.

Anyway, perhaps disinformation is a strong word and a more appropriate one is "lack of confirmed info". While he clearly didn't have figures in front of him and stumbled over the 10/12 comment, who would know better than the guy in charge of distilling and aging BT products?

David D
03-12-2011, 10:56
Example #1 - this message board indeed (but no real arguing - that's another big site)

http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/showthread.php?t=14926

callmeox
03-12-2011, 12:25
Example #1 - this message board indeed (but no real arguing - that's another big site)

http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/showthread.php?t=14926

Help us out...point out the disinformation in the thread.

David D
03-12-2011, 13:51
The point with that thread is the you have multiple posters who had all been under the impression that something else was the case. One person writes "I remember reading somewhere...". My point on the podcast is that if you spend enough time reading about van winkle whiskies on the internet, you'll find conflicting information from people who thought they had the correct info.

cowdery
03-12-2011, 15:35
That's why it's good that people like you do intelligent, in-depth interviews with people who know what they're talking about, and also with me. :)

snowrs
03-12-2011, 16:06
The point with that thread is the you have multiple posters who had all been under the impression that something else was the case. One person writes "I remember reading somewhere...". My point on the podcast is that if you spend enough time reading about van winkle whiskies on the internet, you'll find conflicting information from people who thought they had the correct info.

Dave I have really enjoye your podcasts so far and hope you keep bringing this quality of guests through. I do hope you spread a bit beyond Whiskey.. but so far you have had excellent guests well maybe with the exception of certain people in this thread :slappin:

David D
03-12-2011, 16:26
Thanks for the support. I'm just happy that people want to listen. I figured since I had the access to these interesting people I could provide an educational service. I talk to most of them about business anyway so why not make those discussions public and let those who are interested join in? I'm trying to make retail more transparent with these media tools. Part of the strategy is to see what people on sites like this are talking about and use that as a starting point (i.e. David Perkins after all the arguing on WDJK about his pioneer award). I do want to branch out to other spirits but I need to get people behind it first and I think whisk(e)y is what most people feel most passionate about. Chuck - you've got the most downloaded episode so far! We need to do part two now!

jmpyle
03-12-2011, 16:47
Help us out...point out the disinformation in the thread.

When you read the thread you get a sense of conflicting info. At least I do. And obviously, we're talking about informed people. Obviously nobody intends to misinform, but that can be the result when folks that know what their are talking about think different things.

jmpyle
03-12-2011, 16:49
Thanks for the support. I'm just happy that people want to listen. I figured since I had the access to these interesting people I could provide an educational service. I talk to most of them about business anyway so why not make those discussions public and let those who are interested join in? I'm trying to make retail more transparent with these media tools. Part of the strategy is to see what people on sites like this are talking about and use that as a starting point (i.e. David Perkins after all the arguing on WDJK about his pioneer award). I do want to branch out to other spirits but I need to get people behind it first and I think whisk(e)y is what most people feel most passionate about. Chuck - you've got the most downloaded episode so far! We need to do part two now!

I think we're all ready for Chuck Cowdery Part II. Make it happen guys.

proof and age
03-13-2011, 18:43
SW has been out of business since the 70's. Love the enthuisiasm, but after listening I wonder why so many are still claiming that there could possibly still be original production in play. HW does a good job as a Master Distiller explaining, but the truth has to sink in at some point.

cowdery
03-13-2011, 19:29
Thanks for the illustration.

SW stopped distilling in 1992.

The Van Winkle family sold SW in 1972.

proof and age
03-13-2011, 19:37
Thanks for the illustration.

SW stopped distilling in 1992.

The Van Winkle family sold SW in 1972.

Under what ownership? Diageo, I believe, or what would eventually become Diageo.

cowdery
03-13-2011, 19:48
Schenley until 1987, then renamed United Distillers, then renamed Diageo so Diageo before it was Diageo (The Big Galoot) after 1987.

So?

People don't drink the owner, they drink the whiskey made at that distillery, which was very, very good to the very, very end, regardless of who owned it.

proof and age
03-13-2011, 19:56
Schenley until 1987, then renamed United Distillers, then renamed Diageo so Diageo before it was Diageo (The Big Galoot) after 1987.

So?

People don't drink the owner, they drink the whiskey made at that distillery, which was very, very good to the very, very end, regardless of who owned it.

I agree to some point, but it is also important to note who was making it and to what specification. Was the SW staff retained? This is the unknown peiod of history for that distillery for most, including myself.
Regardless, it is getting leaner and leaner as far as stocks of whiskey go. We are in the last year or so of it.

cowdery
03-13-2011, 20:09
It's certainly known to many. I was well aware of it when I lived there from 1978-1987, and was there several times when working on my documentary. Ed Foote was the last Master Distiller there. There were never any wholesale changes until Bernheim was built and SW stopped distilling in 92. After that, of course, they had whiskey in the warehouses. Bernheim's wheated bourbon didn't start to be released until late 96 or 97. But of course there's very little SW left, which is the point of this thread (http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/showthread.php?t=14974).

craigthom
03-13-2011, 20:50
I agree to some point, but it is also important to note who was making it and to what specification. Was the SW staff retained? This is the unknown peiod of history for that distillery for most, including myself.
Regardless, it is getting leaner and leaner as far as stocks of whiskey go. We are in the last year or so of it.

Well, OK. I accept that this message board is, in fact, guilty.

You may want to search for messages from bourbonv, who was, I believe (but I could be wrong), employed there as historian.

cowdery
03-13-2011, 23:57
Veach was Assistant Archivist.

jburlowski
03-14-2011, 15:42
The thing about this interview that intrigues me the most is where (about 35:30) Harlen talks about new BT releases coming in April that will especially be a hit with enthusiasts.

Chuck, do your sources give you any hints that you can share about this?

cowdery
03-16-2011, 07:04
The thing about this interview that intrigues me the most is where (about 35:30) Harlen talks about new BT releases coming in April that will especially be a hit with enthusiasts.

Chuck, do your sources give you any hints that you can share about this?

That's all I know but I will be there for the announcement.

They let this (http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/food/does-the-perfect-bourbon-exist/2011/03/01/ABBy9tY_story.html) out to the Washington Post.

Josh
03-16-2011, 12:33
Man, I almost missed this thread and an opportunity to spread misinformation...

I heard that Julian Van Winkle and Mike Veach have been sneaking into S-W at night using Mike's old key from when he was assistant archivist and distilling more wheated bourbon for the Pappy labels. They've been aging it in the woods behind the Old Crow plant which accounts for the woody character of the whiskey.

Also that Diageo has purchased the Old Grand-dad distillery near Hobbs Kentucky and will be using it to produce the new Bulleit Wheat Whiskey, bottled-in-bond.

callmeox
03-16-2011, 12:42
K
Man, I almost missed this thread and an opportunity to spread misinformation...

I heard that Julian Van Winkle and Mike Veach have been sneaking into S-W at night using Mike's old key from when he was assistant archivist and distilling more wheated bourbon for the Pappy labels. They've been aging it in the woods behind the Old Crow plant which accounts for the woody character of the whiskey.

Also that Diageo has purchased the Old Grand-dad distillery near Hobbs Kentucky and will be using it to produce the new Bulleit Wheat Whiskey, bottled-in-bond.

As often as Goole crawls this site for data, I bet you can Google the last paragraph above and get hits already.

Is SB a veritable cornucopia of misinformation? :cool:

Tucker
03-16-2011, 13:01
Is SB a veritable cornucopia of misinformation?
That and the buffoonery (http://spiritsjournal.klwines.com/klwinescom-spirits-blog/2011/2/18/podcast-7-david-d-and-david-og-break-it-down.html). It's not what drew me here, but it's keeping me interested.

I've already placed a call to my contact at Tower for a case of the Bulleit BIB wheater. He said, "I put you on a list" (sure hope it's the right list). Thanks for the tip, Josh.

Josh
03-16-2011, 13:55
That and the buffoonery (http://spiritsjournal.klwines.com/klwinescom-spirits-blog/2011/2/18/podcast-7-david-d-and-david-og-break-it-down.html). It's not what drew me here, but it's keeping me interested.

I've already placed a call to my contact at Tower for a case of the Bulleit BIB wheater. He said, "I put you on a list" (sure hope it's the right list). Thanks for the tip, Josh.

You're welcome, I'm here to serve!

On a more on-topic note (not directed at you Tucker), yes there are threads that are nothing more than people arguing back and forth about what is made where and other such minutia.

But that doesn't mean that there aren't people here who actually do know what they are talking about (not to say that I am one of them). There are a lot of American Whiskey writers, industry insiders and the like who post here regularly. Julian Van Winkle himself posts here on occasion. Just because everyone has an opinion that doesn't make all opinions equal.

David D
03-16-2011, 17:00
You're welcome, I'm here to serve!

On a more on-topic note (not directed at you Tucker), yes there are threads that are nothing more than people arguing back and forth about what is made where and other such minutia.

But that doesn't mean that there aren't people here who actually do know what they are talking about (not to say that I am one of them). There are a lot of American Whiskey writers, industry insiders and the like who post here regularly. Julian Van Winkle himself posts here on occasion. Just because everyone has an opinion that doesn't make all opinions equal.

Agreed. Because SB.com is the most populated whiskey forum on the internet it becomes both the best place to find factual information about whiskey, and also a place where people talk about what they've heard or think. The entire internet itself is a place where everyone is allowed to have their say, and while that's liberating, some people believe that if they read it in print that makes it true.

I love this forum and I love reading what people write, even though I usually refrain from posting. I use sites like this as the foundation to seek out interesting topics for the podcast and for our blog. When we did the podcast about the Van Winkle whiskies I said that I wanted to get the straight answer about things I had read on SB.com and other blogs that seemed to contradict one another. That doesn't constitute an attack on SB.com or on anyone who posts here. It simply means that I want to address the issue and find out what's really going on.

Because most people who post here know a lot about whiskey, it makes it even more surprising when there is not a consensus about something factual and objective, i.e. the amount of Stitzel Weller whiskey in PVW. I'm all for subjective arguing and opinionated responses about perception.

Keep it up everyone

craigthom
03-16-2011, 19:59
That and the buffoonery (http://spiritsjournal.klwines.com/klwinescom-spirits-blog/2011/2/18/podcast-7-david-d-and-david-og-break-it-down.html). It's not what drew me here, but it's keeping me interested.

I've already placed a call to my contact at Tower for a case of the Bulleit BIB wheater. He said, "I put you on a list" (sure hope it's the right list). Thanks for the tip, Josh.

Is that the Tower on Cheshire Bridge? When I was a young man I used to go on spy missions to that store, reading the prices into a hidden tape recorder.

silverfish
03-16-2011, 21:04
I love this forum and I love reading what people write, even though I usually refrain from posting. I use sites like this as the foundation to seek out interesting topics for the podcast and for our blog.


I'd like to say I appreciate your interest and your participation.
The fact that you do check in occasionally shows that you are
interested in the topics discussed and is a welcome addition to
the forum.