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View Full Version : "Straight" vs. "Bonded"



cowdery
01-31-2001, 16:37
A correspondent from the Netherlands wrote me about a statement I made in an article, that "straight whiskey is the product of one distillation at one distillery and is fully aged." He had read in an article that Four Roses is "a blend of 11 different bourbons" and that "straight whiskey means that there aren't any non-bourbons or neutral grain spirits." He noted that one of us must be wrong. I confessed that it is me. Today the rule is "'Straight whisky' includes mixtures of straight whiskies of the same type produced in the same State." That is taken right from the ATF regs. What I don't know is: when did that change? Or did it? I know the requirement for "bottled in bond" is that "the whiskey must be produced in the same distilling season by the same distiller at the same distillery." That too is verbatim from the regs. Maybe that was always the rule for "bond" but never for "straight" and I had the two confused. Does anybody know?

--Chuck Cowdery (http://cowdery.home.netcom.com)

**DONOTDELETE**
01-31-2001, 18:37
I'm pretty sure that was always the case, and that was also the basis of our discussion some time ago, relative to whether Distiller's Masterpiece should be called bourbon. Let me get my finger out of this dike and I'll continue...

Actually, I believe the "bottled in bond" definitions pre-date the "straight whiskey" ones. The former were compiled in 1897 and were very restrictive, as they were oriented toward the quality of the liquor that was being guaranteed. The idea was to create a set of criteria that only the most upstanding, highest-quality distillers could meet. The latter definition, dating from after prohibition, is from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (at that time a part of the Internal Revenue Service), and is mostly oriented at defining liquor classes (of all kinds) for taxibility and marketing purposes.

=John=
http://w3.one.net/~jeffelle/whiskey

Ken Weber
02-01-2001, 07:09
A straight whiskey is one that is at least 51% of a particular grain (a straight rye must include at least 51% rye in the mashbill). It must also be aged for at least 2 years (for it to be a Kentucky Straight Whiskey, it must be aged in Kentucky at least 1 year before it completes its maturation of another year somewhere else). In addition, any combination of straight rye whiskies can be mingled (The use of the term "blended" is confusing) resulting in a straight rye whiskey, however, if one of the mingled whiskies is anything other than a straight rye, the resulting product becomes a blend.
Blends may include up to 80% grain neutral spirits (Crown Royal), plus coloring and taste additives. A straight bourbon whiskey can only have water added. It gets further complicated by us marketing people. We often use terms out of context or that are just plain wrong. And I suppose this practice will continue until someone points out the error and then takes legal action for them to cease and desist.

Ken

cowdery
02-01-2001, 12:34
My mistake. What is interesting about this is that, in a way, bonds are more closely akin to single barrel bourbons than they are to other straights. A bond must still be the product of one season and one distiller at one distillery. A single barrel is that by definition. Most bourbons probably are that by default, but the law allows bourbons from many distilleries, makers and seasons to be mingled together and still called "straight bourbon."

The other interesting thing about bonds is that because they are uniform as to age and proof, they are a great way of comparing one distillery to another. Like a limited class in auto racing, the range of variation is narrowed.

--Chuck Cowdery (http://cowdery.home.netcom.com)

**DONOTDELETE**
02-01-2001, 17:08
It does kind of make you wonder why distilleries today are marketing straight bourbon, at 100 proof, aged within the 2-20 year range allowed for bonded whiskey, and they're *NOT* bonded. Even brands that once WERE bonded. For example, why is Knob Creek not bonded? Supposedly there is a financial benefit for complying with the bonded whiskey laws; you'd think Beam would want to take advantage of that - is it not qualified because it's produced in two distilleries (Boston and Clermont) even though both are owned by the same company? What about Old Grand Dad? I think that's also distilled at both locations. And Heaven Hill is keeping all the bottlings of Old Fitzgerald except one... the classic green label 100-proof botted-in-bond. Oh, I think they ARE continuing to bottle it at 100 proof; just not BIB any longer. Why is that? It's not as though they don't already have several other brands aging in bonded warehouses (Heaven Hill, Dant, Dowling, etc). I think one explanation might be that there is more mixing and mingling going on now than used to be. To tell the truth, with only a handful of bourbon distillers in existance, and all of them first-rate quality, and little chance of anyone starting up a cheap fly-by-night company anymore, I don't think it matters so much if they trade off stock amongst themselves (thus disqualifying them for bonded status). If the likes of Jimmy, Elmer, Gary, Parker, Steve, Julian, Even, or whoever's at David Sherman these days offers me their latest product, I don't care if it's taken from ALL of their warehouses, I know it's going to be special and I know it's going to be good. Well, at least if they don't go flavoring it with mesquite!

=John=
http://w3.one.net/~jeffelle/whiskey

**DONOTDELETE**
02-01-2001, 18:31
John,
The main reason they are not marketing Bonded Bourbons anymore is that the marketing people think we don't want bonded bourbon. It sounds too old fashioned and is not "hip". I think they are stupid, but that is their thinking.
Mike Veach

boone
02-01-2001, 19:55
Hi John,

The Old Fitzgerald green label 100 proof is still Bottled in Bond.

Bettye Jo

**DONOTDELETE**
02-01-2001, 20:39
Actually, I think the SMARTEST way to make and market fine bourbon is to emphasize tradition, distinctive flavor, history, and the lasting values of generations of distillers. Quit trying to appeal to folks who've grown up looking for beverages that taste like fruit juice and concentrate on a small core of enthusiasts (not unlike ourselves, as a matter of fact).

So where does the money come from in order to pay for all this, you ask?

Well, how about fine china or leather bags and briefcases? Fruity premixed cocktails and coolers made with Tennessee whiskey? Why, you could even support restoring a dilapidated but historically important and beloved distillery to pristine condition, outfit it with custom-designed copper pot stills and then use it to make VERY small batches of highly experimental craft bourbon that will probably never pay for itself. You do this, of course, by not mentioning it to your stockholders. Take a look at the July 2000 CEO report for Brown-Forman (http://www.brown-forman.com/b-f_ceo.htm). See their record earnings? See how Jack Daniel's, Southern Comfort, and Lenox all had their best year ever? See all their wines and champagnes, Irish and Scotch? Now run a search on "Labrot". Find anything? Nope. Something like six million dollars to restore the distillery and six years worth of distilling experimental whiskeys and not a single word. Why? Because the investors would probably lynch poor Owsley Brown if they knew he was making all that money to pay for saving a historical landmark from the scrap heap (without even building a profitable theme park next door to it) and making what could be the finest whiskey made in America since the Civil War. For the head of a multinational corporation (even if his family does hold controlling interest in it), that takes real courage, and a real love of bourbon's heritage. Using Creggor's rating phrase system, I'll certainly give a tip of my hat to Owsley Brown II for upholding his own family tradition of dedication to the world of Kentucky bourbon.

Oh, and by the way, Old Forester is still bonded. And old fashioned. And not hip. And one of the best-kept bourbon secrets out there.

=John=
http://w3.one.net/~jeffelle/whiskey

**DONOTDELETE**
02-01-2001, 20:49
Hi Bettye Jo,

When we were at the Bernheim plant we asked Jim Land, the production manager there, why there wasn't a sample bottle of the green-label 100 BIB in the display case with the other bottles and he told us that it was because it wasn't being made anymore. We asked him if he was sure and he said yes. Are you sure? I guess you'd certainly know it if new green label 100 BIB were being bottled (different label; different setup; Hey! Where's that mechanic? BETTYE JO!!). Are you just using up current stock, though? Is any Old Fitzgerald bourbon going INTO bonded warehouses now?

=John=
http://w3.one.net/~jeffelle/whiskey

boone
02-02-2001, 04:42
I always make sure that I know that the answer is correct before I post. I pulled the new label with the DSP 31. It is Bottled in Bond green label Old Fitzgerald.

Hope to see you next week. Trying to work out my schedule. I am training on day shift with the "PRO" mechanic's right now. They are all so very patient and very supportive. The entire plant is cheering me on right now.

Bettye Jo

**DONOTDELETE**
02-02-2001, 05:27
Thanks, Bettye Jo. I'm glad to know one of my favorites is still with us.
And you can bet we're cheering you on, too!

=John=
http://w3.one.net/~jeffelle/whiskey

Ken Weber
02-08-2001, 13:20
OUCH! Mike, I can tell you that during market visits to Louisiana, I have seen bottles of Bonded Old Charter that are at least 5-10 years old. We still produce some bonded whiskey, however, consumers have voted with their pocketbooks and they have migrated away from those 100 proof offerings.

Ken

**DONOTDELETE**
02-08-2001, 16:11
Ken,
Using Old Charter as an example is not a very good way to go. I worked for U.D. during the period that you are talking about (5-10 years ago) and I know that they put little or no money into advertising the brand as a whole. They were letting the brand die a slow death so of course Charter Bond from that era is still going to be on the shelf. What are your figures for AA Bonded? that would be a better example unless yor company was also failing to support the brand. I have heard marketing people at U.D. and B.F. say that "Bonded whiskey is too old Fashioned to sell. It needs to be modern and hip to sell." In my opinion these marketing people were just plain wrong (and some of them at U.D. were Bozos as well).
Mike Veach

**DONOTDELETE**
02-08-2001, 18:43
Don't want to hurt anyone's feelings here, but folks, it's just plain old Machiavellian economics...

Y'see, it costs more to produce Bonded bourbon than it does to produce regular 100-proof and people will buy it anyway. So why bother? In fact, if you dilute it down to 90 proof, you'll save more money than what you'll lose from disgusted soon-to-be-ex-customers. Most won't even know the difference. So let's do that. Of course, there are limits; our marketing experts found that taking it down to 86-proof will lose you more revenue than what you'll save, so you'd better just stop at 90. What a shame we have to deal with a nosy, intrusive federal government that forces us to actually change the labels each time we lower the proof. Life was better in the good old days of freedom from gov'mint oppression.

Is that what people mean when they talk about consumers voting with their pocketbooks?

By the way, does anyone remember what was being said about Sazerac 18yr Rye when it first came out at 90 proof? That would have been AFTER all the reviewers had sampled the original 110-proof version they were expected to write about? That's the version that won all those medals and honors. Search through these very forum pages, folks (that'll be a lot easier now that Jim has redesigned the search defaults. Thanks Jim!)

Dangerous place, the internet; it never forgets.

=John=
http://w3.one.net/~jeffelle/whiskey

**DONOTDELETE**
02-09-2001, 16:21
John,
I agree that economics play a large part in this decision. I still say that Bonded Bourbon can be economically feasable. I would pay extra for a good 8 year old bonded Very Old Fitzgerald and I am sure others would too.
Mike Veach

**DONOTDELETE**
02-09-2001, 16:46
Don't be so sure Mike. I just picked up two bottles of the 12YO Very Special Old Fitzgerald 90 proof for 19 bucks a pop on sale. Why would I want to pay more?

Linn Spencer

Have Shotglass. Will Travel.

**DONOTDELETE**
02-09-2001, 16:54
Linn,
You are comparing oranges and apples. What is the cost of an Old Fitzgerald Bottled in Bond? That is what I was talking about. I would pay $15.00 or $20.00 for a good 8 year old bonded Old Fitzgerald compared to the $10.00 or so for a regular bonded Old Fitzgerald which is about 4 or 5 years old.
Mike Veach

Ken Weber
02-09-2001, 17:02
John,
I am confused, which occurs all too often. However, I have handled the Sazerac Rye from the beginning and as far as I know, it was never 110 proof. Please point me in the right direction among the threads so I can see what you are referring to. I know that the samples sent to John Hansel (Malt Advocate), Paul Pacult, and Wine Enthusiast were all 90 proof.
I agree that our old Elmer T. Lee 110 proof and current Weller Antique (107) have a taste that true bourbon lovers hold dear, unfortunately, the masses have been moving away from high proof spirits. I know that Bookers is barrel strength, but products of this type, though very good, don't sell enough to make them viable in the long run.
If economics determined what we produce, we would not have developed our current 17,18, and 19 year old offerings. In addition, with a shelf price of under $40, obviously making a killing did not enter into the equation. We wanted to present the market with fine old whiskies that we knew the masses would not like, rather, we were simply catering to those who have a great love for whiskey.

Ken
PS. No feelings hurt here. And I do understand where you are coming from.

**DONOTDELETE**
02-09-2001, 17:08
Mike,
If Linn is comparing oranges with apples, you are comparing them with grapefruit. The question isn't whether 8-year-old bonded bourbon is better than 4-year-old -- of course it is. But just how much more would an 8-year-old 100-proof BONDED bourbon cost than an 8-year-old 100 proof not-bonded one? On the surface, nothing. In fact, there's a tax-deferment on the bonded product. But since the unbonded one doesn't need to meet the more stringent requirements of bonding, they can get away with using CHEAPER WHISKEY. That's the only real difference, and that's what seems to be happening more and more.

=John=
http://w3.one.net/~jeffelle/whiskey

**DONOTDELETE**
02-09-2001, 17:17
So Ken if I read you right what you are saying here is that businessmen do on occasion act in ethical ways to build their businesses, are not purely diven by greed and do so of their own volition and not by government edict? Do you realize that you're setting a *GOOD* example? Egads man! You tear the heart and soul out of the "Bigger government is better government" argument! GOOD WORK SIR!

Linn Spencer

Have Shotglass. Will Travel.

**DONOTDELETE**
02-09-2001, 17:26
How can it be cheaper John? The whiskey in a bottle of Blanton's comes off the same stills at the same rate of labor as does Benchmark. Ken Weber stated that it costs "a few dollars a liter" to produce. Your argument is empty.

Linn Spencer

Have Shotglass. Will Travel.

**DONOTDELETE**
02-09-2001, 18:53
Linn,

(1) Single barrels, by definition, exceed the requirements for bonded whiskey. No fair using Blanton's as an example.

(2) Bonded whiskey has to be from a single distiller and produced in a single year (actually a single half-year). Non-bonded whiskey can be from different years, and even from different distillers. What do you think happens to all these barrels of product that are bought and sold among the distilleries? Is there a new label created for every small sale? No, of course not. They're all dumped together and bottled. That can't happen in a bonded warehouse. *ONLY* with bonded whiskey (and single barrels, of course) can you be assured of where the whiskey came from.

(3) My argument is solid as a rock. It doesn't take a saint to make or sell really great bourbon, and in many cases those who have done so weren't.

=John=
http://w3.one.net/~jeffelle/whiskey

**DONOTDELETE**
02-10-2001, 10:27
Well San Jaun you do got that right! So what if other investors did know about L&G? What are they going to do? Sell their shares in a first rate profitable company? A company that makes money no matter what the market as a whole is doing? Those that really understand what makes America great would only buy more while the price was down. Can we invite Owsley Brown II to our fun raiser?

Linn Spencer

Have Shotglass. Will Travel.

**DONOTDELETE**
02-10-2001, 10:35
No I'm not Mike! I'm comparing the same damn bourbon to each other! Why in hell would I want to pay more for an an 8 year old when I can get a 12 year old for less????? I tired the OF BIB last year in Kentucky. Good but not great. The 12 YO VSOF is a great bourbon. Why in the world would you think that I or anyone would pay more for a lesser product?

Linn Spencer

Have Shotglass. Will Travel.

cowdery
02-10-2001, 15:26
I came back here to the top of the page to reiterate why I started this thread. What I find really interesting about this is that there are only two ways to get a bourbon that you know was "produced in the same distilling season by the same distiller at the same distillery." One is to buy a single barrel bourbon, the other is to buy a bonded bourbon.

Bonds, per se, have not been an enthusiast product but by that argument, they should be.

--Chuck Cowdery (http://cowdery.home.netcom.com)

**DONOTDELETE**
02-10-2001, 22:40
Ken, first of all please forgive me for not answering right away. You posted your message just about the same time I was writing an answer to Mike. I posted and went on to the next topic and never noticed that your message had slipped in. Once you leave a topic, all the /wwwthreads/images/new.gif signs disappear even if you didn't read all the messages. If Linda hadn't pointed it out I'd have never known.

Most of the discussion, and the references to the 110-proof version, can be found (not surprisingly) in the RYE forum. I've quoted a few edited messages here as samples. I should point out that the general gist of the discussion was that the 90-proof was excellent and maybe better than the higher proof, but there WAS indeed a higher proof originally released to the media.

In your message you said, "...If economics determined what we produce, we would not have developed our current 17,18, and 19 year old offerings. In addition, with a shelf price of under $40, obviously making a killing did not enter into the equation. We wanted to present the market with fine old whiskies that we knew the masses would not like, rather, we were simply catering to those who have a great love for whiskey."

I couldn't agree with you more. Those points are not wasted on those of us who love fine bourbon and who hold a deep respect for Buffalo Trace for doing that. And for others who recognize our interests. But your points are also in direct opposition to what you said about customers voting with their pocketbooks. Sazerac isn't taking a bath on these brands. Quite the contrary -- the entire line is sparkling with the amount of publicity they're generating. Nor is Buffalo Trace alone in this. Heaven Hill's Elijah Craig and Evan Williams Single Barrels are another example. Julian Van Winkle's wonderful 15-year-old and Even Kulsveen's Johnny Drum of the same age retail for even less. None of these fine folks are losing money by selling us the liquor we want.

While it may be true that pocketbook voters in America won't tolerate the sort of prices the Japanese must endure, if we're given a quality product for a reasonable price we'll buy it. As you pointed out to Linn, the difference in production cost between 90- and 100-proof bourbon is negligible; there's already more variation in retail price from store to store than that, so pocketbook voting can't be a factor there. And MY point was that, if the quality of the whiskey were really the same, 100-proof BONDED bourbon would be (slightly) more profitable, due to tax deferral, than non-BONDED. But note that I said "if the quality of the whiskey were really the same". I don't think the pocketbook-carrying public made the decision at all; I think accounts with entirely too much authority (or more likely CEOs with entirely too much investor-orientation) has made that decision for us, based on the principle that we'll still buy the product even it isn't the best the distillery is capable of producing.

In the case of Sazerac Rye (and the other two as well), I think the question of bonding is moot -- these were never bonded to begin with and their ownership history is far too compicated. So really the bonded vs non-bonded issue doesn't apply to them. I only brought it up to show that enthusiasts *DO* care about a few proof points difference and some of those who are paid to help shape consumer opinion are quite vocal about it.

I'm glad you took no offense; I certainly meant none -- especially to you. Looking forward to seeing you on Friday.

=John=

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Subject Re: Pleasant Surprise!
Posted by jvanwinkle
Posted on 11/6/99 12:14 PM

Lew,
I also tried the 18-year Rye. I found it close to my 13-year rye. Mashbill seems to be similar. It was over 100 proof as sampled, and I thought mine came off quite a bit smoother(of course I would)...

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Subject That 18 YO Rye from Buffalo Trace
Posted by LewBryson
Posted on 1/15/00 1:36 PM

More dirt on this fabulous whiskey; some good news, some not-so.
First, it will be out in the Spring, and labeled as SAZERAC RYE...
The good news: available nationwide, not just in KY.
The not-so-good news: They've decided to knock it back to 90 proof, instead of the 110 we sampled at WhiskyFest. I'm not a fiend for high proof whiskey, but when something is THAT SMOOTH and good at high proof, it does not seem smart to me to dilute it.

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Subject MA review of Sazerac Rye
Posted by Bushido
Posted on 4/14/00 07:16 AM

Lew and all,

As you can no doubt fathom, I am a little peeved about the whole marketing thing with the Sazerac Rye. Does anyone else feel that the publication of tasting notes for the Sazerac Rye in MA are just a tad misleading? Granted, I have absolutely no problem with the content of the review nor do I resent publication of tasting notes for whiskies which are not generally available to the public.

However, in this case we have an advert at the front of the magazine announcing the imminent arrival of the Sazerac Rye, in its sadly diluted form, and a review of a different whiskey (the full cask strength version) with the same name in the back...

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Subject Re: MA review of Sazerac Rye
Posted by Bushido
Posted on 4/19/00 08:30 AM

Not receiving a reply here, I went to the horse's mouth, so to speak. John [Hansell, of Malt Advocate Magazine] assured me it was a typo and the result of having samples (and reviews) of both the full strength and watered down versions in the office at the same time. The review in MA is for the watered down version soon to be in stores (in Kentucky).

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Subject Re: Sazerac Rye
Posted by Bushido
Posted on 11/10/00 05:58 AM

I tasted the "dilute" version which will be on sale to the public at WhiskyFest last week. It is, in a word, fan-freakin'-tastic.

************************************************** *****

=John=
http://w3.one.net/~jeffelle/whiskey

**DONOTDELETE**
02-11-2001, 06:22
Chuck when we look at the upper end of the market at non single barrel bottlings such as Woodford Reserve; Russell's Reserve, Knob Creek, and Very Special Old Fitzgerald how would making then Bottled In Bond make them any better than they already are?

Linn Spencer

Have Shotglass. Will Travel.

**DONOTDELETE**
02-11-2001, 11:17
Linn, please excuse me for jumping in here (I know you're mainly looking for Chuck's response), but I think you've come up with at least one good example in Woodford Reserve and I don't want to let it slip by...

Woodford Reserve Distiller's Select, as you know, *can't* be sold Bottled-in-Bond because it was not made at the Labrot & Graham distillery. It may be (and certainly is) a very high-quality bourbon, but for BIB purposes it might just as well have been purchased from Heaven Hill's bulk stock. And, wonderful as it may be, when the copper pot-still, tiny-batch, hand-crafted version from L&G's own stills is bottled, only bottles filled with that one alone will be able to be Bottled-in-Bond. Of course, the more important part of the BIB thing isn't covered by this example, since all the versions we're talking about here are excellent. But you should note that, even though no one specifically claimed anything deceptive, for five years now less-informed customers than ourselves have been buying Distiller's Select bourbon which they believed was made at the Labrot & Graham distillery. And unless the new bourbon from Labrot & Graham is bonded, you really aren't going to know if your bottle contains only that product or maybe only 10% L&G and 90% Old Forester (and yes, I certainly HOPE I'm exaggerating for effect here).

I don't mean to sound like a preacher with this. I'm an appreciator of fine bourbon, and all these whiskeymakers produce fine bourbon. I feel there may a bit more deception practiced throughout the industry than is necessary, but I don't really hold that against anyone. I *DON'T*, however, see any particular need to pretend it doesn't happen.

=John=
http://w3.one.net/~jeffelle/whiskey

**DONOTDELETE**
02-11-2001, 11:31
Thank you so much John for making my point more clear. Woodford Reserve does not meet the criteria to be "Bottled In Bond". So what. How would that make it any better?

Linn Spencer

Have Shotglass. Will Travel.

**DONOTDELETE**
02-11-2001, 12:38
"... Thank you so much John for making my point more clear. Woodford Reserve does not meet the criteria to be 'Bottled In Bond'. So what. How would that make it any better?"

Linn, I don't want to carry this further in the forum because I don't want to get people into a brawl over cheating and dishonesty and a bunch of stuff that really isn't all that important. That's why I'm sending this private.

You and I are talking about different things. I have no argument with you that being bonded doesn't make the whiskey any better. I never did disagree with you over that. What I mean is that being bonded requires a level of honesty that (frankly) most distillers would prefer to avoid today. Advertising Woodford Reserve as if it were made at Labrot & Graham when it isn't is not really "lying"; the ads never come right out and say it was made there. But the clear intention is to fool the customer into thinking he's buying one thing and then selling him something else. If you ordered a glass of Russell's Reserve and they brought you a glass of scotch and said "Here's your Russell's Reserve, sir", you'd be righteously pissed. Even if it was outstanding scotch.

I could give more examples. All the distilleries do it. You're smart and I know you know this is happening.

They trade product back and forth, and then put their own name on it and treat it as if there's no difference between MAKING it and OWNING it.

Some establish a reputation with an 8-year-old bourbon, identified with a big "8 Years" on the label, and then switch to a cheaper 6-year-old and change the label only slightly to "No. 8 Brand".

Some make a big deal of the fact that when this small batch of 18-year-old rye is gone there will be no more -- but neglect to mention that there is plenty of 17-year-old that will be 18 next year. And 16-year-old for the year after that, and so forth, just like any other product. In fact, that particular batch of 18-year-old was ONLY released to media and special contacts. The product didn't go on sale to the public for a year later, when the much larger 17-year-old had become 18. Check the dates on the postings.

Some talk about baking loaves of bread to find just the right yeast, when both the mash recipe and the yeast was given to them by another distillery -- twice, since they ruined it the first time.

Some, when they run out of the excellent rye-style bourbon they purchased from a defunct distillery's stock, simply begin bottling a 20-year-old version of their other, wheat-style bourbon without changing the label at all, and without any hint that the prizes and awards they tout were given to a completely different bourbon than what you'll find in the bottle you just forked over $75 bucks for. Not that the whiskey you get out of that bottle isn't outstanding -- it is -- but it isn't the bourbon you chose to spend your money on. And if you don't like wheaters, you might not like it at all.

The list could go on and on.

I'm really not condemning these people. It's just the sizzle. I feel better if they'll come clean when questioned directly, and some have, but I wouldn't expect them to do that in a public forum. That's why I don't want to push it there. Many (maybe even most) readers would not be able to enjoy a fine bourbon if they felt the distillery was less than perfectly honest. I don't really know why. We don't expect car salesmen or manufacturers to be that way. Nor stereo dealers, either (otherwise there'd be no need to replace that 1968 amplifier that was 100% accurate at every frequency from 20 to 22K). Maybe it's because bourbon is a food product, I dunno. As far as I'm concerned its just the sizzle. But I think pursuing it will only make people feel uncomfortable and defensive, and I don't want to do that.

For our own purposes, I agree with you that bonding bourbon doesn't make it any higher quality than unbonded. Will you agree with me that bonding bourbon does help to guarantee that you're really getting what you think you're buying?

=John=
http://w3.one.net/~jeffelle/whiskey

Creggor
02-11-2001, 14:00
Hello, John. Thanks so much for your insight it's right to the point and probably very acurate.It has got me to wondering. Am I getting what I am paying for or getting something else.. Oh well, No need to loose sleep over something I have no control over. Until I decide to buy or not buy the product again. That I guess is how I can send my message to the distillers. I agree bonding make not make a product any better but as you mentioned it assures you are getting what your paying for. Creggor.

**DONOTDELETE**
02-11-2001, 16:03
Sure thing John I agree that bonding makes those things certain. You know exactly where the bourbon came from and where it was bottled. We agree that bonding dosen't make the bourbon any better. I've been playing the devil's advocate just for that very reason so the you Mike and Chuck would show logically that there is a reasonable amount of demand for BIB's and why.
Most of the bourbons that I drink would easily qualify, and those that don't could with small alterations met the requirements. Just don't ask me to pay more for it.

Linn Spencer

Have Shotglass. Will Travel.

cowdery
02-12-2001, 08:34
"Better" is subjective. I'm talking about something objective. It doesn't necessarily make the whiskey better, much like single-barreling, but the "bond" designation provides assurance that what you are drinking is a pure expression of the distiller's art, not the blender's.

--Chuck Cowdery (http://cowdery.home.netcom.com)

**DONOTDELETE**
02-12-2001, 10:41
Just so! Now you're getting to the point! As I told John elsewhere in this thread I've been playing the devil's advocate on this issue hoping to get a logical explanation for why bonding is important to the consumer. Consumer awareness eventually will drive the market. Your three sentances have said more than the hundred already written.I've agreed with y'all all along and hope I haven't been too irritating.

Linn Spencer

Have Shotglass. Will Travel.

cowdery
02-12-2001, 13:57
Linn,

Irritating maybe, but never too irritating.

--Chuck Cowdery (http://cowdery.home.netcom.com)

jbutler
02-12-2001, 14:58
Linn irritates the livin sh&% out of me, but I still love him ;-)

Cheers,

Jim Butler
Straightbourbon.com

**DONOTDELETE**
02-12-2001, 19:42
I only do it to provoke thought. Like the grain of sand in an oyster that irritates it into producing a pearl, so do I likewise in helping produce the pearls of wisdom found here on this forum.

Linn Spencer

Have Shotglass. Will Travel.

**DONOTDELETE**
02-12-2001, 20:13
Linn, irritating as you can be at times, yours often ARE the pearls of wisdom around here.

=John=
http://w3.one.net/~jeffelle/whiskey

Ken Weber
02-19-2001, 14:52
John,
Actually I agree with many of the points you are making here. We are not going to loose money on the Antique Collection, however, if Sazerac had shareholders, they would be sorely disappointed with the ROI on the entire line. The bottom line is that we wanted the Weller 19 to get good reviews and hope that the rest of the brand (Special Reserve, 107, Centennial) would benefit from a "halo effect". Certainly the 19 year old is the subjective best of the lot, but I think the other brands are outstanding in the niche they occupy. As for the 110 proof versions that were tasted at the Bourbon Festival, they were experimental. No one from Buffalo Trace should have said that they would be released at barrel proof. I have also checked with John Hansel and he has confirmed that the products he scored were in fact 90 proof. I now understand the confusion. If we gave him 110 proof and used the score for our 90 proof, that is tantamount to lying. I can understand your outrage. Also, as an FYI, for the next 3-5 years, our yearly production of 17, 18, and 19 year old whiskies will remain in short supply. Afterwards, the supply will increase as each year goes by.

As it pertains to bonded whiskey, your point is very well made. We made wheated whiskey for other distilleries long before we marketed any under one of our brand names. The Weller 19 could have been made by us or by UDV, I honestly don't know. We have long produced award winning bourbons for other people, however, we have decided that it is in our best interest to withdrawl from this arena and market those same bourbons under our own brand names.

Finally, the bonded issue. Bottles of BIB product are languishing on the shelves. In the 1980s, there was a move to lighter bourbons. While at Brown-Forman, I was acquainted with Frost 8/80. This clear bourbon was a tremendous flop, however, it was created because consumers were demanding lighter, lower calorie products. You and I both know that consumers can add water to barrel strength whiskey to make it whatever strength they want. The reality is that the majority of people want you to do it for them. This may be offensive to our fellow Bourbonians, since they do NOT follow the crowd.

I look forward to visiting with you and Linda this Friday. I also look forward to discussing in greater detail the many topics that have come up over the year. Too often it is difficult to fully explain one's ideas and positions via short notes on the board.

Ken

cowdery
02-20-2001, 10:01
While at Brown-Forman, I was acquainted with Frost 8/80.

When I was calling on Brown-Forman, you knew you were in trouble if the subject of Frost 8/80 was even raised. It usually meant they were going to compare what you were proposing with Frost, which meant it was not going to happen. I'm not sure when that product was sold, probably in the 60s (certainly before my time there), but its failure and the lessons learned from that experience continued to be part of the company's culture for a long time thereafter.

--Chuck Cowdery (http://cowdery.home.netcom.com)

**DONOTDELETE**
02-20-2001, 19:32
Hi Ken,

Actually, I think the Sazerac rye managed to slip out from under the covers quite awhile before the others did (it was being mentioned in publications nearly a year before the public release of all three). At that time, the writers spoke of it as a product to be released "sometime in the future". I don't think it was bottled yet; they may have been tasting samples directly from the barrel for all I know. Anyway, it wasn't I who was expressing "outrage"; I was only pointing out how passionately some members felt. Frankly, I feel everyone on the forum's missed the boat on the how WELL the three whiskey's were packaged for bourbon enthusiasts, especially new ones. Having a wheat bourbon, a rye bourbon, and a full rye, all in essentially identical packaging, all at similar (and advanced) age, all at the exact same reasonable price, and ALL AT THE SAME PROOF invites just the sort of comparisons a bourbonhead would WANT a "newbie" to make. A set of all three (isn't it cute that they all just happen to come in cases of three bottles?) makes an outstanding gift for someone starting out on the learning trail. Heck, maybe BT should package them up as a "right of passage" gift for twenty-one-year-olds.

By the way, I've recently come upon some examples that have, shall we say, lessened my conviction that Bottled-In-Bond is any kind of quality indicator. I decided to fill a small shelf with Heaven Hill bottlings. Heaven Hill makes some of the most outstanding bourbon available, but it bottles it as Evan Williams and Elijah Craig, and sells it to marketers who bottle in under many other names. For some reason, what it bottles under its own name is far below that quality. Your own company used to do the same thing, with just about all of your bourbons being far higher quality that regular Ancient Age. Beam does it, too. What is this, some kind of weird bourbon tradition? Anyway, for those outside of Kentucky who may not be familiar with them, there are about half a dozen different bottlings of Heaven Hill, three of which are 100-proof Bottled-in-Bond, and all of which are as close to awful as I can remember ever tasting. So now I'll agree that BIB doesn't necessarily mean good, and maybe the public perception is the result of that; but it still seems like that perception has been intentionally induced by the bourbonmakers.

We are very much looking forward to Friday.

=John=
http://w3.one.net/~jeffelle/whiskey

**DONOTDELETE**
02-21-2001, 11:10
Ken,

You know this whole bottled in bond thing is to somehow enforce some modicum of honesty in the marketplace. It does not make the bourbon any better. It really does not make liers tell the truth. Those that would tell the largest lies do so with a donkey's tail at their backs. The bourbon is the bourbon is the bourbon. No mater how many lies are told or how honest the distiller may be * Blanton's* always tastes damn good! Tell all the lies you like, just don't change a thing! *But don't charge me for them*!!

Linn Spencer

Have Shotglass. Will Travel.

Creggor
02-21-2001, 15:40
Hello, John. I must agree with you on the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection. In a mbx to Ken Weber I told ken I had in my hands a bottle of his Hancock Presidents Reserve and but the bottle back on the shelf and took another bottle of the 19yr Weller back to Florida wwith me. Since back here I have had the opportunity to try all 3 of there Whiskeys and it was indeed a wonderfull treat if not a passage for me. I would love to see them in the future maybe try and market a git box with one of each in them. Since trying these I have placed additional orders for these items and look foward to future bottlings. There new Eagle Rare 10yr Single Barrel will also be in the arian wine bottle. Mine arrived here in Florida today and I will get them tomorrow. Hope you like yours. I look foward to reading about your visit to Buffalo Trace. Creggor

broray
02-28-2001, 03:35
According to what I was reading on the history of whiskey, from ecarta, your first statement was right. A blend of whiskeys from the same distillery and the same production time is considered legal. It makes sense when you think about it. It would be the same thing if you were cooking your own version of spaggetti and you blended your own spices, but it is still called spagetti and it your own version, produced at your own time and it is still called spagetti. I am a novice and really have no business tying to give advice. This is stricly an opinion and a comment. Forgive me of my lack of knowledge.


The Man from Missouri

**DONOTDELETE**
01-21-2002, 15:47
I just thought that I'd bump this thread because it is pertinente to the Single Barrel Henry McKenna Bottled In Bond discussion.

Linn Spencer

Have Shotglass. Will Travel.

cowdery
01-22-2002, 11:58
I just completed an article about bonds for Malt Advocate, which I guess will be published in April. It may clear up a few things.

<A target="_blank" HREF=http://cowdery.home.netcom.com>--Chuck Cowdery</A>

**DONOTDELETE**
01-22-2002, 15:49
Good! I'm glad to hear it Chuck. The latest issue of Malt Advocate was a flat out disapointment. No Chuck Cowdery article!

The Regans have a regular column entitled 'American Spirit'. I have yet to read where they have actually written anything on an American whiskey in this space. Gary's latest foray into the absurdity of the teaspoon universe is amusing, but that's not an article on American whiskey.

I'm going to suggest to John Hansel that he would better serve mankind if that column belonged to you.

Linn Spencer

Have Shotglass. Will Travel.

cowdery
01-23-2002, 15:21
Please don't hassle Hansell on my account.

Unfortunately, I suspect the overall audience for the magazine is probably 45% interested in scotch, 45% interested in beer and 10% interested in American Whiskey, so the fact that they cover it at all is to be commended.

<A target="_blank" HREF=http://cowdery.home.netcom.com>--Chuck Cowdery</A>

**DONOTDELETE**
01-23-2002, 17:25
No Chuck I intend to hassle Hansell because his magazine has largely been a waste of my money. This is information he needs to know. If anyone else has been disappointed in the Malt Advocate this is a good time to clue John Hansell in. For those of you that may be thinking about subscribing I recomend you hold off until the magazine improves.

Linn Spencer

Have Shotglass. Will Travel.

**DONOTDELETE**
06-06-2002, 19:49
Here's a bump for DeWanzo!

Linn Spencer

Have Shotglass. Will Travel.

DeWanzo
06-06-2002, 20:10
Thanks! My Bourbon education is progessing smoothly.
I thought the Bonded 100 proof might mean 'slow down you, 86 proof lightweight'
thanks again
signed
DeWanzo

Blackkeno
06-06-2002, 22:35
I don't have a bonded bourbon. Which do you think is the best?

cowdery
06-07-2002, 08:10
Bonds are not necessarily better, but they do provide a particular experience. You know what a single barrel bourbon is. Think of a bond as a single batch bourbon. The distiller can't improve it by adding bourbons from other batchs that may add different, desirable characteristics. Like a single barrel, it is what it is.

I wrote an article about this for Malt Advocate that should be coming out shortly. The value of bonds is that they show us what the distiller can accomplish without recourse to any kind of blending.

Old Grand-Dad bond is the most widely available and most popular bonded bourbon. I'm personally very fond of the Old Fitzgerald Bond. The 10-year-old Henry McKenna and Rock Hill Farms are both bonds, but they are also single barrel so, in a way, they don't count. A single barrel is, by definition, the product of a single distillery, distiller and season. A bond like OGD gives you that without going all the way to single barrel.

<A target="_blank" HREF=http://cowdery.home.netcom.com>--Chuck Cowdery</A>

texascarl
06-07-2002, 08:43
Chuck just mentioned the two bonded bourbons I was going to recommend. I can make it even simpler...the OGD BIB is a great bonded bourbon if you like spicy rye, the Old Fitz BIB is the bonded bourbon to try if you like the smoother wheated style. (And if you live where you can get it, try David Nicholson 1843 BIB, wheat/rye aside)

MurphyDawg
06-20-2002, 20:35
Do they have to tell you what distillery they are from to be bonded, or do you just have to be happy knowing it is from just one?


TomC

bobbyc
06-21-2002, 06:31
That's a good question Tom and I don't know the answer. Chuck no doubt will. I do know they have all sorts of names they call themselves as they are making different products . For instance HH calls itself Old Evan Williams , at least on the bottle when making that brand but is HH otherwise. JimBeam uses Clear Springs Distilling Company sometimes. This is only on the bottles they don't go as far as changing the signs on the sides of the buildings, and I suppose they don't change their letterhead either. Gary & Mardee Regan go in to this a bit somewhere in their book. back in the old days when there were more players in the game as it were and a bunch of contract distilling going on , at some point they started making signs and if you could afford to take the whole days run they would place a placard with your name on it and call the distillery that for the day ,week ,or month. They also referred to this as the shingle business. Where someone would own their own labels and have an outlet for whiskey but not own their own distillery .

Bobby Cox

cowdery
06-21-2002, 08:46
Tom wrote: "Do they have to tell you what distillery they are from to be bonded?" Nope. They have to tell the government, but they don't have to tell us.

"...or do you just have to be happy knowing it is from just one?" Yep.


<A target="_blank" HREF=http://cowdery.home.netcom.com>--Chuck Cowdery</A>

cowdery
06-21-2002, 08:49
I don't think they still change the shingles, but I think they do have to legally register their dba ("doing business as") names.

<A target="_blank" HREF=http://cowdery.home.netcom.com>--Chuck Cowdery</A>

OneCubeOnly
07-07-2004, 17:59
While at Brown-Forman, I was acquainted with Frost 8/80.

When I was calling on Brown-Forman, you knew you were in trouble if the subject of Frost 8/80 was even raised. It usually meant they were going to compare what you were proposing with Frost, which meant it was not going to happen. I'm not sure when that product was sold, probably in the 60s (certainly before my time there), but its failure and the lessons learned from that experience continued to be part of the company's culture for a long time thereafter.



I was going to start a new thread asking what the deal was with Frost 8/80, but found this by searching first. I had never heard of the stuff, but ran across an advertisement for it in a March 1972 magazine. Clear bourbon! How did it taste!?

cowdery
07-07-2004, 23:57
I don't know. I just know it was Brown-Forman's Edsel. For all I know, it haunts them still.

OneCubeOnly
07-08-2004, 07:06
I'm assuming this was B-F's attempt to capture a share of the clear spirits boom...I just wonder what barrel-aged bourbon could possibly taste like after it's been filtered clear!!?!

I suppose it's easy in retrospect to guess why Frost was such a failure--people that pour the clear stuff aren't exactly looking for aged whiskey taste!

boone
07-08-2004, 07:39
Hi Gary,

I have a article about Heaven Hill trying a new venture...lots of rumors have circulated with this story. It was a attempt for a "light" bourbon...

I will try to find it and post it here for you.

http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif Bettye Jo http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif

OneCubeOnly
07-08-2004, 20:15
I have a article about Heaven Hill trying a new venture...lots of rumors have circulated with this story. It was a attempt for a "light" bourbon...

I will try to find it and post it here for you.



Awesome! I'd be interested to see if it's "light" meaning clear vs. "light" meaning lighter-tasting. I wish I could have tried this Frost stuff...I suppose it'd only be a step or two above corn whiskey!?

Thanks Bettye Jo! http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif

boone
07-09-2004, 05:57
Here it is http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif...

http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif Bettye Jo http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif

cowdery
07-09-2004, 11:34
Is the date on that article 1963 or 1968? It's hard to tell.

Yes, "Light Whiskey" was a bit of a fiasco. If it had caught on at all, it would have faced another more subtle problem, which is the fact that "light" was coming to mean reduced calorie, which this product was not. It was lighter in color, body and taste, but contained a full portion of alcohol and, therefore, calories.

The worst part about light whiskey was that it wasn't a product that could be made with exisiting equipment. It required a fairly expensive capital investment. I would bet that when the HH distillery burned down, that equipment was still sitting there unusued.

Mark Brown of Buffalo Trace told me a story about touring the place one day with Elmer Lee. They came across what appeared to be an unusued column still. Mark asked about it and Elmer replied, with barely concealed contempt, that it was the still for making light whiskey. Mark, being the good businessman, asked if it could be used for anything else. Elmer replied, again with barely concealed contempt, "I guess you could make vodka with it."

And thus Rain Vodka was born.

boone
07-09-2004, 12:09
It's 1968...The article is from The Kentucky Standard.

http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif Bettye Jo http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif

tlsmothers
07-09-2004, 16:37
That's a great story! I love selling the Rain at LeNell's so I'll have to remember this. When Light Bourbon goes flop...fabulous vodka!