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jrobidoux
11-29-2011, 15:11
Why the lack of age statement and other distinguishing marketing for many of the bourbon products in what must be the 4 to 7 year old range. I'm thinking Evan Williams Black, McAfee's Benchmark, Ancient Age, Virginia Gentleman, Rebel Yell, Four Roses Yellow, Jim Beam White; it seems to me that to a casual observer (something I considered myself until recently) there is very little to distinguish any one of these products from the others. (I know Rebel Yell is a wheater, but does it say that on the bottle? Not sure). Anyway, wouldn't throwing something up on the websites of these brands such as where they age in the rick house, or how the barrels are selected, or something about the mash bill, or how old they generally are, or something, anything, be beneficial? I don't know, maybe this only bothers me.....

trumpstylz
11-29-2011, 15:21
I know evan williams averages around 5.5 years.

Mcaffee's is probably right at 4 years

AaronWF
11-29-2011, 21:14
My take on it is that these bottom-shelfers are mostly made to please the drinkers who don't think much about what they drink. Why should the brand owners go through the trouble of elucidating their product's points when the consumer they have in mind won't appreciate it? Any communication of facts connected to a brand is a marketing cost, so it makes economic sense for a brand owner to spare any extraneous facts, but for by law. Unless, of course, the facts are a selling point.

For these bottom-shelfers, price is the selling point.

jrobidoux
11-30-2011, 07:47
My thinking is that even though this is admittedly relatively cheap stuff, you still want the consumer trolling the bottom shelf to understand that this isn't just vodka with brown food coloring. Most consumers probably aren't aware of what it is legally required to label something "Straight Bourbon Whiskey", but you still went to the trouble of having the stuff sit around in a barrell for four years and everything else, why not embellish it?

p_elliott
11-30-2011, 08:35
My take on it is that these bottom-shelfers are mostly made to please the drinkers who don't think much about what they drink. Why should the brand owners go through the trouble of elucidating their product's points when the consumer they have in mind won't appreciate it? Any communication of facts connected to a brand is a marketing cost, so it makes economic sense for a brand owner to spare any extraneous facts, but for by law. Unless, of course, the facts are a selling point.

For these bottom-shelfers, price is the selling point.

I wouldn't say this when talking about Evan Williams Black, they are the #2 selling bourbon behind JBW. They have a fairly extensive website and do advertise accordingly.

thezenone
11-30-2011, 12:21
After reading various articles on this subject and board debates, my opinion is because if they put an age on the bottle the uninitiated would buy the bottle with the highest number and no other information. They would assume older is better. After buying a 24 year old bottle of scotch for my 30th birthday that was not as good as Glenfiddich 12, I can definitively say that age is not everything. If they (they probably being people who don't know much about whiskey and are buying for someone else) see a bottle of no age statement Buffalo Trace and see the bottle of Johnnie Walker Black 12, they will probably go for the Johnnie Walker. I'd rather the distillery focus on being consistent with the product, and maintaining a flavor profile that I enjoy than to age it longer for more "prestige."

thezenone
11-30-2011, 12:27
Guess I hit reply too soon lol. The above being said, it would be nice to have some information on the back label as to age range, as well as an indication of the whiskey being a wheater, etc. I think that the reasoning is mostly marketing related. I don't know why they wouldn't put the information on something like the BTAC or Van Winkle lines which are aimed more at connoisseurs but the premium price will probably still attract someone buying a nice gift for someone.

jrobidoux
11-30-2011, 13:32
Thezenone, your point about the less informed simply veering towards whatever bottle has the highest age displayed makes a lot of sense. If you are Evan Williams Black, you wouldn't want to be upstaged in this way by an inferior bourbon that just happens to technically be six months to a year older or whatever. I would still like it though if they would do what Old Crow Reserve does and surreptitiously state somewhere on the label that the bourbon is in fact aged a "full four years", or whatever the case may be.

An age statement is only one thing you can use to differentiate your bourbon though. There must be something unique in the production processes of all these bourbons that somehow sets them apart from their peers, no?

Flyfish
11-30-2011, 14:45
Thezenone, your point about the less informed simply veering towards whatever bottle has the highest age displayed makes a lot of sense. If you are Evan Williams Black, you wouldn't want to be upstaged in this way by an inferior bourbon that just happens to technically be six months to a year older or whatever. I would still like it though if they would do what Old Crow Reserve does and surreptitiously state somewhere on the label that the bourbon is in fact aged a "full four years", or whatever the case may be.

An age statement is only one thing you can use to differentiate your bourbon though. There must be something unique in the production processes of all these bourbons that somehow sets them apart from their peers, no?

Then, of course, there are quite respectable bourbons that result from mingling not just different mash recipes but different years. How old is the bourbon in that bottle of Four Roses Yellow Label? It is a combination of two mash bills and five different yeast strains plus distillate from different years that may run from five to ten years old. There can actually be 14 different bourbons in one bottle of FRYL. So, how do you explain all of that in four words or less that will fit on the label and mean something to the casual customer?

Flyfish
12-01-2011, 09:11
Addendum to my last post: Is not WT 101 a mingling of 6, 8, and 10 year old juice? How do you put an age statment on that?

jrobidoux
12-01-2011, 09:37
Flyfish, in regard to the Four Roses Yellow, I stand corrected; in fact the way they have their website set up to explain the process is what I was hoping to find after staring at a bottle of McAfee's Benchmark and being unable to figure out almost anything about it at all. Evan Williams has a website, but there isn't a whole lot there to describe exactly how they but the bourbon together as compared to Four Roses, and Benchmark has nothing at all.

In regard to WT 101, I think that all age statements are simply the age of the youngest bourbon in the bottle, regardless of everything else. For the more informed consumer it's just nice to have the knowledge of the youngest link in the chain I imagine.

cowdery
12-01-2011, 12:36
jrobidoux is correct. Age statements refer to the youngest spirit in the bottle. They can and usually do also contain older spirits. The exceptions are bonds, single barrels and vintage bottlings, in which all of the spirit is from a given year.

With bourbon, the only mandatory age statements are for whiskeys under 4 years old. All others are optional, the producer's choice, so using them or not is essentially a marketing decision.

jrobidoux
12-02-2011, 07:37
My question then still remains; why would brands like Evan Williams Black, McAfee's Benchmark, Ancient Age, Virginia Gentleman, Jim Beam White, etc., make almost no effort to differentiate themselves from one another. Four Roses Yellow actually goes to the point of stating the percentages of Corn, Rye, and Barley in their various mash bills, are they really the only ones who do this? I can't seem to find any other such information from other brands.

Gillman
12-02-2011, 08:14
Some bourbons mention an age, some do not, or did but don't any longer. Mashbill information usually is scanty although sometimes mentioned on websites of the companies with varying detail. Writers on bourbon have often claimed to give the mashbill details of different distillers, but whether these are strictly accurate is hard to know.

I think in general distillers have felt that such details, with age a partial exception, were not of interest to the average consumer, and that consumer buys are based more on price, packaging/image, taste. Today with websites like this one and a more interactive environment in general for consumables at least, people want to know more, and information is available in various places for those who look, but still not readily from most packaging formats for distilled spirits, I agree.

Sometimes of course you saw in ads things like "mellow mash", or explaining use of wheat instead of the more commonly used rye, or explaining a charcoal filtration technique (famously for JD), but generally the producers stayed away from giving any hard information. Again I think it was felt most consumers don't want to know it and those will do will seek alternate sources of information.

Chuck may have a better perspective than me on this given his former bourbon industry experience.

Gary

cowdery
12-02-2011, 11:33
Everything Gary says is right. I would just add that we here who care about such things represent a small segment of the market. Enthusiasts are important because they are "heavy users," and because they spread their enthusiasm, so are influential to more casual drinkers. But something like 80 percent of whiskey drinkers are 'casual,' in that they have little or no interest in knowing anything about a whiskey except whether they like it or not, and whether or not they can afford it.

thezenone
12-02-2011, 11:44
Another interesting example is the WT 101 age statement bottle that you can find outside of the US. I was on a cruise ship last year that had WT 101 that I believe had an 8 year age statement. It was either 8 or 10, but I believe it was 8. I couldn't side by side the 8 vs the standard NAS, so I don't know if there was a noticeable difference between the two, but I found the age statement interesting. Perhaps this has been explored in another thread already, but it seems they must do this because they feel that certain markets want that age statement.

trumpstylz
12-03-2011, 14:02
No, the 8 year you get in duty free areas is a completely different bourbon.

cowdery
12-03-2011, 16:04
No, the 8 year you get in duty free areas is a completely different bourbon.

"Completely different" is a bit strong, but you're certainly correct that it is not just standard issue 101 with an age statement. It is, for one thing, a batch in which nothing younger than 8 years was used. But it's still Wild Turkey and it might very well be hard to distinguish between it and 101 in a taste test.

p_elliott
12-04-2011, 01:22
"Completely different" is a bit strong, but you're certainly correct that it is not just standard issue 101 with an age statement. It is, for one thing, a batch in which nothing younger than 8 years was used. But it's still Wild Turkey and it might very well be hard to distinguish between it and 101 in a taste test.


You can tell them apart in a taste test but they are not light years apart. The 8yr old has a little more wood and a hint of smoke to it.