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View Full Version : Independent bottles and what they bottle.



Meruck
03-05-2013, 18:25
As we all know independent bottlers put many a varied beverage. Some proudly state what's in the bottles other "protest to much".

The question here is what actual distilleries sell to independents. Heaven Hill, as I understand it is the largest purveyor of barrels to the independents.

Who else sells to them? Does BT? Who else?

squire
03-05-2013, 18:50
David Perkins at High West said he has worked with Jim Rutledge at Four Roses to source whisky, Drew Kulsveen at KBD told an interviewer he buys from a number of sources, we don't know much more than what such tidbits imply.

LostBottle
03-05-2013, 19:20
High West has been very transparent about where their stuff came from, unlike KBD. The High West 21 and 16 are Barton ryes and the 12 was 5 Seagrams/LDI/MGP barrels that couldn't fit on a ship headed to Japan. Their younger 6yo stuff is MGP. When it's ready, I am looking forward to tasting the stuff High West has been busy distilling - I bet it will be tasty.

It is thought the KBD bottled Vintage 21/23 Rye, Hirsch 21/22/25, Black Maple Hill 23, Willett 22, Rathskeller, Bitter Truth, LeNells were all Medley juice. The younger Willett Ryes are MGP.

Meruck
03-05-2013, 20:32
I think it's interesting to be able to find juice you like with a different label although likely at a higher price, but maybe not. I know from reading other posts Col. Chuck does not like trying to guess whose selling what to who to put in what bottle. But I like looking or gems in wolfs clothing.

Does BT sell to independents that we know of?

MyOldKyDram
03-06-2013, 02:55
Yup. Trader Joes has a bourbon that is from BT/Barton.

Tucker
03-06-2013, 05:21
Costco = Beam, IIRC.

Brisko
03-06-2013, 07:24
A couple points.

1.)To paraphrase one of our members (Cowdery)-- nobody sells bulk whiskey except for when they do.
2.)Another member (wadewood, if memory serves) has stated that KBD has bought barrels from every major producer except one. (I have a pretty good idea which one that is, too).

Distilleries sell off barrels for a lot of reasons. Inventory adjustments, over-aged juice, juice that doesn't meet profile, etc. I believe that the market is probably smaller at the moment, given that pretty much everybody's supplies are tight, but it's still there. Also keep in mind the distinction between stock that's made under contract versus stock that's dumped on the spot market.

Assume that they all do it.

Smithford
03-06-2013, 08:35
Actually, the best quote on SB.com on this subject came from AaronWF:


The disassociation between label and provenance makes these matters more urgent and frustrating, because it takes so much energy to learn only half-truths.

.sig worthy, really

squire
03-06-2013, 08:53
I want the whole truth or they can keep it.

cowdery
03-06-2013, 09:42
I've never heard of Maker's Mark selling any bulk. Everyone else has. Some make the distinction between selling bulk as part of their everyday business (Heaven Hill, MGPI) and selling bulk only to adjust inventories (everybody else). Not sure I necessarily believe "everybody else," but that's their story. I think there are also offers too good to refuse.

White Dog
03-06-2013, 10:29
MM only bulk sells the barrels that are at 42%ABV.

cowdery
03-06-2013, 12:26
Did you hear that K&L blew out their 42% inventory at $5 a bottle, just to mock the people who were calling it a collectors edition?

White Dog
03-06-2013, 15:08
That's an offer to good to refuse.

squire
03-06-2013, 15:37
I understand inventory didn't last long.

MarkRuck
03-06-2013, 19:29
Here are a couple of thoughts.

I have always thought the bourbon industry can learn a lot from the scotch industry. The single malt bottlers, whether distillers or non-producer bottlers (Compass Box, Signatory for instance) are always transparent with what is in the bottle.

Wouldn't it great if the non-producer bottlers here did the same?? I know some are bound by agreements that they can't disclose the source of the juice. Not sure what to do about that.

Now, what about the scotch blenders (Dewars, Cutty Sark ect..)? We don't know what goes into each bottle, and will likely never know. Those who drink blended scotch whisky just know each bottle tastes the same.

Maybe the NPDs here think the same way as the blenders in Scotland. They are just attempting to produce a consistant taste, regardless of the juice that goes in the bottle?

That being said, I would love to see more transparency in the bourbon industry.

squire
03-06-2013, 22:49
Mark the two models do not rest on the same premise. The Scottish Independents thrive on openness whereas our producers profit from secrecy.

Unfortunately, we have domestic non distilling producers who buy bulk whisky, pass it off as their own make and sell it for a premium price. They cloak themselves in secrecy and misinformation to disguise the fact their product is not worth a premium and, in fact, may be less desirable than the much cheaper standard product put out by the house that sold them the the bulk whisky.

I'm an informed consumer. If I need surgery I want to know the qualifications of the doctor who will perform the work. If a NPP charges me $79.95 for a bottle of whisky they must first explain why it's worth that much. A producer who has to conceal the details of their whisky to get their price will not get my business.

Brisko
03-07-2013, 07:01
Here are a couple of thoughts.

I have always thought the bourbon industry can learn a lot from the scotch industry. The single malt bottlers, whether distillers or non-producer bottlers (Compass Box, Signatory for instance) are always transparent with what is in the bottle.

Wouldn't it great if the non-producer bottlers here did the same?? I know some are bound by agreements that they can't disclose the source of the juice. Not sure what to do about that.
This isn't entirely the case with Scotch. While the majority are transparent, there are a significant number of undisclosed bottling out there. But they are exceptions to the general practice.



Now, what about the scotch blenders (Dewars, Cutty Sark ect..)? We don't know what goes into each bottle, and will likely never know. Those who drink blended scotch whisky just know each bottle tastes the same.

The thing is, with blends the provenance doesn't matter nearly as much. A blender's "recipe" will call for specific ages/styles, not specific distilleries. (say, "12 year old sherried highlander," for an oversimplified example). So the blend's constituents might change from batch to batch, but the end result will be consistent.

But I completely agree with your sentiments.

squire
03-07-2013, 09:43
It's also common practice for these undisclosed malts to sell for bargain prices.

cowdery
03-07-2013, 16:36
I've predicted that this is something we will eventually see with micro-distilleries, or even a combination of micro-distillery and macro-distillery sources.

The difference between the U.S. and Scotland is that most of the production of virtually every distillery in Scotland is sold as part of a blend, whereas very little of the production of American distilleries is used in blends. The relevance of this is that in Scotland there are vastly more barrels of whiskey from different producers is circulation than there is in the U.S. Even if distillery A has a contractual relationship with buyer A, that includes non-disclosure, any given barrel might be bought and sold several times and that original agreement isn't binding on buyer G. In the U.S., it's rare that barrels are bought and sold multiple times as they are in Scotland. The Americn independent bottlers mostly buy directly from the distilleries, so they might very well be bound by contract from revealing their sources, and the independents need to stay on good terms with the producers, because there just aren't enough barrels out there available from other independents.

In Scotland, virtually all producers tried to stop unauthorized bottlings that used the distillery name. Since with virtually all single malts, the distillery name is the brand name, an honest statement of where something was made would seem to also infringe on a trademark. British courts held that, no, the simple name of a distillery can't be protected. Today some producers still fight independent bottlings but others see it as positive for the brand.

In the U.S., Woodford Reserve is both a brand name and a distillery name. So are Jim Beam, Jack Daniel's, Wild Turkey, George Dickel, Four Roses, Maker's Mark, Heaven Hill, and Buffalo Trace. But W. L. Weller, Evan Williams, Old Fitzgerald, Old Forester, Old Crow, Old Taylor, Blanton's, Knob Creek, Booker's, Basil Hayden, Baker's, and many others are not.

Even in Scotland, the market for blended malts, which I prefer to call by the old name, vatted malts, is very small, but that's what would be interesting here, blends of straight whiskey. Or to call them by their proper name, gillmanizations.

clingman71
03-07-2013, 17:05
"Even in Scotland, the market for blended malts, which I prefer to call by the old name, vatted malts, is very small, but that's what would be interesting here, blends of straight whiskey. Or to call them by their proper name, gillmanizations. "




That leads to the questions: If we were to see blends of straight whiskey here, and Mr Gillman acquired some

A. Would he vat the vatted bourbon with other straight bourbon?
B. Would he vat vatted bourbon with other vatted bourbon?
C. If vatting different straight bourbons is "Gillmanization", what would you call vatting different vatted bourbons?

Super-Gilmanization?

CoMobourbon
03-09-2013, 11:23
Did you hear that K&L blew out their 42% inventory at $5 a bottle, just to mock the people who were calling it a collectors edition?

"Did you hear" is the key component to that sentence. Those guys over there are brilliant at low cost, low scale marketing. IIRC, they even established a limit of bottles per customer to make sure that they got lots of people through the door.

Meruck
03-09-2013, 11:42
Hearts and minds, its all about hearts and minds.

squire
03-09-2013, 12:18
And the money, don't forget the money.

Meruck
03-09-2013, 13:03
Yes, its all about the money, and the hearts and minds...........which leads to more money