View Full Version : Those pesky "export only" bourbons

09-20-1999, 09:50
Geeze, things are pretty dead around here -- you'd think no one was really interested in bourbon. Sheesh.
So, at any rate, I was recently browsing through the excellent list of labels on this site, and the Regans' Bourbon Companion, and realized once again that there are a number of really interesting looking bourbons that the #$%%$^$*&& distillers only make available for export.
What gives?
In the Reagans' book, I've noticed Japanese in the small print of the label art. Are these bourbons done primarily for the Japanese market? Now, it may be true that the Japanese have (had?) more money to spend on expensive whiskeys than me, but is that any excuse for depriving me of 15 y.o. Eagle Rare, or some of those Four Roses bourbons.
And, on another note, is anyone interested in some sort of bourbon exchange? I've noticed that some of us have complained about unavailable bourbons, that seem readily available elsewhere. Perhaps a little shipping back and forth?

09-20-1999, 11:30
Hmmmm ... no activity over the weekend. I guess people only post from work!
On the subject of "export only" though, when I was at Ancient Age, I saw that they had Blanton's with a green label and 80 proof. Needless to say, I wanted a bottle but was told that it was probably export only. The person who could have supplied me with a definitive answer hadnt clocked in yet, so I was left drooling.
I like the idea of the shipping, perhaps we should exchange private email re: same. Is there anything in particular that you're after?


Jim Butler
Straightbourbon.com Staff

09-20-1999, 12:19
Boy, Frane, it's just bitch, bitch, bitch with you. You need a drink, son!

Export only is a sore subject, but there's some justice to it. For a number of years, Japan (and later France) was the only good, steady market for super-premium American whiskey. Why? The Japanese really do like American stuff, and they had a serious surplus of money in those days. Well, and it was good whiskey that we were too stupid to want.
Now things are changing here in the states, and we want this stuff. Why can't we get it? Couple reasons. First, these are VERY conservative people, in production, wholesaling, and retailing. When they see an uptick in something, they figure it's a fluke, because they've been fooled before and it's been a LOOOONG down market. Second, and directly feeding into that, this is a business with a VERY long production cycle. As Jimmy Russell's son told me, 72 hours from bin to barrel... then you just kind of forget about it for 8 years. It's real hard to make accurate market predictions even four years in the future, but that's what the realities of bourbon-making force you to do. There just ISN'T that much 15-year old bourbon around, and what is, is earmarked for the market that justified its existence in the first place: Japan. Now, why does the 4-year-old Four Roses straight bourbon go only to Japan? Well, I dunno, and they are still talking about changing that. But anything that does happen is going to happen ssssslllllloooooowwwwwwllllllyyyyyy.
Sorry I don't have happy news!

Oh, and by the way, Jeff: I was away for the weekend. And I'm going away on business tomorrow. Please try to pick up the slack and have some notes waiting for me when I get back? Much obliged.

Lew Bryson
Hirsch Reserve 16 YO: Real Pennsylvania Bourbon

09-20-1999, 15:40
Geeze, Lew, just trying to liven things up!
I'm no good for notes; have to leave town (and e-mail) for nearly a week and will be spending it (gulp) alcohol-free.
Explanations may be available when I return, but essentially it's a "self-improvement" sort of program and not drinking is one of the promises you make for the duration (5 days). I've done it before for 4 days, so I guess I'll do it, but it's in Eugene, and within easy walking distance of something like 4 good brewpubs.
Bourbon when I return, for sure!

09-20-1999, 19:56
Just one question: does this program consider "alcohol-freedom" to be self-improving, or is it just part of the presentation/program along with other stuff? Just curious, Jeff, no need to make BIG explanations!

Meantime, what did you think of my explanation on export-only?

Lew Bryson
Hirsch Reserve 16 YO: Real Pennsylvania Bourbon

09-23-1999, 07:10
Hi all (y'all?),
Just thought I'd jump in here to see if anyone has ever tried the Sam Cougar Black by Segram? I've got a friend in Australia who is sending me some and I'm very curious about this "underproof" bourbon. Another antipodean friend who has tried it likened it to charcoal fluid. Hard to resolve Jim Murray's glowing comments and a real-life experience like that.


09-27-1999, 11:43
I was in one of my favorite Milwaukee watering holes recently, the Oak Barrel (name says it all, doesn't it?), and I was pleasantly surprised to
see "Four Roses" bourbon. Last time I drank this was when I was in Greece in 1996. At the time, I had never heard of it, since it was export only.
What's the story with "Four Roses"? Must not be export only anymore, unless they told the boys in KY that Milwaukee is a city in Germany. Hell, it may as well be.


09-27-1999, 14:25
For many years, Four Roses was only available overseas. It is one of the most popular, affordable and readily available bourbons in Europe, so it's what I usually drink when there, but I couldn't buy it here.

In many cases, export-only bourbons are expressions of a domestic brand, or a special export-only product by a distillery that sells plenty of other products in the US. Not so with Four Roses. None of the straight bourbon produced at the Seagram Four Roses distillery in Lawrenceburg, KY was available in the US. I hear it now is, but I haven't seen it yet here in Chicago.

For the uninitiated, Four Roses isn't particularly special, but it is a distinctive bourbon and if you want to taste the products of every US straight whiskey distillery (No big deal. How many are there now? 11?), then you need to get your hands on some Four Roses.

- chuck

10-24-1999, 20:39
I've had friends and family bring back "export" bourbons that were top-quality. I still don't get the principle of it. Let us have access!

I like the trade idea.



11-19-1999, 10:26
Got a Bottle of Four Roses Single Barrel a few years ago here in New York ( Upstate ) with no problem. Would reccomend it to anyone. Probably still available.

The Pleasures of Exile are Imperfect at Best, At Worst They Rot the Liver