View Full Version : What is "Vintage" to you?

10-13-2003, 15:58
I debated where to put this thread and if it is moved to Bourbon BS I will agree with the decision.
The question is what does it mean to be a "vintage" bourbon? With wine vintage means a particular year and a good vintage means the growing season and wine making conditions were better than the norm. So does that mean the bourbon was made from superior corn, rye/wheat and malt in the year of the "vintage"? Does that mean all of the bourbon that was made that year will be superior? If so does that mean for every year of aging? A bourbon made in 1990 is proclaimed a "vintage bourbon" - does that mean all of the bourbon made that year at the distillery is going to be superior to the bourbon made the year before or after?
I ask these questions since every distiller seems to have a different definition as to what is "vintage". I think it is marketing BS trying to make the product seem more hoity-toity. What do you all think the definition should be?
Mike Veach

10-13-2003, 16:08
The question is what does it mean to be a "vintage" bourbon?

I've always understood it to mean any bourbon with a bottling year on the label. (Not to be confused with an age statement).

It really is this simple, isn't it!? Or am I missing something!?

10-13-2003, 16:13
I think it is marketing BS trying to make the product seem more hoity-toity.

That about covers it. I think that "vintage" is a wine term like "cask" is a scotch term. I have long wished there were a better term to describe a whiskey from a particular year (BTW at least in the EWSB sense I think vintage refers more to the honey barrels from a particular year than necessarily the ingredients), a term that was more unique to the genre. That said, although I dont necessarily like the term myself it is widely understood term (if only the "this was made in a certain year" part) and thus from a marketing standpoint its an easy choice.


10-13-2003, 16:50
I like the concept of vintage in the same way I like the concept of single cask. It can provide variety in a quality way. I dislike the term "vin"tage though because bourbon doesn't come from vines or wine (neither do "vintage" cars either though...) I would prefer a term like "distillage" or "barrelled" but I can see why they went with an established, though misleading term.

10-13-2003, 16:52
Well, without legal regulation or a solid tradition behind it, this will be down to each maker, how he sees what vintage should mean. To me it means at least a specially selected bourbon that likely should be at least 8 years old. Beyond that, it is up to each distiller to decide what he wants, i.e., whether it is from one year, multi-years, bonded, small batch from a special part of the warehouse, single barrel, etc.

10-13-2003, 17:21
Well, at least in wine terms, it refers to an exceptional harvest in which the winemaker deems it appropriate to designate it as a "vintage" year. Please note that this is not a yearly occurance. For instance Dom Perignon is "vintage" Moet et Chandon. Dom might only be produced 4 years out of ten. So the Winemakers feel that Dom is the best that they can make. I would like to see the Distillers take the same approach to their terminology.

10-13-2003, 17:56
Exactly "Vin"-tage implies wine making and that is not what is going on here. The idea I was trying to get across here is not that Vintage or cask are bad terms, they are just not native terms to bourbon-making, and I just think folks should have pride in the terms they do use (single-barrel being a great positive example) in lieu of importing terms from other alcohol productions. The bottom line is I really dont care what it says on the bottle, its whats in it that counts (and to a lesser extent, what those contents cost).


10-13-2003, 20:16
For me any outstanding Bourbon could be "Vintage". For the marketplace I think we really only have 2 that are being marketed that way, Evan Williams Single Barrel, and Old Forester Birthday Bourbon.
I can't see beyond marketing here. It can say vintage and be so so, It doesn't say it and can be wonderful.

<font color="brown"> Good God Give Pete Best Some </font>

10-13-2003, 20:31
in lieu of importing terms from other alcohol productions.

I can stop saving for a case of " Blue Agave" Bourbon Now?

<font color="green"> Good God Give Art Blakey Some </font>

10-14-2003, 06:21
I agree with what you and Tom are saying. I would like to some terms that are more bourbon appropriate developed so that a truely outstanding bourbon can be described more accurately.
As far as simply a year statement for when the bourbon was made, then we had "vintage bourbons" for about 80 years - it was called bottled in bond with a tax stamp that said when the whiskey was made and what year it was bottled. It also told you where the whiskey was made and that it was 100 proof. Maybe that is what we need, a revival of bottled in bond products.

Mike Veach

10-14-2003, 12:06
That would be a great idea. I remember discussion at the L&amp;G tour year before last that the BIB term just didnt appeal to the current crowd buying bourbon. So here is my mission for the marketing guys (yep I'm throwing down the gauntlet here): raise the bottled in bond status to the premium level it deserves to be. The term shows that this whiskey was made under more stringent guidelines than your average pour, and it is about as much an american whiskey exclusive term as there can be!

Tom (Good Call!) C

10-14-2003, 13:25

This is what I believe and I hold this truly to my heart. There comes a time in nature when the stars, sun and moon align and everything is just perfect and the corn, wheat, barley and rye are very special, due to the climate of that particular year and a special year it is going to be. This is something you don't know but you can feel within the most recesses of the human heart. You combine all these ingredients and then suddenly the temperature is just right and when you walk into the rickhouse to that special place that only you feel is right and you take a sample and know this is what it is all about. This is the highest achievement of the distillers art and I thank God for this wonderful season. There shall be no other like it. I tip my glass to those wonderful master distillers that know the difference!!


10-14-2003, 15:46

10-15-2003, 12:35
I would indeed like to see add emphasis on bottled in bond whiskey with all of its related information - Season and year made, season and year bottled and DSP of distiller. I would also like to see a series of terms created more for the American Whiskey field. At one time while I was at U.D. there was discussion about just such a project. There was an effort to get some drinks writers and distillers to come together to create a lexicon of terms to describe bourbon. It never came to anything (I believe at that time I W Harper passed White Horse as best selling imported whiskey in Japan and U.D. started selling bourbon's off soon afterward). I would like to see such a lexicon created today, but it would be better if it was created by a brand neutral institution like DISCUS rather than a particular company. That way it would have a better chance of being supported by all of the companies in the business.
Mike Veach

10-15-2003, 15:26
What about Stagg, Bobby?

think we really only have 2 that are being marketed that way, Evan Williams Single Barrel, and Old Forester Birthday Bourbon

10-16-2003, 18:28
What about Stagg, Bobby?

I guess it is, My parameters was a Dated Bourbon. If you count that one, I guess the entire Antique collection qualifies. Also 10 anniversary Bookers. There are probably several more.

<font color="green"> Good God Give Mitch Mitchell Some </font>

10-16-2003, 18:51
Bobby, I don't recall if you mentioned in this series the great Keith Moon.

Anyway, he got some, alright, way too much though. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif

10-16-2003, 18:57
Keith Moon (http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/showflat.php?Cat=&amp;Board=off&amp;Number=21768&amp;Forum=All _Forums&amp;Words=keith%20moon&amp;Match=Entire%20Phrase&amp;S earchpage=0&amp;Limit=25&amp;Old=1week&amp;Main=21754&amp;Search=t rue#Post21768)

He's here! http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/toast.gif

<font color="blue"> Good God Give Lars Ulrich Some </font>