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View Full Version : Looking Back - Looking Forward



Marvin
10-17-2003, 16:20
There have been some very interesting subjects discussed on the forum lately and this has caused me to do a great deal of thinking http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/banghead.gif. Now, I want everyone to know this is just my opinion but in years gone by they distilled at lower proofs which has lead many to believe "put it in the barrel at lower proof you get more flavor". I have tasted a few bourbons from the past and you would swear that the statement is true as they were really good, but, unfortunately it cannot be said for every bottling. I have also tasted bourbon from the same era that was awful http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/puke.gif. So, it seems to me it was a "hit and miss" proposition. Today, however, it is not "hit and miss". Everyone knows the flavors come from the conigers-good and bad. If you get too many bad you wake up with a "grand-daddy" of them all headaches. Too few and you do not get much taste. The way our master distillers are making it now is absolutely an art, along with a lot of other help, of course. For example, you can take some of the bourbon today (and I don't necessarly mean the high dollar end) for instance WT, Buffalo Trace,AAA 10 YO, VOB or HH just to name a few and put up against any bourbon of the past. Agreed, sometimes, the old bottlings will out-point the new, but rarely. I believe it was not such an art back then as it was just plain luck as they did not have the consistency as we enjoy today. For me, I will take the new!! And here's to you http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/toast.gif

Cheers,
Marvin

Bob
10-17-2003, 16:57
Hi Marvin,

I am totally unfamiliar with the old Bourbons. All I can say is that over the last year, I have encountered more and more very fine Bourbons. I don't know how they stack up against the Bourbons of yester-year, but I do know that I'm pretty darn satisfied with the way things look goin forward! I just hope that the trend continues, then lookin forward will be very good indeed! http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/toast.gif

Bob

jimbo
10-17-2003, 16:58
I think in general the lower the proof, the more flavor. Look at it this way. If you start with a wort that is about 10% alcohol, you have all of the flavor that exists. (Except for what can be obtained from the wood.) And if you take a 180 proof distillate from that wort, you have flavorless vodka.

But as you say, the flavors you end up with may not be pleasant flavors. That is where the art of the distiller comes in and where the mash bill plays a part.

Regards, jimbo

<font color="blue"> There have been some very interesting subjects discussed on the forum lately and this has caused me to do a great deal of thinking . Now, I want everyone to know this is just my opinion but in years gone by they distilled at lower proofs which has lead many to believe "put it in the barrel at lower proof you get more flavor". I have tasted a few bourbons from the past and you would swear that the statement is true as they were really good, but, unfortunately it cannot be said for every bottling. I have also tasted </font>

jbutler
10-17-2003, 17:24
Jim,

Please read your private messages.

CL
10-17-2003, 19:50
I'll apply a term here that is used in financial circles - survivorship bias. This is the concept that what is left today of the past may be only what was strong enough to have survived, or in our case, been worth keeping. Perhaps none or little of the bad stuff was kept. Therefore, what we have today of the past is not a representative sample of what the past was.

However, we have enough historians here to let me know if this concept has any application to bourbon!

MurphyDawg
10-17-2003, 23:58
Perhaps none or little of the bad stuff was kept. Therefore, what we have today of the past is not a representative sample of what the past was.





Which is what I have always wondered tasting and talking about old time bourbon. I was not alive back then. Thusly I could not have bought bourbon nack then and found what I liked and disliked on my own. Many people (Mike Veach &amp; Omar included) have been nice enough to let me sample some sublime historiuc bottlings and they were excellent. I jyst have this sinking feeling that there was plenty of bottom shelf tripe out there at the time as well. I just dont think I will ever try that because who saves the s**t bottlings, why waste the time and space. So I know I personally cannot weigh in fairly on the argument being that I havent tried the full range of "old-time bourbons", unlike what I think is a better understanding of the range of whiskey today.

TomC

bourbonv
10-18-2003, 07:40
Marvin,
I agree with you that there were some pretty gawd-awfull bourbons back then as well as some very great ones. At the same time consider this - Have you ever drank a bourbon from Stitzel-Weller Van Winkle era that you consider bad? Makers Mark from as short of time as 1980 (less than 25 years ago) was way superior to what is being made today. This proves in my mind that a good product could be made on a regular basis and it was not just hit and miss. Most of the things I find depressing about today's distillers are things caused by the bean counters - higher distillation and barrel proof, lower bottle proof, more corn and less other grains because corn is cheapest, and the use of enzymes and lactic acids because they are cheaper than malt or backset. If the bean counters have their way brands will not matter because they will all be made the same way (as cheap as possible) and taste the same.
On the other hand Marvin - imagine this scenario - old fashioned methods with low proof for distilling and the barrel, with todays controls and knowledge. I don't think you would have as many bad products as 50 years ago and the good products may be even better.
Mike Veach

mickblueeyes
10-18-2003, 08:09
Good post BourbonNV. Very insightful. I agree that to many corporate ties inhibit the production of good whiskies.

jimbo
10-20-2003, 14:04
Most of the things I find depressing about today's distillers are things caused by the bean counters - higher distillation and barrel proof, lower bottle proof, more corn and less other grains because corn is cheapest, and the use of enzymes and lactic acids because they are cheaper than malt or backset. If the bean counters have their way brands will not matter because they will all be made the same way (as cheap as possible) and taste the same.



Very true. Just look at Budmillours beer. But, micro brewers stepped in and started taking markets away. And guess what, all of the major brewers are now producing some really great beer. Whiskey distillers haven't gotten to the point where beer brewers were 20 years ago and as long as they produce the small batch and single barrel bourbon, they (and we) should be OK.

Regards, jimbo

pepcycle
10-20-2003, 14:12
This discussion begs the question.
What about microdistilleries?
Would it be possible/profitable for entrepeneurs to create a niche product with small production at a premium price?
If the price of small batch and superpremiums keeps going up, I bet there will be a point where someone goes for it.
It should be US. Straighbourbon.com Bourbon.
http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/toast.gif

OneCubeOnly
10-20-2003, 15:00
What about microdistilleries? Would it be possible/profitable for entrepeneurs to create a niche product with small production at a premium price?



Somebody has already done so, at least in Virginia. VA ABC now carries the product--it's called Copper Fox:

http://www.copperfox.biz/

Gillman
10-20-2003, 15:28
Very positive development. Other small operations exist, in California and Oregon (making spirits of various kinds on a small scale). As Mike Veach has noted, quality bourbon likely could be made following historical principles and sold in a four year span. Barreling liquors distilled at just over 100 proof (therefore minimal dilution to entry proof), using the traditional techniques Jimbo noted, using (I suggest) very heavy-charred casks, could make a very saleable product in 4 or 5 years and justify the investment necessary to carry things until sales take off. Maybe some new production could be sold to merchants (for them to age it under their names), to raise money for working capital and to pay some of the debt load. The microbrewers have led the way. Many waited more than 4 years to see a real payback. Clearly there are differences in the two industries, but the analogy makes sense to a point.

Gary

Marvin
10-20-2003, 17:45
Mike,

I couldn't agree with you more! I understand everything you are saying. There is only one person that could possibly make this happen and that is Julian. There is something special about this man-I think he is on the right track. If they start making bourbon this way get ready to pay what bourbon is really worth. I just read an article in the Whisky Magazine and I am quoting what Lincoln Henderson said " We are almost giving it away" and I couldn't agree with him more. I think bourbon is the best bargain of any spirit in the world. Within the next few years, you will see bourbon double and more, and even at that it will be a bargain. I am very proud to say we, or I should say they (meaning master distillers) are producing the absolute best spirit in the world. I can not imagine what the next 20 or 30 years will bring, but one thing is for sure, as long as we have people like Jimmy Russell, Elmer T. Lee, Bill Samuels, Lincoln Henderson just to name a few, bourbon can only get better.

Cheers,
Marvin

SSBourbon1
10-20-2003, 19:16
Somebody has already done so, at least in Virginia. VA ABC now carries the product--it's called Copper Fox:




I had seen this at my local ABC and was curious but they could not tell me much. After viewing the web site I am entrigued. I was wondering what you thought of it, if you bought it.

OneCubeOnly
10-20-2003, 19:40
I was wondering what you thought of it [Copper Fox], if you bought it.



At the risk of straying off topic here (because technically Copper Fox isn't bourbon, although some would probably insist that it's "bourbon-like"), http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif Copper Fox is very drinkable, but every time I've tasted it I've felt like it would REALLY benefit from additional aging. The nose is medicinal but not harsh. Palate is citrusy and a bit tart (I'm assuming from the applewood). Finish is raw and harsh. You can definitely tell it's VERY young.

It's worth buying just to try something different, but you won't impress your whiskey connoisseur friends with it.

tdelling
10-21-2003, 08:53
>This discussion begs the question.
>What about microdistilleries?
>Would it be possible/profitable for entrepeneurs to create a niche product with
>small production at a premium price?

I think Charbay takes the cake for "small production at a premium price".
Their first batch of whiskey was ~840 bottles total, each at ~$300 per bottle.

Microdistilling is taking off. I'll go ahead and post more information
in the "Other American Whiskies" section.

Tim Dellinger

brendaj
10-21-2003, 10:43
Ed,


Would it be possible/profitable for entrepeneurs to create a niche product with small production at a premium price?



I may be totally off base (it's happened before... http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/lol.gif) but, if I were Brown Forman, that's the direction I would be taking Labrot &amp; Graham. Instead of messing with Woodford Reserve, they could offer all kinds on interesting stuff.
Bj