View Full Version : NY Times Article

03-17-2004, 06:32
There's a NY Times article on US whiskeys in the March 17 edition. You can see this online at www.nytimes.com (http://www.nytimes.com) but you have to register to see full articles.

03-17-2004, 08:43
Thanks for tipping us to this. It's a weird story, a typical Jack Daniel's puff piece with a few facts about straight rye jammed into the middle of it. I guess the NY Times has a lot of space to fill.

03-17-2004, 10:47
I thought the information given about rye was detailed for the readership being addressed - I never thought I would live to see the day when a major consumer publication discussed the Monongahela and Maryland styles of rye whiskey! But the joinder of rye (a small seller) to Tennessee whiskey (a huge seller) seemed odd. I think the story was trying to focus on straight whiskeys other than traditional bourbon, hence Jack, rye whiskey and small batch bourbon.

Anyway, it is good to see publicity given to rye in particular. I'll bet calls for rye will increase significantly in the Manhattan hostelries - whether a trend will result is hard to say. But once those New Yorkers get into something they don't let go easily - a recent trend I read about there is eating cream puffs, oddly (another inversion, this time to the near-Atkinsian norm in eating habits Gotham-side). http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif

Who knows, maybe Mr. Apple is a member of our esteemed forum. I had the feeling from his article he may at any rate have dropped in here once or twice of late, and if so, good for him!


03-18-2004, 17:46
OTS, but try the new cream puffplace on the west side. The Japanese haveperfected it. 45 minute lines unfortunately

03-19-2004, 19:13
Yeah, I had customers coming in with the article in hand asking me if I had any of the ryes listed. I thought the article was a bit odd being so JD centric then a little rye focus thrown in. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/soapbox.gif Although I love seeing folks get educated on booze, what I hate is that many folks read articles like this then come into a store or restaurant and get focused on one thing that some writer mentioned and don't keep an open mind to other bottles available. It creates even more of a "rush" for items like VW rye, which isn't even in stock with the distributor at the moment, and I have a list a mile long of folks wanting it cuz they read somewhere that it's the "cool" thing of the moment to be drinkin'. OK, off soap box. At least American whiskey ain't taking back seat to that other whiskey from Scotland in this kinda press. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/lol.gif

03-20-2004, 09:55
I for one am delighted that the article sways JD drinkers toward rye and not bourbon! From a completely selfish perspective, I'd rather see JD fans develop a newfound thirst for ryes (and perhaps add life to an underrepresented portion of the spirits industry). Believe me bourbon fans, you don't want that many people buying up your premium bourbons.


03-21-2004, 09:46
For those not able to source a hard copy of this article on Tennessee and rye whiskeys and who do not subscribe to the New York Times online, the full text of the article is available online now via the International Herald Tribune's website: see www.iht.com/articles/510699.htm (http://www.iht.com/articles/510699.htm)


03-24-2004, 09:36
Today's New York Times has an article on using heirloom varieties of corn to make superior grits and other corn-based dishes. A man from Columbia, South Carolina, Glenn Roberts, owns a mill which grinds such varieties with granite stones. One of the types is called dent corn. It was located when the mill owner went into Southern back country to obtain corn used by small millers supplying moonshiners! The article makes a point of noting that dent corn, dating from the pre-Civil War era, made good mashes for whiskey.

Grits made from such varieties has a strong aroma and taste (e.g. of roasted corn, flowers and green plants according to this article). This belies grits' modern rep of having no flavor. Modern, hybrid varieties of corn are bred for volume yield from the area planted. In contrast, heirloom types need lots of space to thrive and acquire more flavour from the ground as a result. You get less corn from the land but a heck of a lot more taste - makes sense.

So those moonshiners knew a thing or two, clearly.. One has to wonder what bourbon whiskey made from an heirloom corn mash would taste like. I'll bet it would taste pretty good. I think we are all agreed here that whatever explains the flavours in low-proof distillate made from a corn-based mash, the original materials used have a marked impact on flavor. Using the old varieties to make whiskey likely would be another way to hike the quality index.

Say whiskey was distilled from such a mash to not much more than 100 proof. Say too (this as per Charlie Thomason) that a healthy amount of barley malt was used. Let's go for broke and age it for four years and more in an old hill-top iron warehouse to natural cycles of weather, of course.

Can anyone doubt we would have an 1800's-style bourbon of exceptional quality?


03-24-2004, 12:08
That was a neat little article... I'd seen little snippets
about Glenn Roberts, but never a longer article. I'd love
to hear more about his adventures tracking down the heirloom
varieties of corn. I've seen a few stories about people
tracking down heirloom apples, and it's fascinating.

Does anyone know of a readable history of grain in America?
I've always thought that I'd want to do some research in this
area to get a picture of historically where rye and
corn were grown, and to get an idea of when exactly
the modern hybrids were developed and became prevalent.

Tim Dellinger

03-24-2004, 12:43
I remember that National Geographic had a good article about corn some years ago. The original wild corn looked like the baby corn you sometimes get in Chinese food. Actually, it was even smaller, about 1 1/2" long, if I remember correctly. The maize grown by Native Americans in the midwestern U.S. had ears 4 to 5 inches long and the plants grew only three to four feet tall. Maize cultivation goes back about 6,500 years.

I have heard the term "dent corn" used before in reference to what distillers use, so I'm not sure if that term alone describes an heirloom variety. The main distinction made today is between field corn, which is most of what is grown and used for distillation as well as animal feed, and sweet corn, which is used for human consumption.

I know distillers today regard their grains as pretty generic. They do monitor them for problems, mold being the main concern, but otherwise it's a commodity. The prattling in marketing copy about "the finest grains" is a joke. However, I think another way a micro-distillery could distinguish its product would be by using heirloom varieties.

03-24-2004, 13:09
Interesting. The Times article a propos dent corn describes it as corn with an actual "dent" in it (hence - no surprise - the name), denoting a soft-type corn suitable for grinding. I wonder, since modern distillers are familiar with dent corn, if even the generic field corn used by distillers today may in fact be closer to mid-1800's eating corn than modern sweet corn (setting aside for a moment the question of yield). In other words, maybe bourbon, in this regard, has never tasted better. .


03-26-2004, 05:52
I saw the article as well and dropped an email to Anson Mills to see if they have a local outlet (I live in Columbia). Glenn Roberts emailed right back and told me to give him a call. He was very helpful and willing to set me up with some of their product.
So are any distilleries considering a product from some of these heirloom varieties - or aren't they available on a commercial scale?

03-26-2004, 09:33
I don't imagine the major distilleries would be interested as they regard grain as a commodity and don't feel there are differences significant enough to change the final taste of the product one way or the other, though with Buffalo Trace you never know. They're liable to try anything. Also, even if it doesn't really make a difference, it could be a good talking point for a micro-distillery.