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greenbob
11-17-2004, 22:05
Someone in a recent thread said that Bulleit was owned by Diageo. I was disappointed to hear that, even though I've read some good things about Diageo. But I was wondering if there were some very small bourbon companies left.

I realize that "small" is vague. I don't know, for example, if Wild Turkey is big or whether it might be owned by someone else. But it seems like Diageo, Beam, and Buffalo Trace are very large with each having many brands. And the labels on the bottles are very often misleading. Instead of "Buffalo Trace" you read something like "Old Prentice Distillery." The labels try to make it sound like the bourbon comes from a small company, when in fact it often doesn't.

I want to know if there are any very small companies making bourbon in Kentucky or anywhere else. I recently came across this one:

www.oldpogue.com/ (http://www.oldpogue.com/)

Who knows, maybe it's owned by Diageo. I don't know. But if there any very small ones, how does the bourbon taste? Are there any small companies that have a national distribution so that you don't have to go to Kentucky to get the whiskey?

tdelling
11-17-2004, 22:41
> But I was wondering if there were some very small bourbon companies left.
>
> I realize that "small" is vague.

Ummm... "bourbon companies" is also vague! There are an infinite number
of bourbon companies... you could very well start your own without too
much trouble, and do all the work from home in your underwear. Purchase
a few barrels of aged bourbon, pay to have them bottled and labeled, and
sell 'em.

> I want to know if there are any very small companies making bourbon in
> Kentucky or anywhere else. I recently came across this one:
>
> www.oldpogue.com/ (http://www.oldpogue.com/)

Now you're being vague again! What does "making bourbon" mean?
Old Pogue doesn't really "make" bourbon. They just sit at home
in their underwear! Other large companies distill and age the
bourbon, they just buy it and pay someone to slap their name on it.


Might I suggest "The Bourbon Companion" by Regan and Regan? It's a
nice little book that gives good descriptions of the various bourbon
distilleries, and will tell you who makes what brand. It's a little
dated, being six years old, but 95% of what you see on the liquor store
shelf will be covered there.

I've also heard that Jim Murray's Whiskey Bible is good, but I haven't
ever seen a copy myself.


Tim Dellinger

greenbob
11-17-2004, 22:57
Old Pogue doesn't really "make" bourbon. They just sit at home
in their underwear! Other large companies distill and age the
bourbon, they just buy it and pay someone to slap their name on it.



That's disappointing to learn.

Gillman
11-18-2004, 02:08
Heaven Hill is an independent, family owned company. Not a small business by any means, but a traditionalist whiskey maker selling fine brands at very fair prices. Distilling is not like other businesses in that it requires a fair amount of capital (or diversification) to get through times when the market is changing or is unpredictable. The fact that the current group of distilleries are mostly very large companies or owned by international conglomerates should not incline one away from their products. The fact is there is still a large range of whiskey out there, most of it very good stuff.

Gary

wrbriggs
11-18-2004, 04:43
Agreed. Just because the final purse strings are held by large companies doesn't mean that the distilleries that are currently operating aren't any good. Pretty much every master distiller working in Kentucky right now is a master of their craft, with decades of experience.

What makes it great is that the few remaining distilleries manage to produce a staggering variety of whiskies.

Gillman
11-18-2004, 05:32
Also, being big and sophisticated helps to ensure a consistent product. The market (even the cognoscenti) want consistency.

Sometimes when companies become big they start to cater, in their search for cost savings, to the lowest common denominator. Arguably this happened to some of the big brewers in America. But this has not happened to bourbon distilling, and if anything, the trend is going the other way. More and more, premium products are getting the spotlight. I think the roots of distilling are so entrenched (still) in Kentucky that this has helped to preserve tradition. Partly this came from the enduring dynasties of distilling and merchandising families (whether owners or not) such as the Beams, Samuels, Medleys, Van Winkles. Partly too the legal definition of bourbon has helped to ensure a minimum quality standard. But finally there is that intangible of real whiskey simply hanging on in Kentucky. People stuck with it long enough that it has become, dare I say, fashionable, but this was only possible because enough people were loyal to bourbon in the days when it wasn't seen by all that many as a quality spirit. In other words, Kentuckians and some others knew they had a good thing and were proud enough to stick with it until its place in the sun became reasserted. (Too bad this didn't happen to rye in Maryland and Pennsylvania).

I fully support small craft operations. Of the ones recently noted by Lex, most or all seem to be focusing on malt whisky. But in time I am sure some will turn to bourbon whiskey.

Industry growth in Canada has reduced choice but the effect has not been (in my opinion) that noticeable because the product to begin with, at least since the early 1950's when the last Canadian domestic straight rye and bourbon left the market, lacks the kind of distinctiveness that characterises bourbon and Scottish malt whisky.

Gary

clayton
11-18-2004, 09:38
Anchor would qualify as "small", I should think. I don't think they're owned by a multi-national, but I could be mistaken.

They're making Old Potrero single malt rye, not bourbon, and so perhaps closer to Scotch. Still, an interesting American whiskey made by a small outfit.

http://www.anchorbrewing.com/about_us/oldpotrero_18th.htm

tdelling
11-18-2004, 10:16
> They're making Old Potrero single malt rye, not bourbon, and so perhaps closer
> to Scotch. Still, an interesting American whiskey made by a small outfit.

There are lots of small outfits popping up all over the country that
are distilling very interesting things... it's a very exciting time
for Ameican whiskey! Although they are making a bunch of whiskies of various
kinds, they tend to shy away from bottling an honest-to-goodness bourbon.

About a year ago, there was a thread about this:
http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/showflat.php?Number=22414

Things have changed and evolved since then, but I haven't been able
to keep up with all of the developments... I heard rumors that a string
of brewpubs on the west coast is installing distilleries at a dozen of
their locations...

Tim Dellinger

tdelling
11-18-2004, 11:47
For the curious, the BATF's latest incarnation, the ATTB, has
a pdf up on their website listing all of the "Distiller, Bottler
and Warehouseman Spirits Permits" as of September 2004.

It's in their Freedom of Information Act section on the Frequently
Requested Listings page, among other places:

http://www.ttb.gov/foia/frl.htm

It looks like there are 200+ permits, but most of these aren't going
to be actual operating distilleries. A big chunk are California wineries,
probably looking to make brandy. There are a few new startups that I
hadn't heard of before... "Fat Dog Spirits" in Florida (although a quick
Googling shows that they're concentrating on vodka).

Tim Dellinger

cowdery
11-18-2004, 12:47
Very interesting resource, Tim, thanks for finding it.

Ken Weber
11-22-2004, 10:54
I really like it when people think of Buffalo Trace as being a large distillery. The truth is, we are by far the smallest operating bourbon distillery in the business (unless there are some micro-distilleries out there). We do produce brands like Old Charter, Weller, Van Winkle, and Eagle Rare under different DBAs. While we are proud to make these brands, we are also proud of the heritage they represent. Keeping the name like the Old Prentiss Company, is our feeble attempt to keep alive a distillery name that has long since shuttered its operation. We just see it as a link to the past.

Ken

greenbob
11-22-2004, 11:52
Keeping the name like the Old Prentiss Company, is our feeble attempt to keep alive a distillery name that has long since shuttered its operation. We just see it as a link to the past.



I can see that. And I can also see that many consumers might be tempted to buy a label that says it was made by what appears to be a small company. But there's another side of the coin.

I'm new to Bourbon. I started more with Scotch. I subscribed to The Malt Advocate where I read a very good review of BT. I wanted to try it, but couldn't find it. I then discovered that I could order it from Binnys. I fell in love with it. So if I were to go into a liquor store and pick up a bottle of Eagle Rare I would be much more likely to buy it if the label said it was made by Buffalo Trace. I would not be as interested in a whisky that had an Old Prentiss label. And sometimes I think that if I owned Buffalo Trace that I would be proud to have the BT name on all the whiskies coming out of the distillery. The BT label might end up being understood as a mark of high quality. (Though I certainly don't like the aftertaste of AA.)

But from the marketing standpoint your approach is probably the best. That's because those of us who continue to pursue a serious interest will end up buying a book or going to something like www.bourbonwhiskey.com (http://www.bourbonwhiskey.com) and learning the names of the other BT brands we want to try.

brendaj
11-22-2004, 14:10
Ken,


I really like it when people think of Buffalo Trace as being a large distillery.


I don't know, I love ya'll 'cause you're small... http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif
I have had the privilege to visit on numerous occasions, and have ALWAYS had a great time! Ya'll just do small very, very well!! I love it that everyone is so accessible.


we are also proud of the heritage they represent

I also believe this is the truth. With so much marketing hype out there, it's cool to see a company 'walkin' the walk'...
Size really doesn't matter... http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif
Bj

nysquire
11-23-2004, 04:17
I enjoy both, the bourbon and the history of bourbon. I think those folks in Kentucky are doing a GREAT job...
Not only are they producing a great boubon for all of us boubonites to enjoy, they are keeping a very important part of history and tradition alive.... God Bless Them..... and
keep it coming...... http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/toast.gif

nysquire
11-23-2004, 04:26
P.S. and I have not tried Old Pogue yet (very much lookin forward to it) If my great, great grandfather or any family member made bourbon or owned a distillery, I'd do everything in my power to try to keep that tradtion alive and well too!!!! Bring it on Peter...

Peter_Pogue
11-23-2004, 18:17
Pardon my taking offense at the derogatory "sitting at home in our underwear" comment and the equally insulting "slap a label" remark by "Tim". We do neither. We are very proud not only of our bourbon heritage (take a look at Sam Cecil's book, p. 32 and p. 37) but our Old Pogue bourbon we make as well. As Harry Harrison Kroll says in his book "Bluegrass, Belles, and Bourbon" "To be a blueblooded bourbon baron, you must be born one. You must have ancestors. To be whisky royalty you must have generations of bourbon blood." (p. 204). We revere people like Ken Weber at Buffalo Trace for continuing to produce brands with long Kentucky heritage, as well as the Van Winkles, Beams, Willetts, Samuels, and all the others with generations of bourbon heritage who have made Kentucky bourbon what it is today.

Peter H. Pogue

BSS
11-23-2004, 19:21
If you are taking offense to the "slap a label on it" comment made by Tim, you must mean that you actually make your product from start to finish. Is that correct? If so, where do you produce your product at?

bluesbassdad
11-23-2004, 19:42
I don't know Peter Pogue, but I do know off-hand insults, piling on and putting words in someone else's mouth when I see them. That sort of thing seldom happens around here, and not for long, at that. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/shocked.gif

What gives, fellows? Has Peter, unknown to me, done something dishonorable to deserve such treatment?

Yours truly,
Dave Morefield

dgonano
11-23-2004, 20:16
If Peter Pogue buys his bourbon from a distiller...So what?

If he has someone else help him select a taste profile...Good for him.

If he has help marketing his product...Who cares.

Peter Pogue and his family have put up the capital to start this venture and guess who benefits the most...We all do.

gr8erdane
11-23-2004, 20:33
And best of all, Peter and his brothers showed up at the Gazebo bearing CASES of their new version of the family recipe for all of us to enjoy. If memory serves me, they were wearing a bit more than underwear. The Pogue family is A1 in my book. Now, if there were only some single Pogue sisters....

bobbyc
11-23-2004, 20:45
We met the Pogues! (http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/showflat.php?Cat=&Board=Premium&Number=34832&Forum =All_Forums&Words=pogue&Match=Entire%20Phrase&Sear chpage=0&Limit=25&Old=allposts&Main=33465&Search=t rue#Post34832)

It was indeed a pleasure to meet the Pogues. However they manage their business is fine by me and I have only best wishes for continued success for them.



The Pogue family is A1 in my book. Now, if there were only some single Pogue sisters....



I guess that's the fantasy isn't it, Dane? To marry the distillers daughter and drink the finest White Dog at the wedding! http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/lol.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/toast.gif

gr8erdane
11-23-2004, 21:03
You betcha! Marry the distiller's daughter, drink that white dog, and learn the business from dear old daddy so I don't have to work these night shifts anymore! Then everytime we have a youngun, put back a barrel to be opened on their 18th birthday. So sorry junior, you'll get some when you turn 21....if there's any left at that time. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/drinking.gif

BSS
11-23-2004, 21:11
I would hope you don't think I'm the one making an off hand insult or putting words in someones mouth. There are a lot of great brands out there that are in fact "slap a label on it"(there could have been a more PC term used instead) brands. In my opinion, thats what any brand that's bought from someone and then labeled and sold as their own product. Does that make it a bad product or improper business practice? Typically no.

When he said it was an insult, the first thing I assumed was that it was not true, especially when he said that they do neither. So thats why I asked the question.
Brandon

bobbyc
11-23-2004, 21:14
Then everytime we have a youngun, put back a barrel to be opened on their 18th birthday.



That explains the big families! 10 barrels of fine 18 year bourbon is some pretty good jingle! There's more where that came from! http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/toast.gif Bring on the Grandbabies we'll lay aside 2 barrels for each of them. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/lol.gif

TNbourbon
11-23-2004, 21:32
Peter, as you can see, you and your family won some honest appreciation and welcome from many of us with both your bourbon and your personal appearance at our Bourbon Festival gathering. You present a fine bourbon product. I have a bottle I obtained in September in KY, and I can't wait for your production and distribution to expand to Tennessee.
(Another)

BSS
11-24-2004, 05:18
Let me ask another question. According to the Pogue website and the neck tag on the bottle, it states "Now, the fourth and fifth generations of Pogues return to offer the discriminating whisky drinker a 91 proof (45.5% alc./vol.) small batch bourbon of superior quality crafted using the original Pogue recipe under a time-honored and fixed formula, never changed or cheapended in character."

My intrepation of this is that the Pogues either make the product from start to finish using the original Pogue recipe, or they have another company make the bourbon using the original formula. Stress the "original" and "fixed" formula as stated in the information supplied by the Pogue company. If like others on the board state, and the Pogues buy their whisky from another producer, does that mean the producer is contracted to make a batch with the original Pogue recipe and then it's aged for the Pogue's?

squire
11-25-2004, 18:32
How Peter and his family do it is their business and I applaud them for stepping up to the plate and providing a new expression for our enjoyment. I will buy a bottle as soon as one crosses my path and thank him for the opportuny.

Regards,
Squire

BSS
11-26-2004, 07:48
I totally agree that how the Pogue's do there business is their business, but this forum gives outsiders (like us) the opportunity to explore these business practices. A good portion of the postings on this site deals with questions or information about the distilling business. Particularly Chuck and several others have spent many hours exploring just about everything about bourbon and the business of it. I can’t begin to think how many threads that specifically discuss the origins (i.e. ‘it taste like something from this or that distillery’) of a certain bottling or even the legitimacy of its marketing (i.e. Woodford Reserve, Makers, or Bulliet). A few examples would be:
Bulliet Discussion (http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/showflat.php?Cat=&Board=General&Number=37427&Forum =All_Forums&Words=BSS&Match=Username&Searchpage=0& Limit=25&Old=3weeks&Main=37416&Search=true#Post374 27) Woodford (http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/showflat.php?Cat=&Number=22986&page=&view=&sb=5&o= &fpart=1&vc=1) Makers and Woodford (http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/showflat.php?Cat=&Number=25484&page=&view=&sb=5&o= &fpart=2&vc=1)
For me, my talents as a taster are very poor. On the other hand I grew up and still live within a mile of 3 distilleries. My interest is more of the culture and business side of the bourbon industry. Which luckly many others on this board enjoy too.
Brandon

tdelling
12-06-2004, 19:08
> Pardon my taking offense at the derogatory "sitting at home in our underwear"
> comment and the equally insulting "slap a label" remark by "Tim".

I apologise for implying (okay, outright saying) that the Pogues make
their bourbon by sitting around in their underwear. I know that it takes
a lot of work to get a bourbon to market. I also apologise for the
slapping-a-label remark as well... you certainly have a handsome bottle,
and good design isn't easy, nor is dealing with bottle makers.

The Pogues have done nothing but treat us StraightBourbonites well, and
I wouldn't want my flippant remarks to sour that relationship in any way.

What I should have said in my post is that, although we're all happy to
see Old Pogue continuing their family traditions and bringing America's bourbon
heritage into the modern day, they are not at present operating a distillery
of their own that makes bourbon start to finish, from grain to the bottle.

Tim Dellinger

musher
12-06-2004, 19:18
To what extent do these non-distilling distilleries (Like Pogue, Van Winkle, etc) have their own mash bills, cooking recipes (times and temperatures), and most importantly, their own strains of yeast?