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Was the formula for Old Crow changed once again when Jim Beam bought the brand?
John, this is a very good question. I have heard that Jim Beam has two mashbills, that would imply that Old Crow was made to fit into one of them. I have bottles of Old Crow produced before the Beam buyout (bottled 1982), and one bottled last year from the current Beam prodution. The 1981 vintage is 100 proof, so I had to cut it down to 80 proof for a fair comparison. This was also in the days when bourbon wasn't selling well, and inventories were high, resulting in extra age. The tax stamp on this bottle indicates a distillation date of 1972 and a bottling date of 1982, so this 10 years of age further complicates a fair comparison.
With all this being said, both the 1982 and 1999 have that distinctive Old Crow taste, with the citris flavor. The 1982, as you might suspect had a fuller and more smooth flavor and was easily more enjoyable. The 1999 came across as a watered down younger (3 years old) version of the same whiskey. To my taste, both of these bottlings, while drinkable, fall into the lower half of the whiskies I have tried.
Mark A. Mason, El Dorado, Arkansas
Beam acquired Crow in 1987 when it merged with National. Beam immediately closed the Old Crow Distillery. When I was there in 91-92, there was still some whiskey made there in the warehouses, but most of the whiskey being warehoused at Crow was distilled and barreled at Clermont (i.e., Beam). Is there a separate formula for Crow being made at Clermont? Beam won't tell you one way or the other but what I have pieced together from people who should know is that, as Mark mentioned, Beam makes two formulas. Therefore, Beam and Crow are essentially the same whiskey, i.e., made in the same distillery from the same formula. This points out again the importance of profiling. Through judicious "marrying" of bourbons with different characteristic
Just wanted to say that while I've drunk this whiskey in the past -- and probably will in the future -- I've always thought that something's off. It's a little rough to me. Maybe it needs another year of aging? Maybe a higher proof?
"Old Crow" is such a great name, so redolent of history, that I'd like to see the brand survive.
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