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Ambernecter
03-06-2006, 20:24
I've been off the scene for a while guys (I hasten to add not by choice!)

Bulleit Bourbon was a darn fine drop back in the day, at 90 proof with a cork.

Can you imagine my distress when, 3 or 4 months ago, I sent my brother out on a "mision" and he returned with a bottle of Bulleit at 80 proof with A SCREW CAP!!!

The lack of a cork I can roll with (after lots of therapy mind) but why pray, has this super whiskey been reduced to an average player proof and presentation wise?

Mind you come to think of it Bulleit is very avaliable these days in England.. so they must be doing right!

T47
03-06-2006, 20:53
? I just bought a bottle and it still has a cork? It seems to have its detractors, but I enjoy it. Of course I have only been a Bourbon drinker recently, so I cant speak to what it "used to be like".

jeff
03-07-2006, 03:56
What we have here in Lexington is still the 90 proof, cork-capped "Frontier Whiskey" which, according to Tom's website: Bulleitbourbon.com (http://bulleitbourbon.com) is the only product they produce. What does your bottle look like?

arsbadmojo
03-07-2006, 04:56
I just bought a bottle myself, same as jeff; Frontier Whiskey, in what looks like an old style patent medicine bottle, and a cork. Unfortunately I'm at work and can't check the proof on it.

I'd give you mine; I'm just not impressed with it at all. Better than Beam White Label, but I like regular Even William's better than Bulleit.

I saw it discussed in an older thread, and I wasn't sure if this board gets annoyed with resurecting old threads so I didn't post in it - but I know Bulleit is made by 4 Roses, but there's no way you could know that from the bottle; no mention of it at all.

jeff
03-07-2006, 05:22
Ed and I were at a charity event a couple weeks ago and Bulleit was the well bourbon:bigeyes: I know some people don't care for it, but I like it a lot. I think the whole "frontier whiskey" shtick is a little gimmicky and wish they would go back to something like the classy-looking ETL-type bottle.

BTW, feel free to resurrect any old thread that peaks your interest. We have years of good information in the archives of this site. Please use it :toast:

Ambernecter
03-07-2006, 06:53
Hey Jeff.

I 1st came across Bulleit in the mid 90's I think - quite a while back anyway.

It enjoyed a few reviews in the Loaded, FHM type mags all of them good.

It's only in the last few months that they have cut it from 90 to 80 proof. The bottle and label is exactly the same as you describe - frontier medicine style bottle, raised writing on the glass and an orange label - it's been the same all these years.

I didn't even notice the screw cap or proof change until I got it home. Just thought someone might be in the know as to why the changes happened.

Perhaps 90 proof is a tad strong for the general market? It really has shot itself in the foot as I really liked it at 90 proof - it just doesn't cut it at 80.

On the flip side Bulleit is widely available in many supermarkets at a good price - 17 pounds is not bad for over here.

jburlowski
03-07-2006, 15:28
I have trouble buying the oft-used arguement that the proof of an existing bourbon was cut because of "customer demand".

Bourbon drinkers could probably be put into a few broad catagories. First (of course), would be the enthusiasts (that'd be us). Most often drink bourbon straight. Don't might the higher proof (may actually prefer it) and in any case are savy enough to add water to dilute to what ever proof we want.

Second would be the cocktail drinkers, who use bourbon in classic cocktails (e.g., manhattans, etc.) They may have a problem with the higher proof. If one attempts to lower the proof by altering the proportions of the drink the over-all flavor is often "off".

Third, the mixers, who buy bourbon to combine with Coke or some other "mixer". They don't really focus on the taste of the bourbon and if strength is an issue can always adjust the amount of mix.

An admitedly simplistic breakdown but it leads me to the conclusion that a reduction in proof is usually motivated by the simple desire on the part of the manufacturer to make more money.

BourbonJoe
03-07-2006, 15:59
it leads me to the conclusion that a reduction in proof is usually motivated by the simple desire on the part of the manufacturer to make more money.
AMEN.....Who the hell invented the MBA anyway?
Joe :usflag:

TMH
03-08-2006, 13:12
I have trouble buying the oft-used arguement that the proof of an existing bourbon was cut because of "customer demand".
Bourbon drinkers could probably be put into a few broad catagories. First (of course), would be the enthusiasts (that'd be us). Most often drink bourbon straight. Don't might the higher proof (may actually prefer it) and in any case are savy enough to add water to dilute to what ever proof we want. For whatever reason I don't think this bourbon has attracted many enthusiasts. Is it because there is too much competition? Perhaps. Most of the time it is mentioned on this board because of its great looking bottle, not because of its taste. Very few SBers seem that excited about it. It would seem that perhaps Bulleit needs to go after a different market segment.


Second would be the cocktail drinkers, who use bourbon in classic cocktails (e.g., manhattans, etc.) They may have a problem with the higher proof. If one attempts to lower the proof by altering the proportions of the drink the over-all flavor is often "off".
In fact, mass market consumers do have a problem with higher proof spirits. Studies show consumer demand is for lower proof sweeter spirits. Higher proof means more alcohol flavor in the cocktail, which would make the drink "off". Cocktail drinkers consume cocktails for the combined flavor of the ingredients not the strong taste of the spirit(s) used.


Third, the mixers, who buy bourbon to combine with Coke or some other "mixer". They don't really focus on the taste of the bourbon and if strength is an issue can always adjust the amount of mix.

True, but that would mean less bourbon and more Coke used in the mix. Good for Coke, bad for Bulleit. Overall customers are buying more Coke and less Bulleit because they are using less of it in the mix. If they use more of it in the mix they have to replace it more often, which is good for Bulleit and their employees. You have to think about it on a large scale over time.

Also think about it from a bar owner's perspective. If a bar carries Bulleit and it's mixed with Coke or used in a cocktail, a higher proof will mean two things. First, patrons will get drunk quicker and possibly buy less because they got their "buzz" and don't want to get too intoxicated. Second, if patrons get really drunk, because they've consumed several drinks with a higher proof, and while driving home kill someone, the bar can be held liable. It is easier for the bartender to notice someone who is drinking a lot of drinks and getting drunk than someone who is consuming a few and getting drunk. It is better for the bar owner to keep more lower proof drinks than higher proof drinks.


An admitedly simplistic breakdown but it leads me to the conclusion that a reduction in proof is usually motivated by the simple desire on the part of the manufacturer to make more money.
Sorry if this sounds harsh or un-PC, but that's called running a business. The goal is always to make MORE money not LESS money.
The fact that the overall market prefers lower proof spirits is good and bad for us. It means more and more producers will put out lower proof bourbons, which will affect some of the middle shelf bourbons on the market. On the bright side, if demand was higher it would mean bourbon prices would be even higher because of a tighter supply. Look at the Scotch market. Demand is growing worldwide, but supply is the same.

We SBers are a niche market and therefore can only keep a few producers in business. Take advantage of what we have now and if you like a bourbon, buy it and buy it often. That is the only way the maker will know proof matters.

CrispyCritter
03-08-2006, 21:26
The fact that the overall market prefers lower proof spirits is good and bad for us. It means more and more producers will put out lower proof bourbons, which will affect some of the middle shelf bourbons on the market. On the bright side, if demand was higher it would mean bourbon prices would be even higher because of a tighter supply. Look at the Scotch market. Demand is growing worldwide, but supply is the same.

We SBers are a niche market and therefore can only keep a few producers in business. Take advantage of what we have now and if you like a bourbon, buy it and buy it often. That is the only way the maker will know proof matters.
And yet, as a counterexample, we have, for instance, George T. Stagg, William Larue Weller, Weller Antique 107, Van Winkle 107s, OGD 114, Rare Breed - it's almost like there's a move away from the middle to both low and high proofs.

There are certainly excellent 90-proofers out there - BT, Weller 12, Elmer T. Lee, ER 10 (yeah, it used to be 101 proof), Saz Jr. and Sr... hmmm, notice something they all have in common? :slappin: Also, Van Winkle Lot B - and, while I haven't tried the 90-proof ORVW offerings, I really don't think Julian would put his name on a substandard product.

Over on the Scotch side of the aisle, there are plenty of cask-strength offerings (e.g. Aberlour A'Bundadh at ~60%, Laphroaig CS at 57.6%, Glenfarclas 105 at 60%, Ardbeg Uigeadail at ~54%), along with unchillfiltered versions (which still need to be at least 46% to keep from becoming hazy).

The best thing to do, IMO, is keep buying what you like best. I'm certainly glad to see the folks at Sazerac (mostly) bucking the low-proof trend - let's hope it stays that way!

TMH
03-08-2006, 22:22
The best thing to do, IMO, is keep buying what you like best. I'm certainly glad to see the folks at Sazerac (mostly) bucking the low-proof trend - let's hope it stays that way!

:toast: Cheers!

It is possible to capture the bourbon enthusiast market and make money, but the size of this market will dictate how many players can exist. Sazerac has successfully tapped into the bourbon enthusiast market and as long as they keep putting out winners and we keep buying them, they will continue to profit. I would love to see more bourbons like Stagg. The key is for us to reward companies making top notch unchillfiltered bourbons with higher proofs.

NorCalBoozer
03-09-2006, 12:01
I've been think about this divergence that you mention, as I've noticed it as well. It's almost like you have all these bourbon makers moving in either direction, but basically away from good, mid range bourbon.

what I make of it is that the bulk and quality of middle priced bourbon is losing out.

I think producers realize now that they can use marketing to sell to the cheap/mid range consumer and reduce proof/quality(age) as the demand for hard spirits continues to increase.

Then they can also have a small growing segment of high end bourbon that they can make and sell. They can ask much more per bottle than for any of the middle range stuff.

We all know what a great "bang for the buck" most bourbon is and how great the mid range stuff has been, you can get INCREDIBLE buys in the $12-$30 range.

But I think from a business standpoint they feel than can make more $$$ as the demand for whiskey increases by selling a younger product for less $$ and throw some marketing dollars at it.

I'm sure the producers see this, and on the low to mid end they realize that people will differentiate on price first, taste second.

The high enders will differentiate on taste first, price second, so they can increase the price and not worry too much b/c they don't have to carry a super high inventory.




And yet, as a counterexample, we have, for instance, George T. Stagg, William Larue Weller, Weller Antique 107, Van Winkle 107s, OGD 114, Rare Breed - it's almost like there's a move away from the middle to both low and high proofs.
!

TMH
03-09-2006, 16:38
It's interesting that Bulleit decided to lower the proof rather than increase it and/or age state it to make it compete for the bourbon enthusiast niche. I think from the beginning it was never really a middle shelf contender. Most other middle shelf bourbons have an age statement and/or a higher proof.

As many of us know, more time in the barrel does not always mean the bourbon gets better. On the other hand, typically (always?) bourbons get better as the proof goes up. Could it be that Bulleit is at its best being a mix of aged bourbons and never could be an age stated bourbon? There are a few exceptions, but most sought after bourbons tend to be age stated or at least presumed to come from old barrels.

If increasing the proof and stating the age wouldn't help increase sales, it makes since to lower proof and try and drive sales based on its bottle design. The Bulleit bottle may be its best selling point, which would make it attractive to bar owners whose sales may come from customers looking at bottles and picking a "whiskey" based on appearance.

BourbonJoe
03-10-2006, 01:23
It's interesting that Bulleit decided to lower the proof rather than increase it and/or age state it to make it compete for the bourbon enthusiast niche.

Bulleit is just jumping on the bandwagon with Heaven Hill and a bunch of others whose marketing department got the hots to make more money by selling water rather than whiskey.
Joe :usflag:

Ambernecter
03-10-2006, 05:41
The Bulleit bottle may be its best selling point, which would make it attractive to bar owners whose sales may come from customers looking at bottles and picking a "whiskey" based on appearance.

I fully concur!

The bottle always attracted comments and will continue to do so. I used to think the 90 proof whiskey was pretty good as well - not an Earth shaker by any means but something that would run rings round Jim Beam white for example.

Now at a meek 80 proof the bottle is the only thing going for it! I actually double checked at 2 wine stores and both culprits were 80 proof, so at least I didn't dream the whole thing!

pepcycle
03-10-2006, 05:46
If you were vacationing in Deadwood, what would you order?
Remy?
Heck No!!
Gimme that cowboy lookin' stuff!!

BobA
03-10-2006, 09:15
Am I correct that the only place anyone on this thread has seen an 80 proof bottle is the UK? Is 80 just an export bottling? I like having it around, not one of my absolute favorites, but I'd be disappointed to see it reduced.

Sorry if our British friends end up with the disappointment, but if it's still 90 in the US, you can maybe work something out.

Bob

Ambernecter
03-10-2006, 11:52
Hey Bob!

I said above that is certainly a very recent thing, that Bulleit has gone down to 80 proof and now comes with a screw cap. This version is the norm in the UK so it would seem - and suddenly much more available i.e. in large supermarkets.

Not the end of the World by any means but I more that curious as to their motive, to mess up a pretty good tasting and well priced whiskey (at 90 proof of course!)

TMH
03-10-2006, 12:35
Bulleit is just jumping on the bandwagon with Heaven Hill and a bunch of others whose marketing department got the hots to make more money by selling water rather than whiskey.
Joe :usflag:

Joe, you may be on to something, bottled water is a huge business. Perhaps were are seeing the transition from bourbon production to bottled water. :grin:

I share your frustration with the bourbon producers lowering proof instead of raising proof, but believe there is a lot more going on. I also need to point out that just because a bourbon has low proof doesn't make it a bad bourbon. Flavor is way more important than proof. I'll take a 1975 bottle of 80 proof Old Taylor anyday over most 90 proof bourbons of today.

If Bulleit believed they could compete against higher proof bourbons and make money they would have raised the proof. Unfortunately, they must have come to the conclusion they couldn't. Bulleit hasn't received that much attention on this board, except for its bottle. This leads me to the conclusion it is better for Bulleit to compete against lower proof bourbons for the non-enthusiast market. If the masses of mainstream consumers were demanding 100 proof bourbon, Bulleit would deliver because if they didn't someone else would.

The only way to convince bourbon producers to make higher proof bourbons is to buy more, a lot more. If bourbon enthusiasts only make up say 5%-10% of the market, our sales as whole would have to at least double to even make a small dent. Considering most of us buy from the same couple of producers, the other brands have no incentive to satisfy our needs.

The reality is that most sales go to consumers who prefer lower proof alcohol and don't have loyalty to any one bourbon producer. In fact, Bulleit isn't only competing against low end WT, HH, and JB, but is also competing against vodka, tequila, and beer. Bourbon producers are competing for consumers' discretionary income, which could be spent on other things like movies, NASCAR, food, etc.

Look at the top 10 bourbon lists on this board and see how many of us listed Bulleit. Then ask yourself, why should Bulleit care what we think about their bourbon?

Here's a thought for you, many of us have noticed that middle shelf bourbons seem to be disappearing and the market is becoming polarized. Could it be that enthusiasts are no longer spending money on middle shelf bourbons, but instead on top shelf bourbons, thereby killing off middle shelf bourbons? This would seem to explain why some bourbons, like Bulleit, are regressing back to being a lower shelf bourbon.

mrt
03-11-2006, 00:17
I have a bootle of Bulleit (80 proof) and there's "aged for not a drop less than 6 years" statement on a label attached to the neck of the bottle. I read this on their website, too. It's not my favourite (as a beginner, yet), but I don't hate it, either.

Gillman
03-11-2006, 04:40
Chuck Cowdery was the first to point out (in his excellent bourbon newsletter) that Bulleit is a high rye recipe. It takes most bourbon enthusiasts, and it took me, some time to accustom to the rye palate, whether in rye whiskey or in high-rye bourbon. The rye lends often a spicy minty note (someone referred here to hot cinnamon, which is a good description of Bulleit), sometimes musky perfumed note (e.g. the ORVW ryes, and some Wild Turkey rye), sometimes an oats-like, "muddy" note (current Overholt). Bulleit is actually an excellent, traditional bourbon whiskey. I am not sure the drop to 80 proof really will affect it much, obviously no one here will be thrilled about it, but it won't change the basic palate and for those who drink whiskey neat, 80 proof is plenty high enough speaking for myself anyway. Rye whiskey and high-rye bourbon tend to be more complex than low-rye bourbon or no-rye bourbon. Some people never get accustomed to it which is fine but at its best it is the height of the straight whiskey art.

Gary

Ambernecter
03-11-2006, 04:53
Well put Gary.

The only reason I posted this question at all, is due to the fact that the drop in proof, has definately affected, what was a pretty good whiskey. It was dead on the money at 90 proof.

You'd have to taste it at the reduced strength to know - it ain't a smart move IMHO.

Gillman
03-11-2006, 05:44
Thanks, and I agree some whiskeys don't drink well at a certain proof (i.e. if too low, generally). Eg I think Elmer T. Lee is perfect where it is. I'll keep an open mind on the Bulleit until I try it but am not encouraged by the drop in proof, certainly.

Do we know for sure Bulleit has dropped in proof wherever sold, or is it just in the international market?

gary

Ambernecter
03-11-2006, 06:44
If ETL were to drop to 80 proof I think I'd be close to tears - is is perfect where it is. I am sure Mr. Lee himself would not ever let this happen. I am close to my 1st panic attack at the very thought of this!

I honestly don't know if Bulleit has dropped in proof in the USA but Jeff said he saw a bottle recently with the cork at 90 proof. I just tried their site but there is no contact details. I don't mean to harp on but I feel cheated that this decent pour has gone South.

BT is cheaper and better and at a solid 90 proof is one of the best pours for the money I've come across. I'll get my hands on some today I think, and try not to drink angry!!!! Grrrrrrrrrrrrr!

BourbonJoe
03-11-2006, 12:04
If ETL were to drop to 80 proof I think I'd be close to tears - is is perfect where it is. I am sure Mr. Lee himself would not ever let this happen.
I wouldn't be too sure about that. I don't think Jimmy Russell was any too happy to see his signature bourbon reduced to 90 proof, but it still happened. Evidently even the Master Distillers have no clout with the "suits".
Joe :usflag:

ratcheer
03-11-2006, 16:43
Rye whiskey and high-rye bourbon tend to be more complex than low-rye bourbon or no-rye bourbon. Some people never get accustomed to it which is fine but at its best it is the height of the straight whiskey art.

Gary

Well, I love Old Grand Dad (especially the 114-proof version), which is also supposedly a high rye recipe. So, I don't think high rye is the reason why I don't like Bulleit.

Tim

Virus_Of_Life
03-12-2006, 00:13
I have a bootle of Bulleit (80 proof) and there's "aged for not a drop less than 6 years" statement on a label attached to the neck of the bottle. I read this on their website, too. It's not my favourite (as a beginner, yet), but I don't hate it, either.

This confirmed my thoughts that maybe the export version of Bulleieieit has been dropped to 80 proof. Don't take this wrong, but with all the export only bottlings that those of us here in the U.S. have to do without it is nice to see something that maybe isn't better when shipped OUTSIDE the great U.S. of A.. There are many export only's I'd love to try, EW 15yr comes to mind and the list could go on...

All that aside, I have only experience Bul.... once and was not impressed and seem to be one of the few who dislikes the bottle, can you tell I don't remember or care to remember how to spell it?

I WILL buy a bottle one of these days and give it many opportunites to impress me as I never let a first, or even second impression be the final opinion. :grin: I think we all owe that to the bourbon world...

Gillman
03-12-2006, 05:04
Tim, of course each of us has likes and dislikes within a given category. Each bourbon is to some degree different, eg Basil Hayden, Baker's and OG (except sometimes OG 86) are high-rye tasting whiskeys and I haven't warmed to them. I am simply saying rye in whiskey has certain attributes that in general some people never come to terms with. Eg when Bill Samuels Sr. devised the wheated recipe (or his version) for Maker's Mark, I believe he did not like the tang that comes from rye in small grains. Unless present in small quantities (eg the spec for Old Charter) it puts many people off. This does not mean that people who like a given rye-recipe bourbon or rye whiskey will like all examples of the category. (There is probably a math or logical formula to express this, I invite the more math-oriented to suggest it). :)

Gary

Ambernecter
03-12-2006, 07:04
I wouldn't be too sure about that. I don't think Jimmy Russell was any too happy to see his signature bourbon reduced to 90 proof, but it still happened. Evidently even the Master Distillers have no clout with the "suits".
Joe :usflag:
That is a true and alarming example right there!

Ambernecter
03-12-2006, 12:07
I really didn't know that Baker's was a high rye whiskey - I know it's a cracking drink.
You learn something new every time you logg onto this forum!

Gillman
03-12-2006, 12:55
That has been my understanding.

Gary