PDA

View Full Version : The Future of Bourbon Culture



fussychicken
12-13-2007, 19:05
Gary's excellent thread about the post-1995 bourbon culture (http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/showthread.php?t=8237) got me thinking about the future. So what is next? What does the next 10 years hold? There have been many threads about what we would like to see in the future, but what is really going to happen?

Will rye ever really establish itself as a major force in the market?
Will American Whiskey prices continue to creep up to Scotch prices?
Will the bourbon connoisseurship culture continue to grow?
How many members will straightbourbon.com have in 2017?
Will Jim Beam and Jack Daniels be able to sustain their massive growth in popularity or will they succumb to the cruel reality of trendiness?
Will any historic distilleries be-reopened?
Will we see new crazy prices for historic bourbons at auction now that such auctions are legal in the US?Some people see the growth of the bourbon market being nothing but good. Nevertheless others will say that the negatives that come along with massive growth in popularity aren't worth the gains. I'm curious if things get too out of hand we will be reminiscing about the good old days when we could get BTACs for $40.

In either case, lets hear your thoughts. I look forward to re-reading this thread with my first bottle of BT-distilled Van-Winkle rye in 2017! :)

Rughi
12-13-2007, 19:39
I think the first new trend we'll see come on line is experimentation in micro-distillation, by existing distilleries and by upstarts. This is already in the works with BT's small still in their former yeast room, BF's "brewpub" distillery in a Louisville shopping center, and the ever-promised reopening of Willett's.

It seems unlikely that the compromises to efficiency and economy of scale that the major distilleries need in order to let their bottom shelfers compete with one-week wonders such as vodka, gin and absinthe (yes absinthe!), such as a thick mash, low barley content, high still proof, and high barrel entry proof can be changed. But that doesn't mean that small production runs from a smaller facility can't distill with prestige products in mind.

Also, Templeton, Hudson and others are microdistilling ryes and bourbons that are recognizable as traditional "American whiskies." They will have little reason to make large volume compromises in the distillation, either.

Roger

TroyM
12-13-2007, 20:52
I think the boubon industry will mimic the scotch industry. Designer casks and finishes, marketing led small runs / limited editions and increasing prices.

TNbourbon
12-13-2007, 21:32
Will rye ever really establish itself as a major force in the market?
Yes, and no. I suspect straight rye will grow from what it is today. I don't expect it will ever reach -- or even approach -- the level of bourbon sales. And, I suspect -- once today's old whiskey stocks dry up -- that most of the 'boutique' action will come from micro-distillers, such as Anchor/Old Potrero, Templeton, and Hudson.
Will American Whiskey prices continue to creep up to Scotch prices?
Yep.
Will the bourbon connoisseurship culture continue to grow?
Keep in mind that such connoisseurship has been around in places like Japan, the South, Italy, et al, for some time. Its expansion in the U.S. is noteworthy, so, yes, it will result in growth.
How many members will straightbourbon.com have in 2017?
Never mind :rolleyes::grin:.
Will Jim Beam and Jack Daniels be able to sustain their massive growth in popularity or will they succumb to the cruel reality of trendiness?
They're not going away. Their share of the market will lessen.
Will any historic distilleries be-reopened?
Alas (regarding Stitzel-Weller), probably not. Most shuttered distilleries have already been gutted of their stillworks. Many are demolished or decaying. Even it they were to reopen, they wouldn't be the same. The lead time before production is in the sales pipeline requires a patient commitment not compatible with shareholder-return demands. Any new whiskey distilling will come from new distilleries, probably on a small scale. Kentucky Bourbon Distillers (the Kulsveens) may be an outlier here, having done much of the 'grunt' work already. God bless 'em!
Will we see new crazy prices for historic bourbons at auction now that such auctions are legal in the US?
Already starting to happen. I used to be able to snag an Old Fitz decanter off of eBay for under $30, with shipping. Try THAT today!

cowdery
12-14-2007, 14:49
I pretty much agree with Tim (as I always do, right?), especially regarding shuttered distilleries. It wouldn't surprise me if Diageo "reopened" Stitzel-Weller, but it would basically be a new distillery inside the old building. Not a bad thing, but not what one might hope. For one thing, Diageo doesn't have any of the historic SW brands, hence they have no need to make wheated bourbon. If SW isn't making wheated bourbon, it isn't SW.

About prices, I think bourbon prices will increase at a pace with scotch prices, which means I don't think the prices will get closer. They'll both go up. As much as I would like to see American whiskey "creep up on" scotch in popularity, I don't think it's going to happen. American whiskey sales tend to grow along with scotch sales and I think that will continue to be the case. That's not a bad thing. Scotch has to do the pioneering, but American whiskey gets the benefit.

The baby that is micro-distilling may be smothered in its bed, at least as far as whiskey is concerned, by the small-scale operations BT and other large whiskey-makers are setting up. True micro-distilled whiskey is still mostly an illusion. You've got McCarthy's, Stranahan's, Wasmund, Hudson and, of course, Old Potrero and that's about it. Templeton may or may not be distilling, but nothing they're selling is anything they made.

jburlowski
12-14-2007, 18:29
Gary's excellent thread about the post-1995 bourbon culture (http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/showthread.php?t=8237) got me thinking about the future. So what is next? What does the next 10 years hold? There have been many threads about what we would like to see in the future, but what is really going to happen?

Will rye ever really establish itself as a major force in the market?No, it will increase in sales but will always be a very small niche (think Apple in personal computers)

Will American Whiskey prices continue to creep up to Scotch prices?Sigh... yes, but not as far

Will the bourbon connoisseurship culture continue to grow?Until the economy slows... than that trend will as well

How many members will straightbourbon.com have in 2017?More than today

Will Jim Beam and Jack Daniels be able to sustain their massive growth in popularity or will they succumb to the cruel reality of trendiness?Growth will slow... but they will do very, very well; thank you

Will any historic distilleries be-reopened?Yes, but only for volume and not necessarily for quality (as we remember it)

Will we see new crazy prices for historic bourbons at auction now that such auctions are legal in the US?But of course.

:)

Aboce are my thoughts.

wku88
12-20-2007, 21:39
Templeton may or may not be distilling, but nothing they're selling is anything they made.

Interesting,as I( like the Templeton Rye. Who does make it? If this has been covered before, I apologize.... just point me in the direction of the discussion.

Rughi
12-20-2007, 22:49
Interesting,as I( like the Templeton Rye. Who does make it? If this has been covered before, I apologize.... just point me in the direction of the discussion.

It has been discussed recently here (http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/showthread.php?t=5360&highlight=templeton). It has a little bit of discussion on whether it's good whiskey - that opinion was mixed.

I found this You Tube video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=26SL4eQR7Y4&feature=related) of the Templeton bottling line. I don't have a sound card on my home-built computer, but the video showed...their bottling line is not exactly like Bettye Jo's ;)

I talked with Scott Bush of Templeton at the Independent Distillers show in SF this year, and tasted white dog from his facility. It was delightful, but then I'm delighted easily by white dog. He says his own whiskey will be in bottles in 2009 (I think, maybe it was 2008). He deferred on who made the white dog for the startup years, but I got the feeling it's not one of the usual suspects on this forum (i.e. JB, BF, BT, WT, etc).

Beyond idle curiosity, I don't really care who made the startup-period whiskey, I'd buy Templeton's white dog as is (which may be possible) and I'll buy their product when it comes on line - because it promises to be good as well as to support the promise of innovation in this very closed industry of international conglomerates. It's taken many decades for independent spirits (heh, heh) to re-emerge from the troubles of the 20th century.

Roger

ILLfarmboy
12-21-2007, 00:57
.....
I talked with Scott Bush of Templeton at the Independent Distillers show in SF this year, and tasted white dog from his facility. It was delightful, but then I'm delighted easily by white dog. He says his own whiskey will be in bottles in 2009 (I think, maybe it was 2008)....
Roger

The other day I was wondering about when some of their own distillate would be bottled.

The one bottle of Templeton I bought earlier this year, while I found it at 80 proof to be less robust than I like for consuming neat, I quite liked it in Old Fashioneds. I fully intend, even at it's steep price for an 80 proofer, to buy a bottle of their own make whiskey and if I like it at least as much as their sourced whiskey I intend to immediately buy several more bottles.

cowdery
12-21-2007, 03:21
First, they didn't buy white dog for the original product. They bought fully-aged whiskey. They had whiskey in bottles within months of receiving their DSP permit.

Bush told me the straght rye they're selling isn't from one of the "majors," which suggests to me that he may have sourced it through KBD. Could be he doesn't even know who actually made it. Trouble is, there are only four distilleries that made straight rye during the time period in question: Wild Turkey, Buffalo Trace, Jim Beam, and Brown-Forman on behalf of Heaven Hill. It has to have come from one of those four. There were a couple of other long-shot possibilities, but I checked those out and it wasn't them, so it has to be one of the four above. If Bush got it from KBD, then chances are good they got it from Heaven Hill.

In addition to the current product, he has label approval for a "specialty" (it can't legally be called whiskey) that contains a little bit of rye but mostly sugar, which is an authentic moonshine recipe, so it really would be more authentic, since that is what his marketing strategy is all about.

I'm willing to keep an open mind on future efforts, but I'm put off by anyone who comes out of the box trying to mislead me.

sprocket
12-21-2007, 09:32
Will the bourbon connoisseurship culture continue to grow?

I think so, not because I know Jack about the bourbon world (very much a newbie), but because that seems to be the trend in so many other things in our culture today.

It started with coffee: from the days of choosing between Maxwell House and Folgers we now have full-fledged coffee snobs (of which I am one) who would rather drink tea than either of those two. I now go to a local coffee shop which roasts their own coffee and choose between about 20 coffees of country origins and blends... and that's not counting the flavors. Yes, I pay more, but I know more and appreciate the difference. Used to just get the generic 5 pound metal can...

Then there was the trend towards connoisseurship with cigars, with afficionado magazines and cigar stores and smoking rooms. No more Phillies, people have to have a specialty stogie.

I've noticed the same thing lately with other things like tea and chocolate. Was in Target and found that instead of just getting a Hershey bar now I have to decide my cocoa content and country of origin. Tea is set to be the next thing that is specialized and has afficionados (seen the pyramid tea bags yet?).

So, it would not surprise me if the average joe (like me) moves from ordering a Beam and Coke and starts discovering bourbon for its own sake. I've noticed a lot of bourbon tastings around here (granted, this is bourbon country though) and would not be surprised if people get more discerning about what they drink and learn more about what they are drinking.

Why is this in our culture? Probably a lot of disposable income and a desire to have something that is unique and custom-made.

Gillman
12-21-2007, 10:15
I think that's right.

These interests always existed, but on a much smaller scale. There were always people, not just in distilleries, who developed connoisseurship in bourbon (and one can extend this to cigars, beer of course, cheese, bread, even coffee - I recall those little roasting stores in North Beach, San Francisco and Manhattan 20 and 30 years ago).

It's just gotten much bigger due to the world getting smaller, better communications, greater distribution of these products, more disposable income in some cases, etc.

Some say we are in a post-industrial era which favors these things. I am not sure that is right. Industry is essential I think, if not to the production of all these products, then their transport, advertising, packaging (in more ways than one).

In the end, consumer choice has the final say, and that is a result of the market economy.

It's all good.

Gary

craigthom
12-22-2007, 19:49
Those pyramid teabags are like Sam Adams. Sure, it's better than mainstream beers, but it's not what serious tea drinkers would buy. Or how about you buying coffee pods instead of loose beans?

The Web has made it easy to buy whole leaf tea from a variety of countries and regions, just like coffee and chocolate.

So tea is already there.