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Rughi
02-10-2008, 11:07
The easy way to look at Beam's purchase of National Distillers in 1987 is that ND had become a dysfunctional, antiquated jumble of labels and distilleries that had no possibility of surviving the hard times of the Baby Boom generation, and so needed to be swallowed and restructured by ownership with vision.

While that all rings true, I feel that the link with history that many on this forum treasure is one of the biggest assets that bourbon has at its disposal. We search for older bottlings to understand the flavors of that past, speculate wildly on aspects of older distillation and aging methods, and swoon over how proud we are as Americans to have such a great distinctly American product. The history of a brand _matters_ to many of us, and influences our spending.

The view I most commonly see is that Beam respected Old Grand-Dad, and any other label needed to sink or swim based on the brand loyalty of its customers while being filled with whatever juice Beam had on hand.

I wonder, though, if this plays true. I love the Grand-Dad 114 currently being put out, but what do people think of Beam's stewardship of the other ND labels that once produced strong sales and held dominate positions in the Bourbon Aristocracy?

Old Crow seems to me to have been intentionally dragged down beneath Beam White as revenge for its domination over Beam in a previous era.

Old Taylor seems to be a forgotten niche between White and Black - not necessarily mistreated but suffering from benign neglect. It continues to be filled with 6 year juice.

Old Overholt, I believe, was given a little respect like Grand-Dad. While it languished through the Dark Ages of the '90s - so did every other rye. It could easily have been dropped if Beam just didn't care.

Hill and Hill was another ND brand that was a distinct product at some point.

Sunny Brook was the guardian of quality coming out of the Pure Food era. It had an image and a message that was unmistakable, no matter how antiquated that seems now. It was a reliable mid-shelfer that I guess now, along with Hill and Hill, is filled indiscriminately along with Old Crow bottlings.

Other than Grand-Dad, I have not taken much of a look at Beam's ND heritage labels in recent years, so am looking for help. Especially since, given a growing enthusiasm for a larger variety of whiskey profiles to exercise our palates as much as a single profile can exercise our livers, it seems to me that Beam is sitting on a gold mine of _real_ tradition, not just the marketing babble so often made up by majors, bottlers, and startups alike. I remember getting excited just reading Bobby's suggestion of an Old Taylor Single Barrel.

Instructive is the example of Buffalo Trace, which has become dominant in prestige products by expertly differentiating over a dozen marketable profiles from just two bourbon distillations. Beam also has two bourbon distillations, but with other potentially differentiating factors, such as two distilleries and the practice of barreling to brand (I wish Bobby would explain this again).

Here are questions I'd like to discuss:

Do any of the old ND labels excite us?
Does the whiskey in the bottles further or diminish that excitement?

There are quickly becoming a much larger variety of bourbon niches. What niches could revamped labels fill?

What possibilities exist for differentiated profiles of these brands, so that the juice as well as the artwork and marketing promotes the brand?



I, for one, am looking forward to what Beam might do with the stewardship of its assets.

Roger

pepcycle
02-10-2008, 13:41
IF Beam had the cogliones or financial clout of Brown Forman, they would attempt to resurrect, in spirit at least, the fine old labels that they hold. They could do it the way BF did with Woodford, only five times over. Imagine how cool it would be to have 5 more smaller distilleries on The Bourbon Trail, strategically placed to stimulate the Agri-economy of KY.
They could start with whatever swill they sell as OT or Old Crow and slowly improve the product with small distillery craft techniques.
They wouldn't have to buy back the old sites, just recreate them.
Now, back to the issue at hand.

I'm afraid Beam doesn't want to compete with itself by introducing more niche products. The small batch collection is a veiled attempt at premium with age, proof, target market differences. The new "old" products would really need something unique to differentiate them, other than a nice story on the label.

What comes to mind?
1. Jump right in with a 15 year old
2. A decent four grain version
3. Pot Stilled (I mean really pot stilled, not blended with Pot Stil)
4. Pre-Prohibition Style

TBoner
02-10-2008, 14:36
Beam is in the unenviable position of being the top dog in terms of sales volume, making them easy to hate (like Budweiser, the Yankees, etc.). Posters on this forum frequently write something along the lines of, "I don't like most Beam bourbon, but (JBB, KC, Baker's, Booker's) is pretty good stuff." It reminds me of my hipster friends in high school saying, "I don't like Pearl Jam, but (insert song title) is a good song." Sometimes I feel like we're all just too cool for school, hating on Beam because we think we have to.

The Small Batch collection is good whiskey (hipster qualifying statement: BH is too watered-down). Beam Black is good whiskey. And the price points of mid-shelf and premium offerings have caught up to Beam (and then some: KC is one of the top 2 or 3 values in the market, IMO).

I say all of this to make it clear that I respect Beam, and I can understand that they may not be interested in changing, since what they're doing now has worked for so long. But no other distiller has gone the last 15+ years without introducing a new product to the market. No one else has failed to bring out at least one 10yo product, even if it was a one-off (I love 6-8-year old whiskey, but at least make an effort!). No one else has failed to take even one of the older labels in their portfolio, dust it off, and remake it into something great.

Beam has maintained much of the quality of OGD 114 (and, to some extent, the 86-proof and the BIB). Overholt holds much the same place in the market that it did when Beam took it over and, while others may disagree, I find it very distinct from Beam Rye, which is something I can't say for their low-end bourbons. Everything else has slipped a notch (or eight, in the case of Sunny Brook and Old Crow). I get excited by, and enjoy, ND Sunny Brook: a sweet, simple bourbon with a very defined vanilla-and-hay combination that I like a lot. I think H&H had a lot more character than most 80-proofers currently on the market, but it doesn't really excite me. Bourbon Deluxe, it seems, has always sucked. And OT...what can I say? The 1980s ND stuff - very well-aged, from what I understand - is simply some of the best whiskey I've had. The current product is lackluster and plain by comparison, though by no means as embarrassing as Old Crow.

On the whole, I feel like Beam could easily revive one or more of these as premiums, probably Taylor and Crow, since they were somewhat premium at one time and have a lot of name recognition. I like some of Ed's ideas. In particular, an unfiltered, low distillation proof version of something - similar to pre-Prohibition whiskey - excites me. I've heard from a couple of folks who should know that a premium Overholt (BIB? extra-aged? I wasn't told) is on its way within a year or so. I know it's tough for Beam, given the sheer number of people who have to approve any decision, to bring something new out. But it has become hard to take them as seriously in terms of craft when everyone else is experimenting left and right and they are, essentially, resting on admittedly hard-won and deserved success.

mozilla
02-11-2008, 06:01
Great points all around!
What was Beam doing durring the bourbon glut?
I hunt out just about every bottle I can find from any distillery except Beam. Where are their really good products from that period? I don't believe that they had any or at least it is news to me. It is my opinion that the Beam products have always been only fair when compared to the others. This is why I don't have alot of faith in their ability to create something better, ever.
They have consumed one of the greatist bourbon producers(ND) and spit out swill in its place ever since. They seem content to put out underwhelming products in whatever label doesn't say the Beam name on it.
My question is: what do they do with the bourbon that doesn't taste good enough to be Old Crow? That must be some pretty bad stuff. Old Crow is horrible! I can't thinks of a worse tasting bourbon. How is it Beam makes something that taste so bad? It should never pass the tasters to make it in a bottle.
If a leading producer of bourbons can take pride in the bourbon and packaging of something like OC then I believe we should do our part to drive them out of business. I will do my part and not buy any of their products in the future, even OO.

mozilla
02-11-2008, 07:34
Found a few other labels from the ND days: Old Log Cabin, Old McBrayer and Kentucky Colonel
Will post others if I find 'em
Also found something interesting....on 2/22/84 Beam bottled a product at one of their Ohio facilities called Old Grand Dan(TTB website). Beam also had a product called Olde Sunnyford. Now these reports leave a little bit to the imagination, but I find this very interesting.

StraightBoston
02-11-2008, 08:05
What was Beam doing durring the bourbon glut?
I hunt out just about every bottle I can find from any distillery except Beam. Where are their really good products from that period? I don't believe that they had any or at least it is news to me. It is my opinion that the Beam products have always been only fair when compared to the others. This is why I don't have alot of faith in their ability to create something better, ever.


I've been very happy with decanters filled with aged Beam whiskey ranging from the mid-60's to the early 80's. (It seems that they were a key supplier of bulk whiskey for private labels during that period the way HH has been in recent years.) There's a consistent family style in those bottles that I can't find today, even in the Small Batch (maybe a little in Baker's?)

I'm still a fan of today's Beam Black, though it's no match for the older stuff -- I think something about that mashbill or still needs the extra years in wood to turn into something special (or at least better than JBW!)

Rughi
02-11-2008, 09:39
I know it's tough for Beam, given the sheer number of people who have to approve any decision, to bring something new out. But it has become hard to take them as seriously in terms of craft when everyone else is experimenting left and right and they are, essentially, resting on admittedly hard-won and deserved success.

I think TBoner has hit the center of the issue on both of his points.

My belief is that it would be corporate inertia and the conservatism of success that is the biggest hurdle. When other distilleries have tried to be more innovative, they have taken the same model as Steve Jobs did when he created the Macintosh - form a small, innovative branch of the company that is fiercely independent of the juggernaut (remember seeing photos of the pirate flag on Apple campus in that era?). Brown Forman refurbished Woodford to give autonomy to it's pot-still concept whiskey and is setting up a micro-still pub in a shopping center or something as well. Buffalo Trace has a fledgling division in its old yeast room that it is setting up for micro-distilling. However, it remains to be seen if the most effective way to have independence from the corporate inertia lies with the...independents. Beam can make any whiskey they set their minds to, the tough part is in the inertia of monetary success.

Back to the topic, I would be very excited about a low-distillation proof concept that would hearken back to the roots of either Old Taylor or Old Crow. Either is ripe for going upmarket, Taylor (the first modern bourbon, I believe it's been called), as its image hasn't been dragged through the muck, but also Crow because that's where the hero-worshipping cult of the master distiller may have originated.

Barrel purchases _only_ would be another line that would have a real history, where barrels would be prominently displayed at liquor stores, with the bottles lined up next to and on top of the barrel (similarly to how many stores do with BR products). This would be the anti-George Garvin Brown bottling.

Heck, I think one brand could even be a "dirtier" more congeneric single distillation; it would have to be safe, but why not let out some flavors of the 1800s? From time to time we read reports here that JD and Barton sometimes bypass the doubler - why not make that a point of differentiation as well? Perhaps a label like Hermitage (does Beam own Hermitage?) would fit that one. It's a bit of a stretch, as Hermitage was as classy and advanced in its time as Old Taylor, but it did operate in those days and sounds like a grand old bourbon. It sounds antebellum, even, to me.

And what about Sunny Brook? It's got the uniformed "guardian" on it. Wouldn't that be a great logo and _true_ history to build a soft, sweet, easy bourbon around, similar to Virginia Gentleman's gentle demeanor or to how the ER17 is (was?) the smoothest of the older BT bourbons? wouldn't that be a much better approach than to tame down Grand Dad to make up a history that Basil Hayden made bland whiskey?

I think there are so many possibilities for Beam to diversify with the rising volumes of enthusiast-targeted products, and the times they are a'changing.

Roger "exercise your palate, not your liver" Hodges

barturtle
02-11-2008, 15:21
One thing to keep in mind here: Beam isn't an independent liquor only business. While BF is wine and spirits only, Beam is owned by Fortune Brands, who owns many non-alcohol related brands. Moen seriously outsells Beam. Nobody cares where their faucet is made, or if it is one faucet out of ten or ten million. I'd also bet that 60% of every faucet made isn't given to the feds in taxes.

Given this, I'd think that if I was Fortune Brands, being the number one in sales and having some of the most recognizable premium and super premium brands (Booker's, Baker's, Basil Hayden's, Knob Creek and Maker's Mark) would be good enough. Heck those five brands alone probably outsell the entire capacity of some other distilleries.

Has Beam done a good job keeping historical brands going? Actually, yes. In many ways it's amazing some of those brands are still even on the shelf. Hundreds of other brands aren't.

jinenjo
02-12-2008, 23:04
Good point, Timothy. And great thread topic, Roger! After what you said above, I must say I can see both sides to this story.

The enthusiast part definitely sides with Roger--I would most surely love to see OT bottled in the old style, and I'd be willing to pay a moderate to premium price for it, especially if it tastes anything like ND juice. As I've said before, I'd like to see anyone produce a bourbon or rye in the (1st) golden era vein--i.e. low proof entry, and perhaps whatever else made it so distinct and full of depth (probably a mystery, or at least to the non-distillers).

But upon reading Barturtle's response I must say, the higher-ups probably don't give a damn. They have their "specialty" bottles that do very well--Knob Creek, et al--and that's all they need to do, most likely.

cowdery
02-13-2008, 11:16
Maybe this will provide some small insight into Beam.

At Brown-Forman there is a guy named Mike Keyes who is Global Managing Director for Jack Daniel's. He's the main marketing guy on the Daniel's brand. I don't know how many years he's been working on JD, but it's many. He also has a team of people, both employed directly by the company and at ad agencies and other vendors, many again who have worked on JD for years. There is a lot of continuity, a lot of institutional memory.

By contrast, at Beam the guy with a similar title on the Jim Beam brand has been in that job for about six months and in the organization for about 18 months. I may not have those numbers exactly right, but you get the idea. Their corporate style is to move people around and people come and go a lot too, perhaps in part because they're in a market like Chicago and not Louisville, where there are a lot more opportunities for ambitious MBAs.

I'm not criticizing here or saying one is better than the other, but they are very different companies. Beam's offices are in a Chicago suburb, on a couple floors in an office building. They have no production facilities of any kind in the Chicago metropolitan area. Their parent company, Fortune Brands, is in a separate facilty in a different suburb. Although the JD marketing organization is in Louisville, not Lynchburg or Nashville (where they were at one time), Brown-Forman's bottling plant is at the headquarters campus and they have a distillery a few miles down the road. Some of the offices are in refurbished barrel houses. They had a distillery at that site until about 25 years ago. They have a water tower in the shape of and painted like an Old Forester bottle.

Heaven Hill's distillery is right next to the Brown-Forman headquarters campus and there are, as you can imagine, elements of the whiskey industy's heritage all over Louisville.

The marketing, sales and management people at Beam aren't exposed to any of that.

When Beam bought National the whole American whiskey category looked dead. It's amazing to consider, but true, that the prize Beam was after in the National deal was DeKuyper Peachtree Schnapps, which at the time was a one-million case brand.

Looking more broadly at the whole industry, the revival of historic brands hasn't really been the path to success. The action seems to be in new brands such as Woodford Reserve, Russell's Reserve, Knob Creek, Bulleit and so on. Brown-Forman has had only very limited success trying to revitalize Old Forester, for example.

I don't have any grand conclusions to draw, just some observations that may provide some insights.

doubleblank
02-13-2008, 13:07
Good points about Beam's management Chuck. I'd guess they are smart, by-the-numbers people who do what they believe is right for their shareholders and their careers. Good managment is always intersted in making profitable products and filling any percieved needs in their marketplace. Current MBA/Marketing concepts generally don't want management working on anything that doesn't materially improve the bottom line. Without management having a close association or love for its products, there is rarely any interest in doing what many would consider "right". It won't get you a raise or bonus.

When I look at the Beam lineup of bourbons, I personally don't see any major holes where a new product/revitalized product would add materially to their bottom line. But what I do see is a lack of exciting/award winning/new products creating "buzz" that would help Beam's overall visability in the bourbon category. In contrast, look at how BT has used their new products/awards to draw attention to their lineup. Shelf talkers mentioning "Distillery of the Year"....."Whiskey of the Year", etc gets consumers attention walking down the bourbon aisle. And these "limited edition/top shelf/profitable for everyone" products give your distributors another weapon in the war for shelf space at the retail level. I could keep rambling on how a unique new product could be leveraged to improve Beam's sales. But apparently Beam's management doesn't agree because this is a standard tool used by marketers in industries ranging from automobiles, wines, electronics, etc.

Randy

Gillman
02-13-2008, 13:23
I think there are different business models, different ways to make money..

Gary

barturtle
02-13-2008, 13:30
I agree with Randy's assessment that doing limited/special/award winning bottling would get people talking about them in a positive manner. But then again, they did just recently buy the king of limited/collectors bottlings-Maker's.

Not exactly the kind of limited editions I would like to see them do, but heck if you can sell more whiskey than people will drink, you've gotten something right.

NickAtMartinis
02-13-2008, 14:11
I agree with Randy's assessment that doing limited/special/award winning bottling would get people talking about them in a positive manner.


I could be wrong, but I think people like us are a very small demographic as compared to the "bulk whiskey" consumers - those who purchase the staple brand(s) based on commercialism instead of taste. Therefore, Beam wouldn't make a whole lot of money off of us but do make a ton of money off of them.

In Beam's eyes, it's probably not worth the trouble to put out premium bourbon. They're making money hand over fist, so if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

mozilla
02-13-2008, 14:37
In Beam's eyes, it's probably not worth the trouble to put out premium bourbon. They're making money hand over fist, so if it ain't broke, don't fix it.



I believe you are right.....and that's why the amount of money I spend, every year, on Beam products is close to..... $0.


I much prefer the style of BT & WT :grin: .

NickAtMartinis
02-13-2008, 14:56
I believe you are right.....and that's why the amount of money I spend, every year, on Beam products is close to..... $0.


I much prefer the style of BT & WT :grin: .


Jeff, same goes for me. The only Beam product I have ever purchased was Knok Creek, which I liked at the time. I haven't tried it in quite a while.

Admittedly, I would try Booker's if it wasn't $50+ in my area. Way too much for a six year old, no matter the barrel proof. Why buy Booker's at that price when I can get a BTAC WLW or Stagg for less?

MikeK
02-13-2008, 16:40
I recently scored a small collection of ND dusties. These included Old Grandad, Old Taylor, and Old Crow from the early 90's. This is a few years after Beam bought them up. The Old Grandad and Old Taylor are obviously still from the old stock and are spectacular. What I found interesting is the Old Crow is weak and flavorless. I would guess that Beam did not use the Old Crow stock to keep filling those bottles but immediately started putting low grade Beam into those bottles. (Unless Crow from the 80's was indeed weak) I have read comments that Beam wanted to kill or punish the Old Crow brand, this seems to be some evidence...

ThomasH
02-13-2008, 17:00
A lot of good points, while different, have been made here by people with a lot of different perspectives of the industry and market. In a previous post on this sight, it was said that out of every hour Beam produces whiskey, 50 minutes goes to making Beam white label. Us SB members are definitely a small niche group in the bourbon market. While I do like some of the whiskey Beam makes, some of their brands and some of the modifications they have made to some of the brands don't excite me. I liked the 90 proof, 8yr. version of Beam black much better than either of its latter versions. The small batch collection really isn't my cup of tea either. I like the idea of some 100 proof versions of Old Overholt and/or Beam rye as well as a 100 proof Basil Hayden's with possibly extra aging. I think any good business, regardless of model, owes it to itself and its customers to introduce new products. This keeps product interest from dropping and helps further profitability. It makes me sick to see Old Taylor and Old Crow reduced to bottom shelf, low proof filler brands!

Thomas

cowdery
02-13-2008, 17:54
Clearly, some companies have made a play for the enthusiast community and some have not. Okay, pretty much everyone has at this point except for Beam. While I don't believe that will hurt them per se, it probably represents a missed opportunity.

barturtle
02-13-2008, 20:45
Jeff, same goes for me. The only Beam product I have ever purchased was Knok Creek, which I liked at the time. I haven't tried it in quite a while.

Admittedly, I would try Booker's if it wasn't $50+ in my area. Way too much for a six year old, no matter the barrel proof. Why buy Booker's at that price when I can get a BTAC WLW or Stagg for less?

I believe you are missing out. While I'm not about to try to convince anyone that Beam makes the best bourbon on the planet, I do believe that you can't truly learn to appreciate the finer bottlings on the shelf without having had the rest of the pack to compare them to. Beam makes bottlings at several price points that can be compared to other brands at similar and dissimilar pricepoints.

Without knowing how the other brands compare, how can anyone judge what is a good deal to them?

ILLfarmboy
02-13-2008, 21:03
I believe you are missing out..........

I Agree.

Booker's is my only real favorite among the brands using beam's lower rye bash bill. I usually have a couple bottles on hand. It's a good accompaniment a nice steak. KC is oftentimes available in restaurants and bars where Booker's is not. That's the only time I generally drink it.

OGD BIB and 114 are good bourbons. To my knowledge I have never had any of the ND bottlings so perhaps I just don't know what I'm missing.

NickAtMartinis
02-13-2008, 21:05
I Agree.

Booker's is my only real favorite among the brands using beam's lower rye bash bill. I usually have a couple bottles on hand. It's a good accompaniment a nice steak. KC is oftentimes available in restaurants and bars where Booker's is not. That's the only time I generally drink it.

OGD BIB and 114 are good bourbons. To my knowledge I have never had any of the ND bottlings so perhaps I just don't know what I'm missing.


In my area, Bookers is just too expensive for me to make a purchase. Unless the price drops considerably, I will not purchase it. How is the pricing in your area for Bookers?

smokinjoe
02-13-2008, 21:22
In my area, Bookers is just too expensive for me to make a purchase. Unless the price drops considerably, I will not purchase it. How is the pricing in your area for Bookers?

How 'bout hunting yourself down a mini. I know they make them, as I have had one. A couple of bucks, and then at least you'll know.

Cheers!

JOE

NickAtMartinis
02-13-2008, 21:31
How 'bout hunting yourself down a mini. I know they make them, as I have had one. A couple of bucks, and then at least you'll know.

Cheers!

JOE


Very good point, Joe. I had no idea they made a Bookers mini. Thanks to you, I will now be on the lookout.

ILLfarmboy
02-13-2008, 21:44
...How is the pricing in your area for Bookers?

It can be had for 46 dollars and change at Sam's, that's Sam's Club not Sam's wine and spirits. Still pricey, yes but keep in mind its 125/127 proof. Your getting more whiskey and less water.

NickAtMartinis
02-13-2008, 21:59
It can be had for 46 dollars and change at Sam's, that's Sam's Club not Sam's wine and spirits. Still pricey, yes but keep in mind its 125/127 proof. Your getting more whiskey and less water.


I'm definitely down with the barrel proof and understand that it knocks the price up since there's less to spread around.

Joe mentioned giving a Booker mini a try. I will try that first and if I like I may splurge.

T47
02-13-2008, 22:18
It was about three years ago at a bar in Spokane when I had my first Bookers. I had just dropped my son off at College and treated myself to a Bourbon I had never had...and I really enjoyed it. My tastes tend to run towards hot spicy foods, and the higher proof Bourbons agree with me pretty well it seems. For a bottle that is widely available, I am impressed. I find it full of flavor and a unique kind of heat...my family still trashes me because I told them it was like hot caramel on my tongue...they did not quite see it that way? In WA it sells for $53. I prefer the flavor of Stagg, which sells for the same price here the last time I was able to find any (I have a couple bunkered). I have not bought Bookers in a while because me shelf is pretty full, but if I did not have the Stagg's...I would pick up a Bookers for those nights I was in the mood, and I have yet to be disappointed. I know it does not always get great reviews here, but it's one I enjoy.

:toast:

barturtle
02-13-2008, 22:40
I believe my point may have been missed, it was not just about Booker's, but actually about all their other brands. Without learning to fully appreciate the lower echelon brands that they and other distilleries make, how can anyone begin to truly understand how much better the upper tier brands are.

ILLfarmboy
02-13-2008, 23:22
I believe my point may have been missed, it was not just about Booker's, but actually about all their other brands. Without learning to fully appreciate the lower echelon brands that they and other distilleries make, how can anyone begin to truly understand how much better the upper tier brands are.

I see. To understand how good KC, Booker's and Beam Black are it is important to taste Beam White and Beam's Choice etc. Educational in understanding how their distillate ages, from its younger less choice bottlings to the SB collection.

TBoner
02-14-2008, 08:35
I worked in the Beam behemoth for a very short time on a very low level, essentially buying rounds of the Small Batch collection for consumers in high-end steakhouses and bars. I heard fairly consistently from consumers that they had tried the Small Batch collection some years ago and then moved on to newer, more interesting brands (their words, not mine: they usually meant Woodford). A few months ago, I was in a liquor store and one of the employees asked if I needed help choosing a bourbon. I said, "No, I think I'm probably going to snag a Buffalo Trace and a Knob Creek." Her reply: "Buffalo Trace is good, but Knob Creek's kind of out of style." I asked what she meant, and she said, "Nobody really buys it anymore. You should try Blanton's." Now, Blanton's and the Small Batch collection are about the same age, and WR ain't exactly new, so how have they maintained the air of being premium, exciting new brands while the Small Batch Collection has "gone out of style" (of course, this is only anecdotal evidence, and the numbers indicate that people do buy Knob Creek, but I think it's safe to say that's less true in the enthusiast sector - i.e. the folks at high-end steakhouses and shoppers in boutique liquor stores)? I'm inclined to think it's the ubiquity of the high-end Beam stuff that makes them seem ho-hum. I can get Booker's and KC in some real dives. And the packaging - wine bottles and the square workman's bottle of KC both - doesn't seem as fresh as it once did, given how many other mid-shelf and top-shelf brands have hit the market in similar or flashier packaging.

If all of this seems off-topic, I guess what I'm driving at is, what if Beam does introduce a high-end rye or a single barrel Old Taylor? In about 3 years - or less - you'll be able to find it in every liquor store and bar that has the Small Batch collection, which is to say everywhere. And then what? It'll just be a ho-hum bottling from Beam, unlike the BT products that are in very few bars. It'll soon be "out of style," and liquor store clerks will tell you to try the Blanton's instead. If I were Beam, and I were choosing between intentionally limiting a bottling to drive up demand (and pissing off a large number of enthusiasts who can't get it) and bottling large quantities of something that would generate only short-term excitement, I don't think I'd get too excited about my options. Why bother?

pepcycle
02-14-2008, 09:28
Interesting point.

Limited Distribution seems to add more to the mystique than quality.
I'll call it the Coors Effect.
If we think about the unique bourbons that BT gets kudos for, its all about limited access.
Beam's strongest suit, worldwide distribution, may be its Achilles Heel in the niche market.
In that case, a renewed product might have to be limited availability in order to garner approval.

cowdery
02-14-2008, 10:51
I questioned Beam recently about limited editions and they indicated that they have no immediate plans to get into that business.

Caradog
02-14-2008, 14:45
I recently scored a small collection of ND dusties. These included Old Grandad, Old Taylor, and Old Crow from the early 90's. This is a few years after Beam bought them up... I have read comments that Beam wanted to kill or punish the Old Crow brand, this seems to be some evidence...

I think almost any brand can be revitalized, especially if it's an old one that has a built-in American mystique. Sometimes a brand's been fallow for so long that it's easier to recast it.

Maybe Parker can talk it up at a family reunion and get Freddy Noe to hand over the keys to Old Crow to Heaven Hill...