It seems to be accepted that top shelf blends and single barrel bottlings are both proliferating in numbers and growing in sales. This is great for most of us. But my question is this....with all these great "honey barrels" being selected for the specialty bottlings, are the lower and mid-shelf bourbons' quality suffering as a result? IOW, if many of these "honey barrels" would have historicaly wound up in the high volume products, removing them from the blend has to be detrimental to their quality. How far can you take making more premium bottlings without the lower shelf items suffering quality problems?
Personally I don't have enough reference points to determine if the lower to mid shelf products are getting worse. I have seen some comments here and elsewhere that suggests that is what is going on. But with brands changing hands, being distilled at different locations over time, etc., it would be hard to say for sure why "XYZ" isn't as good today as it used to be.
Other spirit producers around the world have said that the production of top tier products is somewhat limited in order to maintian consistent quality in their higher volume bottlings (ie, cognac). Are we getting near that point in bourbonia?