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  1. #21
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    Re: Heavy weights of the Bourbon Industry

    Here's how I see it, Marvin. In any indusrty the consumer is king, and the world of whiskey is no different. A lot of money is spent in knowing who the consumers are what they want or think they want.

    We here on StraightBourbon.Com are basically a free focus group of primarily bourbon enthusiasts. What we are talking is important and what we aren't talking about is just as important. While we don't hold sway of the markets we can and have swayed the views of some in the American whiskey business.

    We're really not asking for too much as I see it: 1) better bourbon at 2) reasonable prices in 3) pretty packages (that aren't too expensive and don't drive up the price), and 4) a bit more honesty about where the bourbon is coming from (who really distilled it and where and when) and what the mashbill may be. That's not too much to ask for in my not so humble opinion.

    Things NOT to ask for is the further Scotchification of Bourbon. The very last thing that I'd like to see is the further rise in prices to cover the cost of overpriced packaging or expensive advertising campaigns for the sole purpose of trying to elevate bourbon as the hooty-snooty whisky of choice of pompus asses everywhere as has been done with scotch. That tactic I think we can do without, and in all probability would ultimately backfire. The snob appeal of scotch only appeals to snobs in the first place. I'm just sorry that there seem to be so many of the shallow creatures around. I do realize that there are folks that really do like scotch and some are on this forum. These folks are obvioulsly not snobs or they wouldn't be here. No offence is ment to y'all and I do hope that none is taken.

    I would rather see a simple "No brag - just fact" - (John Wayne) approach that would simply state that Bourbon is the very best whiskey on the planet - bar none (which it is) Point out why, as many numerous good marketing points exist without making anything up. There you would have all of the 'hoot' with none of the 'snoot'.

    -Linn

  2. #22
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    Marketing, and the future (Re: Heavy weights)

    > The very last thing that I'd like to see is the further rise in prices to cover the cost of
    > overpriced packaging or expensive advertising campaigns for the sole purpose
    > of trying to elevate bourbon as the hooty-snooty whisky of choice of pompus asses

    The way I see it, bourbon is a marketing-driven business. Quality is fairly irrelevant.
    Image is everything. (There are a few of us who care about quality, but we're
    such a small percentage of the market that we might as well not matter.)

    Why do we even have high end bourbons now? Because "Fortune Brands" poured
    all kinds of cash into marketing. Their winner: Knob Creek. I'm very happy that
    this happened, because now people all across America are drinking high end
    bourbon. The market was created not through education or good taste, but
    by good old fashioned advertizin'. (Plus a decent product, but the decent product
    would not be enough by itself).

    I think bourbon will never appeal to snobs. The #1 snob drink is wine, and that'll
    never change. Scotch, cognac, and (thanks again to marketing) vodka are
    the snob-o-riffic distilled drinks of choice.

    In my opinion, bourbon marketers should market to (1) beer geeks, (2) non-snob
    scotch drinkers, and (3) the general public. I think Linn is right: snobification of bourbon
    is the wrong road. Distller's Masterpiece? Garbage. Overpriced, overpackaged,
    and an attempt to turn bourbon into something it's not.

    The future of bourbon is the beer geeks. They learned to start profitable
    businesses. They learned to play the small-to-non-existant-marketing-budget game.
    They learned to fight the distributors and the legislators. And they did it because
    they wanted higher quality and a wider variety. They were driven by passion,
    not by their balance sheet and their marketing department.

    Beer geeks are already starting to get into distilling. Fritz Maytag (Mr. Anchor Steam)
    has a distillery. The hugely popular microbrewery called Dogfish Head has their
    own distillery. Micro-distillers are are on the rise. The revolution will come from
    the people, not from the big corporations with marketing budgets. No big company
    would have the balls to make Conecuh Ridge, yet it sells like hotcakes.

    Tim

  3. #23

    Marketing, and the future (Re: Heavy weights)

    I agree with both of you. Linn has it right, when he speaks of quality. And Tim advertising is key to spreading the good-news. But quality and price is essential, if people are to be kept as regular bourbon drinkers. Having a whole, bunch of small specialty bourbon producers, would be fun. Then a person could just drive into Kentucky, buy bottles and explore. Kentucky has a lot for tourists, good music, good food(i prefer fried chicken over haggis any day! ), and accomodating weather.
    mark h.

  4. #24
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    Re: Heavy weights of the Bourbon Industry

    Linn,

    That was very eloquently spoken and I agree with your assessment of the situation. I don't mind if bourbon goes up over a long period of time as ultimately everything else does, but in the case of scotch I was drinking single malt scotch 15 or 16 years ago, give or take a few, and it was fairly reasonable, however, it is now out-of-sight and borders on the out-rageous!! I remember just 2 year ago I bought a Balvene 21 YO Portwood for $39 and now it is $84 at the same liquor store, but none of the scotch I every drank could ever hold a candle to any bourbon. Occasionally I feel at times I want something different. Since all these wonderful top-end bourbons are available I buy very little scotch anymore, maybe a bottle a year.

    I can only imagine how beautiful that spring was where you got your water!

    Cheers,
    Marvin

  5. #25
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Marketing, and the future (Re: Heavy weights)

    Your mention of Knob Creek is interesting because it is interesting what happened with that brand. I was doing some work with Jim Beam at the time so I have kind of an inside perspective, although nothing I'm going to say here is any kind of secret or privileged information.

    Remember that Knob Creek was actually introduced more than a decade ago. After some initial success with Booker's, Jim Beam rolled out the Small Batch Collection consisting of Booker's, Baker's, Knob Creek and Basil Hayden's. Their attitude at the time was to support and promote the four brands as a group and see if one emerged as a successful brand in its own right. Knob Creek did. In other words, it was consumers who entered the world of the Small Batch Collection (SBC), tried some or all of them, and decided they liked Knob Creek the best. It was only after Knob Creek started to emerge on its own as a sucessful brand in its own right, independent of the Collection, that Jim Beam started to put some marketing support behind it. They introduced the 1.75 L (none of the other Small Batchers have one), they started doing advertising and promotion. The final indication that Knob Creek had really arrived was when they started mentioning it in the boilerplate section of their press releases, as virtually an equal to the Jim Beam brand itself.

    The point is that it really was consumers who tapped Knob Creek as the "winner" in the SBC and only after that did the company start spending money to see how far it could really go. Exactly why Knob Creek emerged over the others has never been determined definitively, although there are many theories. Compared to the rest of the SBC, it was the oldest, the lowest price, and had the most unusual bottle. Maybe it was one or some combination of those things, or something else entirely. It didn't and doesn't matter. Consumers indicated that they liked it and the company responded accordingly.

  6. #26
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    Re: Heavy weights of the Bourbon Industry

    > 4) a bit more honesty about where the bourbon is coming from (who really
    > distilled it and where and when) and what the mashbill may be.

    Good luck with that! I'm all for it, of course, but I think that marketing
    departments enjoy what I call "the Icehouse effect", which I named
    after Icehouse Beer, from "the Plank Road Brewery". I think that if
    people knew that it was a Miller product, then it wouldn't be nearly
    as popular. They made sure that "Miller" wasn't on the label anywhere.
    The Miller name would have connected it with the macrobrew, and
    people would look at it differently. They distance their premium
    product from their middle shelf product.

    (Additionally, I think that bourbon bottlings are really more about taste
    profile... there might be different ways to get that taste profile... different
    distilleries, different mashbills. Naming 'em makes you stick to that
    mashbill and distillery.)

    I'd be happy if they put all the info about a given bourbon on the
    corporate website, even if the info wouldn't appear on the
    packaging or in the marketing crap.


    Tim

  7. #27
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    Marketing, and the future (Re: Heavy weights)

    Tim, as much as I hate to admit it, you are exactly right. Marketing is 99% of the game, quality might come up to 1%.

    Tim

  8. #28
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
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    Re: Heavy weights of the Bourbon Industry

    Hi Marvin, I enjoy all your postings. I like all whiskey styles. I find it hard to compare them tastewise because they are so different. Pricewise, the comparison is easily in favour of bourbon. The quality offered by a straight whiskey costing $10.00-$15.00 a bottle is far ahead of almost any scotch I know. I find Irish whiskey, the pot still style or a blend with a good proportion of pot still (e.g. Powers) is a good price and taste alternative to single malt whisky.

    To me they each have their place, or mood - and so occasionally does a good American or Canadian blended.

    I would be interested (does anyone know?) what the composition of Barton's blended whiskey is. On a frozen New York day on Sunday at noon walking hard through the Upper East side, any bourbon or scotch seemed too much at noon. The Barton's fit the bill perfectly aside a steaming coffee. Indeed its taste profile had coffee-like notes, the kind of coffee that is spicy..

    Cy

  9. #29
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    Re: Heavy weights of the Bourbon Industry

    You guys make me laugh! You cannot realise how lucky you are to live in the USA with your access to quality Bourbon (granted it is your native spirit) at prices we in England only dream of. Scotch is one of Britain's native spirits but the best scotch tastes awful in my opinion.
    The cheapest pour in England is Golden Sun Bourbon which is not too good to say the least. However as I have easy access to the finest Scotch and Irish Whisky, I can say that the worst Bourbon you guys produce, beats the finest output of both Scotland and Ireland hands down.
    Remember what you guys are evaluating on this forum - the best quality and most individual spirit on the market.

  10. #30
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    Re: Heavy weights of the Bourbon Industry

    Funny, I enjoy all kinds of whisk(e)y, though I must say that bourbon is winning my bottle selection much more often. I am for a "North Atlantic Free Trade Zone" where the US/Canada/Great Britain/Ireland...Iceland etc. can trade w/o excess tariff/duty costs on the best products from all shores. You guys need to get out of Europe! Sprechen zie deutsch!?

 

 

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