After exiting from graduate school late this summer I have been given some extra moments in life to hunt down some bourbons I had not been able to find before and to generally lend consideration to some issues in life that academic constraints had precluded me from doing before.
As I stood in front of a shelf of small batch bourbons the other day I wondered if these might not be the proverbial good old days. Certainly, I do understand the history of American bourbon whiskey and what was lost to Prohibition, what was lost to changing tastes in the post WWII period and what was lost to consolidation of brands under the ownership of multinational conglomerates. Yet, I have to wonder if some of the small batch and single barrel bourbons currently for sale at stores today are the start of a trend or perhaps they will represent the glorious dusty bottles of a golden and long lost past.
There is certainly evidence of both possibilities present. I see much more diversification of taste and an attempt to revive some of the long lost labels of the past or to create new and experimental bourbons. On the other hand I also see the loss of distilling diversification to large conglomerates to be ominous. Mind you I do not have a solution to this but I do see that the larger the distillery may be the less willing they might be in a market down turn to sustain market diversity. I reckon the same may be said of the remoteness of the descision makers to the facilities that make the bourbon. That is to say thay may be more willing to settle on large market brands in bad times at the expense of the loss of smaller, more niche brands, which are the ones most of us tend to enjoy.
So are these going to be the long lost good old times that we will speak of in reverent tones to unknowing ears or are we on the cusp of greatness with so much more to come and a renewed appreciation for bourbon by the general public spurred on by the love and knowledge of afficiandos, like ourselves?