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  1. #1
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    Are These The Good Old Times?

    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?

  2. #2
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    Re: Are These The Good Old Times?

    Quote Originally Posted by MJL View Post
    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?
    Another excellent topic and post.

    I'm relatively new to the game, but I think in a lot of respects we are. I think about my favorite products, Four Roses, and this is without a doubt the golden age of that brand. I think Old Forester is the best it's been in years, Early Times is back on its way to becoming a full-blooded bourbon in the U.S. again, the major NDPs are consistantly putting out quality whiskeys like the Ezra Brooks line, the Van Winkles' (although this is certainly a transitional period for them) and KBD's lines are as good as ever. The PHC has been great, and the latest one is hopefully a sign that Old Fitz is on its way to its former glory. And as much as people (including myself) like to bitch about BT, they have been cranking out quality whiskey, even if they have discontinued some of our favorite expressions of years past (ER 101, Centennial, OCPR, OC 12).

    So yeah, in a lot of ways I think these are the good old days.
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  3. #3
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    Re: Are These The Good Old Times?

    I'm relatively new to the game, but I think in a lot of respects we are. I think about my favorite products, Four Roses, and this is without a doubt the golden age of that brand. I think Old Forester is the best it's been in years, Early Times is back on its way to becoming a full-blooded bourbon in the U.S. again, the major NDPs are consistantly putting out quality whiskeys like the Ezra Brooks line, the Van Winkles' (although this is certainly a transitional period for them) and KBD's lines are as good as ever. The PHC has been great, and the latest one is hopefully a sign that Old Fitz is on its way to its former glory. And as much as people (including myself) like to bitch about BT, they have been cranking out quality whiskey, even if they have discontinued some of our favorite expressions of years past (ER 101, Centennial, OCPR, OC 12).
    Well said. We may have lost some good (or possibly great) ones but there is plenty to appreciate currently and all signs point to more good juice on the way.

  4. #4

    Re: Are These The Good Old Times?

    Those of us who started 'dusty' hunting 5, 8, 10 years ago will tell you THAT was the Golden Age (type in that phrase, and you'll find that this discussion is not new). Still available at not-yet-fortune-hunting prices were (Very, and Very Very, and Extra) Old Fitzgerald BIBs, the standards from the '50s and '60s like Old Grand-Dad and Old Taylor (original producers) and such-like; plus the newer likes of the BTAC (which could be had for under $40 a bottle), Stitzel-Weller via Van Winkle, et al. It's all relative, particularly to whether or not I'm participating.
    Finding anything today from prior to the metric era is indeed a rarity. But the current quality of new and existing bottlings certainly lends itself to the likelihood that one or more of these labels will be the 'dusties' of the future -- especially if another bourbon-buying depression, such as hit the economy from the late-'60s to early-'80s -- leaves all the current, ramped-up production now aging in warehouses with no marketplace.

  5. #5
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    Re: Are These The Good Old Times?

    Quote Originally Posted by TNbourbon View Post
    -- leaves all the current, ramped-up production now aging in warehouses with no marketplace.
    I was going to mention the same thing.
    If these are not the good old times then it certainly is one of them and I think future is looking pretty good too.
    ovh

  6. #6
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    Re: Are These The Good Old Times?

    The phrase, "it's all relative" rings true. I really can't do much about what is not available to me or to anyone else.

    In the meantime I have and have had more than enough to satisfy me.
    Great thread, BTW.
    Emancipate yourself from mental slavery. None but ourselves can free our minds.

    Bob Marley.

  7. #7
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    Re: Are These The Good Old Times?

    I honestly think this could go either way... it does feel like we are at some sort of tipping point...

    Either way I think all of us Bourbon aficionados here win in the end...
    Visit the search for glory in the bottle: http://imbibehour.blogspot.com/
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  8. #8
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    Re: Are These The Good Old Times?

    Have more choices today than ever, especially when looking back in the 1970's and early 1980's. Only stuff on the shelves then was JBW, WT and OGD. Today, many liquor stores are carrying a much larger and diversified product line. These are likely the best of times for bourbon.

  9. #9
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    Re: Are These The Good Old Times?

    I'm fairly new to the world of bourbon, but what I find exciting about today is the sheer number of quality products available in the $20-$30 range.

  10. #10
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    Re: Are These The Good Old Times?

    I think it's the good 'ole times x 2. I wouldn't be surprised one bit in the least if OWA age stated is a "dusty find" within a couple of years. For me, the benefit is finding dusty bottles in addition to some of the great stuff on the shelves today. Not that I would celebrate the decline of bourbon sales from decades ago, but the fact that it happened means we can enjoy both old and new with relative ease. It's the (new) golden age of bourbon, celebrate.
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