Or maybe this should be titled "When Straight Becomes Crooked"
A couple of nights ago, I was in the chat and mentioned Fleishmann's Rye, which everyone understood to be a straight rye. I noted that I'd discovered the labels on my bottles actually say (in that fancy cursive that you have to stare at to read) "Mash" instead of "Straight." Mash RYE whiskey (the rye in clear caps) -- what the heck is that? Yet the Sazerac website has continued to display it as Straight. What's more, the hang-tag said the product is Fleishmann's Straight Rye Whiskey. But with a label that actually says Mash instead of Straight, can I have any real confidence about what I was sold? Checking the TTB website, you can see they were approved for the new "Mash" label a year ago. I started feeling crotchety, and sent them off an email (which appears below).
At first they promised to look into it and to send me a refund if I simply tendered my receipt. However, after I did that, they tacked on other conditions including a requirement that I first ship the bottles back to them so they could supposedly have their lab analyze the contents. (Analyze the contents? The issue brought to their attention is that their marketing does not match their subtly-changed labels). I guess they cannot tell me whether the product they are putting out is still a Straight, despite the label change they sneaked in, unless I send my particular bottles back to them. Gotta say this is starting to give me a bit of a negative association with the scores of Sazerac products in my cellar, and making me less likely to buy so many in the future. I will update with any future progress in my correspondence with the company.
So now I am wondering if anyone knows of similar bait-and-switches (or just incredibly negligent marketing campaigns) taking place amongst bourbons. Any Mash BOURBON Whiskey or the like making a stealthy appearance? Only thing I can think of at the moment is I saw some report OGD has a font for its 80 proof that they believe looks a lot like 86.
On the flip side, any companies who seem never to have engaged in such shenanigans and whose integrity is beyond reproach?
My email to Sazerac:
March 10, 2013
Dear Mr. Mudd/Sazerac representative:
I write to describe my experience with the marketing of your product, Fleischmann’s Rye. Recently, I purchased two bottles of this product based on my understanding that it is a straight rye whiskey and after reviewing the rebate tag hanging on it, also referring to it in clear type (and in at least two different places) as a straight rye whiskey. Yesterday, after retrieving a bottle from the cellar, I looked closely at the fancy cursive lettering on the label. It appeared that instead of "straight" the word "mash" has been substituted in its place.
Research led me to a TTB label approval from back in March 2012. Rather than the longstanding 102, straight rye whiskey code, the application for the label used code 142. Although this change was applied for and approved at that time, bottles featuring the new, subtly modified label have continued to be adorned with hang-tags that directly lead consumers to believe the product remains a straight rye whiskey--hang-tags that refer to a period significantly post-dating the label change approval. Moreover, even as of today, your website still represents the product as a straight rye whiskey, with a photo of a bottle that closely resembles mine but whose label upon inspection reads Straight RYE Whiskey.
In short, I feel cheated. As a heretofore frequent purchaser and extoller of Buffalo Trace whiskies and other Sazerac-associated products, my sense of trust has been shaken. Therefore, I write to ask for information about what Fleischmann’s Rye currently contains, and what steps if any will be taken toward repairing damaged trust and loyalty.
Thank you for your time and attention