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  1. #1
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    What Is Sam Houston Straight Whiskey?

    Someone asked me about this so I poked around a little, including on the now-closed thread we had going about it last year. It's classified as 'straight whiskey,' which is a classification you rarely see, and assuming the increasingly dubious proposition that TTB applied the rules correctly, that means it's probably a mixture of straight whiskeys of different types.

    The producer (Western Spirits/Three Springs in Bowling Green) says it contains bourbon so my new theory is that it's a mixture of bourbon and straight corn, which would have been aged in used barrels. It's probably also barely straight, meaning two years and a day. Of course, any mixture of straights is a straight, but no other mixture gives you any real advantage. A mixture that is mostly straight corn lets you call something straight that's mostly aged in much cheaper used barrels. I know the brand's web site says it's aged in new, charred barrels but, of course, the bourbon component would have to be. And web site content isn't monitored by TTB.

    Knowing the opportunistic nature of that company's business model, that would be a clever thing to do with some young bourbon and corn, both of which they could have gotten from Heaven Hill, but others as well. HH is the only major that makes and sells straight corn but other people make it for use in their blends, and blends are most of what Western Spirits/Three Springs makes in terms of whiskey. We also know HH makes straight (i.e., aged) corn, because their 'Mellow Corn' is a BIB.

    Likely impossible to confirm, of course, but what do you think of the theory?
    Last edited by cowdery; 09-07-2012 at 20:27.

  2. #2
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    Re: What Is Sam Houston Straight Whiskey?

    Isn't straight corn whiskey also straight bourbon? At least 50% corn, aged in new charred oak? Is this only a labeling distinction?

  3. #3
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    Re: What Is Sam Houston Straight Whiskey?

    Quote Originally Posted by HighInTheMtns View Post
    Isn't straight corn whiskey also straight bourbon? At least 50% corn, aged in new charred oak? Is this only a labeling distinction?
    I think straight corn is 80% corn aged in uncharred barrels or used charred barrels.

  4. #4
    Mr. Anal Retentive Bourbon Drinker
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    Re: What Is Sam Houston Straight Whiskey?

    Sam Houston is also a pretty important historically person here in Texas (City of Houston named after him). It's a shame a whiskey trading on his name is such a poor product.

    Having a company's website state one thing and the COLA approval and label state something else seems to be a trend. One which I find deceptive and anti consumer. Balcones does the same thing. Their Baby Blue and True Blue are COLA approved as Corn Whiskey, which per law can't be aged in new charred oak barrels, yet their website states this:

    "this is a highly awarded aged corn whisky. Made from 100% roasted artisanal blue corn, this particular varietal adds a unique nuttiness and freshness to this well-balanced spirit. Aged in new American oak barrels that have been lightly charred so as to not over-oak the whisky but rather accentuate the blue cornís unique flavor qualities. "

  5. #5
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    Re: What Is Sam Houston Straight Whiskey?

    Quote Originally Posted by Enoch View Post
    I think straight corn is 80% corn aged in uncharred barrels or used charred barrels.
    Uncharred, that's right. Got it now.

  6. #6
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    Re: What Is Sam Houston Straight Whiskey?

    Quote Originally Posted by wadewood View Post
    Sam Houston is also a pretty important historically person here in Texas (City of Houston named after him). It's a shame a whiskey trading on his name is such a poor product.

    Having a company's website state one thing and the COLA approval and label state something else seems to be a trend. One which I find deceptive and anti consumer. Balcones does the same thing. Their Baby Blue and True Blue are COLA approved as Corn Whiskey, which per law can't be aged in new charred oak barrels, yet their website states this:

    "this is a highly awarded aged corn whisky. Made from 100% roasted artisanal blue corn, this particular varietal adds a unique nuttiness and freshness to this well-balanced spirit. Aged in new American oak barrels that have been lightly charred so as to not over-oak the whisky but rather accentuate the blue corn’s unique flavor qualities. "
    To TTB, a used barrel -- even if previously charred -- is not considered a charred barrel, yet in literal terms a charred barrel is a charred barrel whether it's new or used. That may be the wiggle here. But, of course, we're the bad guys, Wade, when we call this stuff out.

  7. #7
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    Re: What Is Sam Houston Straight Whiskey?

    Quote Originally Posted by wadewood View Post
    Sam Houston is also a pretty important historically person here in Texas (City of Houston named after him). It's a shame a whiskey trading on his name is such a poor product.

    Having a company's website state one thing and the COLA approval and label state something else seems to be a trend. One which I find deceptive and anti consumer. Balcones does the same thing. Their Baby Blue and True Blue are COLA approved as Corn Whiskey, which per law can't be aged in new charred oak barrels, yet their website states this:

    "this is a highly awarded aged corn whisky. Made from 100% roasted artisanal blue corn, this particular varietal adds a unique nuttiness and freshness to this well-balanced spirit. Aged in new American oak barrels that have been lightly charred so as to not over-oak the whisky but rather accentuate the blue corn’s unique flavor qualities. "
    OTWhiskey is Balcones maybe he can chime in on this and expain it.
    Normal is an illusion. What is normal to the spider, is chaos for the fly.

  8. #8
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    Re: What Is Sam Houston Straight Whiskey?

    Quote Originally Posted by wadewood View Post
    Sam Houston is also a pretty important historically person here in Texas (City of Houston named after him). It's a shame a whiskey trading on his name is such a poor product.
    This is exactly how I feel about the product also. It's marketed around here as a "Texas thing", but I'm sure it's mixed in sodas or shot quickly for most. I had to mix it too to get the bottle out of here.

    From tasting, and your investigations, I'd say the theory sounds correct.
    "this hobby is supposed to be fun. When it stops being fun, check yourself, because you're doing it wrong." Charles Cowdery

  9. #9
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    Re: What Is Sam Houston Straight Whiskey?

    I've understood that straight whiskey is either straight for a prescribed type of whiskey, e.g., straight bourbon, straight rye, straight corn, or where no grain exceeds 50% of the mash. E.g. a whiskey aged in new charred oak for 2 years with 33 1/3% each corn, rye and barley malt is a "straight whiskey".

    The SOI say also that "straight whisky" includes mixtures of straight whiskies of the same type produced in the same State.

    I've always thought this meant that e.g. "straight bourbon whiskey" can include straight bourbon from two or more distillers in a State. But perhaps the rule can be literally applied to use just that name, straight whiskey, where again it is all one type from different parts of the state. Maybe you don't have to say on the label (if you don't want) what the type is, in other words.

    So maybe here the type is bourbon (only). You can read the website reference to bourbon to mean that I think although I guess it's a bit vague. Is there a label on the back of the bottle that says the same thing?

    So I think it may be straight bourbon sourced from different distilleries in Kentucky including possibly the craft one in Bowling Green. There is no age statement I understand, so presumably it all 4 years old or more.

    I haven't tried it so this is just speculative since my own taste impression would give more info...

    Gary

    P.S. Isn't a mix of straight whiskeys of different type a blend of straight whiskies under the rules? I haven't looked at that part recently but that's what I recall.
    Last edited by Gillman; 09-09-2012 at 19:34.

  10. #10
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    I think that's correct, Gary; I just checked my bottle of Bourye and it is labeled "A blend of straight whiskeys." I suppose that in the case of a blend of straight bourbon and straight corn that maybe you could make the argument that it's still straight since the majority grain in both spirits is corn?
    Jim

 

 

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