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  1. #1
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    Transition from sourced distillate?

    I read a lot of posts on here that mention brands using sourced whiskey. I assume some are small, and buying saves them the overhead of distilling it themselves. I can also understand the difficulty of a new company/micro starting up and having to wait years for their whiskey to age. It is a long time to wait to start seeing cash flow.

    My question is, are there any recent brands/companies/micro's that have successfully made the transition from using a sourced distillate in their product, to producing a whiskey that is 100% their own?

  2. #2
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    Re: Transition from sourced distillate?

    There are some doing that now and will be more in the future, it's just too early yet for the practice to be widespread. Only time will tell which ones have the staying power but to address the point if a new company wants to offer an 8-10 year old whisky they have to buy it from someone else.
    We're Bourbon Geeks, it's who we are, it's what we do.

  3. #3
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    Re: Transition from sourced distillate?

    I have high hopes, and fingers crossed for both High West and Smooth Ambler. I'll be downright butt-hurt if Smooth Ambler can't make bourbon as fine as the juice they are picking because thats damn delicious bourbon.

  4. #4

    Re: Transition from sourced distillate?

    I guess one way to look at it is the most talked about and arguably the highest rated Bourbon today is ultimately a sourced distillate. So maybe the question could also be is it necessary for one to make the transition at all? As for your actual question I think it will be interesting to keep an eye on Smooth Ambler and how things progress with their brand as they make the transition in the next couple of years once their barrels come of age. Would be interesting if it ends up they do a better job of selecting/sourcing barrels than they do filling them!

  5. #5
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    Re: Transition from sourced distillate?

    So this seems to be a relatively new process that roughly coincides with the "boom"?

  6. #6
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    Re: Transition from sourced distillate?

    I think if the brands continue to be bought up or consolidate, you'll see the transition happen more quickly. Look what Bud did for Goose Island; they were already in a pretty big warehouse and now they have 20,000 barrels of BCS and the largest warehouse in N America AFAIK.

    And I mention breweries because the trend going forward will definitely be in the brew-stillery business.

    Michter's and High West are building and will be coming online.

    Willett seems pretty motivated to get their rye out the door quickly.

    I think Breckenridge will have some ok stuff soon.

    More and more micro's starting by the day. There will be a distillery on every street corner in the next 5 years. Huge cash cow that's no where near run it's course as far as I can gather.

  7. #7
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    Re: Transition from sourced distillate?

    Let me go on record as saying I don't think the transition is necessary. More than a century ago there were Bourbon Factors (merchants, George Dickel was one) who didn't distill whisky. They owned warehouses which they filled with sourced whisky which they then aged, blended and sold under their own labels. When Pappy Van Winkle went to work for the Weller company in 1894 they were selling sourced whisky, Old Forester was originally a brand made up of sourced, mingled whisky. It's a sound business practice that should work today.

    Of course in our information age they couldn't pretend it was their own stuff (unless you believe that buying it makes it "yours") and sell it in a fancy bottle with a fake history and jacked up prices.
    We're Bourbon Geeks, it's who we are, it's what we do.

  8. #8
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Re: Transition from sourced distillate?

    Arguably, Woodford Reserve successfully transitioned from one source to another when it went from being 100 percent Jefferson County (JC) source to a mixture of Woodford and JC. I've had straight Woodford County Woodford, from the barrel, and it's just as good as the JC stuff, but it's not the same.

    Many major brands have transitioned from one distillery to another, e.g., W. L. Weller, Old Fitzgerald, Old Crow, Old Taylor, Old Charter, and for that matter, Van Winkle. Since Wild Turkey built a brand new distillery, it will be making that transition in a couple of years as whiskey from the new plant matures.

    As for micros transitioning from sourced to made, a few inexperienced ones still talk about that, but no smart distiller would attempt it. It's difficult if not impossible, especially going from large volume continuous still production to small volume pot still production, and there's no point. They will treat their house-made products as different products, i.e., different brands. Smooth Ambler signaled their intention to do that by creating the Old Scout brand. I can't imagine they will ever brand a product they made as Old Scout. That brand is for their sourced products. There is also no reason to think Smooth Ambler or High West will get out of the NDP business. It's a different business and if they are successful at it, why stop?

    Can a small distillery make a bourbon that is as good as one made by a large distillery? Absolutely. Will it taste exactly the same? No way, but why would you want it to?

  9. #9
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    Re: Transition from sourced distillate?

    I don't remember which SB thread had a post from (I think John Little at) SA, but the post made it pretty clear they had no intention of trying to match the profile of their SA OS line with their own distillate. After trying their SA line (and thereafter seeking out several stray bottles of 7yr and 10yr SAOS to bunker), I, too, hope they stay in the NDP business. For one thing, my basement is getting full.

  10. #10
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    Re: Transition from sourced distillate?

    Yeah, I was thinking that John or Yeti mentioned their initial aged product will be a wheat bourbon. Who knows, maybe I am remembering incorrectly.

 

 

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