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  1. #1
    Advanced Taster
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    Sazerac marketing debacle: happening with any bourbons or only rye?

    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.
    (http://www.sazerac.com/BrandPortfoli...&FID=72&NBid=5)

    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

     

  2. #2
    Mr. Anal Retentive Bourbon Drinker
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    Re: Sazerac marketing debacle: happening with any bourbons or only rye?

    Wahoo watch out the TTB will be all over this to ensure compliance........NOT.

    I do agree that you where mislead in hang tag and label state contrary whiskey types.

  3. #3
    Disciple
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    Re: Sazerac marketing debacle: happening with any bourbons or only rye?

    You're right! I just checked an unopened bottle that I bought in Jan. and it states 'mash' whereas a bottle purchased 6 months ago is 'straight.' hey Saz, thanks for nothing.

  4. #4
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    Re: Sazerac marketing debacle: happening with any bourbons or only rye?

    I wouldn't read too much into it, there's a recent trend to drop the word 'straight' from the label because modern consumers don't know what it means. Beam does the same thing to it's Rye whisky label for the same reason. The emphasis is on the Rye.

  5. #5
    Connoisseur
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    Dec 2011
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    Re: Sazerac marketing debacle: happening with any bourbons or only rye?

    For me, the bigger issue is Sazerac being d!©ks about the whole thing. They offered him a refund with proof of purchase (the right move) before telling him he needed to send in the bottles to have the contents analyzed by their lab (the wrong move). Analysis? Really, Sazerac?

    I am betting they never intended to do a lab analysis and it was a brush off - I would call their bluff and ask them for a prepaid shipping label and a copy of the final lab report.
    Last edited by LostBottle; 03-12-2013 at 18:39.

  6. #6
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    Re: Sazerac marketing debacle: happening with any bourbons or only rye?

    Quote Originally Posted by squire View Post
    I wouldn't read too much into it, there's a recent trend to drop the word 'straight' from the label because modern consumers don't know what it means. Beam does the same thing to it's Rye whisky label for the same reason. The emphasis is on the Rye.
    Squire, I hope your hunch is right and that they have not in fact changed the product to something that wouldn't qualify as a straight whiskey. It is unsettling to me that getting away from labeling that comes with a higher level of obligations and assurances may be a trend. I had thought the trend was actually toward more educated consumers demanding more transparence. But if you want to hear the extent of my naivete, a few years ago I expected a big increase in both organic spirits and provenance on multiple levels. (I still think it's coming, just more slowly. One of my favorite tequilas is organic, btw.)

    I will post if Sazerac gets back to me about any content change.

  7. #7
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    Re: Sazerac marketing debacle: happening with any bourbons or only rye?

    Quote Originally Posted by LostBottle View Post
    For me, the bigger issue is Sazerac being d!©ks about the whole thing. They offered him a refund with proof of purchase (the right move) before telling him he needed to send in the bottles to have the contents analyzed by their lab (the wrong move). Analysis? Really, Sazerac?

    I am betting they never intended to do a lab analysis and it was a brush off - I would call their bluff and ask them for a prepaid shipping label and a copy of the final lab report.
    Yeah, the lab analysis thing really got me steamed. At best, it seemed they were not actually bothering to read my email and were invoking some knee jerk protocol. On that front, they have now backed down (after I sent an exasperated reply asking why it would be necessary and noting legal concerns about being involved in the interstate shipping of liquor) and are saying it will no longer be necessary to ship the bottles.

    One of us really should ask them if they wouldn't mind pulling a bottle from the line, analysing it, and furnishing the lab report. That might be an interesting read!

  8. #8
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Re: Sazerac marketing debacle: happening with any bourbons or only rye?

    Would someone please post a photo of the label or a link to the COLA? For someone who has both, a side-by-side old and new picture would be great.

    This change could just mean they want to avoid an age statement even though it's younger than 4 years. Or it may mean it's no longer rye whiskey, aged in new charred barrels, but 'whiskey distilled from rye mash,' aged in used barrels. Just be grateful they didn't make it a blended rye, like they did with Ten High (making it a blended bourbon).

    You have to remember that Fleischmann's Rye is weird in that it is only sold in a small part of Wisconsin, only in 1.75 liter plastic bottles, and is very cheap. Like many of the changes we've seen lately, to proofs and age statements, this may have been done to increase profitability or cover rising costs without raising prices. Because whiskey is suddenly so valuable, producers have to cheapen their cheapest products to keep them cheap.

    They didn't change the label for no reason. They changed the product too, or are planning to.
    Last edited by cowdery; 03-12-2013 at 20:00.

  9. #9
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    Re: Sazerac marketing debacle: happening with any bourbons or only rye?

    "Would someone please post a photo of the label or a link to the COLA? For someone who has both, a side-by-side old and new picture would be great."


    https://www.ttbonline.gov/colasonlin...12060001000056


    for the old label, I hereby cite your own handywork:

    http://chuckcowdery.blogspot.com/201...f-you-can.html

    (can't show a side-by-side as I only have the new)

  10. #10
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    Re: Sazerac marketing debacle: happening with any bourbons or only rye?

    As to the response, call me an apologist but remember...it's harder than ever to stray from the script and most want to keep their job...unless you man the desk at Nordstrom .
    Thad

    BTOTY-2011

 

 

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