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  1. #1
    Advanced Taster
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Indianapolis
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    222

    Why is Bourbon getting worse?

    As a newbie, I notice a lot of posts that allude to the fact that many bourbon brands were better decades ago. Just a few examples that come to mind are:

    - OGD bottled by ND is better
    - Make sure you get the PVW with the SW juice
    - Jim Beam White Label was better in the 70s

    What's causing this? Are they changing the formulas? Aging less? Cutting corners in distillation?

  2. #2
    Virtuoso
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    Mar 2007
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    Northern CA
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    1,082

    Why is Bourbon getting worse?

    There is a huge amount of discussion on this before and something I constantly think about as well.

    I think a big part is best described by Pappy's statement in this image where no business now a days would even consider.

    Cheers
    Hugh


  3. #3
    Disciple
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    A pretty great state.
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    1,782

    Why is Bourbon getting worse?

    -Barrel proof, extra-aged whiskey is a thing that can be purchased these days, even if it's not on every shelf.

    -Specially selected single barrels are widely available.

    -Distillers are adding new expressions, experimenting with new production techniques like barrel finishes, etc, etc, etc...

    Why is bourbon getting better?

    ....anyways, just saying, don't be so quick to be a pessimist.
    Jim

  4. #4
    Connoisseur
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    St. Paul, MN
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    873

    Re: Why is Bourbon getting worse?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jackinbox View Post
    As a newbie, I notice a lot of posts that allude to the fact that many bourbon brands were better decades ago. Just a few examples that come to mind are:

    - OGD bottled by ND is better
    - Make sure you get the PVW with the SW juice
    - Jim Beam White Label was better in the 70s

    What's causing this? Are they changing the formulas? Aging less? Cutting corners in distillation?
    It's because everyone would rather harken back to the "good old days." Also, enthusiasts in an industry would rather highly value things that they have and that the general public does not. It's the same in any industry from tequila to scotch to beanie babies. Retired ones were "worth more" and way better. I've had many chances to have "treasure bottles" of tequila or bourbon and I haven't found them to be hugely better. Some have been really good, but not really better than some of the best brands that are currently on the shelf.

    Bottom line: Fins something that you like at a price that you like and enjoy the hell out of it. Don't worry about what everyone says about discontinued or hard to find juices. Find something that you like, for a price that you like, and enjoy it.
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  5. #5
    Connoisseur
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Central Florida
    Posts
    562

    Re: Why is Bourbon getting worse?

    Bourbon is getting worse? What? Why wasn't I alerted to this fact?

    I agree with Max above. It's like my mom, always longing for the good old days of the 50's and 60's.

    As one of my students once told me, "Everything changes, and nothing stays the same, either."
    He made himself another drink and thought how much better the Perrier was than anything else you could put in whisky... Hemingway

  6. #6
    Enthusiast
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Markham, ONT
    Posts
    490

    Re: Why is Bourbon getting worse?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jackinbox View Post
    As a newbie, I notice a lot of posts that allude to the fact that many bourbon brands were better decades ago.
    It's an age old phenomenon - everything in the past was better than the present and if we keep it up we're all going to hell in a hand basket.
    The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.*



    *attributed to Socrates by Plato

  7. #7

    Re: Why is Bourbon getting worse?

    The good ole days... when pappy was on the shelf, beam was 7 years old, old crow was #1, and a gallon of gas along with a can of beer were under 25 cents.

    The list of things they didnt have "back then" was equally as long if not longer... iphones, computers, the internet etc.

  8. #8
    Guru
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Jackson, MS
    Posts
    11,816

    Re: Why is Bourbon getting worse?

    What we are seeing is the result of a mature industry adjusting to changing markets. Everything costs more (ingredients, labor, warehousing, shipping, insurance) to make whisky now than it did 40 years ago so producers had to streamline where ever they could to remain productive and competitive. A computer controlled still produces a less individualistic product but a more consistent one so that and other production techniques have changed flavor profiles a bit.

    The biggest flavor shift I think comes from barrel selection. In the past all the best barrels were blended into the House brands but now they are selected for the premium lines, single barrels, that sort of thing, and the regular brand's profiles have been reformulated accordingly. Our old favorites may have changed somewhat but we are also presented with a wider selection while still having a choice of very good stuff at value prices. I think we are better off now and while the 'dustys' are useful for taste comparisons I don't yearn for the clock to be turned back because the the most interesting Bourbon and Rye made in my lifetime is being made today.

    Sometimes when we reflect on past memories the good old days were good because weren't so old.

  9. #9
    Guru
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Metro Detroit
    Posts
    5,150

    Re: Why is Bourbon getting worse?

    There is a lot of "the good old days" mentality but there was also an actual event, the glut. When bourbon sales crashed, it took a long time for distillers to adjust their production downward so they ended up with a glut of whiskey. Because they had too much, more mature whiskey was going into lower and middle shelf offerings. Now bourbon is more popular and supplies have tightened so younger whiskey is going into those same brands.
    Last edited by Josh; 05-21-2013 at 06:44.
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  10. #10
    Guru
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    Sep 2004
    Location
    Jackson, MS
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    11,816

    Re: Why is Bourbon getting worse?

    Ah yes, the glut, those are some good old memories to reflect upon.

 

 

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