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  1. #1
    Connoisseur
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    Bottled in Belgium?

    I had a distributor contact me today to ask my opinion on the saleability of magnum (1.5liter) bottles of bourbon that would be bottled in Belgium, but made and aged 8 years in Kentucky. Their reasoning is that they ran into someone who can buy in bulk and bottle cheaply in Europe so that the resale price is really low here. I'll withhold my response to them for now and ask your opinion. Would you be up for buying an inexpensive mag of Kentucky bourbon bottled in Belgium? Can gurus like Chuck tell us if this is even legit to call this bourbon if bottled outside the US?

  2. #2
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Re: Bottled in Belgium?

    A magnum is 1.5 L, correct? I believe they could have a problem at the state level getting spirits approved in a non-standard size.

    Bourbon can be bottled anywhere. If it is bourbon and was aged in Kentucky, it can say "Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey" no matter where it's bottled. They might, however, have to jump through some serious hoops to prove to the ATF that it is, in fact, bourbon when they're importing it from Belgium.

    But, bottom line, come on. Does it make sense to you that someone could buy bulk bourbon, ship it to Belgium, bottle it there and ship it back cheaper than they could do the same thing here? Why would it be so much cheaper to bottle it in Belgium that the shipping and related costs could be absorbed in the difference? It just doesn't wash.

    And how could they even prove that what they were re-importing was the same thing they exported? What would prevent them from exporting bourbon for sale in Europe (at premium prices) and then using the documentation to sneak some cheap fake bourbon back into the U.S.?

    The whole proposition just doesn't smell right.

    Besides. How much cheaper do you need cheap bourbon to be? We have bottom shelf stuff around here that sells for under $10 a 750. How cheap is cheap?

  3. #3
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    Re: Bottled in Belgium?

    A magnum is 1.5 L, correct?
    Yeah, I did put that in quotes above to clarify, but I guess you missed it. We do have 1.75L of whiskey here in NY, and maybe that's what they meant, but just said the wrong thing.

    Yeah, I don't quite get it, either, and told 'em I thought it was a lame idea. Seems hokey to me. Just so happens that the distributor who asked me this is the distributor for Corner Creek here, and it was hinted "it would be the same kind of 8 year whiskey."

    I know some Russian vodka is bottled in Belgium. Guess maybe somebody does find it cheaper to bottle there...I dunno. Seems kinda irrational to take an American product to Belgium then resell it here. I told 'em that it might work better for other spirits, but bourbon being thought of as an American born and bred, it might not fly with customers to say, "Bottled in Belgium" on the label.


  4. #4
    Connoisseur
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    Louisville, Kentucky
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    Re: Bottled in Belgium?

    Hmmm...bottled in Belgium. Belgium is just south of Norway...
    the distributor who asked me this is the distributor for Corner Creek here,
    Now who does that make you think of?
    All that scares me is the
    same kind of 8 year whiskey."
    With 'kind' being the operative word.
    The whole thing sounds alittle strange...
    Bj

  5. #5
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Re: Bottled in Belgium?

    I know some Russian vodka is bottled in Belgium.
    Sure, for sale in Belgium and western Europe, but not for shipment back to Russia. Normal bottling (i.e., not specialty stuff like Blanton's) is highly automated, so you're not going to get much saving anywhere from lower labor costs, and labor in Belgium is hardly cheap. The question to ask is what's the source of the savings? Nothing about this makes sense.

  6. #6
    Connoisseur
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    Re: Bottled in Belgium?

    While I can't claim to be an expert on costs in the EU I have held a management position in Germany, studied EU business, and will be back living in the Netherlands (about two miles from the Belgian border and I will be visiting European Union headquarters in Brussels) part of next year studying and teaching there again.

    Chuck is exactly right. It would be very hard to believe that between operating costs and taxes anything could be done cheaper in Belgium than in Kentucky! Given that a large part of the cost of cheap bourbon is U.S. taxes and the package itself then it is very unlikely that shipping bulk to Belgium to bottle and resell finished goods in the U.S. would make any sense. The only way it could make sense is if there is a "loophole" in import duties on spirits from the EU.

    However, since your shop seems to be built on carrying the finest specialty items the product hardly would seem appropriate in such a store.


  7. #7
    Bourbonian of the Year 2004 and Guru
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    Re: Bottled in Belgium?

    will be back living in the Netherlands (about two miles from the Belgian border and I will be visiting European Union headquarters in Brussels) part of next year studying and teaching there again.

    Wow Greg!

    That's some real life changing stuff

    When are you going? What will you teach--study in the Netherlands?

    Bettye Jo

 

 

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