Just came across a detailed interview of Max Schapira by Lew Bryson (whom many here know as a whiskey and beer writer based in or near Philadelphia, PA). This was done last July and appeared in Beverage World and/or Malt Advocate, I did not keep the link but can find it again if anyone would like to read it (possibly it was mentioned on these boards earlier). Schapira gave a detailed explanation of the company's current product lines and strategies that was frank and revealing in many details I hadn't realised. For example, he said Elijah Craig was first issued in 1986 and predated the Beam small batch line as a quality, craft-stytle bourbon. He said that bourbon accounts currently for 20% of HH's sales. That figure surprised me. I'd have thought it was much higher and hadn't realised the extent to which HH (and no doubt the other distillers) have diversified their product lines. He explained that over the years their distributors kept asking for new or different products so they got into different lines, both house-made and also imported, and the latter both bulk and bottled. He said brandy is a bigger business for the company than bourbon, citing its Christian Brothers brands and other brandy labels previously owned as major contributors to the bottom line. (I wouldn't have thought domestic brandy was that big a market, but clearly that is not the case!). He said since HH started as a bourbon distiller and built its success regionally on its bourbons that is what they feel most "warm and fuzzy" about. Clearly they continue to offer fine products in this category (McKenna Bonded 10 year old, the Elijah Craig whiskies, the ryes, etc.) but it is evident too HH has become a diversified spirits company with a product range that goes well beyond bourbon, rye and blended whiskey. He gave some interesting background on the Evan Wlliams brand. Like a lot of things, it was hardly an overnight success but caught on finally to become a major seller. As a 7 year old it offers (he said) value in comparison to the 4-5 year olds it competes with (he didn't say which those were but presumably they are Jim Beam White Label and Jack Daniel's).

Altogether a fascinating interview with someone who is looking ahead but at the same time very aware of the heritage of the company.

Gary