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  1. #1
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    Cowdery article in Whisky mag issue 40

    Got my copy of issue 40 of Whisky mag and there is a very nice article by Chuck Cowdery on pages 38-41, best in the mag by far. The article is about Buffalo Trace distillery and its great whiskeys, with some neat background info and photos. I especially liked the part about how Stagg came about. Good work, Chuck! Cheers, Ed V.
    Ps. On page 10 of the same issue, there is a picture of Jimmy Russell holding a bottle of Wild Turkey's new Wild Turkey Sherry Signature. It is described as being 10 YO straight bourbon that is then further matured in oloroso sherry casks (their word: I know enough now to say barrels ). The news brief says it will be only available in duty free for around $35. (Sorry, Mark!) They say they will have a tasting review in the next issue of Whisky mag, which is the October issue.

  2. #2
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    Re: Cowdery article in Whisky mag issue 40

    Thanks for bringing this article to our attention. I don't usually get these mags cuz they are so Scotch heavy. I'll go scrounge a copy up on my day off next week.

    Regarding the new WT, now I guess I have to tell all my flight attendant friends to be on the lookout for ANOTHER bottle.

  3. #3
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    Re: Cowdery article in Whisky mag issue 40

    Just so you all know, I'm now WHISKY's regular American whiskey "guy," so I'll have something in every issue or at least every other issue. The next issue, no. 41, will be mostly about American whiskey and although Dominic, the editor, wrote most of it, I did participate in a panel discussion about bourbons aged 10+ years, which should be interesting. Then in issue no. 42 I will have an article about the Michter's pot still that David Beam and his sons brought from Pennsylvania to Bardstown. Not sure beyond that, but they seem to like what I've been doing, so keep your fingers crossed.

  4. #4
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    Re: Cowdery article in Whisky mag issue 40

    Chuck, this is great news! I realize most folks here at SB.com REALLY dislike the s word, but it never hurts to have good intel on what the enemy camp is doing, and WHISKY mag does provide some of that. Case in point: the Wild Turkey Sherry Signature announcement in issue 40. Presumably this is to seduce single malt drinkers away from the dark side, but I have to wonder just what chance it has: even heavily peated single malt (Lagavulin) can be easily overwhelmed by sherry, which the single malt distillers seem to use as a universal fix-it for overly aged (way too woody) scotch (not that Lagavulin 16 YO is, BTW), but bourbon is just way too robust and distinctive a taste profile to be dominated by sherry. It seems these two powerful tastes will fight it out to a messy draw. So maybe it's a blessing we can't get the WTSS here. I don't think this whole wood finishing thing is a good idea at all, despite what the big kahuna at Glenmorangie says, and copying the scotch boys is just wrong. I admit I like single malts, but copying their tricks just doesn't work. Bottom line is I disagree with this statement quoted from the WTSS news blurb on p. 10 of issue 40: "While new expressions of single malt scotches have been launched regularly over recent years, the bourbon category hasn't sent [sic] the same degree of innovation." Pardon my french, but NFW! That's why it is great that you will be having articles in WHISKY mag: to tell it like it is. Many thanks and cheers! Ed V.

  5. #5
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    Re: Cowdery article in Whisky mag issue 40

    My relationship with WHISKY so far has been interesting, because it has shown me that scotch types really just don't "get" bourbon. They keep trying to understand it in a scotch context. The panel discussion about extra aged bourbons should be very interesting. Although I call it a "panel discussion," I don't know what the other people said because, in fact, we each responded to a questionnaire and the editor will put our responses together. But I do know that if scotch types don't get bourbon generally they really, really don't get old bourbon. They just don't have a context for understanding it. The solution, of course, is to accept it on its own terms, but that seems to be hard coming.

    Finishes are also an interesting issue. Buffalo Trace, for example, has said that while they are interested in pushing the envelope as to what bourbon can be, they are not interested in finishes because they consider that suited to scotch but unsuited to bourbon for exactly the reasons you cite. Here is Turkey going the other direction, and Jim Beam already has. Of course, neither of them has really made it approachable for the U.S. consumer, Turkey by not even selling it here and Beam by making theirs prohibitively expensive.

  6. #6
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    Re: Cowdery article in Whisky mag issue 40

    Yes and that shows the diffidence of makers as to whether wine casks or other "finishing" for bourbon makes sense, and properly so. In my view, it would blur the idea and possibly erode the reputation and dignity of bourbon whiskey to market it in any significant way as finished in ex-sherry or other such barrels. Malt whisky is different because its aging was always associated with ex-sherry wood (and indeed ex-American whiskey barrels). Bourbon is what it is through historical evolution but then the law fixed certain attributes. The result is an acknowledged, unique specialty liquor; bourbon is, in fact, finished.

    I don't have any problem with selling bourbon flavored with port or other additives but I believe the product should not be called bourbon on the label. Sherry isn't an addition as such when bourbon is "finished" in an ex-sherry cask but the effect is the same (essentially) as if sherry is poured straight into the whiskey. Here we get into fine points of whiskey law (can you still call it bourbon on the label?) but I say leave bourbon as bourbon.

    Gary

  7. #7
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    Re: Cowdery article in Whisky mag issue 40

    Sherry isn't an addition as such when bourbon is "finished" in an ex-sherry cask but the effect is the same (essentially) as if sherry is poured straight into the whiskey. Here we get into fine points of whiskey law (can you still call it bourbon on the label?) but I say leave bourbon as bourbon.

    That's exactly what I was just thinking. I mean, if TN whiskey can't be bourbon because of sugar maple charcoal being an active flavorant, what is sherry-cask aging? It's too late to be thinking about it. I think I'll just drink some regular ole bourbon...

  8. #8
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    Re: Cowdery article in Whisky mag issue 40


    I mean, if TN whiskey can't be bourbon because of sugar maple charcoal being an active flavorant, what is sherry-cask aging?
    Tonya,

    TN Whiskey is altered during the manufacturing process. The latter refers to a finished product, Bourbon, being transferred to sherry casks for a different taste profile. If you add ginger ale to your bourbon, it's still bourbon.

  9. #9
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    Re: Cowdery article in Whisky mag issue 40

    Whether or not Jack Daniel's or any other "charcoal mellowed" whiskey can legally meet the test for bourbon is debatable. My interpretation of the regs is that Daniel's could call itself "bourbon" if it wanted to. There are arguments to be made each way but it has never been definitively determined, to the best of my knowledge.

    I also agree that bourbon plus ____________ doesn't make the bourbon component not bourbon, so I don't see anything wrong with a product described as "bourbon finished in sherry casks." I might have a problem with the product itself, but not with the producer's right to describe it thusly.

    This whole discussion also points out a certain silliness inherent in concerns about what is or is not bourbon. Meeting the legal requirements for use of the term has no mystical significance. The whiskey is still what it is, regardless of what it is called.

  10. #10
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    Re: Cowdery article in Whisky mag issue 40

    I look at it this way, and I'll speak of Canada but the analogy could apply in the States: if rye whisky had been protected (the "appellation" as they say) to mean traditional straight whiskey, the category might still exist in Canada. Instead, makers were allowed to call rye something that wasn't rye but sold for less (originally). People became confused about what was and wasn't rye. The original article lost its cachet.. Of course, there were people then, as now, who knew what the real thing was but not enough of them (else straight rye would be sold in Canada today, I believe). With legal protection, the original article might have resonated with a broader audience because it would be easier for them to recognise the thing they really liked. Every producer seeks to protect its appellation, e.g. Champagne, famously. You and we here know what bourbon finished in sherry casks means but the public at large may ultimately get confused about what bourbon is and that would not favour the survival of the category: until recently it had (at times) trouble enough, competing with the tsunami of white goods, for example. It is not the law (of course) that enshrines a drink in the alcohol hall of fame. Wheat whiskey and other strange-sounding whiskeys are defined in U.S. law but no one makes them because there is no market. But bourbon caught on big due of course to its lengthy pre-statutory history but the legal guaranteees of quality and nomenclature surely helped to keep the product distinctive and genuine. So, it has grown, with hiccups, since the late 1930's (I am thinking of the date use of new charred barrels became mandatory). If Congress allows (or at least this has to be thought through carefully) "bourbon" to be used on labels of liquors containing measures of other spirits or wines, people may end up not being sure what is bourbon and what isn't and the attributes of the compound product may affect adversely the standing in peoples' minds of the true and real thing. Not everyone reads all the words on a label..

    I am a devotee of blending as you know: I just feel that the word bourbon should be reserved for the true (legally defined) article. If it is okay to say, "bourbon finished in sherry casks", why not "bourbon with 2% prune juice added"? I don't see the difference.

    Gary

 

 

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