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  1. #21
    Connoisseur
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    Mentor, Ohio, USA
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    837

    Re: The Great Bourbon Industry

    This Bourbon Industry is strong...Reason being, We have a good product and we have "the force" behind it to keep it strong I am proud to be part of it and most proud that my family of distiller's played a major role is this "Great Bourbon Industry"

    Bettye Jo, That was a great post. Thanks for your interest, your energy and your contribution to this discussion. It was very uplifting!!!

    Cheers,

    Ken

  2. #22
    Guru
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    Re: Direction of the industry

    I agree it's sad that something as special Bourbon could be owned by non-US companies, but I'm not sure blaming the Japanese and French is correct.
    I was'nt <font color="red"> blaming </font> the French & Japanese. I was extolling the fact that <u> ANY </u> foreign ownership of <u>ANY</u> part of the Bourbon industry does not sit well with me, but then I'm not that liberal a thinker.

  3. #23
    Taster
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    Jan 2005
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    Nara, Japan
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    98

    Re: Direction of the industry

    I agree it's sad that something as special Bourbon could be owned by non-US companies, but I'm not sure blaming the Japanese and French is correct.
    I was extolling the fact that <u> ANY </u> foreign ownership of <u>ANY</u> part of the Bourbon industry does not sit well with me, but then I'm not that liberal a thinker.
    I'm with you 100% on that!

    My comments were more to show that unfortunately sometimes Americans mess it up ourselves, which to me is worse than some foreign multinational improving a product.

    I would have rather seen Old Taylor and Old Crow bought by a foreign corporation and maintained or improved than where both labels are today.

    What happened to these great labels shouldn't have happened.

  4. #24
    Enthusiast
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    Mar 2001
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    OH
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    261

    Re: The Great Bourbon Industry

    Been a while since I've been on-working a lot of hours-but I couldn't agree with you more!! With Max at the helm and people like yourself, the industry can't do anything but move forward.

    Cheers,
    Marvin

  5. #25
    Enthusiast
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    Nov 2000
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    Frankfort, KY
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    499

    Re: Direction of the industry

    This has been a very interesting thread! I for one do not believe we have yet experienced the "Golden Age" of bourbon. Speaking with Elmer, there were several terrible bourbon brands in wide distribution decades ago. We made perhaps the largestselling bourbon at one time (during WW II), Three Feathers. Elmer said it was so bad that after the war when other bourbons became available, it dropped out of sight overnight. Likewise, there were brands we made like Cream of Kentucky that we excellent bourbons, but just faded from the market. I believe the first release of Eagle Rare 17 was actually Cream of Kentucky.

    Much of the taste of early bourbon brands was a credit to the Master Distillers' experience, as well as the warehouse managers' knowledge of cherry aging locations. As science played a small role, these men were artist who pursued their craft with the passion to produce the very best. As we learn more about what makes a better whiskey, we are able to blend that artistry with technical knowledge to POTENTIALLY create a better bourbon.

    Enter the huge business concerns were the primary focus is on maximizing the wealth of the shareholders. You see fine whiskies that have been aged less and less time, proof being decreased, used cooperage being used, etc. Each of these improves the bottom line in the short term, but may destroy the brand in the long run. Still, every brand has a life cycle. Jack Daniel's is currently selling 8,000,000 cases, yet it will someday go away. Just as a point of reference, if there had been a Forbes 500 list (major businesses) in 1900, only 5 of those companies on the list even exist today! So, a common thought is to milk the brand for all it is worth today, then reinvent it tomorrow with a new name, heavy advertising campaign, and some new unique selling point.

    That being said, I believe that some companies are more interested in the bottom line than pursuing their passion to produce the finest whiskey they can. If I were accountable to a number of stockholders, why would I jeopardize my career by investing hundreds of thousands of dollars in an experiment that, even if it works, will take at least 10 years to make it to market, long after I have been fired because there was no immediate return of their investment?

    Enough of the doom and gloom! I applaud the work being done by some of our bourbon brethern (and sisters!). Four Roses Single Barrel is a very nice expression, as is the concept for HH new wheat whiskey. While I have not yet tasted the wheated whiskey, my hat is off to the folks at HH for having the courage to give it a shot! I am chagrined that we did not think of it first!! As long as we have the people who can blend art and science together, without concern for short term profit, I am confident we will be making better whiskey well into the future. We are working with Julian to produce better tasting wheated whiskies; my big regret is that Pappy is no longer around so that we could work with him.

    Boy have I rambled! Sorry about that. Bottom line, brands will continue to decrease in quality as companies strive to meet quarterly budget goals, while innovative companies will continue to produce high quality bourbons/whiskies with new brands coming on line. I think the future will bring several fantastic products that will exceed the quality of what we have today!

    Ken

  6. #26
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    Re: Direction of the industry

    Great post Ken. It's great to hear what folks like you are seeing. Like any industry, the folks inside have a perspective that has a lot more credibility. The rest of us are just marketing fodder (at least until we buy a bottle ;-)



    Ken

  7. #27
    Virtuoso
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    Apr 2005
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    Chicago SW 'burbs
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    1,178

    Re: Direction of the industry

    Bottom line, brands will continue to decrease in quality as companies strive to meet quarterly budget goals, while innovative companies will continue to produce high quality bourbons/whiskies with new brands coming on line.
    IMHO, the worst thing that can happen to a product is when it becomes a brand. Corporations buy and sell brands as if they were trading cards. As far as I'm concerned, the way to judge a company is: do they have pride in their products, their employees, their work? Or, are they more interested in meeting some Wall Street analyst's quarterly projections?

    (rant)Just look at how some of these analysts dissed Costco because they treat their employees too well. Never mind that Costco is profitable, and its CEO responded that they're in business to make money for the long haul, not next week.(/rant)

    As for Brown-Forman, the destroyer of Jack Daniel's legacy, their one saving grace is that they import Ardbeg, but at least that's still a product produced with pride.

    Ken, keep up the good work, and don't let the Make-Money-Fast crowd ruin it! I've said it before, but I'll say it again: I've never been disappointed by a Buffalo Trace product.

  8. #28
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    Sep 2004
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    Chicago
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    Re: Direction of the industry

    I strongly suspect that there will always be a nostalgic feeling that the whiskey (or for that matter almost any crafted product) made X years ago was better than what we have now, never mind that X years ago, they were saying the same about the previous generations product and clucking over how the current produce was not up to snuff. No doubt there was fine whiskey made in days gone by, and it is unfortunate that those brands/mashbills/etc. are no longer available, but, there is plenty of fine whiskey being made right now. And ten or twenty years hence, someone will still be making fine whiskey, as dougdog or his descendants scour the dusty shelves and celebrate finding products from 2005.

    Whiskey will change over time, but as long as distilling is legal I'm sanguine that someone will be making good whiskey, and someone else will also be making good whiskey to compete with them. Corporate owners come and go, distilleries close but also open...there is enough demand for good bourbon that someone will supply it. In fact, as recently as five years ago I might have been concerned about the future of decent rye, but that appears to have made a comeback, which I find encouraging.

  9. #29
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
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    Re: Direction of the industry

    Chuck, good whiskey will always be made and there is a lot of it around, but too many indicators - personal, anecdotal, and industry/professional - have suggested to me bourbon in general was better 30 years ago. I know this from my own comparative tastings of numerous whiskeys including Jim Beam White Label, W.L. Weller, Old Fitzgerald, Ancient Age, Old Overholt and others. There is no whiskey on the market today as good in its class as, say, Yellowstone was 25 years ago. It was particularly on the mid-and "lower"-shelf that the quality existed (since by definition there were few small batch products) and it is harder to find now. There are many more older products than then but older is not always better. Was whiskey much different between, say 1900-1918 to 1933-1980? I think it was the same largely except for proof differences which of themselves are not that significant. Why do I say this? Because of what Charlie Thomasson wrote in the 1960's for one thing - and his career stretched from about 1910 to the mid-1960's. And from other things I've read and heard. I think whiskey in the 30's largely (the good brands) was the same as before 1920 because they had to bring old-timers back to make it and their influence stretched until (directly and through pupils) the 1970's. But since then industrial-scale production has grown and grown - this was analysed by Thomasson who noted that the traditional palate of whiskey was changing. Maybe it was even better in the 1950's than the 1980's but it was still plenty good then. It still can be but vigilance is the key amongst both we the informed consumers and the makers. The folksy approach of certain marketing and brands is okay as long as it doesn't substitute for historical quality standards, i.e, using a decent amount of malt for body, natural aging methods, low distillation and entry proofs, and so and so forth.

    Gary

  10. #30
    Connoisseur
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    Mar 2005
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    Re: Direction of the industry

    Chasking, you bring up and interesting point about finding good bourbons 10 to 20 years from now, I'm inspired to post!

    Best regards, dougdog

 

 

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