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  1. #31
    Enthusiast
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    Chicago
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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
    Heh, yeah, I can see it now:

    "This week's dusty corners find is four bottles of pre-Beam Maker's Mark, with the red wax seal!"

  2. #32
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
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    Sep 2002
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    Toronto, Canada
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    9,086

    Re: Direction of the industry

    The one imponderable is whether whiskey improves in the bottle. If it does, the whiskey of today will taste much better 20-30 years from now. If that will happen, that suggests my inferences about the whiskey of 30 years ago being better may not be true!

    Actually (and I'm not trying to be cute) I think it is a bit of both. I think whiskey - in general - was better 30 years ago but I also believe it improves in the bottle. I was startled e.g., to see how good that ORVW 12 year old was that I found in Fall River recently. That rye was good 5 years ago or so when it first came out but it's better now and I know I'm not being suggestible. Maybe the change magically just affected the one bottle I bought (it happens) but it's real. I may have to bring it to Gazebo to get the opinion of the cognoscenti and maybe Julian himself! Except Monte, if you'll be there let me know since you have more bottles than I and can more easily spare one

    Gary

  3. #33
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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. * * * 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.
    Gary,

    I am sure that is true---I must admit I have not had a chance to compare old to current versions of the usual suspects, but this does not surprise me at all. However, I think changes in the market explain that. I think the base-line brands have suffered because of the advent of premium brands---not because of honey barrels being siphoned off, although that might happen, but rather because the existence and success of premium bourbons has taken many of the people who care and can tell the difference out of the market for the bottom-shelf products. It only makes sense that in that circumstance corners will be cut. Taking the example of Jim Beam white label: before the advent of the Small Batch bourbons, Beam's product was aimed at both the person who liked to savor his bourbon as well as the person who was going to mix it with Coke, etc. Nowadays, the guy who likes to savor his bourbon is probably buying Knob Creek, if not Booker's. If the vast majority of your target audience is going to use a bourbon as a mixer, then there's probably no great harm if the flavor profile slips a little from where it was way back when. It's still not rotgut; I don't think anyone is going to be put off spirits by it, but now someone who likes the flavor will presumably be inspired to try one of the premiums, as opposed to becoming a devotee of white label, as may have happened in the old days.

    Meanwhile, we have Knob Creek, and Baker's, and Booker's. I don't know but I suspect that they are better than the old white label was. I'd rather have those bourbons available, even at greater prices, than have JB white be a little bit better than it currently is. And I think the same argument applies to the other distilleries and their premium-vs-pedestrian brands.

    (Weller presents a different situation since the Stitzel-Weller distillery is closed, but I think a distinction needs to be drawn between preferring the house style of a closed distillery and a change in quality from a single distillery over time. The consensus appears to be that the whiskey from SW was better than the whiskey from Bernheim used in former SW brands, but for the purposes of tracking quality over time, that's an apples-to-oranges comparison, even if the apple and orange both say "Weller" on the label.)

    I have gathered from some of your other posts, that you are fan of younger bourbon, and unfortunately high quality young whiskey appears to have fallen through a crack in the current market. I like younger whiskies myself, especially rye, so the point is not lost on me. (In fact, at a pre-Whiskeyfest event, Fred Noe let me have a little taste of some white dog he had with him...damn! Who needs oak barrels?)

    But my point was that there is plenty of great whiskey being sold right now. It's in a different market segment than it used to be, but it's there. I don't think that is inconsistent with your point, that low- and mid-level brands are not what they used to be.

    Chuck King

  4. #34
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
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    Re: Direction of the industry

    Good thoughts, thanks. I do feel though that Knob Creek is not a substitute for the Beam White and Beam Choice brands of the 1970's. Recently I tasted some Beam White from 1980 and I thought it was better than Knob Creek (really). I just have a feeling that the industry may be becoming too segmented and all the categories are less informed by quality than used to be the case because the old whiskey hands are leaving the scene, e.g., Booker's passing, retirement of other well-known figures. The new men surely are very talented but often have more science training - not necessarily a plus for retaining old time flavor - and have to respond to demands of cost accountants and marketers.

    Well, maybe I am wrong, I hope so.

    Gary

  5. #35
    Advanced Taster
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    Jul 2004
    Location
    Maple Valley, WA
    Posts
    158

    Re: Direction of the industry

    I see it like this:

    Let the distilleries have their low-end, mass market 80 proof non-enthusiast bourbons with a higher profit margin. Then they will be able to afford to market the single-barrel-proof decade old plus bourbons us enthusiasts seem to covet. It's a win-win situation.


  6. #36
    Bourbonian of the Year 2003 and Super Moderator
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Location
    Kentucky
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    2,942

    Re: Direction of the industry

    I thought I had a plan in place once, as we all know, it didn't catch on A missed opportunity

 

 

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