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Thread: Golden Age?

  1. #11
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Re: Golden Age?

    The only distiller doing this is Jim Beam with their Distiller's Masterpiece. I forget how they handle the "Is it bourbon?" question, but they finesse it in some way. My feeling is that once something is bourbon, you don't make it un-bourbon by doing something else to it, much like making a mixed drink (i.e., adding ingredients). It's sort of bourbon-plus.

    I really don't think something like this will catch on, though. Because bourbon is so flavorful, it's hard to think of a "finish" that would really complement it. In contrast, I'm thinking of that Canadian whisky that is finished in sherry barrels and all you can taste is the sherry barrel, since the underlying whisky is so flavorless.

    <A target="_blank" HREF=http://cowdery.home.netcom.com>--Chuck Cowdery</A>

  2. #12
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    Re: Golden Age?

    By popular request, I am moving this old thread forward for further discussion. I still believe that what I said a couple of years ago is true, but I do see one ray of hope.

    Julian Van Winkle is trying to peice together the old family recipe in more exact terms so that he can have it made at Buffalo Trace the sameway his grandfather made it at Stitzel-Weller. This will have lower barrel proof and wont use the enzymes that were used to make the wheat recipe under United Distillers. It should truley be a very interesting product, as long as he does not try to age it in brick warehouses.

    Anyone else care to make any comments?

    Mike Veach

  3. #13
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    Re: Golden Age?

    My other ray of hope is the fact that the folks at Buffalo Trace are willing to experiment -- a lot.

    As for brick vs. iron clad, I'm always interested in how staunchly certain people in the distilling industry will support one over the other.

  4. #14
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    Re: Golden Age?

    Greg,
    The supporters of brick warehouse are the companies that own them. They will claim their superiority for various reasons, but I always point out that there is one company that claims its very best single barrel bourbon comes from the only iron clad warehouse on the premises.

    If you are curious about the difference they have in the aging process, go out and buy a new bottle of Weller Special Reserve 7 yo and compare it side by side with some of the same product bottles 6 years ago when United Distillers owned the brand. The BT Weller was aged in Brick warehouse and the UD Weller in iron clad.

    Mike Veach

  5. #15
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    Re: Golden Age?

    Mike,

    I can say with all certainy you are one of the few that I really listen to when it comes to the history, flavor of bourbon. But I must say, I just don't agree with you. We are producing, or I should say they are producing, world class bourbon. I am talking about Jimmy Russell, Elmer T. Lee, Greg Davis, Parker Beam and Jim Rutledge among others who are producing the best bourbon the world has ever known. You can go back in time and say "if only the South had won" but the fact is the best bourbon that has ever been produced is now and it can only get better in the future. And yes, I will have another drink of that delicious Gold Label Maker's Mark. Mike, you are the only one that makes me sit down hours on end and think about the past and the future. For me, I will take the future. Keep on making those posts as they certainly cause all of us to think!!! And that's the good part for everyone.

    Cheers,
    Marvin

  6. #16
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
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    Re: Golden Age?

    Very difficult to say. When you read interviews of distillers or retired "big names" most say bourbon is better than it ever was: a round table discussion in the current Malt Magazine seems to concur in that regard. Are some spokesmen just being loyal to the industry (a natural inclination and who could blame them?). Again hard to say. At the Gazebo tastings at the Festival, I felt Bobby's Yellowstone Mellow Mash from the early 1980's beat almost any bourbon out there today, premium, super-premium, whatever. There was a Jim Beam circa 1960 from a decanter on the table that had a rich rum-like taste, quite unlike any Beam of today, I thought, including the barrel sample that was present (which was still very good). As Mike said in his e-mail he brought forward, in the old days (and one would think bourbon flavour in 1900-1918 would be at least as good as 1960-1980) there seemed the possibility to get rich taste at relatively young ages. Today, it seems necessary to age whiskey much longer than formerly to get a big flavour going. And, there is a trade-off - old whiskey can taste woody and thinnish (maybe the tannin from the wood makes them seem thin. A lot of people like very aged bourbon of this style, but often I pine for full taste and balance without a heavy wood overlay.

    I guess I am saying that based on comments such as Mike made and the odd tasting of older bottles, it seems bourbon may have been better in the "old days". Not all of it (there was probably too much young sharp bourbon around, more than today) but in the mid-range of ages I am speaking of.

    I hope Julian Van Winkle, whose products have a lot of integrity, does succeed in the apparent goal to make the old Stitzel-Weller bourbon at Buffalo Trace. I think, in other words, there is a market for a full-flavoured whiskey aged 5-8 years. By the way, Evan Williams 7 years old is of this type. But it is hard generally to find such whiskeys today. In the Jim Beam range, most of the small batch series seems light (the body) on the palate except Knob Creek, and even Knob Creek seems less rich than when first released. Blanton's though does carry the flag for very full taste and rich flavour at a median age.. (and some of the Wild Turkey products, e.g. Kentucky Spirit, Russell's Reserve). Certainly for people who know where to look, there is no dearth of fine rich bourbon in the medium age range. But if, say, Jim Beam White Label was heavier in body than it is, might it not sell in even greater numbers, thereby earning more converts to straight whiskey? Ditto for Jack Daniel's, Maker's Mark, the regular Wild Turkey, Old Overholt rye whiskey, etc.

    Gary

  7. #17
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    Re: Golden Age?

    Marvin,
    I agree they are making some fine bourbon today, but just consider this senerio- Today's quality controls for a bourbon that was made by distilling at 102 proof and put into the barrel at 100 proof, then aged 6 years. That would be a true "Distillers Masterpiece" in my book and worth the big bucks they would have to charge for a bottle.
    Mike Veach

  8. #18
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    Re: Golden Age?

    I felt Bobby's Yellowstone Mellow Mash from the early 1980's beat almost any bourbon out there today, premium, super-premium, whatever.
    Thanks for mentioning that , Gary. I too was impressed by Mellow Mash, it has a richness that few bourbons today emulate. It dances over the tongue and there are many things going on at once. Wathens has it, It's pedigree and Mellow Mash are shared. Gts has it. I feel that Woodford Reserve, and I like WR for what it is, does not. It seems to me to be somewhat one dimensional, in a Maker's Mark, Ten High, way.

  9. #19
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    Re: Golden Age?

    Bobby,

    That Mellow Mash was one of the jewels of <font color="red"> Gazebo '03</font> . Have you been holding on to that bottle for some time, or did you recently discover it?

  10. #20
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    Re: Golden Age?

    I have been hanging on to 4 bottles for a few years. It was probably some of the last dusty old stuff I found. In both cases I found 2 bottles and more was promised only to find out it was all gone. I made an amicable trade of 1 bottle, so as it stands I have 2 sealed and what's left in the Gazebo bottle. Maybe it will make a return visit!
    Glad you enjoyed it, I had no idea really what to expect, But I did know that it was possible that it would be near Wathens, and actually it is good but didn't seem too similiar to me.

 

 

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