From time to time we discuss on this forum just what is needed to bring to bourbon whiskey the respect and consumer acceptance that it so richly deserves. Of course, our viewpoint is as consumers who enjoy the product; the discussion has far more significance when it involves the distillers themselves, and it often does. Your mention of Woodford VIP illustrates this well...

I was thinking of how much sense it would make to give Woodford VIP packages to my friends who are not already bourbon enthusiasts. A fine bourbon in a strikingly beautiful package would make a great gift, and a great introduction to this wonderful beverage spirit. Problem is, among most of my friends who don't already drink bourbon, such a gift would be very similar to giving them a nicely leather-bound collection of Hustler magazines. They might acknowledge the beauty of the package, and they might appreciate the thoughtfulness of the gift; they might even display it in their living room. But they would take pride in never actually opening and drinking it. Until we can address and reduce that attitude in Puritan America, we're not going to see American Whiskey get the sort of respect it deserves. I belive one reason that some distilleries concentrate on foreign sales instead of domestic is that consumers in foreign countries are less ashamed to buy a product that provides pleasure.

The white spirit makers (and of course Brown-Forman sells some of the best of that as well as whiskey) don't seem to have that concern. They market vodka, gin, and rum for folks who want to have fun drinking and they just don't let the Puritans bother them at all. It's just the bourbon folks who seem to be stuck in their images of leather chairs, old money, dead distillers from 1789, "bourbon the way Grandfather used to enjoy it", and so forth. Instead of trying to make an American classic, what would happen if L&G marketed (in addition to the fine, aged bourbons we all expect from y'all) a product that was basically pot-distilled white whiskey for use in fun cocktails? Cocktails sold in chain-restaurants like Red Lobster, Tumbleweeds, and Lone Star. Would a "margarita" made with 90-proof white dog taste worse than one made with Cuervo tequila? Is the problem really that anything that increases bourbon sales would come at the expense of tequila, rum, or vodka sales and all the bourbon distillers are making more money selling those spirits than they are selling bourbon?

P.S. - Please don't take offense at what I'm saying. It's certainly not aimed solely at Brown-Forman, and I'm personally part of your "audience" who appreciates the history and quality of fine bourbon. I think of L&G as exemplifying that; in fact, all of B-F does that. It's just that we tend to bemoan the "niche"-ness of fine American Whiskey and I think the distilleries just don't aim for the right people to make bourbon a truly popular drink. And the one outfit who really DOES do this is not a bourbon. And it's wildly successful. And it's you. Y'know, if Labrot & Graham were marketed like Jack Daniel's, you'd endure the wrath and vicious comments of most bourbon enthusiasts... but you also might just have the best-selling bourbon spirit ever distilled.

=John=
http://w3.one.net/~jeffelle/whiskey