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Where to start with MGP bourbons?


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1 hour ago, Jazz June said:

The SAOS MGP picks are now 6 years old and we picked a fantastic one a while back. My pet theory is the MGP distillate does especially well at SA, but whatever the cause, very excited for this stuff to continue aging and hoping the price and availability keep it within reach.

MGP juice did well at Willett as well. Hard to say what contributed to that in terms of barrel selection, aging conditions/climate, as well as our personal bias issues. I really miss the days when I could readily buy 6/7/8 year MGP rye barrel picks from either place in the $40-$80 ranges. 

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54 minutes ago, PaulO said:

I seem to recall that Greenbriar was planning to stop sourcing MGP whiskey for the Belle Meade brand, and switch everything over to their own make.  I have no idea how long the MGP sourced Belle Meade will be available.

I found the Nelson's Greenbriar to be interesting, and worth trying for the novelty.

The press release I read said that Greenbriar would continue sourcing from MGP for their Reserve line but was discontinuing the Belle Meade brand entirely.  I forget the new brand name but it will be "Nelson" something, I think. 

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1 hour ago, BottledInBond said:

MGP juice did well at Willett as well. Hard to say what contributed to that in terms of barrel selection, aging conditions/climate, as well as our personal bias issues. I really miss the days when I could readily buy 6/7/8 year MGP rye barrel picks from either place in the $40-$80 ranges. 

I have begun to think that enthusiasts should place far more emphasis on each producer's warehouses and what they are capable of turning out. While many of the famous WFE releases were quite old and BP/NCF at a time when that was less common, they were still taking distillate from other distilleries and aging it into very highly regarded whiskey. Now some of that whiskey was from distilleries that no longer operate, but some (even a lot) was from places like MGP and Heaven Hill that continue to turn out tons of whiskey. Do the Willett warehouses turn out better whiskey on average than MGP or HH? Interesting to think about. It is cool to see Russell's Reserve Single Rickhouse as this a move to isolate this factor and hone in on it. WT already rotated warehouses through their pick program, but a batched product will give a more generalized picture.

 

And as for MGP rye, we also picked a 5yr MGP rye at SA and it should be in the $50-65 range. Next year they may have 6yr rye. I agree with a lot of the carping about NDPs in this and other threads, but there are still some reasonably priced MGP bottlers (at least relative to the market). I'm not interested in paying $100+ for 6yr MGP rye or 8yr MGP bourbon. For example, lots of people speak highly of the Nashville Barrel Company MGP picks, but they are simply overpriced to me. We also did a 6yr cask strength MGP bourbon pick at a distillery here in Virginia and again, the whiskey was really good and the price point is going to be much lower than those NBC picks. I realize not everyone has easy access to picks and the fact that I got to taste it before buying is what gives me confidence (versus random shelf purchase), but the point stands that there is good, reasonably priced MGP whiskey out there (even if it isn't at the age or quality of past SAOS/WFE picks).

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, Jazz June said:

I have begun to think that enthusiasts should place far more emphasis on each producer's warehouses and what they are capable of turning out. While many of the famous WFE releases were quite old and BP/NCF at a time when that was less common, they were still taking distillate from other distilleries and aging it into very highly regarded whiskey. Now some of that whiskey was from distilleries that no longer operate, but some (even a lot) was from places like MGP and Heaven Hill that continue to turn out tons of whiskey. Do the Willett warehouses turn out better whiskey on average than MGP or HH? Interesting to think about. It is cool to see Russell's Reserve Single Rickhouse as this a move to isolate this factor and hone in on it. WT already rotated warehouses through their pick program, but a batched product will give a more generalized picture.

 

And as for MGP rye, we also picked a 5yr MGP rye at SA and it should be in the $50-65 range. Next year they may have 6yr rye. I agree with a lot of the carping about NDPs in this and other threads, but there are still some reasonably priced MGP bottlers (at least relative to the market). I'm not interested in paying $100+ for 6yr MGP rye or 8yr MGP bourbon. For example, lots of people speak highly of the Nashville Barrel Company MGP picks, but they are simply overpriced to me. We also did a 6yr cask strength MGP bourbon pick at a distillery here in Virginia and again, the whiskey was really good and the price point is going to be much lower than those NBC picks. I realize not everyone has easy access to picks and the fact that I got to taste it before buying is what gives me confidence (versus random shelf purchase), but the point stands that there is good, reasonably priced MGP whiskey out there (even if it isn't at the age or quality of past SAOS/WFE picks).

Great post.    The good stuff is out there.   I'm sipping this early Friday evening a Belle Meade Sour Mash and boy does it hit the spot to start the weekend.   I love the MGP high rye mashbill,  and Nelson's Greenbriar does a fine job batching 6-7 year old barrels,  and so does SAOS.   Quality batched MGP is around $35 - $40, which is admittedly high in a world of Russell's Reserve 10 and KC9.  But it has its place.  It is quintessential, classic bourbon that's drinking right now like a velvet fog, the Mel Torme of bourbons.

Edited by Jazzhead
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On 12/2/2021 at 9:25 AM, PhantomLamb said:

Call me a hater but this has been my mentality toward MGP and craft since Day 1.  Too much good bourbon/scotch/rum etc to waste money on a gamble of something that could be good produced by a brand that lies saying it's their distillate.

 

As Sweet Brown once said...

 

 

 

Day 1?  I guess the distillery in Indiana has been making bourbon longer than many of us have been drinking it.  Just sayin' ...

 

 

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11 hours ago, Jazz June said:

I have begun to think that enthusiasts should place far more emphasis on each producer's warehouses and what they are capable of turning out. ...

Yes indeed, there is something to say about having a real warehouse and people that know how to manage/care for the barrels.

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I feel that we should separate MGP Rye from MGP Bourbon.  Entirely different animals in every way, including how they end up in NDP bottles on our liquor store shelves. 

 

I feel the OP was referring to MGP straight bourbon only here.

 

 

 

 

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13 hours ago, Jazz June said:

And as for MGP rye, we also picked a 5yr MGP rye at SA and it should be in the $50-65 range. Next year they may have 6yr rye. I agree with a lot of the carping about NDPs in this and other threads, but there are still some reasonably priced MGP bottlers (at least relative to the market). I'm not interested in paying $100+ for 6yr MGP rye or 8yr MGP bourbon. For example, lots of people speak highly of the Nashville Barrel Company MGP picks, but they are simply overpriced to me. We also did a 6yr cask strength MGP bourbon pick at a distillery here in Virginia and again, the whiskey was really good and the price point is going to be much lower than those NBC picks. 

The sourcing of MGP and the resultant pricing has a lot to do with when you bought the barrels. Did you buy them at only 1 year old or did you buy them at 4+ years old? That has a lot to do with the price since you are dealing with a broker. NBC is very new so they had to buy already aged barrels. SA has the advantage of being around for a while so they can buy young barrels and age them on site.

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11 hours ago, flahute said:

The sourcing of MGP and the resultant pricing has a lot to do with when you bought the barrels. Did you buy them at only 1 year old or did you buy them at 4+ years old? That has a lot to do with the price since you are dealing with a broker. NBC is very new so they had to buy already aged barrels. SA has the advantage of being around for a while so they can buy young barrels and age them on site.

Totally understand that different NDPs have different costs, but unless buying it at the more advanced age somehow makes the end product better, I'd rather buy from the guy with the lower costs. This is part of what makes buying from NDPs so tricky - are they just buying whatever barrels they can get their hands on from a broker and bottling it for sale at the necessarily high price point they will need to turn a profit? Or do they add something to the equation? Smooth Ambler's aging is valuable to me, for others, Barrell's blending makes the end product more than the sum of its parts. Picking barrels to use for single barrel products is certainly a skill and NBC may be doing a great job with that (I don't know from personal experience - I have tried one or two and thought they were fairly average). It's similar to Cream of Kentucky and Blue Run - Jim Rutledge is involved, but he isn't distilling these whiskeys. Nonetheless, he may be doing other things that add value to the product (beyond lending his name to them).

 

Circling back to the larger topic of MGP bourbons, I think there are some good NDP bottled MGP bourbons out there at decent prices, but there are probably even more mediocre and overpriced NDP bottled MGP bourbons, so you have to do the research. And again, tasting before you buy, whether that is a sample from a bottle or doing the barrel selection, is the safest way to ensure a good quality and price combination. You could also skip the NDPs and buy the Remus bourbons, I think they are fair values. The Remus Repeal Reserve in particular is a good well-aged bourbon at semi-reasonable prices considering the market.

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Posted (edited)
20 hours ago, Kepler said:

 

Day 1?  I guess the distillery in Indiana has been making bourbon longer than many of us have been drinking it.  Just sayin' ...

 

 

My Day 1 sir, not MGP’s. I’ve avoided them like the plague and will continue to do so.

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First:  This Thread.  It's a perfect example of why this site rocks.  Excellent information from people who have been around the block.  Thoughtful posts.  Thank you for those who took the time to share.

 

Second, this Nashville foray ended up leaving little time for me to get out & about.  I did manage to get some colleagues to take me to Frugal MacDoogal's before I read this thread.  Decent selection, reasonable prices.  I picked up 3 bottles, all ones I'd come upon here.  That is a very light haul for me; I normally try and max my luggage limit (12 total bottles) to take as much back to bourbon-poor Puerto Rico as possible.  But I have been rather excessive lately that I thought I'd rein it in a bit.

 

Then read this thread and figured I'd try some of what was discussed.  So I walked to 3 liquor stores near the hotel (The Bobby, interesting place).  All of the stores were tourist-priced.  While I do not mind getting somewhat spendy...it was a bit much.  So hard pass on anything sold by downtown Nashville liquor stores.  Totally good with local capitalists maxing their return and tourists buying by the bottle to avoid the bankruptcy that might follow quaffing by the shot.  Just not for me.

 

But there's a nice silver lining.  I will be back in Nashville September 12, then again on the 17th.  Normally for a trip like that I'd take a cheap, direct SW flight to Columbus and annoy offspring, friends, etc. then fly back down before they starting thinking about reaching for firearms.

 

But then I noticed what was between Nashville and Columbus.

 

Kentucky.

 

So working with Dad and my son to arrange a wee excursion, namely a two or three-day drive that should prove to be much more fun than a flight.

At which point I will take advantage of the info in this thread, as well as all the info on distillery visits.  And search for good places to find good things as well, the availability in The Motherland seems to be on the high & happy side.

 

Thanks again for all you all do.

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