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Gillman

Early Times

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Gillman

Is anyone interested to give taste notes on Early Times? Chuck (the Book) says it is almost a bourbon in that it has a bourbon mash, is aged long enough for straight whiskey (i.e. at least two years, and I think ET is at least three years old), and is aged mostly in new charred barrels. This has to be very close to bourbon in flavour. I would offer my notes but don't have any in the bunker at the moment.

Also, does Early Times come in more than one expression, e.g., a high proof version?

Gary

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cowdery

The only "other expression" of ET is that in non-US markets, it is a bourbon.

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ratcheer

Gary, even when it was a Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, back in the 60's & 70's, it was not a very good one. I had it on several occasions and I don't recall ever enjoying it.

Tim

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Gillman

Thanks, and I just saw that the Book in fact gives taste notes for Early Times (others' views are solicited too if they drink this). I believe young whiskeys, or whiskeys on the younger side of the spectrum, can benefit from high proof. A number of malt whisky distillers (Glenfarclas, now Macallan) sell their cask strength whiskies on the younger side for the range. The extra hit of alcohol seems somehow to off-set some of the less mature flavors. We see this too with some white overproof rum in the Caribbean. There was the opposite tendency too, illustrated in the discussion recently on the Michter's quarter whiskey, discussed I should add in Michael Jackson's 1988 World Guide To Whisky. That was, originally at least, a pot still distillate cut to 25 proof. In the 1700's/1800's, the drink (as the label of the latter-day recreation suggested) was often used as a beverage akin to the way wine or beer would be used today, i.e., to accompany meals; that explains, I think the unusually low historical proof. But returning to liquor sampled in high proof form, I think it would be interesting to sample Early Times (I mean, the whiskey, not the bourbon) at 90 or 100 proof. It can be interesting too to remind oneself of "distillery" flavors which mostly get effaced with long aging. Jim Beam's white label tends also to have a certain distillery or grainy character even after four years of aging. Recently I was looking at a photo of a modern Beam warehouse (not sure which one it was) and it was interesting to see barrels standing on end, palleted, in a very large hangar or shed-type facility. It seems evident, despite the ventilation which I am sure is done via HVAC systems, that maturation will take longer than in a smaller building which has more exposure to the elements by not being too large and having a cladding that is not too staunch. Thus, if Early Times (whisky or bourbon) was aged for the same time in a small country warehouse where the wind whistled through windows and cracks in the walls, would it taste more mature than at present? One wonders.. Proof, whiskey type, warehouse type, length of aging, char level for barrels, so many factors enter into a process that still has elements of mystery and unpredictability..

Gary

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cowdery

Early Times is aged in masonry warehouses in the Louisville suburb of Shively. The warehouses can be heated, so the barrels can be artifically cycled in the winter. Not sure if they are actually doing this, as there continues to be a debate about whether or not it actually works.

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Gillman

Good point but I was thinking also of Charlie Thomason's saws about ensuring a free flow of outdoor air around the barrels. He was speaking of facilities that had many apertures - one sees those little windows in old distillery buildings around the world including in the oldest parts of the disused Gooderham & Worts facility in Toronto - but also of situating a warehouse on a hillside to take advantage of winds. Some buildings were so porous he recalled seeing barrels with snow resting on them in winter. Now that's country aging. smile.gif I do believe heating artifically can create aging cycles though, but the movement of fresh air over the barrels was something he insisted on as part of classical practice. He seemed concerned with two things: artificial heating sometimes worked too well in that too much tannin could be brought into the whiskey too soon, and also, the risks of mustiness were increased if there wasn't sufficient ventilation (and it stands to reason fresh air was important here). I have rarely if ever noticed a musty scent in any Fortune Brands bourbon, nor any issues with over-tannic tastes. I would say, though, that they don't seem to mature super-fast: even Knob Creek, a favorite of mine, never seems to show big barrel character, ditto Baker's, etc.

Gary

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bourbonv

Gary,

I have been with Chris Morris for the past several years at the Bourbon academy held at Woodfrod Reserve. Early Times is one of the products he talks about. He says that there is 3yo whiskey in the product, but some of the whiskey is as old as 8yo. The used cooperage is only about 20% of the product. It taste OK but it is what I call a "Brown Vodka" - not a complex taste or a lingering finish. It is similar to Jim Beam White Label in taste. It is meant to be your "bourbon and coke" type whiskey.

On the other hand I have had some of the Early Times bourbon sold in Japan. It is quite good with some caramel from aging and what surprised me was a hint of cocoanut on the finish.

They do heat the warehouses at Early Times in the winter. They claim it makes for faster aging, but I am not so sure. I still tend to prefer products aged in iron clad warehouses but admit there are some mighty fine products that come from the brick warehouse (AAA, Old Forester and Woodford Reserve to name a few).

Mike Veach

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cowdery

The Beam pallatized warehouses have big industrial fans to ensure air circulation. They insist the combination of pallatized storage and forced air ventilation provides better air circulation. The biggest problem with the barrels stored on end is leakage.

And they don't look good for the tourists.

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camduncan

The only "other expression" of ET is that in non-US markets, it is a bourbon

It's definately sold as a bourbon here in Australia..

Not a big seller, and, from personal experience, not a great taste either. I'd put way down under Jim Beam White for preference..

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Edward_call_me_Ed

I just saw two different bottles of Early Times at the discount liquor store. Same price but one had a yellowish label and the other a brown label. Both said they were Straight Kentucky Bourbon. I couldn't find an age statement on either one. I haven't tried Early Times for maybe 10 years. At that time I preferred Jim Beam White label. I drank a lot of that at the time. I tried a number of bourbons in the same price range and always went back to Jim Beam. When I wanted something better, (a lot better!) and was willing to pay about twice what I did for Beam I got WT 101 8 year old.

Now Beam White is pretty far down on my list. Not quite off my list, it is not bad for what it is. So Early Times has been even farther down the list. However, reading about it in Chuck's book and here on this thread I am getting curious about it. One of these days I will have a chance to try it again at a bar where it is the house bourbon. I am kind of looking forward to it.

Ed

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TNbourbon

Grab 'em! If they say 'bourbon' and not 'Kentucky whiskey', snatch 'em up -- Early Times bourbon is no longer available in the U.S., and hasn't been for some time. Thus, they are instant collectibles -- and eminently tradeable to others here smile.gif -- so to get them at off-the-shelf prices would be quite a coup.

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Edward_call_me_Ed

That is an interesting idea. Does anyone know anything about the legality of mailing whiskey to the States from Japan? And any taxes that would be due? I need to find out about the opposite case as well. There are bourbons and other whiskeys that I would like to try but have been unable to find here.

Ed

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Ken Weber

If you found the bottles in Japan, then Early Times is indeed a bourbon. All ET sold in the U.S. is called "Old Style Kentucky Whiskey". The bourbon, which I recall as being quite nice, did not have as good an ROI as the folks at BF required, hence it went to used cooperage and 36 months (rendering it a bourbon no longer). The bourbon version is still made for the Japanese market.

Ken

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wadewood

Early Times Bourbon was also available in Tahiti, so it must ship to Japan and other export markets, but not to US.

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cowdery

Although Early Times is not bourbon in the U.S., it is bourbon in all international markets. The current label was adopted in the early 1980s, if I remember correctly. Before that the brand had a very garish yellow label. It was in a round bottle then too (now it's square).

Brown-Forman, which makes Early Times, calls the U.S. product "Kentucky Whisky." Brown-Forman was the first to use that term, but others have used it since. The resemblance to "Tennessee Whiskey" is obvious and intentional. Brown-Forman also makes Jack Daniel's.

Early Times can't be called bourbon because about 20 percent of it is aged in used barrels. Bourbon must be aged 100 percent in new, charred oak barrels.

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mrt

I couldn't find this thread until now, so I posted two new threads about ET. In the answers to the first one, ET is highly critised by the bourbon discussioners. For the second one, I'm waiting the answers still, but I found many here.

Well, I tried ET last weekend, and I liked it very much. Though the finish is not lingering as stated here, taste is sweet (IMO) and easy to drink. I tried it on the rocks, by the way. It's sold as "Kentucky Starigh Bourbon Whisky" here. I was just about to ask the reason for not being labeled as the same in the US, but-thank you- I learned here that it was due to the used barrels for the %20. But, isn't the legal definition of bourbon valid for the countries other than US? If it's a bourbon, it is, if not, then it is not, IMO.

Anyway, I like ET and will continue drinking it as long as I find here.

Thanks for all the useful info.

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Gillman

See my answer on the other thread.

GAry

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JeffRenner
I was just about to ask the reason for not being labeled as the same in the US, but-thank you- I learned here that it was due to the used barrels for the %20. But, isn't the legal definition of bourbon valid for the countries other than US? If it's a bourbon, it is, if not, then it is not, IMO.

Not to beat a dead horse, but rather to make sure that it's clear, there are at least three different ET products. One is aged partly in used barrels, and is therefore not a bourbon. It is this that is sold in the US, and not in other countries, as far as I know. Then there are the brown and yellow bourbons, which are, indeed, true bourbons in that they are aged in new barrels. These are not sold in the US.

Jeff

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boone
Not to beat a dead horse, but rather to make sure that it's clear, there are at least three different ET products. One is aged partly in used barrels, and is therefore not a bourbon. It is this that is sold in the US, and not in other countries, as far as I know. Then there are the brown and yellow bourbons, which are, indeed, true bourbons in that they are aged in new barrels. These are not sold in the US.

Jeff

This is a old bottling (1979) of Early Times that my father in law gave to me :grin: Back then, it was "Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey"...

This bottling is 4 years old, 86 proof.

post-20-14489812214641_thumb.jpg

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boone
This is a old bottling (1979) of Early Times that my father in law gave to me :grin: Back then, it was "Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey"...

This bottling is 4 years old, 86 proof.

Here is another bottling of ET that my father in law gave to me :grin: This one is not Bourbon...

post-20-14489812214838_thumb.jpg

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Gillman

Very interesting bottle, Bettye Jo. A rare example of a post-war "straight whiskey", i.e., as you noted it is neither a bourbon nor (presumably) a straight rye. Maybe its grain bill was 50% corn, the rest rye and barley malt, or 50% rye, the rest corn and barley malt. If aged two years it would qualify for the straight designation but could not be called straight bourbon or rye. I am sure it is very good. Maryland used to sell "straight whiskey" and sometimes "a blend of straight whiskeys", but it was less common after WW II in Kentucky. In this era, it seems distillers experimented with non-bourbon mash bills, of which a well-known one, devised by your uncle Everett for Michter/Pennco, was 50% rye, 37% corn, remainder barley malt. Maybe Early Times was experimenting with something similar at the time.

Gary

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mrt

I still like ET bourbon! Might seem weird, but I prefer this bourbon to Jack Daniels. I liked JD at the beginning, but now I think there's sth. wrong with it, it lacks sth. about flavour, aroma, etc. Nowadays, ET comes second for me, after Jim Beam Black. But remember, I can't see any WR, ORVW, Knob Creek, etc. bottles here, yet.

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Isoflex

Not to insult anyone here but to me ET is just that... alien (bitter, harsh, medicinal). It is one of only two whiskeys I have not enjoy or appreciated something about. The only thing I disliked more than ET was a bottle of Jameson Irish Whiskey. I am very glad ET is not Bourbon (I thought is was when I first bought it) as it would be the 1st bourbon I didn't at least like enough to finish the bottle! But like many say, to each his own.

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wadewood

Early Times currently sold in the US is whiskey, not bourbon. But they still sell Early Times bourbon in export markets, which is probably what mrt was commenting on.

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pepcycle

I've just started a 1.5 L of Dusty Early Times Bourbon that was previously available in the U.S.

This is pretty good whiskey. Nice floral nose, medium body and a fair finish.

I put it right in the middle of the pack, compared to modern mid-shelf bourbons.

Unique enough to continue study.

(PS: Thanks Doug)

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