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Gillman

Early Times

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cowdery

What MRT is getting in Turkey, as ET bourbon, is probably very close to what we get here (in the USA) as Old Forester, which is made at the same distillery. Old Forester contains a little more rye, but my guess would be that export ET bourbon tastes more like Old Forester than it does like the ET "Old Style Kentucky Whisky" we can get here.

As for the age statement, the law says that you have to state the age of the youngest whiskey in the mix if the youngest whiskey is less than four years old. If the youngest whiskey is four years old or older, age statements are optional but must, of course, be true. In either case, whether mandatory or optional, the age statement must give the age of the youngest whiskey in the bottle.

Most straight whiskeys (i.e., bourbon, rye or Tennessee) will contain whiskey of various ages. This is one advantage of a bottled-in-bond straight whiskey, which must all be from the same vintage,

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Isoflex

Most straight whiskeys (i.e., bourbon, rye or Tennessee) will contain whiskey of various ages. This is one advantage of a bottled-in-bond straight whiskey, which must all be from the same vintage,

I for one am enlightened, just yesterday I was wondering why a whiskey would be BIB and what difference it made. Thanks!!

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mrt

Those at ET say that ET bourbon sold in the export markets and the ET Kentucky Whisky sold in the US are made from exactly the same mashbill, and the only difference between them is that "%20" of the ET Kentucky Whisky is matured in "used" charred oak barrels, the reason to be labeled as "Kentucky Whisky" and not bourbon. Does this make such a big difference between the two that one can enjoy the bourbon and hate the other? Although I know that it's the barrel that makes a bourbon, probably the role of the barrel is even much more important than I guess...

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Gillman

Most of the taste typically associated with bourbon whiskey is imparted by the new charred barrel. Even 20% aging in barrels that are not new charred wood would make a noticeable difference. Tasting corn whiskey proves this since, say, Heaven Hill's Mellow Corn, aged for a few months in reused wood, is something quite different to bourbon. If it was aged in new charred wood it would be recognisable as and indeed legally bourbon, but denuded of the new barrel it is something quite other. True, this corn whiskey may have little or no rye in it, but that is not the point: it is the barrel that makes the difference to bourbon.

Gary

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cowdery

While I'm sure they are telling the truth that all ETs sold everywhere use the same mashbill, there could be other differences, such as more older whiskey in the export bottles. Remember, the most important factor in a whiskey's taste is the profile, i.e., a whiskey tastes the way its maker wants it to taste, and they select and combine barrels to achieve the desired taste, i.e., to match the profile. It's possible the export bourbon is using the same profile as the domestic KY whiskey, but it's also possible it is not, and (for example) the export expression contains a higher percentage of older whiskey.

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Hedmans Brorsa

Early Times was a staple here in Sweden up until some five or six years ago. Now it has completely vanished from the shelves.

What I really don´t get is the reason for its degradation into a non-bourbon in the US. Ken hints that it didn´t shift enough units but would using 80 % new barrels instead of 100 % really make that much difference in an economic sense? Sounds like an incredibly exact science! :)

Tasting corn whiskey proves this since, say, Heaven Hill's Mellow Corn, aged for a few months in reused wood, is something quite different to bourbon.

Gary

Really? I was pretty sure that MC was aged in used barrels all the way to bottling. I´m curious to know where you picked up on this, Gary.

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Gillman

Hedmans, I think the reason to use 20% reused barrels for aging of the domestic Early Times whiskey is to have a lighter palate which will appeal to people who don't want an all-straight whiskey taste.

I agree that MC is aged in all-reused wood until bottling (as far as I know anyway). I am not sure though for how long it is stored in such wood. The taste of whiskey so aged is quite different from bourbon. And therefore, the 20% of Early Times that is aged in reused wood also would taste different to bourbon and when blended into the new charred wood component would alter its taste sufficiently to make the blend different to bourbon. If you mixed Old Forester with a corn whiskey 8:2 this might be doing something similar, not exactly of course, but you might come up with a palate somewhat like the domestic Early Times. It isn't a bad whiskey, but I find it quite light and again this appeals to some but not others. Corn whiskey is used in some regular American whiskey blends so that is where the idea came from, probably, to blend a bourbon mash distillate aged in reused wood with a regular bourbon. Amongst the current Michter's line is a whiskey also apparently a bourbon mash but aged in reused wood, it is the one often spoken of here as having a maple-like taste. If that was mingled 2:8 with a young straight bourbon maybe that would approximate to the Early Times taste. It is certainly possibly as Chuck said that older whiskey goes into the export, bourbon version of Early Times. But all things being equal, I would not expect a bourbon lightened with 20% whiskey aged in reused wood to taste like that bourbon on its own.

Gary

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cowdery
What I really don´t get is the reason for its degradation into a non-bourbon in the US. Ken hints that it didn´t shift enough units but would using 80 % new barrels instead of 100 % really make that much difference in an economic sense? Sounds like an incredibly exact science! :)

It so happens that I was in the room, if not when this decision was made, at least when it was announced within the company. (I worked for one of their marketing agencies at the time.)

To understand the decision, you have to understand the company, Brown-Forman, and the times in which the decision was made, the early 1980s.

Brown-Forman was then and still, for the most part, is a very focused company. They had very strict return-on-investment (ROI) and share rank requirements. If a brand wasn't first or second in its category and didn't achieve its targeted ROI it was dropped, period. The only exception was Old Forester, which was the company's founding brand and kept around for that reason.

At the time, American whiskey was still tanking and virtually every American whiskey brand was losing sales every year, some at double-digit rates. Early Times, believe it or not, was number 3 in the American whiskey category, behind Jim Beam and Jack Daniel's. (Brown-Forman also owns Jack Daniel's.) I don't recall the exact numbers, but the spread between ET and the two leaders was not insurmountable.

The analysis was as follows:

Of the two leading American whiskey brands, one was a bourbon, the other was not. The one that was not was also a Brown-Forman product. The folks at Brown-Forman believed that people don't buy categories, they buy brands. In other words, they believed "bourbon" didn't matter.

The cost savings achieved by reusing cooperage didn't make a huge difference, but it was enough to hit the ROI target.

The two leading brands were both men's names and sold in square bottles. ET couldn't change its name, but it did switch to a square bottle. They also competely redesigned the label.

The hope was that the re-launch would breath new life into ET and give it enough of a growth spurt to get at least within striking distance of Beam.

One thing that probably was not anticipated was that while up to this point Jim Beam too had been following the brand strategy, selling Jim Beam the brand and promoting mixability, almost as if it were a vodka, the change with ET promoted JB to spend a lot more money promoting the fact that it was a bourbon. A few years later, the acquisition of National Distillers, which roughly corresponded to the launch of the Small Batch Collection, amplified this effort. Beam spent a lot of money touting itself as a bourbon company. The strategy didn't have much effect on Jack Daniel's but it helped beat ET into the ground.

The other thing Brown-Forman didn't anticipate was the growth of interest in premium bourbons, which started to take off at about the same time, when Maker's Mark got its big write-up in the Wall Street Journal, which was the turning point for that brand.

Bottom line, Brown-Forman guessed wrong.

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Hedmans Brorsa

Well, there you have it, almost straight from the horse´s mouth! Thanks, Chuck.

I agree that MC is aged in all-reused wood until bottling (as far as I know anyway). I am not sure though for how long it is stored in such wood.

Gary

My bottle of Mellow Corn is bottled in bond. Therefore at least 4 years old, or?

Or did you perhaps mean something else with your phrasing?

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Gillman

Mine is bottled in bond too but I am not sure (without checking) if the rule that bonded bourbon must be at least 4 years old also applies with respect to bonded straight corn whiskey. If it does, it proves my point even more, i.e., that years of aging in reused cooperage does not a bourbon make..

Gary

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BobA

I wish I knew how to post links, or even quotes, but in an earlier thread, someone said yes, it is four years for any BIB, and it's almost certainly the used cooperage that that accounts for Mellow Corn's lack of bourbon character.

Bob

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JeffRenner
Mine is bottled in bond too but I am not sure (without checking) if the rule that bonded bourbon must be at least 4 years old also applies with respect to bonded straight corn whiskey. If it does, it proves my point even more, i.e., that years of aging in reused cooperage does not a bourbon make..

We had this discussion a while back, and I think I documented then that this is the case. (Wouldn't be much point in aging the whiskey in something other than oak just to claim age).

From the government regulations:

Age. The period during which, after distillation and before

bottling, distilled spirits have been stored in oak containers. "Age''

for bourbon whisky, rye whisky, wheat whisky, malt whisky, or rye malt

whisky, and straight whiskies other than straight corn whisky, means the

period the whisky has been stored in charred new oak containers.

and

"Corn whisky'' is whisky produced at not exceeding 160 deg.

proof from a fermented mash of not less than 80 percent corn grain, and

if stored in oak containers stored at not more than 125 deg. proof in

used or uncharred new oak containers and not subjected in any manner to

treatment with charred wood; and also includes mixtures of such whisky.

and

(a) Statements of age and percentage for whisky. In the case of

straight whisky bottled in conformity with the bottled in bond labeling

requirements and of domestic or foreign whisky, whether or not mixed or

blended, all of which is 4 years old or more, statements of age and

percentage are optional.

Of course, corn whiskey may be sold with no age, but it looks to me like if you do age it, it must be in used oak and for the stated age if less than four years.

Jeff

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Gillman

Thanks, Jeff, and BobA. The smell of fresh corn oil is quite strong in the Bonded Mellow Corn I have, I wonder what the four years does to it!

Gary

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cowdery

To be bottled in bond, it must be at least 100 proof, at least four years old, and all from the same distillery, season and distiller.

To be corn whiskey it must be aged in used or new uncharred wood. It may not have any contact with new, charred wood.

To be bottled in bond corn whiskey it must be all of the above.

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mrt
It so happens that I was in the room, if not when this decision was made, at least when it was announced within the company. (I worked for one of their marketing agencies at the time.)

...

Early Times, believe it or not, was number 3 in the American whiskey category, behind Jim Beam and Jack Daniel's. (Brown-Forman also owns Jack Daniel's.) I don't recall the exact numbers, but the spread between ET and the two leaders was not insurmountable.

....

The two leading brands were both men's names and sold in square bottles. ET couldn't change its name, but it did switch to a square bottle. They also competely redesigned the label.

.....

Bottom line, Brown-Forman guessed wrong.

Most interesting! That's great information for me, thanks. IMO, the switch to square bottle is OK becouse I think bourbon is sth. to be sold in square bottles, too. For the rest, it's a pity. By the way, do you expect any further changes in the marketing strategy for ET since they seem to be the loser in the US for now? I understand that you do not work for them now, I just want to learn your insight based on experience.

One thing more: The name (ET) and the new label are quite good, IMO.

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cowdery

I expect Brown-Forman has decided ET is a lost cause in the US and will "harvest" it, meaning they won't spend any money to support it but will continue to sell it unless or until it becomes unprofitable to do so. I don't know how it's doing outside the US so I can't even speculate about that.

At the time of the decision described above, it was felt that the name was probably neutral, not negative like an "old," but not positive like a man's name.

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BarItemsPlus1

Can someone offer any info on this bottle...Tim??

post-1210-1448981240247_thumb.jpg

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wadewood
Can someone offer any info on this bottle...Tim??

sure - it is an export only bottle.

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BarItemsPlus1

Is it still produced though?

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mrt

That's the same bottle as I have here. I had also attached a pic. of mine to a post somewhere here. However, the stuff inside looks nearly red in this pic., mine is more like brown. Mine is %40 abv., but the bottle in the pic. "%37.1 abv." is written-if I see right. Is this true? As far as I know, bourbon should be 80 proof min. Anyway, good to see sth. like my ET :)

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Gillman

I believe the minimum 40% ABV requirement only applies to bottles sold in the U.S., it is an American law which therefore only applies in the States

Gary

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Hedmans Brorsa
I believe the minimum 40% ABV requirement only applies to bottles sold in the U.S., it is an American law which therefore only applies in the States

Gary

I believe this applies to (Western) Europe, as well.

I have never seen a bottle made for the European market lower than 40%

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BarItemsPlus1
the minimum 40% ABV requirement only applies to bottles sold in the U.S., it is an American law which therefore only applies in the States
I believe this applies to (Western) Europe, as well

I am rather intrigued at this Law...by this I mean that it only applies to 'Bourbon' sold in the US.

I am uncertain if there is a requirement that applies here(in Oz), however it would seem that these particular Laws pertaining to the legal requirements for the production of - Cereal Spirits - is only applicable to each country.

I have been following a similar topic regarding whisky sales and marketing in India.

http://www.scotchwhisky.net/news/index.php

look under subject heading -

Indian malts as good as authentic Scotch, says expert

I also made mention somewhere in another thread about how recently in Australia The Treasurery Dept. backed down on changing the minimum age requirement of whisky/brandy/rum from 2yrs(I believe they intended to lower the minimum age requirement).

I can also inform that the industry producers and people of the likes are lobbying to have this changed to be brought in line with Scotland's legal classification of whisky.

I am a major supporter of this!! I would also support a worldwide classification(legally recognised of course!!) for the classification of Bourbon!!

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Gillman

I have a bottle of Finsbury London Dry Gin made in London by The Finsbury Distillery Co. Ltd., which is marked "37,5% vol". This was bought in Ontario. I don't know if this brand is sold at that strength or higher in the EU. On the back label there is a statement, "Borco World of Spirits Hamburg/Germany". I take from this the brand is popular in the German market and probably there it can be legally sold at 37.5% abv or maybe that can only be done for export, I don't know. It is excellent gin by the way, one of the many fine lesser known (to me anyway) brands of a historic, well-flavored drink that, like bourbon, seems to denote another time and its preferences by its rich and frank flavor. Fortunately the vodka tide hasn't completed effaced bourbon and gin which retain good sales in many parts of the world.

Gary

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Gillman

I found details on Borco, see www.borco.com. This Hamburg-based company carries a fine line of spirits and, impressively, gives a good amount of production details on the drinks. E.g., it is noted that Finsbury gin is made not by adding juniper and other flavours to alcohol "cold, so to speak" but by redistilling the mixture to produce a refined and full-flavoured drink with good length. Indeed the best gins are traditionally made that way. The drink is called "mild" and I can't read the abv on the pictured bottled label but no doubt it is still 37.5%, however there is another, luxury version of Finsbury available called "Platinum" which is stated at an impressive 47% abv. It is noted the juniper and other flavors are particularly intense in such version. I am sure an American Martini made from that must be something.

The site (to return to bourbon) also discusses the company's PennyPacker bourbon, which is stated as a 40% abv Kentucky bourbon. I've seen this brand sold in various European markets on my travels there. It is noted too its maize (corn) content is 70%. Some good data is given on Kentucky limestone water and aging methods. I like the name, PennyPacker.

Gary

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