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Golden Age?

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OneCubeOnly

Just to continue my thoughts here, I hope that the increasing number of super-premiums in the market doesn't lead distillers to weaken the quality or even withdraw their "regular" bourbons.

Is that even possible!? My understanding of how distilleries allocate their barrels isn't exactly by choice in most cases. BT can't just on a whim decide it's going to make more Blanton's...the individual barrels have to meet certain criteria (SB.com calls these "honey barrels"). There are always lesser quality ones which make it into lesser bottlings in the lineup. Sure, they can sell them to make blends, but only a certain percentage can be bottled as their premium products. Am I wrong here!?

drink.gif

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Gillman

I assume production could be expanded or adjusted to produce more high end bourbon. New warehouses can be built, maybe heated in certain ways, to produce more honey barrels. If the market is there, supply will respond to it...

Gary

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bourbonv

Bobby,

Actually Charles Medley had nothing to do with the Mellow Mash bourbon. Mellow Mash was a product of the Yellowstone Distillery in Shively and it was closed down before Glenmore even bought the Medley Distillery. The reason it was called Mellow Mash was because the Yellowstone distillery had a special buffer zone at the top of its column still that recirculated the distillate before being sent through to the doubler. It was believed to make the whiskey more "mellow".

If I am remembering correctly, the distiller at Yellowstone when it closed was either a Dant who was married to a Beam or a Beam married to a Dant. Maybe Betty Jo can can help us out here.

Another footnote of interest - When Buddy Thompson sold Glenmore to U.D. the Mellow Mash label and about 50 barrels of the bourbon were kept by him for his personal use. At the 2001 Heritage Seminar (a program that has been cancelled by the new administration of the Getz Museum since it does not make the Bourbon Festival any money and only appealled to bourbon enthusiast) Julian Van Winkle and Buddy Thompson was on the panel. After the program was over, Julian tried hard to get Buddy to let him bottle the last of that 20+ year old bourbon for him before it all evaporated away.

Mike Veach

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bobbyc

I think Wilmer Beam was at Yellowstone, But also several Dants were in the game as well. Interesting about Charles Medley not having anything to do with it. I took that from someones

" Whiskey Adventure"

Actually they only said he may have had something to do with it.

It is an excellent bourbon. the prospect of 20 year is intriguing, Hope he has monitored it for an improvement each of those years so as not to have a barrel of whiskey tainted tannins.

Beyond that All operations ceased at Louisville Yellowstone in 1991, so it was out before that.

I'll save you a drink Mike.

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boone

Very Good Bobby grin.gif

It was indeed my Uncle Wilmer who was a distiller at Yellowstone. I don't know the exact number of years that he worked there but I do have a letter dated November 1956 grin.gif Hmmmmm...another little tidbit to finish in my records. I don't know (from memory) how long he worked there blush.gif

grin.gifgrin.gif Bettye Jo grin.gifgrin.gif

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bobbyc
grin.giftoast.gif

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bourbonv

Bobby,

Thanks for saving me some. Did you get to try some of the Yellowstone from 1980 I bought along Thursday to Buffalo Trace? That would be the same whiskey at less age and proof. It is quite good for an 80 proof Yellowstone. It was the best selling whiskey in Kentucky in the 1970's- early 80's. I will bring it along so we do a comparison.

Mike Veach

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cowdery

Well said, Mike.

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tdelling

> ...it could force the bigger companies to improve their quality and quit

> letting accountants sacrifice quality for savings in expense of production.

> Unfortunately most of the companies are public companies driven by the short

> term demands of stock holders instead of the long term investment needed to

> create better whiskey.

Could you briefly expand on this? If I recall correctly, you are known to

advocate iron clad warehouses over brick warehouses, and also a lower barrel

entry proof. Am I accurate in my recollection, and are other things that

you think would increase quality?

Tim Dellinger

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cowdery

The small companies that bottle products but do not distill are going to have less choice in the future as Heaven Hill becomes the only company selling to them. If Heaven Hill limits the choice of whiskey being sold to such companies then their quality could suffer.

Long term I wouldn't worry about this. Just as nature abhors a vacuum, business abhors an unmet demand. If Heaven Hill becomes the only source for bulk whiskey, especially if their supply is unsatisfactory, someone will step up. Barton, for example, has been known to quietly do some contract deals. There is some evidence that even Jim Beam has sold some bulk whiskey. The only reason any distiller would not would be if they are at or near their production capacity just to supply their own needs. If the industry gets to that point across the board, there are a couple of plants that could be reopened with a minimum of hassle and expense. The ones that come immediately to mind are Stitzel-Weller in Shively, Jim Beam in Frankfort (the Elkhorn Forks plants, formerly Old Grand-Dad) and Medley in Owensboro. (I'll admit I don't know the Owensboro distilleries as well as I do most of the others, but I'm pretty sure there is at least one plant there that could be reactivated relatively easily.)

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cowdery

If you are talking about the quality of the bourbon, I would say no.

Define what you mean by "quality."

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bourbonv

Howie,

I know we talked about this question last weekend and that you were asking everybody about the "Golden Age" of bourbon. I have refined my opinion and here it is.

The question is "Are we in a Golden Age of Bourbon?" My answer is determined by how you want to define "Golden Age". If you are talking about the quality of the bourbon, I would say no. There are many great bourbons being made now and the overall quality has risen in many cases, but some of the best bourbon I have ever drank was distilled at least 20 years ago. I would place the Van Winkle era Cabin Still at 4-5 years of age and 90 proof above anything being made today in the less than $25.00 a bottle catagory and many of the so called "super premium" bourbons today. A 5yo bonded I W Harper (1936-1941) that I drank was superior to most bourbon made today with complex citrus flavors with great vanilla and caramel tones from the barrel. Some of the best bourbons I have tasted were made in the past. Some of the worst bourbon I have drank were also made in the past so the overall quality has at the lower end has risen, but I feel the upper end has dropped as well.

Now if you are talking about consumer choices and overall quality, then yes we are entering a "Golden Age". There are many great choices of very good bourbons available. Unfortunately I feel we are on a knife's edge where the choices could become less and the quality could become less. I think the balance between improvement and blandness lies with competition. The small companies that bottle products but do not distill are going to have less choice in the future as Heaven Hill becomes the only company selling to them. If Heaven Hill limits the choice of whiskey being sold to such companies then their quality could suffer. However if some of these companies start looking into creating a smaller "micro-distillery" operation to support their brands, and if they distill a quality product, it could force the bigger companies to improve their quality and quit letting accountants sacrifice quality for savings in expense of production. Unfortunately most of the companies are public companies driven by the short term demands of stock holders instead of the long term investment needed to create better whiskey. If they make this investment and are profitable, look for some of the best whiskey made to come as they combine some old time methods with madern quality control. Julian and Buffalo Trace are the company to watch. If their experiment at reproducing the old family recipe works out, then that will signal the beginning of a true Golden Age, In my opinion.

Mike Veach

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bourbonv

Tim,

I have stated before in this thread that lower barrel proof would increase quality but be more expensive. I also know that some distillers have used enzyme to lower the amount of malt used at the expense of flavor. One brand has become over 80% corn because it is the cheapest grain and they wanted to make it cheaper. There have been a lot of changes made to make production cheaper at the cost of flavor.

I tend to prefer bourbons made in ironclad warehouses but that is really just part of the recipe as far as I am concerned. I have always liked Old Charter but it has been aged in brick warehouses since the end of prohibition. I think that is why it takes 8, 10 or 12 years to make it taste the way it does.

Mike Veach

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bourbonv

Chuck,

In this case, maybe I should say flavor instead of quality. The quality as far as purity of product today is excellent. It is flavor that I consider better in some older products.

Mike Veach

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bourbonv

Chuck,

Charles Medley owns the Medley distillery in Owensboro. I just wish he had the money and the market to get it running again.

Mike Veach

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bourbonv

Thank you, Chuck.

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cowdery

Is that the Owensboro distillery Glenmore was using? Did he buy it back from them at some point?

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bourbonv

Chuck,

Charles Medley purchased his family distillery back from U.D. in 1996.

Mike Veach

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