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Scotchafication of Bourbon

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ratcheer

Well, here is my two cents worth.

Lately, I have gone back to bourbon in a big way. For the past ten years or so, while I've just about always kept a bottle of Geo. Dickel No. 12 on hand, I have been partial to scotch, gin, rum, and cognac.

I have been re-discovering bourbon for about the past two months or so. I have bought several of the more or less standard bourbons: Maker's Mark, Wild Turkey 101, and Old Forester 100 proof. I have also bought several of the "scotchified", or upscale bottlings: Knob Creek, Elijah Craig 12-YO, Woodford Reserve, and Wild Turkey Rare Breed.

So, both groups are proving to be very interesting to me. It is notable, however, that two of the "standards" have been just as good as the upscales, to me. The WT 101 and the Old Forester 100 are both excellent tasting whiskeys. I rate the Knob Creek and the Woodford only slightly ahead of these. The Elijah Craig 12 is a strange one. While as inexpensive as anything I have tried so far, it is among the very best.

I hope I am on topic, here. I am trying to respond to kitzg's post, but I'm not sure this is what he is after.

On a separate, related note, I am doing my level best to keep the bourbon industry afloat with my meager pocketbook.

Tim

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Guest **DONOTDELETE**

I think there's a real dilemma that bourbon marketers face in trying to create growth in the industry. Essentially there are only three ways to do it and there is considerable opposition to each of them.

<LI>Encourage people who already drink bourbon to drink more of it. This works real well for Pringles, Gatorade, and most other consumer products, but it's very politically incorrect for alcoholic beverages.

<LI>Entice people who are now drinking other alcoholic beverages to switch to bourbon. I support this, but the means of doing it are a little grating. "Light whiskey" was an attempt several years ago to accomplish this. The results were a spectacular failure... thank goodness. Had it been successful in pulling in the Rummys and VodCadets, we might have ended up in worse shape today than the Canadians are. Plus, we'd have to dump our current popular images that are part of the attraction for many of us (myself included). American history, tradition, and the hospitality of the South which both Linn and Tim speak of is a very important part of the enjoyment of bourbon. This is just as true for those of us from other parts of the country, and from Japan, Europe, Africa, or wherever. Current bourbon marketing is steeped in this association. Do we really want to see it turned into the pop culture that sells so much vodka and rum-based mixed drinks?

<LI>"Scotchafy" and fancy-up the packaging of current products and raise prices so that the same people end up paying more for the same amount of bourbon. This is the tactic that's been getting all the bad press in this discussion, and it's certainly a valid complaint, too, if taken too far. But I can't help but remember that it was just this glorification of AA, in the form of Blanton's, that brought me into the world beyond Beam's White Label in the first place. A move for which I shall ever remain grateful. And Elmer T. Lee produced Blanton's as a (brilliant) marketing device; he already had all the fine single-barrel bourbon he wanted to drink or share with friends. Elmer's no glory-hound; he doesn't give a hoot about being famous. He just had a great idea for how to sell more bourbon whiskey than they were doing. And we all know where he GOT that idea. So if Scotchafication begat Blanton's, and Blanton's begat the Small Batch collection, and so forth, I'm afraid I'll have to say I'm glad it happened. That said, I think they can quit now, before it turns into the Cognacification of bourbon. (But then, Mike Veach, would that not ironically bring it back to where it may have once begun? smile.gif)

=John=

<A target="_blank" HREF=http://w3.one.net/~jeffelle/whiskey>http://w3.one.net/~jeffelle/whiskey</A>

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kitzg

Tim, you are 'on target' as far as I'm concerned. You've selected some good choices, too.

By the way, if you liked Rare Breed I think you'd really like Kentucky Spirit. I was amazed at how good Spirit is.

Greg

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ratcheer

Yes, I am highly interested in it (did you see my post in the Rare Breed tasting topic), but the Ky Spirit is extremely expensive, here ($46). I just decided to buy both the Rare Breed and the Old Forester 100 for about the same money as just the Ky Spirit. So I could taste more different bourbons.

Thanks, Tim

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kitzg

$46 - Ouch! Earlier Ky Spirit was on sale here for $26 and is now about $36.

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cowdery

When bourbon was struggling in the 70s and 80s it was primarily a "race to the bottom." Most distillers tried to compete on price and cut the profitability out of their sales. The "Olds" (Old Crow, Old Grand-Dad, Old Taylor, Old Charter) were losing market share to the "men" (Jim Beam, Jack Daniels) so where possible people sought to imitate Beam and Daniel's. That's when Early Times (then #3 in volume) switched to a square bottle. Other brands tried to "modernize" and promote "mixability" to compete with vodka. This was actually Beam's more-or-less successful strategy. Daniel's and Wild Turkey were the only major brands that "stayed the course" and survived.

<A target="_blank" HREF=http://cowdery.home.netcom.com>--Chuck Cowdery</A>

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cowdery

Another way to look at "Scotchification" (my preferred spelling) is as the classic marketing cocepts of positioning. In the past, bourbons were positioned vis-a-vis other "generic" spirits: gin, vodka, Canadian whiskey, blended scotch. Today, at least some brands have managed to shift there positioning into the category of premium spirits: Single malt scotch, imported vodka, cognac, etc. All-in-all this is a positive development, in my opinion. I don't think there is any way, in the real world, for us to get more interesting and better quality products without higher prices and related "image" accouterments.

<A target="_blank" HREF=http://cowdery.home.netcom.com>--Chuck Cowdery</A>

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vasshopper

Hello Chuck

yes its a sign of the times and the times they are a changing. higher prices and better quality and the distilleries like you said positioning themselves for the future to get their fair share of the market. we are all being enlightened and not as naive as we were in the 70s and 80s thanks to the internet sites such as this so that we can make better intelligent decisions about who makes the better quality bourbons. people now and in the future will decide if image or quality is where its at. you would think that people would evolve beyond this image thing, but only time will tell. life is good--den

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ratcheer

You have an excellent point about the positive influence of the internet and sites such as this one. I have received several excellent tips as to which bourbons I should try, and every one so far has steered me, correctly.

In the old days, about the only thing we had to go on was advertising, where every product was at the pinnacle of excellence. Even Early Times looked great in the ads.

But now, we can get tips from people who actually love the stuff and can give reasons why one might be preferred over another.

Thanks, Tim

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MurphyDawg

hmmmmm.........sorry to dredge up old posts for nothing but the comment that Yanks don't drink Bourbon REALLY irked me. Though I may now live in Ohio, I grew up in a LARGE city in MA close to one of the HUGEST cities in the northeast, and still definately identify with New England heritage more than Midwestern, I still have the accent when I get excited. The epitome of a yank, I suppose.

Anyway I consider myself enlightened and drink Bourbon & Tennessee whiskey almost exclusively now. . . . . .

So there!!!

Sorry that kind of elitist mentality really pisses me off.

Tom (sorry to drag up old fights) C

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cowdery

I don't think it ever was really a "fight." There are people of advanced enlightenment (i.e., those who drink bourbon) in every state and, for that matter, most countries of the world, but bourbon is more popular in some places than in others. Historically, the American "bourbon belt" has been the South and Southwest. There, per capita consumption of bourbon is higher than in other states. The reasons for this are mostly speculative. I am from that part of the country where you live now. Lots of people there drink bourbon and always have. Let's all drink a toast to bourbon drinkers everywhere!

<A target="_blank" HREF=http://cowdery.home.netcom.com>--Chuck Cowdery</A>

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MurphyDawg

hey, I'm all for that!

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