25 Şubat 2013 Pazartesi

Faker's Mark: Helping You Pay More for Less

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I don't usually reprint press releases, but I thought this one was worth passing on. It comes from the beloved Faker's Mark Distillery, a subsidiary of Mr. Bean Global:

We at Faker's Mark deeply value our customers and want all of them to have access to our bourbon. At Faker's Mark, we have a tradition of only making one thing and doing it well. Despite the apparent ubiquitousness of our bourbon, however, our production has not kept up with demand. For instance, several people complained on our Facebook page that they were not able to secure bottles of our collectible Little League World Series commemorative bottle (it's collectible because it's a different color than the regular bottle); another person complained that they had to have a Jack Daniel's Choco-bourbon-tini when a TGI Fridays in Kenosha, Wisconsin ran out of Faker's. In our view, this is totally unacceptable. In order to address this serious shortage of product, we have made the following changes:

  • Effective immediately, we will be reducing our Faker's Mark bourbon from 45% abv to 42% abv. If that goes well, we will reduce it to 40% in another six months;
  • Effective immediately, Faker's Mark will only be available in 375 ml bottles (Our taste tests confirmed that using the 375 ml bottle did not substantially change the flavor profile.);
  • In order to prevent consumer confusion, 375 ml bottles of the 42% Faker's Mark will be available at the same convenient price as the current 750 ml bottles.

We at Faker's are shocked at some of the early responses we've received to these changes. People don't seem to realize that we are only making these changes to help our loyal customers, particularly those who will buy our lovely, commemorative, wax dipped bottles no matter what we put in them. Keep in mind, it is important for us to have more Faker's on the shelf so we make more money so we can give back to the community by suing anyone else who uses a red wax seal.

Please direct all inquiries to Mr. Bean Global.

Faker's Mark Changes Course

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Here's another press release from the people at Faker's Mark:

You kicked our ass, we listened.

Dear Friends,

Since we announced our decision last week to reduce the alcohol content (ABV) of Faker’s Mark in response to supply constraints and greed, we have heard many concerns and questions from our ambassadors and brand fans. We’re humbled by your overwhelming response and passion for Faker’s Mark. While we thought what we were doing was an easy way to screw our own consumers – you told us in large numbers to go screw ourselves instead.

You called us assholes. We listened. And we’re sincerely sorry we caused a public relations nightmare for both ourselves and our corporate overloads at Mr. Bean Inc.

So effective immediately, we are reversing our decision to lower the ABV of Faker’s Mark, and resuming production at 45% alcohol by volume (90 proof). Just like we’ve made it since the very beginning (except for the export and higher proof versions we've done).

Your trust, loyalty and money are what’s most important. We realize we can’t lose sight of that. We understand that there are probably other ways to make you pay more that will have fewer consequences for us, and we will begin investigating those immediately. We have also fired our PR firm, even though they came to us with stunning successes as the brains behind both New Coke and Netflix's Qwikster.


Samuel Roberts
GWWSSTU (Guy Who Wasn't Supposed to Screw Thinks Up),
Faker's Mark

Whiskey Lists: High Proof American Whiskey

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This week, I've got a host of whiskey lists to share, starting with a list of high proof American whiskeys.

If nothing else, the Maker's Mark fiasco has shown us that people take their whiskey proof seriously. I've seen a number of people asking recently about high proof American whiskey, so I thought I'd try to make a list of all the recent, regular release American whiskeys over 55% abv (110 proof). Let me know if I'm missing anything.

Beam Inc.

Beam has three high strength offerings: (1) Booker's; (2) Knob Creek Single Barrel; and (3) Old Grand-Dad 114.

Brown Forman

Zip. Zilch. Zero. Three distilleries and no high strength whiskeys. Shame.

Buffalo Trace/Sazerac

Buffalo Trace may be the king of barrel strength, both in terms of numbers and strength. The Buffalo Trace Antique Collection includes George T. Stagg, the wheated William Larue Weller and Thomas Handy Rye. In addition, last year they released the EH Taylor Barrel Strength bourbon, and they make a barrel strength Blanton's, Blanton's Straight from the Barrel, but only for export. They have also released some barrel strength whiskeys from the A. Smith Bowman distillery in Virginia, though they may only have been for retailers. Even their White Dog is bottled at full strength.



Four Roses

Four Roses annually releases a high proof limited edition version of their Small Batch and Single Barrel. In addition, the single barrel releases they do for retailers are high strength. All of these tend to be in the 55% range.

Heaven Hill

Heaven Hill doesn't have any high proof whiskeys in regular release, but they do have the following: (1) Parker's Heritage Collection, the annual release has sometimes been at higher proof, including the most recent Blend of Mashbills edition; (2) Elijah Craig 12 cask strength is a gift shop exclusive but it's rumored to be slated for wider release; (3) the Trybox series of new make.

Wild Turkey

Wild Turkey Rare Breed usually hovers right around 55%. The new Russell's Reserve single barrel will also be 55% abv.

Independent Bottlers

Angels' Envy Cask Strength
Chattanooga Whiskey Co. 1816 Cask, 113.6 proof (56.8% abv) (LDI)
Noah's Mill (KBD)
Old Rip Van Winkle 23 (Stitzel-Weller - 2010)
Temperance Trader Cask Strength (LDI, bottled by Bull Run Distilling)
WH Harrison Governor's Reserve (LDI)
Willett Single Barrels (Bourbon & Rye from KBD)

Craft Distilleries

Surprisingly few craft distilleries seem to release their whiskeys at high proof, but there are a few. Given the number of craft distilleries out there, this is a non-exhaustive list (let me know if there are more):

Balcones True Blue Corn Whiskey
Charbay's Hopped Whiskeys
Glacier Distilling did a cask strength expression of their Bad Rock Rye
House Spirits has a barrel strength white whiskey
Old Potrero Single Malt Rye (except for the Hotaling's, they are mostly barrel proof)
Oola Distillery has a cask strength version of their Waitsburg Bourbon
Roughstock Montana Whiskey
St. George did a cask strength single malt for K&L

If I missed anything, please leave a comment or drop me an email.

Whiskey Lists: Oldest of the Old

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Yesterday's list of high proof bourbons surprised some readers with how few there were. Today, in this age of disappearing age statements, I thought we would look at super aged whiskeys, those over 15 years old, in current or recent release, as well as the oldest expression made by each major producer:

Beam, Inc: Beam's only foray into super-aged whiskey was the Distiller's Masterpiece series of a decade ago which included an 18 year old and a 20 year old bourbon. Currently, their oldest offering is the Knob Creek line at 9 years though apparently they are going to be releasing a Jim Beam 12 year old bourbon.

Brown Forman: Old Forester Birthday Bourbon is their oldest; it is usually 12-14 years old.

Diageo: Bulleit 10 year old is their oldest age statement.

Four Roses: Four Roses has done 16 and 17 year old Single Barrel bottlings available only at the distillery. In 2010, they released a 17 year old single barrel to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the distillery.

Heaven Hill: If Buffalo Trace was the king of high proof whiskey, Heaven Hill is the king of old whiskey. They had Elijah Craig 18 year old back when distilleries would shy at breaking the ten year barrier. They have since added an Elijah Craig 20 year old and Rittenhouse 21, 23 and 25 year old rye whiskeys. For a time, they had an Evan Williams 23 available at the distillery. In 2008, they released their oldest bourbon in recent memory, the Parker's Heritage Collection 27 year old.

Old Rip Van Winkle: The famous Pappy Van Winkle 20 and 23 year olds.

Sazerac/Buffalo Trace: The oldest whiskeys they make are in the Antique Collection: George T. Stagg, usually 16-18 years old, Sazerac 18 year old and Eagle Rare 17 year old. The Bowman distillery in Virginia has also done an 18 year old bourbon. The Buffalo Trace Experimental Collection has also occasionally included older bourbons, such as last year's 19 and 23 year old "Giant French Oak Barrel" bourbons.

Wild Turkey: Wild Turkey Tradition, at 14 years old, is their oldest; they had previously released Wild Turkey American Spirit and Wild Turkey Tribute, both at 15 years old.

Independent Bottlers: Independent Bottlers, particularly KBD and Black Maple Hill, were some of the first to bottle super aged whiskeys in recent times. Black Maple Hill hasn't done one in quite a while, but KBD still puts out some old whiskey under both the Willett and Vintage labels and previously had under the Classic Cask label. Michter's recently bottled a 20 year old American whiskey, and the Hirsch label has released whiskeys from undisclosed distilleries at 20, 21, 22, 25 and even 28 years old, which is probably the oldest bourbon released in modern times. McLain & Kyne makes the Jefferson Presidential Select 17 and 18 year old bourbons from Stitzel-Weller, and there are still a few bottles of AH Hirsch 16 floating around from the original Michter's Distillery. High West bottled a 16 year old and a 21 year old rye distilled at the Barton Distillery. A few bottlers have put out older versions of LDI bourbon: Smooth Ambler has a 19 year old version of its Very Old Scout, and Hooker's House has a 21 year old LDI bourbon.

Did I miss any super old whiskeys? Let me know.

Whiskey Lists: Bottled in Bond Whiskeys

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Our last whiskey list looks at Bottled in Bond whiskeys. The Bottled in Bond act was passed in 1897 to restore some consumer confidence to the whiskey industry. It guaranteed to consumers that whiskey labeled "bottled in bond" would conform to certain standards of quality. Even through mid-century, the bottled in bond ("BIB") label was a sign of quality. In an early 1960s catalog I have from an old Los Angeles liquor store, the bourbons are divided into regular and bonded.

A bonded whiskey has to conform to the following standards. It must be (1) made of one type of whiskey (i.e. bourbon or rye); (2) produced by one distillery in one distilling season; (3) aged at least four years; (4) 100 proof/50% abv. (Any spirit can be bonded, but whiskeys are the most common).

Today, bonded whiskey has faded from the shelf, and few people beyond major whiskey nerds know what the term means. I've tried to put together a list of all of the bonded whiskeys that are currently available, though many of them are available only in the Kentucky area. Heaven Hill seems to make the widest variety of bonded whiskeys; indeed, more than half of the labels listed below are from Heaven Hill.

Bottled in Bond Whiskeys

David Nicholson 1843 (Luxco, distilled by Heaven Hill)
EH Taylor (except the Barrel Proof) (Buffalo Trace)
Evan Williams BIB (Heaven Hill)
Heaven Hill BIB (several expressions)(Heaven Hill)
Henry McKenna (Heaven Hill)
JTS Brown BIB (Heaven Hill)
JW Dant (Heaven Hill)
Mellow Corn (corn whiskey) (Heaven Hill)
Old Bourbon Hollow (Beam)
Old Fitzgerald BIB (Heaven Hill)
Old Grand-Dad BIB (Beam)
Old Heaven Hill BIB (Heaven Hill)
Old Potrero Hotalings (Anchor)
Old Tub (Beam - distillery only)
Rittenhouse 100 (Heaven Hill)
TW Samuels (Heaven Hill)
Tom Moore BIB (Barton)
Very Old Barton BIB (Barton)

If I left any out, please let me know (and thanks to everyone who helped add to my high proof and extra aged whiskey lists).

24 Şubat 2013 Pazar

New Arrivals: Michter's 20 year and 10 year single barrel bourbons!!

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Hey all,

Holy cow am I excited about today's new arrivals. It feels like Christmas mourning around here, but instead of snow it's raining heavenly bourbon! I could make a case for this being the best release of the year. But wait a minute you say? What about Pappy Van Winkle? Well as many of you may know Stitzel-Weller barrels (a distillery Julian Van Winkle was involved with until it closed in 1992) are getting harder and harder to come by since none have been produced in 20 years. Stitzel-Weller bourbon is the main component of Pappy Van Winkle 15, 20 and 23 year, and it use to be used in the 10 and 12 year bottlings as well, which are now being made by Buffalo Trace. I have a feeling Michter's 20 year bourbon, which is probably closer to 23 or 24 years old , may be a single barrel from Stitzel-Weller. Really no way to know for sure as the company is very tight liped about revealing their sources, but my palate usually doesn't steer me wrong. Regardless it's one of the best bourbons I've ever had.

I was also able to secure a decent amount of the Michter's 10 year bourbon. Michter's has this notion that they can and should exceed your wildest expectations for a given age statement. While the 20 year is closer to a 23 or 24 year, the 10 year is likely in the 15 to 16 year range. Basically they want their 10 year to be better than any other 10 year on the market, so how do they do that? By putting out a 16 year and calling it a 10 year, kind of clever in a way. The last bottling of 10 year Michter's bourbon is rumored to have been a Stitzel-Weller bottling as well, and after opening the current one I have to say, it tastes surprisingly similar. But again no way to confirm that notion. Even if they're not Stitzel-Weller products these two bourbons have an incredible amount of depth and oak (they are seriously much older then their age statement), are elegant, refined and some of the best sauce going right now. Don't sleep on these, they definitely won't be around for long!


New Arrivals: Aberlour 12 year, 16 year, and A'bunadh

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Hey all,

Happy to announce the arrival of Aberlour, a Scotch that's been a personal favorite of mine for a while, and one many of you have been requesting. Aberlour whiskies are one of the more flavorful Highland single malts on the market. The combination of ex-bourbon barrels and sherry butts contributes a lot of complexity (versus just using one type of barrel), leading to layer upon layer of flavor. I get notes of toffee, milk chocolate, plums, black cherries, ginger and cinnamon. Their whiskies are really dense and lush on the palate, which would lead me to believe they primarily use first or second fill barrels, as the colors and textures are amazing. Here's what I got in:

-Aberlour 12 Year Double Cask Matured
-Aberlour 16 Year Double Cask Matured
-Aberlour A'Bunadh Cask Strength Non-Chill Filtered (Matured Exclusively in Oloroso Sherry Butts)

You want these!