'Bourbon Empire' Reveals The Smoke And Mirrors Of American Whiskey

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    woodsrider's Avatar
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    'Bourbon Empire' Reveals The Smoke And Mirrors Of American Whiskey

    As someone that likes bourbon but doesn't know a lot about it, I'm interested in hearing some opinions on this.

    Craft bourbon, like craft beer, is in the midst of a boom: In the past 15 years, the number of distilleries in the U.S. has surged from just a handful to around 600.
    Why are Americans buying more bourbon? According to author Reid Mitenbuler, one reason is that we're being seduced by clever bottles and throwback labels. Along with enticing branding, some of these bottles of "craft bourbon" boast hefty price tags. Take Pappy Van Winkle, a craft bourbon with "family reserve" editions that retail for thousands of dollars.
    And yet "the term 'craft' is little more than an ambiguous buzzword," Mitenbuler writes in a new book, Bourbon Empire: The Past and Future of America's Whiskey. Behind all the craft buzz, Mitenbuler says, are actually just some "carefully cultivated myths" created by an industry on a roll.
    'Bourbon Empire' Reveals The Smoke And Mirrors Of American Whiskey : The Salt : NPR
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    Pappy is a wonderful marketing scheme. It's average boubon, at best, in my opinion.

    I prefer other far more reasonably priced bourbons far better.

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    You can always tell when it's American whiskey. We spell it with an "e".

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    I loathe the word craft for anything, be it beer, sandwiches, or artwork. I think it's overuse in everything pertaining to marketing over the last several years is what has taken me to this point!

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    Quote Originally Posted by gchs_uk9 View Post
    I loathe the word craft for anything, be it beer, sandwiches, or artwork. I think it's overuse in everything pertaining to marketing over the last several years is what has taken me to this point!
    Some of us are old enough to remember these guys.


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    There's some truth in what is suggested in the article, but there's also some misleading stuff in there as well.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Schue View Post
    There's some truth in what is suggested in the article, but there's also some misleading stuff in there as well.
    Care to elaborate? You're one of the ones I was hoping would chime in here.

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    Some of the packaging is very appealing to the eye. Then again I'm in love with Heaven Hill's Fighting C and it's one of the worst looking bottles on the shelf.

    I don't claim to be a bourbon connoisseur but I do know that younger bourbon doesn't appeal to my taste buds.

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    Quote Originally Posted by woodsrider View Post
    Care to elaborate? You're one of the ones I was hoping would chime in here.
    For starters, he grossly misused the word retail. The highest MSRP on any Pappy is $249.

    There will be liquor stores that attempt to sell Pappy for more than that but that isn't what is considered retail.

    The link he uses is secondary prices and that is still fairly false. With the exception of Pappy 23 I can get you a bottle of any Van Winkle line for under $1000 right now.



    P.S. I do believe Pappy is overrated, but I'd rather use the truth for my argument.

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    He also simplifies the differences between bourbon to the point of ignorance. For starters, yes, Jim Beam and Knob Creek use the same mash bill but after that there are a lot of differences that do end up with an entirely different end product.

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    His book may go into more detail but the article completely overlooks the low hanging fruit that deserves the criticisms such as Diageo and its Orphan Barrel line.

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    Quote Originally Posted by formerkywrestler View Post
    He also simplifies the differences between bourbon to the point of ignorance. For starters, yes, Jim Beam and Knob Creek use the same mash bill but after that there are a lot of differences that do end up with an entirely different end product.
    That specific example struck me as strange. The article made it seem like there was some guy at the distillery filling Knob Creek and Jim Beam bottles from the same tap.

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    Maybe I read it wrong, but did he try to say that small batch was used even for companies that used very large stills and distilled large amounts? Not quite the meaning of small batch.

    Not a fan of the article. It seems to be targeting the people who, within the last year, claim to be about bourbon. Not people who truly understand the art of making it, the differences between brands and all of the subtle parts that can make a huge difference in the product.

    I believe the term "low hanging fruit" was used earlier, and that seems like the best description for the article.

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    Quote Originally Posted by thehotsnakes View Post
    Maybe I read it wrong, but did he try to say that small batch was used even for companies that used very large stills and distilled large amounts? Not quite the meaning of small batch.

    Not a fan of the article. It seems to be targeting the people who, within the last year, claim to be about bourbon. Not people who truly understand the art of making it, the differences between brands and all of the subtle parts that can make a huge difference in the product.

    I believe the term "low hanging fruit" was used earlier, and that seems like the best description for the article.
    Small batch just means the number of whiskies blended for the final product are a small number. What's considered a small number, well, that's up to the distillery.

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    Quote Originally Posted by formerkywrestler View Post
    Small batch just means the number of whiskies blended for the final product are a small number. What's considered a small number, well, that's up to the distillery.
    Sort of like Jeffersons, or Blantons "Very Old" what's very old? Well, that's up to them.

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