Tag Archives: whiskey

A recent Kojo Nnamdi Show featured 3 regional distillers

Distillers from Catoctin Creek Distilling Company | @catoctincreek of Loudoun County, Va., Blackwater Distilling | @sloopbetty (makers of Sloop Betty) of Stevensville, Md. and New Columbia Distillers | @dcdistillers(makers of Green Hat Gin) of D.C. were featured on The Kojo Nnamdi Show on February 20.

I have not sampled the products from any of these distilleries yet, but that will change.

Here is a video of Green Hat in action:

PREVIOUSLY

D.C. distilling: Green Hat gin12.09.2012

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Maker’s Mark backtracks, won’t water down bourbon

Maker’s Mark is backtracking from their plan to lower the proof/alcohol by volume (ABV) from 90/45% to 84/42%.

Here’s an excerpt from the company’s about face:

Since we announced our decision last week to reduce the alcohol content (ABV) of Maker’s Mark in response to supply constraints, we have heard many concerns and questions from our ambassadors and brand fans. We’re humbled by your overwhelming response and passion for Maker’s Mark. While we thought we were doing what’s right, this is your brand – and you told us in large numbers to change our decision.

You spoke. We listened. And we’re sincerely sorry we let you down.

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

Social media is credited with helping Maker’s see the error of their ways, Bourbon Blog has details: Maker’s Mark Switches Back to 90 proof, 45% after 1 week they change their minds.

BOURBON BLOG PODCAST

In case you wanted to see what the new label would have looked like: New Maker’s Mark Bottle and label at 42%, 84 ProofBourbon Blog

MORE ANALYSIS

Bourbonomics 101: What the Maker’s Mark dilution debacle says about corporate strategyThe Post

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Watered down Maker’s Mark on the way

A toast to the Big11Ten Champions!
So much for “It tastes expensive … and is”

Bourbon Blog reports that Maker’s Mark bourbon will be bottled sold at 42% alcohol by volume, down from 45%.

The reduction of proof will be permanent for this global brand and will help Maker’s Mark to put their popular Bourbon in the hands of consumers who are having difficulty finding Maker’s on the shelves.

This decrease is apparently to keep supplies from decreasing significantly. I think it is safe to say that the remaining 45% ABV bottles are going to disappear. I suppose I’ll get another big bottle of it, but I almost don’t want to as I feel like I’d be “rewarding bad behavior.” Rob Samuels of Maker’s claims:

“We’ve confirmed the taste of the 84 proof Maker’s is exactly the same as what consumers taste in the 90 proof by our tasting panel,” explains Samuels.

This tasting panel consists of full time Maker’s Mark employees.

My friend, the legendary Joe Riley, brought this to my attention and added:

Call me cynical if you want to, but the untold secret of this is, that parent company Beam Global will save millions of dollars per year in federal excise taxes on alcohol-by-volume, while increasing production JUST BY ADDING MORE WATER! So the price should go down, then, right? (Bwahahahahaha!) Um, no.

If you want a wheated Bourbon that is a proper proof, go with the original; W.L. Weller. Their “Special Reserve” is 90-pf, their “Antique” is 107-pf, and both bottles cost LESS than Maker’s Mark.

Maker’s Mark isn’t the first whiskey, I mean whisky, to water down the product — Jack Daniel’s has done it twice over the years (scroll down), though that isn’t bourbon.

By the way, I’m a “Maker’s Mark ambassador” which means they send me tschotskes from time to time and someday will invite me to Kentucky to get some bourbon out of a barrel with my name on it. I received an email explaining the situation, but I saw Joe’s Facebook update first.

MORE: Maker’s Mark cutting alcohol volume in its bourbonAP/WTOP

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First taste: Platte Valley Corn Whiskey

plattevalleycornwhiskey
Not that long ago, my father mentioned in passing that one of the best whiskeys he had ever tasted was corn whiskey out of a jug. His recollection was that he had it during an epic cross-country road trip (the top was up for less than one hour over the course of a month) many decades ago. He mentioned that Platte was part of the name. I became intrigued and tried to find it. I determined it must have been Platte Valley Corn Whiskey and he later confirmed it. My next step was to contact my friend Joe a legendary assistant manager of a liquor store in Northwest Washington, D.C. He found a liquor store in Southern California that carried it and I had it shipped to me.

The other day, we finally opened it up. It had strong aroma and in a way, felt like rye, but didn’t smell like it. It poured clear and yellow. The taste — not as sweet as I would have expected from a 100% corn whiskey. It was not terribly distinctive, neither sweet, nor bitter or harsh. It was pleasantly warm going down, like most whiskey.

Did the taste live up to the memory? Apparently not, but it was interesting experience nonetheless. It were aged more than 30 months, it probably would have more going for it — perhaps there was/is a variety that is aged longer and more tasty.

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A short history of Maker’s Mark

Maker's Mark
A great post from Chuck Chowdery‘s blog — How Maker’s Mark Was Made. Maker’s was one of, if not, the first premium bourbons. They started small and mostly stayed that way for a few decades. A clever advertising campaign “Maker’s tastes expensive…and it is” helped it along, but mostly a Wall Street Journal article in 1980 made the brand.

I’m a Maker’s Mark ambassador which means they send stuff, invitations to tasting events (which I have not gone to yet) and have my name on a cask down in Kentucky. The idea is I’ll go down there when it is ready. I don’t know if that will happen, but hitting the bourbon trail is on my to do list someday. Oh and happy birthday to fellow ambassador, Tom.

Chowdery is also the author of Bourbon, Straight, the definitive book about bourbon. My copy is currently on loan to the Ombudsman.

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Jack Daniel’s is changing its label

Last Call for Lynchburg (Pop. 361) as Jack Daniel’s Rejiggers Its Label Wall Street Journal
I drink Jack Daniel’s about twice a year, usually if I am flying somewhere and bourbon is unavailable. It is okay, but I find Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey to be more flavorful and enjoyable than filtered Tennessee sipping whiskey. Still, I find it interesting that the Jack Daniel’s is updating its label. “Lem Motlow, proprietor” and “Pop. 361″ are going, so is the suggestion that it was registered in 1866. There is a great interactive graphic linked from the story.

Left unsaid that Jack Daniel’s has changed its label a few times to reflect the lower proof. At one time, Jack Daniel’s was 90 proof, then it was 86 proof and about five years ago, it was changed to 80 proof.

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Bourbon and the Kentucky Derby

Tomorrow is the 137th Kentucky Derby and as usual my family is having a party. A big part of the party is making mint juleps, the combination of bourbon, simple syrup, mint and ice that Henry Clay introduced to Washington and by extension the country/world when he was a senator from Kentucky. After the drinks are passed out, we are ready to sing “My Old Kentucky Home”…poorly.

The occasion of the Derby prompted Express Night Out to publish Be a Caskmaster: Breaking Out the Bourbon, story about the spirit and the cocktails that area bartenders like to use it in. My friend Joe Riley is quoted as well.

As for the Derby itself, I need to pick my horse, so I’ll be heading over to Louisville’s Courier-Journal for their excellent coverage.

REQUIRED LISTENING

REQUIRED READING

Hunter S. Thompson’s The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved

MAYBE THIS TOO

The Ombudsman, scheduled to appear for his first Derby Party, passes this along from The Huffington Post: Forget About Horses: A Bourbon Picking Guide for Derby Day, and Every Day

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The Joe Paterno Debate: Whiskey

This is the kind of game you love. I’m going to go home and get in trouble with a good stiff bourbon. Then I’m going to take a nap and get out some Ohio State tapes.

Joe Paterno, October 20, 2001

The origin of the tradition of post-game bourbon toasts to celebrate Penn State wins is oft told by me, but for the uninitiated, here is the story. Penn State started the 2001 season 0-4 with Paterno one game behind Bear Byrant for the all time major college football wins record. After a thrilling last second win, Paterno uttered the quote above. The following week, the Nittany Lions behind freshmen QB Zack Mills came back from 22 down in the second half to beat Ohio State. Following the game, I established the tradition and have toasted to many Nittany Lions triumphs responsibly.

Over the years, the tradition has continued and is enjoyed by several of my friends whether we are together at the time or not. However, one friend, The Maryland Bureau Chief, has on occasion suggested he would rather do it differently. TMBC prefers Jack Daniel’s, which is Tennessee Sipping Whiskey. Though it is similar to bourbon, Jack Daniel’s adds a filtering process that bourbon does not. I prefer the unfiltered Kentucky spirit over the Tennessee one. We are a little uncertain about what Coach Paterno’s preference is though.

From time to time, Paterno is linked to Jack Daniel’s rather than bourbon. I recall when I was an undergraduate, his son Scott mentioned Jim Beam in a Collegian column. However, The Lion in Autumn, Frank Fitzpatrick‘s book about the end of the Paterno era (except it wasn’t! JoePa was right, he just needed a few more players like Derrick Williams, who was mentioned at the end of the book, to show up) in the early 2000s mentioned Jack Daniel’s. So, in short we don’t know his preference, but with a week before practice and over a month before kickoff, I decided to see if I could solve the mystery. Perhaps @JayPaterno can be of help.

UPDATE 6:45 a.m. Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Jay Paterno followed up on my tweet about his father’s choice of whiskey:

JayPaterno @doubleuefwhy It is neither Jack nor Jim for Joe–given his choice it is Old Granddad with lots of ice. Fitting for a guy with 17 grandkids.

So, it is official, bourbon is Joe Paterno’s preferred whiskey, not Jack Daniel’s. The great debate has at last been settled. Thank you Jay, you are a scholar and a gentleman. Also, glad you liked the “This Game is Fixed” poster at the 1999 Blue White Game. I really need to find that photo and rescan it.

Oh and as a Maker’s Mark Ambassador, I’ll put in the good word for that fine bourbon, an excellent choice for post-game victory toasts.

, , , , ,

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George Washington, master distiller

Washington’s whiskey hits the barrel after 200 year hiatusUSA Today
I have been hearing about plans to distill whiskey according to George Washington’s recipe for several years.

In April, the Mount Vernon distillery and adjacent gristmill will open to the public for the season. And for the first time in nearly 200 years, liquor fans will soon be able to purchase whiskey made in the distillery, following Washington’s own recipe.

“There’s nowhere else in the country you can see what a distillery was like in the 18th century,” said Dennis Pogue, Mount Vernon’s associate director of preservation who oversaw the distillery’s reconstruction. And the experience shows visitors an intriguing side of George Washington. “It’s an opportunity to talk about different aspects of Washington’s career that most people don’t know about,” he said.

I am quite interested to check out the distillery, though when I learned in the article that the whiskey was not barrel aged, I became less enthusiastic for actual product. Nevertheless, I’ll be happy to give it a try.

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