A demise of rye and its rebirth

Talk about Tennessee, American and Rye Whiskey here.

Moderators: Brewer, brendaj

Re: A demise of rye and its rebirth

Unread postby gillmang » Mon Oct 12, 2009 9:09 pm

Okay got it, thanks Chuck.

Gary
User avatar
gillmang
Vatman
 
Posts: 2137
Joined: Mon Jan 24, 2005 4:44 pm

Re: A demise of rye and its rebirth

Unread postby EllenJ » Wed Oct 21, 2009 5:47 pm

cowdery wrote:I don't believe there is enough left at either Overholt or Schenley to be called a plant. Michter's distilled its last 20 years ago and it was the last one, so I doubt there is anything in Pennsylvania comparable to Medley in Owensboro, it terms of being capable of restoration. Based on John and Linda's work, my sense is that while there is evidence at most of the sites that a distillery was once there, there is nothing to "restore."

Very true in the case of Overholt, especially since the fire which occurred sometime after our visit there. Schenley I'm not sure about; they built their facilities to last and some of those brick buildings are still in use, split up and rented out as small industry shops.

The biggest problem is that they were built to be fire-safe, in a day when "fire-safe" meant, "We're proud of how much asbestos we've used in this building!". So, besides the fact that the only way to restore the distillery would be to gut it and start over, just doing THAT would cost a bloody fortune. My guess is that the Woodford Reserve distillery, even when it was operating as Labrot & Graham, probably didn't have as much asbestos as more "modern" plants like Overholt, or Stitzel-Weller, or even Medley.

bourbonv wrote:...Even if the warehouses are gone, it would be possible to do something similar to what Schenley did with Dickel and build new at an old site. That would become a tourism destination if a company did that and did it right...

As for restoring and re-opening a MAJOR rye distillery in Pennsylvania, I doubt that will ever happen. We might see a small craft distiller do such a thing, but it would certainly be a lot cheaper and easier to simply start up from scratch. Unlike in Kentucky, where the Commonwealth's social and political movers & shakers are PROUD of its distilling heritage, connection with the Demon Alcohol Industry is considered somewhat shameful in PA, (where even a bar advertising a "happy hour" has to contend with laws prohibiting "enticement to drink") and you'd be hard-pressed indeed to find any state or organizational support for restoring such a site on the basis of historical interest, such as Brown-Forman or Maker's Mark was able to do.

Linda & I did, in fact, contribute some efforts toward helping Karen Overholt Critchfield to get the Overholt site at Broad Ford registered as a landmark, or at least as a protected site. The best we could do was to get it included on the Top Ten Best Preservation Opportunities list published by the Young Preservationists Association of Pittsburgh for 2008. Which, along with four dollars, will get us each a cup of no-frills coffee at Starbucks.
=JOHN=
(the "Jaye" part of "L 'n' J dot com")
http://www.ellenjaye.com
User avatar
EllenJ
Registered User
 
Posts: 867
Joined: Sun Feb 26, 2006 11:00 pm
Location: Ohio-occupied Northern Kentucky (Cincinnati)

Re: A demise of rye and its rebirth

Unread postby thanis » Sat Mar 06, 2010 5:17 pm

I think clearly the demise has been covered by most posts (factors such as labor, land, prohibition, etc) and the current rebirth. I would like to comment on why the rebirth may have taken so long.

Subsities and marketing.

The post-prohibition period not only favored corn based whiskey, it also created a consumer base more interested in what to mix with the whiskey than the quality of the whiskey.

Then around the time that consumers might start to consider the whiskey, it is important to point out that it is not that rye is simply more expensive, but corn subsities create a situation where corn is sold an estimated thirty percent below the cost of production.

As corn found newer uses (ethanol), this has increased the cost of corn to some level, while at the same time there is a more posh market in the last 20 years, where the whiskey consumer is considering more than just age, and is willing to purchase at even greater price levels. This is partyially due to marketing and product differentiation in a maturing post-prohibition market.

My $.02.
thanis
Registered User
 
Posts: 12
Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 3:08 pm
Location: USA - MI

Re: A demise of rye and its rebirth

Unread postby EllenJ » Sun Mar 07, 2010 6:33 am

So, since rye doesn't grow particularly well in Kentucky, does that mean you're suggesting a potential resurgance of the Pennsylvania rye whiskey industry? If so, you certainly have our wholehearted vote. We are even aware of at least one company that is currently well into the process of establishing a new rye whiskey distillery in Pennsylvania, and you could hardly find a more receptive audience than ourselves. Corn whiskey is okay; in fact, we LOVE corn whiskey (including, but not limited to, bourbon). But rye whiskey is America's true grain spirit and, despite the fact that a form of it is, indeed, produced in Kentucky (using imported grain, of course), it's natural region is Pennsylvania (and portions of Maryland, Delaware, New York, and New Jersey).
=JOHN=
(the "Jaye" part of "L 'n' J dot com")
http://www.ellenjaye.com
User avatar
EllenJ
Registered User
 
Posts: 867
Joined: Sun Feb 26, 2006 11:00 pm
Location: Ohio-occupied Northern Kentucky (Cincinnati)

Re:

Unread postby Shell@freilich.com » Mon Jan 03, 2011 5:55 pm

gillmang wrote:Yes, but we still have to come back too, I think to Canadian whisky blurring the image of straight rye during Prohibition.

... most of what it made was Canadian blended whisky. CC had established itself in the U.S. before Volstead. Its influence though after was much greater as for Seagram's products, Corby's, etc.. Canadian whisky was, and some still is, essentially a diluted straight rye whiskey. It was not a diluted bourbon whiskey. So when consumers were offered this lighter rye as "rye whiskey", they could not distinguish it from true rye whiskey. After 1933, to supply that market, I think blended rye whiskeys became bigger than they ever were before 1919. This left little room for the traditional article. Most people did not know the difference and it was cheaper for distillers to sell blended rye than real rye. ...

Gary


During Prohibition, American tastes shifted to cocktails - largely to mask the taste of the 'bathtub-made booze' and the heavily-diluted smuggled spirits - as well as to lighter spirits. Americans also became very familiar with the lighter-profile of Canadian whiskey (and as gillmang said, began identifying Canadian whiskey as 'rye'). Several books report that some 75% of the liquor smuggled into the U.S. during Prohibition came into MI from Ontario.

Liquor prices during Prohibition skyrocketed. Only the very affluent could afford bottles of non-diluted good spirits (Cognac, Scotch, Canadian) at their house parties or at speakeasies catering to the well-heeled crowd.
Shell
Shell@freilich.com
Registered User
 
Posts: 11
Joined: Mon Jan 03, 2011 1:09 pm

Re: Another factor post-Prohibition

Unread postby Shell » Fri May 06, 2011 10:50 am

bourbonv wrote:Thanks for the input Gary and Dave. I did not want to state my opinions to start with because I wanted some independent thoughts on the subject to start the discussion. I will give my opinion now for discussion.

Rye's demise is a complicated process that involved many factors. Here is a list of what I think may be the leading factors. ...

... Anybody want to ... add other reasons to the list? I like good historical debate ... .


Another historical factor oftentimes minimized: Post-Prohibition, the distilleries that had closed had to gear up during the economic depression and begin aging their whiskey product. And of course (as Dave G. mentioned), they had to have the capital to invest until the aged whiskey was ready to sell. Just 8 years later, the U.S. entered WWII, and industrial output was geared to wartime production (also mentioned by Dave G.). Certain materials and ingredients were severely limited - either by quota or completely restricted for military production purposes. In the northeast and mid-Atlantic regions, industrial production was directed toward military purposes (e.g., automobile factories converted to produce military rather than consumer products). This situation had a large impact on the northeast/mid-Atlantic distilleries.
Shell
Shell
Registered User
 
Posts: 11
Joined: Mon Jan 10, 2011 5:12 pm
Location: Michigan (USA)

Re: A demise of rye and its rebirth

Unread postby EllenJ » Wed Jun 29, 2011 5:43 pm

Okay, try these ideas on and see how you like the way they fit...

Bourbon is a spirit associated with rebellion, a blue-collar or rural social status (either for real, or often as an assumed "character" enjoyed by urban preppies wanting to portray a "wild and dangerous" image).
Rye is a spirit associated with your American Literature teacher.

Bourbon is a spirit associated with the likes of Janis Joplin, Frank Sinatra, motorcycles, loud electric guitars, and general hedonism.
Rye is a spirit associated with your harmless-but-completely-ineffectual uncle.

When I say, "A round of Bourbon for the house", everyone cheers -- even those whose idea of spirits is flavored vodka.
When I say " A round of Rye for the house", everyone -- including the bartender -- looks at me as though maybe someone should call 911 or something.

The world is changing.
Bourbon doesn't really MEAN "bourbon" -- as we know it -- anymore.
And Rye doesn't mean "rye" the way it used to.
And maybe...
Just maybe...
People will realize that white spirits are really where it's at in the Twenty-Teens?
=JOHN=
(the "Jaye" part of "L 'n' J dot com")
http://www.ellenjaye.com
User avatar
EllenJ
Registered User
 
Posts: 867
Joined: Sun Feb 26, 2006 11:00 pm
Location: Ohio-occupied Northern Kentucky (Cincinnati)

Re: A demise of rye and its rebirth

Unread postby Mike » Wed Jun 29, 2011 8:02 pm

So good to have John Lipman back with his trash talk. I cannot really refute your arguments about bourbon and rye and the character of their consumers, except to point out that Bulleit (high rye bourbon) and its 95% rye new release are marketed as 'cowboy' whiskey and it was rye whiskey that the WhIskey Rebellion was about (as I recall). Still, I do not really know enough about current consumers to deny what you say, and aside from my exposeure with BE folks, I don't actually know many consumers of either bourbon or rye, but I suspect you are right about that.

I believe that for many folks in pop culture, bourbon (especially inexpensive bourbon) is a short path to being intoxicated, while rye is too exotic, intense, spicy, and robust for their purposes.

I also agree that white spirits are in vogue these days. Why? They are much cheaper to produce and can be flavored with most anything from all kinds of fruit to fruit wood chips (e.g. Wasmund's Single Malt which is not clear, but certainly light). I supose vodka is most responsible for this, and I think many of the smaller distillers who offer whiskey also make vodka, and often a lot of it. I have never once tried the 'infused' vodka and can offer no opinion as to its worth. I did purchase a bottle of Tequila that is pure white and is a very good spirit. I would have never purchased this had not a friend offered me a sip. The fact that Heaven Hill has just released a White Dog and a Rye Dog also bears out what you say. I have tried both and they have some appeal, especially the Rye (I will bring both to the Sept gathering). Does seem that the specialty bourbon (and rye) market is thriving along with the white spirit market, and all are probably overpriced. It will be interesting to see how the market changes as it makes adjustments.

Good to have you back in harness on BE, John. You bring a deep knowledge and your own unique opinions that have been sorely missed here.
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rage at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light. - Dylan Thomas
Mike
Registered User
 
Posts: 2106
Joined: Tue Feb 15, 2005 5:36 pm
Location: Conyers, GA

Re: A demise of rye and its rebirth

Unread postby howardf » Wed Jun 29, 2011 10:47 pm

I sure hope white spirits are where it's at! I'd love to stop putting my name on reservation lists to get a bottle of good whiskey. I'd like to walk in and buy the BTAC or Van Winkles off the shelf due to lack of demand. I'd even like to see $10-$20 come off of the list price of special releases, because there's not enough hype to try to claim a premium. I can't wait for this day to come, it almost sounds like heaven :wink:
howardf
Registered User
 
Posts: 47
Joined: Sat Sep 25, 2010 11:15 pm
Location: Avon, IN

Previous

Return to Non-Bourbon Whiskey

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest