True, Mike, and good point about the malting barley, Thomasson mentioned that too.
I think microdistilling will save the industry from standardising the product too much.
Also, some large players will continue to offer quality in most of their range, especially Buffalo Trace. And all distillers will always offer specialty products, especially well-aged bourbons; although an old product is not necesarily better, as we know. This is where Canadian distillers went wrong in my opinion. They all (the big established ones anyway) offer amongst their portfolios well-aged whiskies which, because the whisky they start with is very light, stay light and simply acquire more barrel character. The balance VO or CC gets at 6 years or so of age is not improved (arguably) by further aging yet we see CC in iterations up to 20 years old. Seagram puts out older blends too. I have to wonder if the purpose of aging is (again in my humble opinion) misapplied here, subject to what I will say below about blending. Maybe the distillers feel they need older whiskies in their portfolio for the consumer who, influenced by single malt expressions, "expects" it. If the distillers started with products that had more body congeners aging would I think turn that into something delectable; the aging would have a real "purpose". CC 12 and 20 are okay but I actually prefer the regular CC. Its rye character (from the small amount of low proof rye whisky blended in at birth) doesn't get blanketed with all that wood aging. I know some CCs incorporate different amounts of low proof whisky, notably the 10 year old CC (which has a high-rye spec), but "still"...
I am not suggesting the aging of Canadian whisky is unnecessary, but rather that after 5-6 years the barrel doesn't improve the product significantly and may detract from it. I would make one exception here, which is that well-aged Canadian whisky can be useful in blending. In fact, I think it is true to say the Seagram whiskies use old whisky in this way, no Seagram Canadian whisky I know has an age expression on the label or if so the age is minimised, not considered an essential aspect of the product. In this sense only I see the validity of prolonging the aging of Canadian whisky past 7-8 years or so. Most CCs are however (beyond the basic 6 year version) age-denominated: there is a 10, 12 15 and 20 year old version at times available in the Canadian market. True, they are a small part of total CC sales. In that sense Jim Beam Brands probably doesn't regard them as "core", as essential to the nature of CC. Nor I think did the previous owners. CC is perfect as it at 6 years old, one can argue. It is not perhaps the choice of many here. But it is a big seller and strikes the right balance for the mass market, i.e. for most whisky drinkers. Ditto VO and Crown Royal (which has old whisky in it but is an adroit blend).
Bourbon starts with a reasonable amount of congenerics. Aging through chemical action and reaction works a positive development in the whiskey, as it does in single malt and Cognac.
Where bourbon needs to be careful is if you make it too light aging will add tannins and wood sugars but not do a whole lot else for the spirit. We are not there yet, but if they start distilling bourbon whiskey at 159 proof, use no barley in the ferment and only a small amount of rye or wheat, that may happen. Fortunately, old bottles are around so people can still see what the "original" tasted like (I put that in quotes because we are in an area of relativity here to a certain degree). I assume Buffalo Trace for example has in its archive whiskeys from the 1940's, such as Elmer T. Lee sampled when he first started in the industry. So if he is not sure what they were like then, he can go down to the archive and open one up from '48 and check, right? Ditto Parker Beam and all those gentlemen. I assume in fact they do this.