Bourbon Decanters

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Bourbon Decanters

Unread postby jbohan » Thu May 12, 2005 3:20 pm

Ceramic bourbon decanters seemed to be popular in the 70s and 80s. Can somebody on this site talk about why that was and why they are not around as much now. I have a couple of Stizell Weller and Eagle Rare #1, #2, and #3 plus the Old Taylor Distillery castle decanter. Still looking for Eagle Rare # 4.

At the time I guess bourbon was seeing a downturn in popularity and the decanters were a marketing gimmick to attract attention. Was there anything different about the quality of the product that went into the decanters ?

If I have missed a discussion about this topic somewhere else on the site, I apologize for starting this over again.

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Unread postby gillmang » Fri May 13, 2005 8:01 am

My understanding, and some of it is from Chuck Cowdery's writings, is that from the 1950's-1980's there was a surplus of bourbon in the market. Vodka and other white goods, also blended whiskeys, were rising in sales to the detriment of straight whiskey. Jim Beam in the 1950's hit on the idea of issuing whiskey in decanters to stimulate sales. The idea caught on and the programs became quite elaborate with themes based on American government (the States series), wildlife, commemorative events and other aspects of social or daily life. Most distillers and other vendors put out a ceramics decanter series in this period. Then it went away, sometime in the early 1980's, I think. Some of these decanters contained well-aged whiskey and yet were sold for relatively little since the container was the thing marketers felt would attarct the eye and any premium in price was based on that. I think some of the companies should bring back decanters. The only one that seems to survive is the jug-style Evan Williams 7 year old. I guess in a way the special versions of Maker's Mark, with the different colored wax seals, are reminiscent of decanters, especially as the Maker's bottle resembles some decanters in form, but of course it isn't the same thing.

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Unread postby cowdery » Fri May 13, 2005 6:47 pm

I don't have much to add to what Gary said, except that when I have asked companies like Jim Beam why they discontinued the decanters, they said it was because it got to be a completely different business than the business they are in. They are in the beverage business and the people who bought and buy decanters generally don't care about the beverages, they only care about the containers. Beam, for example, grew and stablized its business by expanding its beverages portfolio rather than by finding new vehicles for selling bourbon.
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Unread postby Strayed » Fri May 13, 2005 10:48 pm

I think it's ironic that Brown-Forman, who is very much in the ceramic pottery and container business in the form of Lennox china, has had few if any examples of their bourbon in Lennox-made containers. There was a similar fad in the fifties, only with ornate glass decanter-looking bottles, and Old Forester did use some of those. They were popular at Christmas.

Royal Daulton and Regal are the companies that seemed to make most of the bourbon decanters, and I think Regal was owned by Standard Brands, which might have been an influence. For awhile it was almost as if Jim Beam was a collectible decanter company that offered free bourbon with every purchase :tongue5: . The decanters seemed to stop abruptly about the same time they acquired all the National Distillers' brands, although I don't know what the other distilleries' excuse was.
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Unread postby bourbonv » Tue May 17, 2005 4:42 pm

The big problem with decanters is that they were a pain in the butt to fill. You could not use a regular bottling line to do so and many had to be filled by hand. This of course ran up the cost of producing them. The distilleries were happy to get out of the decanter business and I don't think they will ever get back into it. What they might do is more specialty bottlings with original labels or different bottles such as Old Forester Birthday Bourbon or Buffalo Trace and their Antique Collection.

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Julian ?

Unread postby jbohan » Tue May 17, 2005 4:54 pm

Since Julian is a registered member of this site, and the old Stitzell -Weller distillery was an issuer of many decanters I was hoping he would weigh in on this. Thanks to those of you who already have.

Are there any serious collectors out their that have anything to say ? would you like to see them start doing it again, or do you like the fact that all the decanters have already been made.

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Unread postby cowdery » Tue May 17, 2005 5:22 pm

The only way I can imagine decanters coming back would be if an independent party decided to reintroduce them, marketing them primarily to collectors, and using either bulk whiskey or licensing branded whiskey from the major producers. Under the right conditions, I don't think most producers would be opposed to having their brand names on decanters, but they don't want to be in that business themselves. It's just a completely different business.

On the other hand, when Even Kulsveen started Kentucky Distillers Ltd., decanters and other fancy packages were a big part of his business, then exclusively for export, primarily to Japan.
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Stitzel Weller

Unread postby jbohan » Tue Jun 07, 2005 3:46 pm

Decanter with good quote on bourbon
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Unread postby bourbonv » Tue Jun 07, 2005 4:10 pm

This is also the only apothecary decanter done with W L Weller bourbon. The rest were Old Fitzgerald. A good bourbon and a collector's rarity.

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Re: Bourbon Decanters

Unread postby Bamatami » Sat Apr 10, 2010 9:34 pm

I bought an Eagle Rare #2 decanter at a yard sale today, in excellent conidion....does anyone know about how much it is worth? Thanks!
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Re: Bourbon Decanters

Unread postby maderapete » Sun Aug 28, 2011 5:18 pm

I have Eagle Rare No. 3 and No. 4 in a Ceramic Series 101 Proof Kentucky Straight Bourbon Wiskey Decantures. Both are sealed and in the boxes. The wiskey seals are unbroken. I am interested in selling both decanters.
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