Frost 8/80 tasting notes

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Frost 8/80 tasting notes

Unread postby bourbonv » Tue Mar 11, 2008 7:04 pm

For those of you who are not familiar with this product, it is a very rare whiskey to find made by Brown-Forman from 1968-1971. It was to be the whiskey equivilent to vodka. This was 8 year old bourbon made in Pennsylvania that was filtered until all of the color was removed. This of course removes most of the flavor as well. It was not a success and it was pulled from the market. I do mean "pulled" as Brown-Forman recalled what was in the system so you should never find this on the dusty shelves of an old liquor store.

Proof: 80
Color: Clear
Legs: Suprisingly there are a lot of legs to this product.
Nose: Not a complex nose, but there does seem to be a little fruity sweetness and maybe just a hint of vanilla. It is hard to describe but the sweetness is there and it reminds me of something I just can't get a handle on. I wish Barleycorn was here since he has the superior nose. It is a little citrus/apricot/vanilla/candy corn like, but that is not really it.
Taste: It has that vanilla like sweetness but also a hint of wood - fresh cut wood and sawdust. I think this is a good product to show what is meant by "wood".
Finish: The finish is not unpleasent, and it last a lot longer than I thought it would, but it does have a little medicine like quality - not a bitter or chemical like medicine taste but more of a sweet medicine taste. Not bad, but not great either.
Notes: I assume this product was made to be used like vodka and mixed. I think it would work well in that format, but it does not make sense to age it for 8 years (and the loss of product that comes with aging) and then filter it extensivly removing most of the changes aging made, and to try to sell it as a vodka type mixer. Just make Vodka - its cheaper and more profitable.
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Unread postby Mark » Tue Mar 11, 2008 9:10 pm

Interesting Mike, thanks for the post! Imagine with 'shortages' today aging bourbon and then filtering the hell outta it! :?
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Unread postby Dump Bucket » Tue Mar 11, 2008 11:01 pm

Do you have any pictures of the bottle... be interesting to see...
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Unread postby cowdery » Tue Mar 11, 2008 11:59 pm

The theory was that people liked the taste of whiskey but had been brainwashed into believing clear spirits were better, so if you gave them something that looked like vodka but tasted like whiskey, they would like it.

But that really doesn't address how it works in cocktails.

Vodka, by definition tasteless, is "mixable" because you basically just taste the other ingredients and if you like them, you'll like the drink. The clear part may make the drink more attractive, but has no effect on taste.

So although they probably claimed Frost was "more mixable" or "as mixable as vodka," anything that has flavor of its own will have to be mixed more carefully than something that doesn't. What's interesting is that it sounds like it had a pretty full flavor, richer than a blend. As I've heard more about it over the years, it seems like it was mainly cosmetic. Taking the color out must, inevitably, have had some effect on flavor, but it sounds like it still more or less tasted like straight whiskey, but something pretty mild, like George Dickel.

When I was around B-F a lot in the early 80s, there were still people there who had lived through Frost 8/80. It really was a shock to B-F's system, that they could be so wrong about something. It was always talked about in hushed tones. It made them very gun-shy about new products for a long time. They much preferred acquisitions and exclusive marketing agreements as ways to expand their portfolio.
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Unread postby bourbonv » Wed Mar 12, 2008 9:16 am

The little neck hanger on the bottle states that they filter it three times through different types of hard woods to remove the color. That may be where the wood flavor is coming from. It does sound much like the Dickel but it does not have as much flavor as Dickel since there is no caramel or tannic flavors to the product.

It is an interesting product. I am taking the bottle down to Doug Philips place this Saturday for his monthly tasting. Maybe I can get someone to take a photgraph of the bottle for me (I really do need to figure out that camera Stoopsie gave me!)
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Unread postby EllenJ » Sun Mar 16, 2008 1:00 am

Throughout the Caribbean, and by law in some countries there, rum is aged in wood barrels (not new & charred, but then neither was Frost/80). This is true even of white rum (the most popular kind among those who live on rum-producing islands), which is NOT simply unaged "molasses white dog", but one to three-years old and then color-stripped just as Frost/80 was. I believe the filtration process is very different from "chill filtering", and the main thing removed are wood tannins -- the flavors of which everyone seems to complain about anyway.

In fact, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that B/F got the idea from their association with Appleton (Jamaica is one of the countries that requires aging even what will become white rum).
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Unread postby bourbonv » Sun Mar 16, 2008 11:51 am

Actually John, Frost 8/80 was Paennsylvania bourbon aged 8 years in charred barrels and then had the color filtered out by filtering it through charcoal made first from a softwood, then chacoal from a hardwood and finally charcoal made from nutwood. The product retains some vanilla flavor that I believe comes from the aging process and there is a heavy wood flavor that I believe comes from the filtering process. There is no tannins in the flavor and the wood is more likea fresh cut board than a tannic bark flavor.
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Unread postby EllenJ » Sun Mar 16, 2008 6:46 pm

bourbonv wrote:Actually John, Frost 8/80 was Paennsylvania bourbon aged 8 years in charred barrels and then had the color filtered out by filtering it through charcoal made first from a softwood, then chacoal from a hardwood and finally charcoal made from nutwood... ...There is no tannins in the flavor and the wood is more likea fresh cut board than a tannic bark flavor

Well okay, Mike, thanks for correcting me. Let me see now, you're saying that the filtering used for Frost/80 was DIFFERENT from chill filtering, right? And that mostly it was the tannins in the flavor that was removed? Gee, why didn't I think of that?

EllenJ wrote:I believe the filtration process is very different from "chill filtering", and the main thing removed are wood tannins...

Why do you write your response to appear as though you're correcting me, when you've simply restated what I already said? You can do better than that.

By the way, the Pennsylvania "bourbon whiskey" was not identified as "bourbon" in their advertising (see photo below), and the Frost 8/80 label calls it simply "whisky". That's good, because

(1) ...it was a 6-year-old failed whiskey experiment when they bought it a couple years before from Publicker Distilling Industries in Philadelphia. It might have been a legitimate bourbon, but there's little reason to think so; Publicker's experiment was supposedly aimed at producing a "lighter"-flavored whiskey, but not one distilled at over 160 proof. However, it seems doubtful that they would barrel such a product in new charred oak, so although it may technically have been bourbon, it wasn't STRAIGHT whiskey.

(2) ...they had to be careful NOT to call it "Light Whiskey", either. In fact, they got into a rather stinky pile of litigation with Schenley, National Distillers, and American Distilling over their release of the product over a year prior to July 1972 when the regs allowed light whiskey to be marketed. I believe the earliest bottles of Frost 8/80 MAY have been labeled as "light whiskey" (since, after all, it was "light" and it was "whiskey", and the "light whiskey" designation wouldn't legally exist until July 1972). The labels throughout the remainder of Frost 8/80's glory years did not include the word "light" (they called it "Dry White Whisky"). I'm always amused to see how much of Brown-Forman's time seems to be taken up with litigation over naming and labeling issues.
Attachments
Frost 8-80 mag ad 1971.jpg
This ad is from around 1972 (let's see, was that Vickie Peters?...)
Frost 8-80 mag ad 1971.jpg (172.97 KiB) Viewed 2994 times
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Unread postby cowdery » Sun Mar 16, 2008 7:13 pm

"The Thirsty Traveler" can be an interesting show for people like us, but frustratingly short of information. I recently saw their show about schnapps, which has that fault, but they did mention that some schnapps are aged in ash wood barrels for several years, and that ash is chosen because it doesn't affect the color, aroma or taste. <I>THEN WHAT'S THE POINT?</I> Oxidation, I guess. Or maybe the show doesn't know what it's talking about. Both are equally likely.
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Unread postby EllenJ » Sun Mar 16, 2008 8:47 pm

I agree about "Thirsty Traveller"; it's media puff.
But it's fun media puff, and I enjoy watching it.

Last one I saw was on Canadian whisky, the origins of which were apparantly whiskey-making rye farmers (Scots-Irish, of course) migrating north.

I guess that would have been from Idaho & Montana, which would have been an admirable feat back in the late 1700s, considering that the first European known to have reached what would later be called Alberta was Anthony Henday, a fur trader, in 1754. The first distillery in Canada was built in 1769 in Quebec and it produced rum. Grain products began being distilled in the mid-1800's, and most of that was centered around Ontario and Quebec. And who were they? In many cases, they were Loyalists (or pacifist Quakers and Anabaptists), such as the Houghs, the Overholts, and the Boehms. And the Cowdery's, too, I guess. When the insurgents -- uh, Revolutionary Freedom Fighters -- were successful, many of these people found themselves on the wrong side of public sentiment and wisely chose to scramble for the hinterlands. That would be the Virginia frontier (later Kentucky), the Westsylvania frontier (the west Pennsylvania counties), and Canada. But Alberta (which wasn't actually part of Canada until the 1870s) was most certainly NOT settled by pot-still-toting rye farmers from the United States. :P

That said, there is a lot to enjoy about Canadian whiskey, and "The Thirsty Traveler", and Linda & I enjoyed watching the show while finishing up a nice bottle of Royal Reserve that Gary was kind enough to give to us. And the rest of the Forty Creek (after all, it IS an hour show!)
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Unread postby bourbonv » Mon Mar 17, 2008 4:24 pm

Now John,
I was replying to this "not new & charred, but then neither was Frost/80" which sounds to me that you were implying that the whiskey was not aged in charred barrels.
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