Barrel-proof Maker's!?

Talk about rare, export, annual release and other types of similar bottlings here.

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Unread postby bourbonv » Mon Jan 31, 2005 4:02 pm

Linn,
If I find another bottle, I am sure there will be some type of get together to open it. I will just have to keep Howie at bay till we do. He really liked the last bottle!

Mike Veach
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Unread postby angelshare » Mon Jan 31, 2005 5:16 pm

Dale-

As a MM enthusiast, do you think the MM of decades ago is substantially better than that of today?

My biggest issues with MM are:

1) Price, in that for what MM offers MY palate, $20-25 is on the steep side as an "every day pour." However, I could say that about any number of whiskies in that price range or higher, not just MM.

2) The marketing - not because of its "premium" positioning, but because it has at times strayed from fallacy of logic and embellishment (common to most marketing of most products) into the realm of probable falsehood. I'm thinking specifically of the Bill Samuels Jr. autobiography as I write that. Even more specifically, I'm thinking about the bread baking wheat recipe discovery story, so I'm probably guilty of generalizing AND parroting the assertions of experts, self-appointed or not.

And, as recently discussed on this site, the origins of Bulleit as marketed are a bit dubious, and I'm sure that JD has asserted plenty of "mythology" over the years that was created in the marketing department to a great extent. If you judge one, you have to judge them all by the same yardstick, and I'm probably guilty of forgetting that, too.

A couple of issues ago, Chuck's Bourbon Country Reader included some MM tasting notes. Prompted by these, I went back and did my own MM tasting and realized that it's better than the credit I had been giving it. NOT great, but pretty good, at least to me. As Chuck has more eloquently stated in different context, the taste of the whiskey is what matters most.

I doubt MM will ever be an everyday pour for us. All of that said, over the last eleven years, I bet there's been an open bottle of MM on our bar about 80% of the time, so either the marketing or the taste must have been working on us regardless! :lol:
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Unread postby TNbourbon » Mon Jan 31, 2005 6:06 pm

As 'Cube' points out, not that many of the MM complaints I hear -- or register myself -- are about taste. I like it, though I find it a little short in the finish. But around here, anyway, it's over $25 per 750ml after sales tax, and it goes up in lockstep with Jack Daniel's about every 8 months. MM apparently wants to compete directly with JD, and JD then tries to pace a step ahead.
For less than $25 -- sometimes far less -- I can find many bourbons I like at least equally. Now, if I can enjoy MM on someone else's dime -- well, I WILL enjoy it.
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Unread postby bunghole » Mon Jan 31, 2005 7:03 pm

bourbonv wrote:Linn,
If I find another bottle, I am sure there will be some type of get together to open it. I will just have to keep Howie at bay till we do. He really liked the last bottle!

Mike Veach


Mike,

Bobby Cox has 10 of them in his bourbo-bunker! Let's drink them! All!

Pants Away Baby!

:arrow: ima :smilebox:
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Unread postby cowdery » Mon Jan 31, 2005 8:38 pm

Maker's Mark has recently gone up a notch in my book, but not for anything they've done. As the true SW whiskey has gotten rarer and dearer, and the Bernheim whiskey has yet to prove itself a suitable replacement, Maker's Mark looms larger as a very tasty and (compared to the Van Winkles) affordable wheater. I'm sure the Bernheim wheaters will improve and soon we'll be able to add BT wheaters to the mix, but right now if you want a good wheater, Maker's is there for you.

Bill Samuels can be a bit of a carnival barker and a lot of Maker's Mark drinkers are like a lot of Jack Daniel's drinkers--they haven't the vaguest idea what they're drinking, they only think it's good because someone told them it's good--but that doesn't change the fact that Maker's makes a good bourbon, although I have no quarrel with those who don't agree.
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Unread postby gillmang » Mon Jan 31, 2005 10:00 pm

Does any of the wheat whiskey put out by Heaven Hill offer a decent alternative?

Does HH make Rebel Yell? Jim Murray gives it high marks, noting "strawberry" notes and giving the view that its rough edges of the past (which I recall from 10 years ago and more) are just a memory.

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Unread postby cowdery » Mon Jan 31, 2005 10:53 pm

Heaven Hill is Bernheim. I expect the whiskey made there since they took over is better than it was initially. At least I know the Beams weren't happy with it and made many changes. All of the Old Fitz and W.L. Weller you can buy today is likely from Bernheim when it was under UDV. Some of it is better than others. None of it is bad, just a little bland. I had some Old Fitz BIB recently that was pretty good and since that is likely younger than, say, the 1847 or the Weller Centennial, it's an indication that the whiskey has gotten better.

Of course, it's never just the distillate, there are aging and selection issues, but that's my overall assessment.

As for Rebel Yell, who even knows what Murray was tasting or if the current owners (Sherman, I think) have even kept it a wheater. If they did and if he tasted a recent bottling, it's likely UDV Bernheim.

Since Ed Foote was the last master distiller at SW and the first at the rebuilt Bernheim, I wonder what his assessment is of the respective whiskies. If I remember correctly, Bernheim was built using the same plans as IDL's big distillery at Middleton. In other words, Ed was asked to run it, but he didn't have much input into its design, so I wonder what he really thinks about it and the bourbon made there.
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Unread postby TNbourbon » Mon Jan 31, 2005 11:41 pm

Rebel Yell is a David Sherman product. Its website:
http://www.rebelyellwhiskey.com
states is still uses wheat, and even mentions the Farnsley/Stitzel-Weller heritage.
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Unread postby gillmang » Tue Feb 01, 2005 12:31 am

Thanks Chuck, and Tim, for this information. I should have remembered HH owns the Old Fitzgerald brand which it bought from UDV and that it bought the Bernheim facility some years ago. I guess I was wondering if, prior to acquiring Old Fitzgerald, Heaven Hill had its own wheat-recipe label. The whiskies of HH that come to mind in production for some years - Evan Williams, Heaven Hill, Fighting Cock, Henry McKenna, Elijah Craig, are, I believe, rye-recipe bourbons. In the old days in other words, were the wheat-recipe producers restricted to Stitzel-Weller and UDV after its purchase thereof and Maker's Mark? Did HH and the others stay away totally from something that Bill Samuels and the Van Winkle family made such a specialty item? If so, it is interesting that the trend to (relatively) less assertive spirits in the U.S. market (e.g. Canadian whisky's and vodka's successes) was not followed in the bourbon world, in the form of wheated whiskey, except for Maker's Mark, and the Weller/Old Fitz/Rebel Yell brands of Stitzel-Weller and later UDV (before being split up).

Memory tells me Kentucky Tavern was (is?) a wheated, I wonder who made that one? Boy this gets complicated.

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Unread postby Brewer » Tue Feb 01, 2005 10:05 am

Gary,

According to the "Bourbon Companion", Kentucky Tavern is made by Barton's. Since it doesn't say "wheated", I'd have to say they're using rye.
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Unread postby bourbonv » Tue Feb 01, 2005 11:14 am

For a few years in the mid 1990's United Distillers was putting wheated Old Fitzgerald bourbon in the Kentucky Tavern bottle because they ran out of the Glenmore whiskey that was in Kentucky Tavern. When it was sold to Barton, it reverted to a traditional rye recipe bourbon.

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Unread postby gillmang » Tue Feb 01, 2005 11:56 am

Thanks, by the way I like Weller Special Reserve, it has a good firm bourbon quality and its lightness (relatively) is appreciated sometimes. I also like Maker's Mark. I intend soon to buy Rebel Yell, now available in Ontario, due to Jim Murray's recommendation in his 2005 Whiskey Bible. I remembered this whiskey as rather boisterous in character when I tried it 20 years ago (whether it was wheated then or not, I don't know, I think it was, being originally a SW brand) but it sounds like the brand has evolved, for the better. Anyway I'll send in some taste notes soon. Mike, or Chuck, is Old Fitz 1849 almost certainly to be from the SW plant that was closed in '92? Could it be a mix of whiskey made in that plant and Bernheim before the sale to HH? If it is post-92 Bernheim whiskey, would there be any reason to think it may resemble the recent ORVW 10 year old?

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Unread postby Stoopsie » Wed Feb 02, 2005 3:55 pm

bourbonv wrote:Linn,
If I find another bottle, I am sure there will be some type of get together to open it. I will just have to keep Howie at bay till we do. He really liked the last bottle!

Mike Veach


Now I know you mean "bottles". You had two, the last time you showed up. They were both outstanding bourbons. But the gold was a little more exquisite than the red. To refresh your memory I have included a picture. The Gold was 101 proof and bottled in '78. The Red one was 90 proof and bottled in '77. Yummy stuff. If anybody out there is willing to share, give me a week's notice so I can get a cheap flight.
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Unread postby cowdery » Wed Feb 02, 2005 8:52 pm

Back when I lived in Louisville (1978-1987), my go-to bourbons were Old Fitzgerald, Very Old Barton BIB and Kentucky Tavern. KT was Glenmore's flagship brand and during the great whiskey glut, they were selling 10 year old whiskey in the standard, cheap, undated bottle (which you only knew if you had inside information). It was damn good stuff. After Glenmore was sold to UD it became just another bottom shelf brand.

As Mike said, KT was always a rye-recipe bourbon except for that one, very brief, period.

I'm not sure which came first but I know there was some connection between Kentucky Tavern, the bourbon, and Kentucky Tavern, the bar and restaurant. The current version is a new building, but there was a venerable old joint (before my time) on, I think, the same spot just outside of downtown, on the edge of Cherokee Park.
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Unread postby TNbourbon » Sun Feb 06, 2005 12:34 pm

Back to the original bottled noted by the OP, another thought comes to mind. I suspect many of us here are MM 'Ambassadors', and thus have had our names put on a plaque then attached to a barrel. When the barrel is used, I believe the people named on it are offered a chance to buy some of 'his' bourbon. One unfamiliar with how bourbon is made may just believe that 'his' barrel is used individually, and thus think he has an 'uncut' bottling, when in reality all it is is a batch into which his 'named' barrel went, and he bought the bottles offered.
Heck, I might do the same myself in 3-4 years, when 'my' barrel comes of age. And, if any of you wants an 'uncut' example of my special bottling (for a premium, of course), well...
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