A long, long time ago Dr. Veach impressed upon me the importance of low-proof distillation and low-proof barrelling. We've had many an interesting discussion since then, and I've become Mike's strongest advocate of that concept... which is normally rejected without hesitation by every modern distiller.
Except for two, and even one of those is changing.
The honorable Jimmy Russell has managed to hold the Pernod/Ricard accountants at bay for many years, holding the line at low distillation and low barrelling. But in the past year or so they seem to have prevailed. The net result, for those of us who really love Wild Turkey, is that we'd better buy up as much as we can before the product Jimmy took pride in ceases to be found on our liquor store shelves.
The other, and it looks as though it's only just BEGINNING to happen, is Four Roses. After suffering under Seagrams' restrictions for so many years, Jim Rutledge has apparently been given the go-ahead from current owner Kirin to (1) put quality Four Roses bourbon into the hands of Americans, and (2) to target bourbon afficianados with limited bottlings that show just what that distillery is capable of doing. Jim's response has been to put out some really awesome examples of what his Lawrenceburg, KY distillery not only CAN do, but HAS been doing for decades, albeit for use as flavoring for blended whiskey and for straight bourbon sold only overseas.
And what does modern bourbon whiskey distilled and barrelled at around 100 proof (as opposed to the normal 140/125) end up tasting like? Well...
(1) Mike Veach: as I suspected, but now know for sure, you are 100% correct!
(2) We, along with Mike and many others, have been asking distillers for years if they'd produce a limited edition of their bourbon distilled at ~100 proof, not diluted before barreling, and bottled at the same ~106 proof that it's dumped at, i.e. not diluted, and without chill-filtering, either. Guess what... that's just what Jim Rutledge did for the bottling selected for his 40th anniversary with the company, and the result is totally awesome. The Goddess & I have had the privelege of tasting some other versions of FRSB and we anticipate this new, Kirin-supported (thanks, Yumiko!) Four Roses will soon be recognized as one of the most innovative distilleries in the bourbon world.