Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Ten High Bourbon, By The Way, Is Not Bad.

Last night, I poured myself some Ten High Bourbon that I had on hand, from a bottle I purchased maybe a year ago. It's still the Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey version, not the new bourbon blend.

It's a nice, albeit young, bourbon. It has a little bit of fire, befitting its youth, but no really harsh or off flavors, with light caramel as probably the dominant note. It's a nice, drinkable bourbon. "Fresh" was a word that came to mind, and it doesn't often occur when I'm tasting whiskey.

Some bottom-shelf bourbons are 36-monthers, not Ten High. It's NAS (no age statement), so it's at least four years old. "Fully-aged" is the common euphemism.

The new bourbon blend is just hitting stores now, so there is still a lot of the straight bourbon version out there. I suggest you pick up a bottle or two. It's cheap, so even if you don't like it you won't be out much.

Yesterday I told you about the ongoing George Dickel No. 8 shortage. That and the Ten High demotion are related, in that they both show what happens with whiskey when unexpectedly strong demand puts pressure on supply. Since whiskey has to age, you only have the whiskey you have, no matter how many orders you receive.

Both Constellation (still Ten High's owner, for now) and Diageo (Dickel's owner) want to sell the whiskey they have for as much as they can, so Diageo would rather let whiskey that could be sold as No. 8 get a little older so they can sell it as the more profitable No. 12 or Barrel Select. Likewise, as I talked about in today's earlier post, Constellation has more profitable outlets than Ten High for its fully aged bourbon.

But the point of this post is to encourage you to pick up a bottle of Ten High Straight Bourbon while you still can.

How long do you have? Hard to say. Because bourbon doesn't "go bad," bottles can sometimes sit on a shelf for decades.

The new bourbon blend is just beginning to hit retail in New York and California, we know, maybe other places too. When your store will get it depends on how much of the old inventory they have. It might be tomorrow, or months from now.

It's likely that Ten High will remain a bourbon in control states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania. In most control states, the process of getting a product listed is so arduous that companies are loath to de-list anything. Since they will have to de-list the bourbon to make the change, they might just leave it alone.

Last night, for reference, I followed the Ten High with my favorite cheap bourbon, J.T.S. Brown Bottled in Bond. I still prefer the J.T.S. Brown, but the Ten High compared favorably.


Rob K said...

Ten High and Virginia Gentleman are the only bourbons I've found that, to my taste, mix well with iced tea.

Unknown said...

God bless you, Rob K! (everybody like to see their opinions "Amen-ed") I "discovered" Virginia Gentleman while in Maryland. If I could get a case mail-order to Massachusetts, I'd be on it in a New York minute!

Chuck said...

I have a friend who almost always brings a bottle of Ten High to social occasions, and I've also found it to be a lot better than its market niche would suggest. I will be sorry to see it go. I wonder what Bob will drink now?