Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Another Age Statement Falls.

Weller Antique is the latest American straight whiskey to take the age statement off its label and, as usual, the producer (in this case, Buffalo Trace) says the product isn't really changing. An age statement is, after all, just a number. What matters is how the whiskey tastes.

This reminds me of a conversation I had with one of my college deans several years after I graduated. He was a crusty sort anyway and we had butted heads more than once. Now he was talking to me more like a peer and bitching about alums who can't stand to see anything on campus change, anything. I think we're like that about whiskeys sometimes.

And who wouldn't be? Even the young people here know how a generation ago there were so many more distilleries. This is, in many ways, a golden age, but the paucity of different producers is a problem. That's why we hate to lose anything: an age statement, some proof points, anything. Buffalo Trace has done more than any other producer to try create as much variety as possible with the resources they have, but it's no substitute.

Which brings me back to the story about the dean. Are age statements really that important? Or do we just hate change?


Wade said...

say it ain't so. aaaughhh.

When is this schedule to occur?

Doctor Tarr said...

They all say dropping the age statement doesn't change the whiskey, but does anyone think the current WT101 NAS tastes at good as the old 8yo? Is EW black, with lower proof and younger age, as good as it used it be?

If they are running out of wheated bourbon, which this implies, then what else is going to change?

Crash said...

This is a terrible trend. Age statements allow consumers to gauge the respective values or worths of different Bourbons against each other.

It bugged me when Heaven Hill changed the Evan Williams 10-year to read, "Old No. 10 Brand" That's such a shame. How old is it now? The price hasn't changed.

Does this mean that Weller Antique will only be 4 years old, because that's all it is required to be?

Thank Goodness that some companies, like Beam Global, understand that age statements mean something, and that they'd rather run out of Knob Creek than cheapen the brand or their image by "youth-anizing" it (word coinage is mine own, unless someone can prove otherwise). Knob Creek is 9 years old, and Weller Antique is 10 years old. If it isn't 10 years old, then it isn't really "antique", is it?

Please talk some sense into these people, Mr. Cowdery.

Chuck Cowdery said...

Weller Antique is/was a 7-year-old, the 107 proof parallel to the 90 proof, 7-year-old Weller Special Reserve. Centennial, now discontinued, was the 10-year-old.

Which points out BT's problem. They're trying to rationalize a proliferation of brands.

The label change is made, in that all new product shipping from BT has the new label, but it could take some time to fully penetrate at retail.

Chuck Cowdery said...

I said "new label." It's actually a whole new package, using the same bottle as Weller 12.

Crash said...

Whoops - my mistake, Mr. Cowdery. I kept confusing their label with Old Rip Van Winkle, the 10-yr 107-pf. Sorry about that.