Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Barton v Beam: Too Close To Call.
If you saw these two bottles next to each other on a shelf, what would you think?
They're both handsome bottles, but what else? Are they the same product in two different bottles? Two different products from the same maker?
You probably would not think that, although both bottles contain bourbon whiskey, they have no other relationship to each other. The typefaces in which the numbers are set, while not identical, are very similar, as are the numbers themselves. Too similar, perhaps?
On the left is a bottle of Ridgemont Reserve 1792, a Sazerac product, made at the Barton 1792 Distillery in Bardstown, Kentucky. It is widely distributed throughout the U.S. It is an 8-year-old straight bourbon, bottled at 46.85% ABV. It costs about $30 a bottle at retail.
The number 1792 refers to the year Kentucky became a state.
On the right is a bottle of Jim Beam. According to the UNCRATE web site, it is an eight-year-old, 47.5% ABV straight bourbon. Limited to 200 bottles, it is available only in the Heinemann Duty Free store in the T1B Schengen lounge in Frankfurt, Germany. The price is €140 ($178).
A different source says it is also being sold in Australia, for about $190.
1795 is the year, according to Beam family tradition, that family patriarch Jacob Beam sold his first barrel of whiskey in Kentucky.
The similarity is all the more interesting considering Ridgemont Reserve's history. It was originally called Ridgewood Reserve 1792, a fact that rubbed Brown-Forman's Woodford Reserve the wrong way. They sued for trademark infringement and won.
In response to inquiries, Sazerac said it does not comment on matters subject to pending litigation.