Saturday, January 28, 2012

Bike The Kentucky Bourbon Trail.

The Kentucky Distillers’ Association (KDA) and the Bluegrass Cycling Club have teamed up to provide back-road bike routes for the Kentucky Bourbon Trail tour. The routes are designed to take you through the rolling hills and scenic countryside of Central Kentucky on your way to visit six historic distilleries.

Maps and cue sheets can be found at the Kentucky Bourbon Trail web site under the Map and Guide tab. Links to the maps are also posted on the Bluegrass Cycling Club web site.

“We’ve been surprised at the growing number of requests for bicycling routes,” said Eric Gregory, KDA President. “So we turned to the experts who know the rural roads and who know the roads that work best for bicyclists.”

The various route options provide experienced cyclists with a unique ride opportunity unavailable anyplace else in the world. The Kentucky Bourbon Trail tour features six distilleries, each offering a unique educational experience. They are: Four Roses, Heaven Hill, Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark, Wild Turkey and Woodford Reserve.

You’ll have to figure these routes out on your own, but can also bike to Buffalo Trace Distillery and Barton 1792 Distillery, even though their parent company, Sazerac, isn’t a KDA member.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Journeyman Distillery Added To Feb. 8 Lineup.

Michigan's Journeyman Distillery has been added to the lineup for 'Meet Your Chicago Distillers Night' at Jerry's Sandwiches on February 8, starting at 7 PM. Jerry's is in Chicago's Wicker Park neighborhood at 1938 W. Division.

The other featured distilleries are Koval, Few Spirits, and North Shore Distillery. A surprise guest DJ has been added "to carry the party on into the night." Admission is still $10.

For more info go here and here.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Mistruth In Alcoholic Beverage Marketing.

Mistruth, if it’s even a word, is an interesting one.

You won’t find it at Merriam-Webster Online. It’s not in Webster’s Third New International Dictionary (Unabridged) either. MS Word is okay with it but Blogger's spell checker is not.

Scrabblefinder and similar sources say it is a legitimate Scrabble word, but they don’t provide a definition for it. Lexic.us defines it as “a lie” and offers examples of its use dating back to 1823. Wiktionary defines it as “untruth, falsehood.” You can find many examples of its use and, from context, that is how most writers seem to mean it, as synonymous with lie.

Only Urban Dictionary defines it differently, as “a statement that is true yet misleading.” They give as an example of its use, “Our web site is dedicated to dispel the mistruths propagated in their campaign.” That’s a pretty lousy sentence and it could easily be taken either way.

Still, we need a word like mistruth, the way Urban Dictionary defines it. Statements that are technically true but misleading are mainstays of political rhetoric and all forms of marketing, for whiskey and pretty much everything else. Marketers can be punished for untruths but mistruths (again, as Urban Dictionary defines them) get a lot more slack.

Advertising regulation in the USA, such as it is, is done nationally by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). As a practical matter, someone has to complain before the FTC will investigate and act. The law says advertising must be truthful and non-deceptive; advertisers must have evidence to back up their claims; and advertisements cannot be unfair.

Usually it is competitors who bring the complaints.

Advertisers do not have to submit their advertising for review and approval. Enforcement is strictly after-the-fact. FTC actions usually result in the marketer voluntarily changing the offending message. The FTC can impose penalties if marketers refuse to abide by its findings.

The FTC is very lax about enforcing its own rules. One of the best examples is the word ‘free.’ It is supposed to mean “devoid of cost or obligation,” but you constantly see it used (with impunity) to mean “included at no extra cost with purchase.”

When this column takes a whiskey producer to task it’s usually over a mistruth, not a clear untruth. Whiskey marketers usually won’t lie outright, but they can be misleading as hell. Everybody does it, large and small, distillers and non-distiller producers.

Alcoholic beverage marketers have to clear a higher hurdle than most marketers. They have to submit all product labels for approval by the Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), which is part of the Treasury Department. The ‘label’ is everything attached to or printed on the container (i.e., bottle, can, wine box). Alcoholic beverage marketers do not have to submit other marketing materials for approval, such as advertising, just the labels.

Alcoholic beverage marketers, both large and small, complain that TTB is inconsistent, even capricious. The big guys usually have the resources to work the system until they get a favorable outcome. The little guys usually don’t.

It would be a shame if TTB’s reputation declines to a point where people can’t trust the labels. That will be a victory for mistruth.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

U.S. Defines TN Whiskey Through Back Door.

This information came via comments posted on an old thread, here. Go there if you want to get deep into some American whiskey esoterica.

It's about to get geeky over here too.

Most striking is a statement contained in Canada's Food and Drug Regulations (C.R.C., c. 870), which define different kinds of alcoholic beverages, in this case Tennessee whiskey.

"Tennessee whisky...is a straight Bourbon whisky produced in the State of Tennessee and manufactured in the United States as Tennessee whisky in accordance with the laws of the United States applicable in respect of Tennessee whisky for consumption in the United States."

That's a mouthful and, legally, it only applies within Canada, but it's interesting because it codifies the definition of Tennessee whiskey, something the United States Treasury Department's Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) has never done.

TTB is keeper of the Standards of Identity for Distilled Spirits, which is the law of the land in terms of how distilled spirits are defined in the USA.

Note that the Canadian regulation does not define Tennessee whiskey as "straight bourbon whiskey that has been filtered through charcoal prior to barrel entry," which is what makes Tennessee whiskey unique according to the makers of Jack Daniel's.

Brown-Forman's Jack Daniel's and Diageo's George Dickel are the only Tennessee whiskeys, except for some emerging micros, but Jack is the best-selling American whiskey in the world and George is no slouch either.

The background for this is that the United States has trade agreements with various countries, such as Canada and Mexico, and entities such as the European Union, to recognize certain distinctive national products. In the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), for example, we recognize Canadian whisky and Tequila as distinctive products of Canada and Mexico, respectively, and they recognize bourbon whiskey and Tennessee whiskey as distinctive products of the United States.

NAFTA's wording is similar to the Canadian rule: "Tennessee Whiskey...is a straight Bourbon Whiskey authorized to be produced only in the State of Tennessee."

So even though TTB has never defined Tennessee whiskey, the U.S. government has, albeit indirectly, which should help you shut up a few know-it-alls and maybe win a bar bet or two.

It's also potentially significant for the micro-distilleries in Tennessee who want to make Tennessee whiskey because it puts them on notice that, contrary to that 2009 post, Tennessee whiskey isn't any whiskey made in Tennessee. The whiskey must meet all of the requirements for straight bourbon whiskey and be made in Tennessee to qualify.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Cool Things Craft Distillers Are Doing Right Now.

Here are some cool things craft distillers around the country are doing right now.

Tom’s Foolery Distillery near Cleveland has established itself making apple brandy but since they got the old Michter’s barrel-a-day still, they’ve been laying down bourbon. Erik, their first employee, is a brewer by training so they’ve been experimenting with different malts and using two to three times the normal percentage of malt in their bourbon mashes. The first one was 64 percent corn, 14 percent rye and 21 percent malt. That was with a standard whiskey malt. They just finished running several batches with Vienna malt, and a mashbill of 36 percent malt, 57 percent corn and 7 percent rye. Next up: Pale Ale malt. They're getting help from the previous owner of the still, David Beam, and the last master distiller at Michter's in Pennsylvania, Dick Stoll. Beam never operated the still so the last man who did was Stoll, in Pennsylvania more than 20 years ago.

Finger Lakes Distilling in upstate New York has just added a warehouse building for both aging stock and finished goods, both of which had been stored in the distillery itself. Why? Because their aging stock has grown to more than 400 barrels and they were running out of space in the production area, which they need for additional fermenters that are coming soon. They also recently received a Good Food award for their McKenzie Rye Whiskey. The Good Food Awards honor "producers of exceptionally delicious products that also promote sustainability and social good."

Garrison Brothers Distilling will begin to bottle a new batch of its Texas bourbon on February 1st, so it won’t be long before new stock shows up in stores. It usually sells out fast and Texans trying to find it were frustrated in their hunt by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC), which had a crazy rule that prevented Garrison Brothers from telling consumers which stores still had it on the shelves. Garrison sued the TABC and won. That was just before Christmas. Now when stocks run low at retail, the distillery will be able to post on their website a list of stores that still have bottles to sell.

A few misguided micros think they can build themselves up by trashing the big whiskey-makers. The more enlightened envision a rising tide that raises all ships. Some of the latter are even sourcing ("curating" is the new term) whiskey from majors to sell as their own brands, alongside products they make themselves. Utah’s High West was a pioneer at this and has several, mostly using rye whiskey, the best-known being their original brand, Rendezvous. West Virginia’s Smooth Ambler has a new one called Old Scout that is a five-year-old straight bourbon bottled at 49.5% ABV.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

A Scotch For Bourbon Lovers.

The tart, smoky taste of peat is such a scotch whisky signature, and so unlike any flavor in the bourbon profile, that it is easy to say no common ground exists between the world’s two favorite whiskey styles.

Since more than 90 percent of the scotch consumed is blended, and most blends work in at least a hint of peat, finding a scotch with none can be challenging, but they do exist.

If peat-less scotch is what you seek, look to single malts from Speyside. Cutty Sark has about the lightest peat signature of any blend and there is a lovely Speyside malt at the heart of Cutty; The Glenrothes.

Although The Glenrothes Distillery is 134 years old, the Glenrothes brand is only about 20. That’s when London’s Berry Bros. & Rudd, Britain's oldest wine and spirits merchant, first issued a Glenrothes single malt. It was also the first vintage-dated single malt.

The Glenrothes is a huge distillery, one of five in the small town of Rothes. Only about two-percent of its output is released as singles, the rest goes into blends.

“Glen,” by the way, is the Scottish word for river, and when a whiskey’s name starts with Glen, the second part is the name of the river on which the distillery is located. In this case, Rothes is both a tributary of the Spey and the town name.

Rothes is also home to Forsyths, a major still manufacturer. Forsyths made the three pot stills at the Woodford Reserve Distillery in Kentucky.

These notes are based on the just-released 1995 vintage. It is 16-years-old and 43 percent ABV.

In the absence of peat, most of the whisky’s flavor comes from the barrel. About a third of this batch comes from sherry casks, both American and Spanish oak. These casks are new wood that has just been briefly seasoned with Oloroso sherry.

The rest is from former bourbon barrels that have been through at least one full aging cycle with malt whiskey.

Because they're using new wood there’s a lot of vanilla and caramel, a little bit of chocolate, butterscotch, white pepper, and cedar, with a hint of peanuts on the finish. The taste is mild overall and very easy to like. There is a resemblance to Weller 12, a wheated bourbon, believe it or not.

If you’re mostly a bourbon drinker and haven’t had much luck with scotch, this is a premium single malt you just might enjoy.

One of the advantages bourbon usually has over scotch is price. Weller 12 will set you back about $30. The Glenrothes 1995 Vintage is more than twice that much, but you can find other Glenrothes for as little as $45.

In the USA, The Glenrothes is marketed by Campari America, the new name for Skyy Spirits, which in addition to Skyy Vodka also gives us Wild Turkey bourbon and rye.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Who Are You?

If you're a Syrian dissident in Homs writing a blog about the uprising there, I can see why you might want to be anonymous. But if you're a guy in Indiana writing about what whiskeys you like, why all the secrecy?

When I check out a new whiskey blog, I invariably want to know something about the person or persons writing it. I look for an 'about' tab, or something similar. Sometimes they are obvious, sometimes the information is there but you have to dig for it. Often there is nothing, no biography, no statement of purpose beyond "I started this blog to write about things I like to write about."

So many people are writing whiskey blogs these days, I need some criteria for deciding which ones to follow. Sure, one can judge the writing quality, and I will discard something if it's poorly written. (Life's too short.) But in a crowded field, shouldn't you do something to try to stand out? What's your point of view? Your raison d'ĂȘtre?

If you've decided to write anonymously, tell me why.

Does all this casual anonymity bother anyone else? Assuming you like this blog, would you like it just as well if you had no idea who writes it? Would you like it better? Especially if the blogger offers opinions, and reviews are the mainstay of most other whiskey blogs, I want to know the writer's qualifications. Is that weird? Or are qualifications also passe?

From the earliest days of the internet, people have used handles. When bandwidth was dear, a unique handle was better than a full name as a way to distinguish people with similar names from each other. It wasn't necessarily about anonymity. In many cases, the community was small and the participants all knew each other through other channels.

On bulletin boards, you see the same names often enough that you get to know them as individuals even if you don't know anything tangible about them. You learn who usually has something worthwhile to say and who doesn't. You can do the same thing with blogs, I suppose.

Writing anonymously is almost unheard of in old media, except in the case of news reporting. The Economist, which I love, is rare in that no writer is ever credited. Even commentators use aliases, house names whose bearers can change without notice. You're supposed to accept the credibility of the institution itself. Okay, fine, but The Economist is 169 years old. "Sippy Likes Whiskey" is not.

Isn't there something to be said for signing your name to your ideas? Claiming them? Being willing to defend them? Don't you tend to take yourself more seriously when you have some exposure? Does anonymity make people more likely to behave irresponsibly?

Anonymity on the web seems so much the rule that people don't even think about it. I wish they would. That's all I'm saying.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Beam Completes Cooley Acquisition.

Beam Inc. announced yesterday that it has completed the acquisition of Cooley Distillery, the award-winning Irish whiskey producer.

The acquisition includes the Kilbeggan, Connemara, Tyrconnell and Greenore brands, as well as aging inventory and Cooley’s malt and grain distilleries in Dundalk and Kilbeggan, Ireland. Cooley is one of only three sources for Irish whiskey and was the category’s only remaining independent producer.

"As one of the world’s fastest-growing spirits companies, Beam is excited to enter one of the world’s fastest-growing spirits categories," said Matt Shattock, president and chief executive officer of Beam. "We look forward to combining our whiskey expertise, brand-building firepower and strong routes to market with the experience, talent and passion of the Teeling family and the Cooley team to help take these award-winning brands to the next level."

There was an excellent article by Dominic Roskrow in the Fall, 2011 issue of Whisky Advocate about everything Cooley has accomplished in its short history.

While one may understandably wish they were still the brash, independent upstart, shaking the staid foundations of the Irish whiskey industry, this sale is a sign of success, not failure. Perhaps their trajectory will inspire another, new upstart to follow Cooley's path.

As noted above, Ireland has but three whiskey producers, now owned by Beam, Diageo and Pernod. Kilbeggan is the company's main blend and Tyrconnell is its main single malt. Both were introduced to the United States market by Heaven Hill, which had the exclusive U.S. distribution contract in the early years. Heaven Hill deserves credit for launching the brands and building them to the point where Cooley became the prize it now is for Beam.

In addition to its own brands, Cooley has been the source for several brands owned and marketed by non-distiller producers, most prominently the Michael Collins line (a blend and a single) owned by the Sidney Frank Company.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

"Small Barrels" Now On Kindle.

Do you recall this post from last year, about the small barrels experiment at Buffalo Trace (BT)? It created quite a sensation. Well, it's now a book. A very small book (like the barrels) but also a very inexpensive one, just 99 cents on Kindle.

I have been looking at Kindle as a way to make some of the material I write for my newsletter, The Bourbon Country Reader, available to a wider audience. So this is, in part, an experiment.

By the way, you don't need a Kindle to read a Kindle book. You can download a free reader for PCs and other devices, or you can just read them using your web browser.

In addition to the small barrels article, the book includes a new piece about some of the reaction, plus a review of a couple of specific whiskeys aged in little barrels. There's also a piece originally posted here in December, 2010.

The recent post received a lot of comments, most of them from people who only (and in some cases, barely) read the post, not the actual article. You can find more people taking me to task over on the ADI Forums. Plenty of people are prepared to ream me for the headline alone. This way they can at least read the article first.

One familiar refrain is that of course whiskey aged in small barrels for five years is bad, you should never age whiskey in a small barrel for that long, yet I defy anyone to show me where anyone made such a statement before I started to publicize the BT experiment.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Your Vote, Your Bourbon.

It is an indication of how mainstream American whiskey has become in recent years that novelty products are now being made using whiskey as their platform.

This is a new/old trend, as there were many novelty bourbons 50 years ago, when the Republican Elephant in the picture above was made by Jim Beam for the 1960 presidential election. It had, of course, an equine counterpart. Beam continued the series through several more presidential election cycles, with new designs each time.

The pictured decanter held Beam straight bourbon at 43% ABV, aged 100 months (8.3 years).

The contemporary version is Heaven Hill's new Red State and Blue State bourbons, which should be in stores now. The whiskey is Heaven Hill straight bourbon (i.e., Evan Williams) at 40% ABV, with no age statement. The price should be about $15.

The idea, of course, is to express your political preference according to which one you buy. Another suggestion is that you buy both for a party and see which one wins among your guests. No one pretends it's anything other than a fun way to sell a little more bourbon.

If you go to either product's Facebook page and 'like' it, a donation will be made to the USO.

The irony of both bottles containing the exact same whiskey is probably unintended.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Children Welcome!

Most alcohol-related sites on the web have an age gate. It's all honor system, but you must at least claim you are of legal drinking age to get in.

There's a good reason for this. The purpose of those sites is to persuade visitors to buy a certain alcohol product. All alcohol producers pledge not to market their products to underage persons, and contrary to the calumnies of the Neo-Prohibitionists, the vast majority of alcohol producers honor that pledge in good faith. Hence the age gates.

Some booze bloggers also label their sites 'for adults only.' That's their prerogative, but The Chuck Cowdery Blog has a different attitude.

You may be too young to drink alcoholic beverages but you're never to young to learn.

What you read here will be factual, honest, and suitable for persons of all ages. Childhood is not a permanent condition and most of it is spent preparing for adulthood. If you are underage, it is for many reasons in your best interest to obey the law, but by all means drink deeply of the cup of knowledge, and do so early and often.

Young people should be encouraged to eschew alcohol until they reach legal drinking age, but you won't accomplish that by pretending alcohol doesn't exist. If all they get is the ham-handed and dishonest anti-alcohol messages contained in most youth alcohol awareness programs, that alone may drive them prematurely to imbibe.

So don't drink, kids. And say no to drugs. And you might want to watch your caffeine and sugar intake too. But by all means, read.

And if this post, and especially the picture, infuriates some Neo-Prohibitionists, that's a bonus.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

BT's Single Oak Project Suffers From 'Holy Grail' Tag.

On his Sour Mash Manifesto blog this past Wednesday, Jason Pyle worried that his whiskey geek card might be taken away because he can't get behind the Buffalo Trace (BT) Single Oak Bourbon Project.

Jason's whiskey cred is secure. He may be overly fond of white and under-aged craft whiskeys, but on the Single Oak thing he's not wrong.

Reading over the piece and its comments, it becomes clear that the problem isn't the Single Oak Project per se, it is the whole 'search for the Holy Grail' overlay, in which BT says Single Oak is part of its quest to make the perfect bourbon.

Holy Grail has become a double-edged sword for BT. The theme is a winner with the general press. It piques their interest and that allows BT to reach a wider audience. But it turns off the whiskey geek community because it glorifies something we reject. We're not in this to find one whiskey to drink for the rest of our lives. We want to have as many good but different whiskey experiences as possible. Sampling the Single Oak bourbons is a good and different whiskey experience, one Jason and many others will enjoy more if they just forget the 'Holy Grail' nonsense.

BT is okay with that. They have always said 'Holy Grail' is more about a commitment to continuous quality improvement than it is about actually making the ultimate bourbon. Taken as a metaphor, it's not nearly so irritating and distracting. It's also another way BT breaks with conventional whiskey wisdom, as most producers like to claim they achieved perfection a century ago and haven't changed a thing since.

Which is the higher pile of hubris is up to each of us to decide for ourselves, but there is genuine appeal in the idea that the best is yet to come.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Meet Your Chicago Distillers, February 8.

There are now three micro-distilleries in the Chicago area and you can sample their wares on Wednesday, February 8, from 7 PM to 10 PM, at Jerry's in Wicker Park (1938 W. Division).

Participating are Koval (Ravenswood), Few Spirits (Evanston), and North Shore Distillery (Lake Bluff).

Leanne Strickler, of North Shore, is the guest bartender.

Your $10 entry includes one specialty cocktail, plus samples from the distillers.

One of the most exciting things about the micro-distillery phenomenon is how these craft spirits-makers relate to their local communities. They develop very loyal and ardent fan bases and this is an easy way to get a taste of that, quite literally, especially if you live in or near Chicago's Wicker Park neighborhood.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

DISCUS Applauds Bloomberg's "Commitment to Hospitality Jobs."

Say what you will about lobbyists. When they lobby for a cause you support, you hope they will be good at their job. The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) is good at its job.

The first rule of issue advocacy is framing. Define the issue in the way most favorable to your position. That's why the headline on the press release is: "Distilled Spirits Council Applauds Mayor Bloomberg’s Commitment to New York City Hospitality Jobs."

That's not how the story started out.

Overnight, the New York Post broke a story under the headline, "Mayor's plan to limit booze sales." The lead went like this: "Party pooper! First, Mayor Bloomberg went after smoking in public places. Then trans-fats, salt and sugary drinks. Now Bloomberg — known for sipping fine wine and downing a cold beer from time to time — wants to crack down on alcohol sales to curb excessive drinking, according to a provocative planning document obtained by The Post."

The story was quickly picked up by bloggers, all too eager to condemn Bloomberg as First Nanny.

Small problem, though. It wasn't true.

The proposal to slash the number of establishments in the city that sell booze came from the city's health department, in a planning document that hadn't been fully vetted yet. Someone leaked it to The Post and they rushed it into print, assuming Bloomberg himself endorsed the plan.

He didn't.

Within hours of The Post's story, Bloomberg nixed the proposal (through spokesman Stu Loeser) and only then did DISCUS let its short press release fly.

"The Distilled Spirits Council applauds Mayor Bloomberg for nixing the New York City Health Department proposal to reduce alcohol outlets, and for understanding that population-based approaches to reduce alcohol abuse are ineffective. The Mayor clearly realizes that forcing thousands of restaurant workers and bartenders into the unemployment line is no way to improve community health.

"Repeated studies have shown that population-based approaches, such as advertising restrictions and a reduction in retail outlets, do little to reduce alcohol abuse and will only impact moderate drinkers and the employees of the hospitality industry."

That last sentence is worth committing to memory, for use the next time some politician or activist goes on a tear about restricting the number of retail licenses, or banning or restricting alcohol marketing. (Remember the Four Loko nonsense?) Those are phony solutions. They do nothing to discourage alcohol abuse and they hurt small businesses and the people they employ. They also inconvenience the vast majority of alcohol consumers who do so responsibly.

There is a constituency for that sort of thing. It is the anti-alcohol movement -- Neo-Prohibitionists, New Drys, whatever you want to call them. Their true goal is to give National Prohibition another go, but they know better than to admit that outright. Don't be fooled.

The Post, of course, in all its shameless majesty, is now crowing about how it broke the story. It neglects to mention that it grossly mis-reported the story. I'm sure no one is surprised by The Post's crappy journalism. Stay classy, NYP.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Next Time, Take Whiskey.

It is considered good form to take a host/hostess gift whenever you attend a party in a private home. Obviously, there are exceptions, but even when it's not really expected it is almost always appreciated.

A bottle of wine is the most common gift. Many people misunderstand this tradition and think the gift is necessarily supposed to be used at that evening's festivities. It can be but it doesn't have to be. It is a gift and as soon as you hand it to your host/hostess it is their property and theirs to use as they see fit.

Don't be offended if they put it away and don't open it. Don't assume that means they don't like it. It may mean they like it very much and don't want to share it. That's their business and you should be okay with whatever they do. That's the etiquette rule. You can look it up.

Obviously, if it's a BYOB party or you have previously agreed to provide wine for the event, that's a different story, but a pure host/hostess gift is just that, a gift.

And it doesn't have to be wine. I've used flowers successfully. Candy or some other treat can be good, though it shouldn't be something perishable that seems to demand immediate consumption. Again, it's a gift. Your interest in it expires the moment you hand it over.

If wine is good, why not whiskey? I just heard from a correspondent who bought a case of Rittenhouse Rye Bottled-In-Bond (BIB) to make that his standard host/hostess gift. Buying a case brings the per-bottle price down to about $20. Rit is a nice choice because it's very good whiskey at any price, and happens to be a good value. In some markets, it's even a few bucks less. That price is here in Chicago.

Rittenhouse Rye BIB has been in short supply lately, but the drought seems to be over. I was in the Lincoln Park Binny's tonight and they had a floor stacking of about 50 cases, priced at $22.99 for the individual 750 ml bottle (less for a 12-bottle case).

Rittenhouse Rye is a straight rye whiskey. The BIB is 50% ABV. There is a 40% ABV version too, but that one is not widely distributed. The BIB is very popular with bars and cocktail enthusiasts. It is a Heaven Hill brand but the current product was made for them by Brown-Forman, before Heaven Hill increased capacity at its Louisville distillery. Now their rye is all made there, but it will be a few more years before that whiskey reaches market.