Sunday, September 30, 2012

In Praise Of Spoonbread

Kentucky is more than just bourbon and although it shares its whiskeys with the world, some treats it keeps to itself; like Kentucky country ham, the hot brown, benedictine, and spoonbread.

A variation on cornbread, spoonbread lies somewhere between quick bread and pudding. It bears slight resemblance to Britain’s famous Yorkshire pudding.

The Boone Tavern, in Berea, Kentucky, has been famous for its spoonbread for more than 60 years. They cook it in cast iron skillets and serve it directly from the skillet at table side. Saveur Magazine describes it as “a creamy-centered corn bread pudding that rises like a soufflé.” Their recipe is rich with eggs, milk and butter. Authentically Southern it contains no wheat flour, just finely ground white cornmeal.

One would be right to be skeptical of a just-add-water spoonbread mix, such as the one sold by Weisenberger Mill, Kentucky’s oldest commercial mill, located in Midway. Although no threat to the Boone Tavern’s kitchen, it’s a tasty break from regular cornbread, simple and quick to make, and available on-line.

Midway, by the way, is a good place to include on your Kentucky itinerary. It’s midway between Frankfort and Lexington, surrounded by horse farms, and the nicely kept downtown straddles a railroad track. Because Kentuckians really don’t care for cities, a town like Midway gives you a better feel for modern Kentucky than do any of its larger towns. It is a comfortable community with several nice bars and restaurants.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Drinking In Kentucky Can Be Tricky

Unlike Jack Daniel's, no major Kentucky distillery is located in a dry county, but Kentucky has a similarly ambivalent attitude toward the product that puts billions of dollars into its economy, but which many Kentuckians believe to be immoral.

Consequently, only 32 of Kentucky's 120 counties are wet. On the other hand, only 39 are bone dry. The rest, 49 counties, are somewhere in between. They permit some limited sort of alcohol sales but are less than fully wet. Kentucky's 'local option' laws give them a lot of choices.
 
We break it all down for you, and tell you how to find a drink in Mercer County, in the new issue of The Bourbon Country Reader, which dropped last week. Hint: although the Shakers didn't drink, Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill has a liquor license under a qualified historic site exception.

If you're into bourbon, you really should subscribe to The Bourbon Country Reader. It is produced and delivered the old-fashioned way; ink on paper, in an envelope, delivered personally to your home or office by a uniformed representative of the United States government. It contains 100 percent original content that you won't find anyplace else.

Subscriptions to The Bourbon Country Reader are $20/year for U.S. addresses, $24.50 for Canada, and $28.50 for everybody else. It is published six times a year. Well, maybe not (we missed April and August), but your subscription always includes six issues.

Click here to subscribe with PayPal or any major credit card. Click here for more information. Click here for a free sample issue (in PDF format). Click here to open or download the free PDF document, "The Bourbon Country Reader Issue Contents in Chronological Order." (It's like an index.)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Woodford Inn Named First Official Bed And Breakfast Sponsor Of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Tour

One thing that's changed since Adam Johnson joined the Kentucky Distillers' Association staff, with responsibility for managing the Kentucky Bourbon Trail program, has been the sale of sponsorships.

The 10-bedroom Woodford Inn in Versailles is the latest sponsor. Sponsorships are available to select transportation companies, restaurants and bars, hotels and inns, tourism attractions, and convention and visitors’ bureaus. All must have a link to the Bourbon industry or the responsible consumption of spirits.

KDA President Eric Gregory thanked The Woodford Inn for its support and said the sponsorship program is a result of the skyrocketing global popularity of Kentucky Bourbon and the iconic tour.

"Kentucky is the only place in the world where visitors can enjoy the one, true authentic Bourbon experience," he said. "We have two centuries of rich tradition, craftsmanship, and proud heritage that can’t be duplicated anywhere else."

Kentucky Bourbon Trail distilleries have logged more than 2 million visits in the last five years, with 450,000 in 2011 alone. The visitors traveled from all 50 states and more than 50 countries.

“The Woodford Inn is a great stopover with Bourbon-themed rooms and genuine Kentucky cuisine at Addie’s Restaurant and Bar,” said Johnson. “We’re excited to welcome them as a sponsor of our world-class, unique and signature attraction.”

The historic inn is nestled among the lush horse farms of Woodford County and is minutes from several distilleries, including Woodford Reserve, Wild Turkey, Town Branch, and Four Roses. Special Kentucky Bourbon Trail getaway packages are available. They include official t-shirts, rocks glasses, samples from each distillery and plenty of information to help guide your trip, said Meredith Downey, The Woodford Inn’s marketing manager.

“We have dozens of premium Bourbon brands available at our full-service restaurant and bar, and our rooms are equipped with Tempur-Pedic beds and Jacuzzi tubs,” Downey said. “You can’t ask for a better place to eat, sleep and drink on your Bluegrass trip.”

The history of the inn is as deep as the area surrounding it. The property dates back to 1876 and the current building was constructed by the Cleveland Orphanage Institution in 1926. It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Cleveland House. The family-run inn is located at 140 Park Street in downtown Versailles.

For reservations or more information about groups, reunions or wedding accommodations, call toll-free (888) 806-2788 or e-mail innkeeper@thewoodfordinn.com.

Monday, September 24, 2012

After Almost 80 Years, The Pogues Are Distilling Again.

I am going, I am going
Any which way the wind may be blowing
I am going, I am going
Where streams of whiskey are flowing

"Streams of Whiskey," The Pogues (1984)

Sorry, wrong Pogues.

The whiskey-making Pogues are a family from Mason County, Kentucky, whose whiskey roots go back to the establishment of the Commonwealth. They were major producers until Prohibition. Afterwards, the distillery and name came back, but without the family.

Decades passed until in 2004, the family reentered the whiskey business with Old Pogue Master's Select Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. The Pogues had become whiskey sellers again but not quite whiskey makers, as their whiskey was acquired from a distiller and marketed by the family. No matter. It was very good whiskey and prospered.

Earlier this year, the Pogues became distillers again by opening a micro-distillery at the old family home in Maysville. Earlier this month, they joined the Kentucky Distillers' Association.

There is more to tell about how the Pogues reclaimed they whiskey heritage and you can read all about it in the new issue of The Bourbon Country Reader, which dropped last week. You really should subscribe. The September, 2012 issue of The Bourbon Country Reader is Volume 14, Number 5. In it, we also explain how complicated it can be to buy a drink or bottle of bourbon in the state where it's made, and we welcome I. W. Bernheim to the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame.

The Bourbon Country Reader is produced and delivered the old-fashioned way; ink on paper, in an envelope, delivered personally to your home or office by a uniformed representative of the United States government. Subscriptions to The Bourbon Country Reader are $20/year for U.S. addresses, $24.50 for Canada, and $28.50 for everybody else. It is published six times a year. Well, maybe not (we missed April and August), but your subscription always includes six issues.

Click here to subscribe with PayPal or any major credit card. Click here for more information. Click here for a free sample issue (in PDF format). Click here to open or download the free PDF document, "The Bourbon Country Reader Issue Contents in Chronological Order." (It's like an index.)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

This Is Not A Whiskey Warehouse.

You would think the folks at the Courier-Journal, Louisville's daily newspaper, would know something about bourbon making. Apparently not, because they keep running this picture with the caption, "Whiskey warehouse owned by Diageo Americas Supply, Inc. Air district went after a whiskey maker for causing a fungus to grow on Louisville homes. Sept. 11th, 2012/ Kylene White/ The Courier-Journal."

Sorry, Kylene, but that is not a whiskey warehouse.


This is what the whiskey warehouses at Diageo Americas Supply Inc. (aka, the historic Stitzel-Weller Distillery) actually look like. Note the similarity.

There isn't any.

I've told them about this, but the first picture ran again yesterday.

If this sort of thing makes you wonder about how reliable other things the paper prints are, well, there you have it.

The Courier-Journal is playing the whiskey fungus story as poor little home owners against uncaring corporate titans, and bashing the mayor for being pro-bourbon, which should be a pretty safe policy in Louisville, Kentucky. In big ways and small, the CJ is also showing its ignorance about a signature Kentucky industry and one of the few bright spots in Kentucky's current economy.

The whiskey fungus has been hanging around those warehouses for close to 80 years. It has been on and around other whiskey warehouses in Kentucky for about 150 years. That doesn't mean there is nothing to talk about. Both sides deserve the right to make their respective cases in the appropriate forum.

Which is not the Courier-Journal.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Sazerac Buys 300 Thousand Square Foot Warehouse In Bardstown.

In 2009, Sazerac Company bought Bardstown's Barton 1792 Distillery. Sazerac, which also owns Buffalo Trace in Frankfort, didn't need the additional distilling capacity, and immediately cut Barton's distilling schedule. This led many fans of the distillery's products to worry that Sazerac might not be fully committed to its Bardstown operation.

This may assuage some of those fears.

In a joint statement with the Nelson County Economic Development Agency, Sazerac has announced its purchase of the Warehouse Support Center Building on Withrow Court in the Bardstown Industrial Park. The 300,000 square foot facility, with a capacity of approximately one million cases of spirits, will become the company’s new distribution center for Bardstown. The company is also purchasing eight adjacent acres for trailer staging.

To the Withrow Court facility they are adding cold storage, offices, and IT capabilities. The current finished goods warehouse on the distillery grounds will become part of the expanded bottling operation there. The Barton 1792 Distillery recently increased its processing capacity with additional bottling tanks and bulk storage. It opened a visitors center last year and now offers daily tours.

The Barton 1792 Distillery makes 1792 Ridgement Reserve Bourbon, Very Old Barton Bourbon, and many other whiskey and non-whiskey products.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Kentucky Bourbon Festival 2012, Let The Bitching Commence.

The 2012 edition of the Kentucky Bourbon Festival (KBF) in Bardstown, Kentucky, concluded yesterday. Every year I go, have a great time, and bitch about it afterwards.

Let the bitching commence.

First, I should explain that I go to the KBF primarily to see friends. I go to very few official events, nothing you need a ticket for, and definitely nothing you need to rent shoes for. (Saturday night's 'gala' is fancy dress.)

My biggest complaint this year is that Festival officials were bragging about how all of the ticketed events sold out. Many sold out weeks in advance. They call that success. I call it failure. It is undeniable proof that many people who would have attended those events were disappointed and discouraged, perhaps to the point that they just stayed home. It's stark proof that the KBF is realizing nothing close to its true potential.

The folks in Bardstown who call the shots won't let the festival grow, nor will they let it go. The big distilleries and other industry suppliers, who pay for the party, are frustrated by all the official timidity. Bourbon is booming. The iron is hot but the KBF isn't striking.

In that, the group most neglected by KBF organizers is the group they should care about most, out-of-town bourbon enthusiasts. Many complain that it seems like an insiders' party, and they are correct.

Second, and this complaint is also of long standing, there isn't enough bourbon content in the festival as a whole, especially the non-ticketed events. The only place on festival grounds where you can even drink bourbon is an abomination known as the Spirit Garden. It's hard to find and get to, you need to buy a pin just to get in, and there is nothing else to do there except drink. It's actually one of the town's baseball diamonds, fenced in like a prisoner-of-war camp. A tiny bit of shade is provided by a handful of sad umbrellas. It's depressing.

This year, Angel's Envy rented the top floor of Spalding Hall, a very nice and comfortable room with a bar, and turned it into a pop-up lounge. A convenient and comfortable place to drink bourbon at the Kentucky Bourbon Festival? What a concept? And it only took 21 years for someone to come up with it.

The KBF also does almost nothing with bourbon's rich history and heritage, except what the Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History does all year. The distillery-sponsored booths are nothing but t-shirt shops. A local entrepreneur does well with a haunted places tour, but nobody does a Bardstown Bourbon History Tour. Dixie Hibbs reportedly did a history presentation at Wickland, but few people knew about it and you needed a car to get there.

For an event organized around whiskey, you need a car to get to a lot of the venues. Friday morning's breakfast at Four Roses was 43 miles from Bardstown. Four Roses does a great job with it, and it includes a distillery tour, but objectively that makes no sense. It's also not clear in the festival materials that attending involves about two hours of driving.

Because the official festival is so lacking, a variety of unofficial events have developed. Regular attendees typically know about and take advantage of some of them but no one knows about or has access to all of them. There is no effort made to coordinate the official and unofficial events, making it virtually impossible for a first-timer to effectively plan a great Bourbon Festival Experience.

While Bardstown is not blessed with a bunch of great bars, the ones that are there should have a bigger role. Every single one of them should be hosting something great every day, but they aren't.

Simply put, nobody cares about these glaring flaws because the Kentucky Bourbon Festival is not about the celebration of all things bourbon. It is just a big party Bardstown throws for itself with other people's money.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Chuck Cowdery Book Signing, Tomorrow, Kentucky Bourbon Festival, 3 PM - 4 PM

If you are in or near Bardstown, KY, come to the Kentucky Bourbon Festival tomorrow and say hello. I'll be at the Fine Bar Art booth between 3 PM and 4 PM. I'll be signing copies of Bourbon, Straight and The Best Bourbon You'll Never Taste.

I'm just to the right of the BourbonCountry.com booth, near Maker's Mark.

Also on hand will be Henry Preiss. His former company, Preiss Imports, was the final producer to handle A. H. Hirsch.

If you're in the area but unsure about coming to the festival on the spur of the moment, don't worry. It's not Woodstock. Come for the day Saturday. The barrel rolling, which starts about 10 AM, is lot of fun and it's free.

Festival booths are on the lawn in front of Spalding Hall. The Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History is on the first floor of Spalding Hall. It's open until 6 PM on Saturday, and 4 PM on Sunday.

Spalding Hall is on Fifth Street just north of Stephen Foster Ave. Local youth groups have the parking concession at various lots surrounding the Spalding Hall grounds. The lawn activities run tomight until 10 PM, Saturday from 10 AM to 10 PM, and Sunday from 10 AM to 5 PM.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Backyard Distillery. It Can Be Done.

You've thought about it, especially as small distilleries have opened all around you. What if I could start a distillery part time, without quitting my job? What if instead of buying or leasing a site I could just build it in my back yard?

This is a legal distillery we're talking about, fully licensed, making a distilled spirits product that will be bottled and sold. You know, vodka, gin, rum.

Whiskey.

Is that possible or crazy?

If you've had these thoughts, 'crazy' is probably where you netted out. If you live in a typical suburb, on a quarter-acre lot or smaller, you're probably right. But what if you are out in the country, on a couple of acres, adjacent to undeveloped property, in a zoning-free zone, but still on the school bus route? Is it still crazy or can it be done?

Ask Tom and Lianne Herbruck. You've read here before about their Tom's Foolery Distillery near Cleveland. The first time was two years ago. This one talks about their acquisition of the equipment from the Michter's barrel-a-day distillery, described in the recent book, The Best Bourbon You'll Never Taste

The Herbrucks have checked with all of the relevant local officials, who have no problem with any of it. The neighbors? They're pretty far away. The nearest are running a Llama rescue, or something like that, so they have no complaints.

Tom and Lianne are a young couple with several young children. Tom has not quit his day job in the employee benefits industry. They now have one employee. The distillery is a family operation, with everybody -- including the extended family and many friends -- pitching in as needed.

In the picture above, the Herbrucks are receiving a new mash cooker. The1976 Michter's mash cooker is 250 gallons, half the size of the fermenters, so it took two time-consuming cooks to fill each fermenter. The distillery building, which holds the boiler, a small chiller, two stills, a cooker, and two 500 gallon fermenters, with grain and other storage in the loft, is pretty stuffed. They now have a separate barrel barn, but that's not in the family's back yard like the distillery.

It's in the front yard.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Picnic At Farnsworth House, Saturday, October 6.

Although I am no longer a docent there, I still consider Farnsworth House to be one of the great jewels of the Chicago area, and not to be missed, especially if you have a passion for art, architecture, or modern design.

Just look at the picture above. Click on it to enlarge it. Takes your breath away, doesn't it?

Better known to some as 'The Glass House,' Farnsworth House is Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's 1951 modernist masterpiece, one of the most significant buildings of the 20th century. It is located on the Fox River just outside of Plano, Illinois.

Many people, even many who live here in the Chicago area, want to see the house but have never made the trip. Unless you happen to live in that part of the metropolitan area, it takes a bit of planning and is not something you can do casually. One reason I stopped giving tours there was the cost and duration of the drive out and back from the city.

If you've always wanted to go but have never made the time, here is a great opportunity to see and tour the house, hear some informative speakers, enjoy a nice lunch, and help support the house's preservation. You can even take a relaxing bus ride out and back.

Click here for more information or click here for tickets. Click here for the Farnsworth House website (Farnsworthhouse.org). The October 6 event is identified on the website as either the 'Al Fresco Event' or 'DOCOMOMO Tour Day.' DOCOMOMO is an international organization that supports the documentation (DO) and conservation (CO) of modernist (MO) buildings, sites, and neighborhoods.

As the photograph above suggests, there is every reason to expect beautiful fall foliage at the site and on the way. If you've always wanted to tour Farnsworth House, make this your time.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Old Pogue Joins Kentucky Distillers' Association.

Old Pogue Distillery announced this week that it has joined the historic ranks of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association (KDA), the Commonwealth’s foremost voice on spirits issues for more than 130 years.

“Old Pogue has a Bourbon history dating back as far as the association itself, and we proudly welcome them to the KDA,” said Jeff Conder, Chairman of the KDA Board of Directors and Vice President, Global Supply Chain, for Beam, Inc. “We couldn’t be more pleased with the work that our craft partners have done in the past year to help move the KDA forward and promote and protect our signature Bourbon and distilled spirits industry. We truly are stronger when we all work together.”

The H. E. Pogue Distillery was founded in 1876 in Mason County, which played a vital role in Kentucky Bourbon's early history. The town of Maysville, originally known as Limestone Landing, was the first important Ohio River port in Kentucky, back when the territory was part of Bourbon County, Virginia. While only the foundation of the original H. E. Pogue Distillery still stands, the new small batch craft distillery is on the same plot of land and is part of the historic Ryan-Pogue family home on West Second Street. Production there began in March, using Pogue family recipes dating to the late 1800s. Products include Old Pogue Master’s Select Bourbon and Limestone Landing Rye Whisky.

“As a Kentucky craft distiller, and as a family, we could not be more honored than to be invited to join an organization as esteemed as the KDA,” noted Peter H. Pogue, President of The Old Pogue Distillery. “Our forefathers were instrumental in the early days of the KDA, and to be affiliated with the KDA once again is very humbling for us.” Pogue becomes KDA’s 13th member and the seventh Kentucky craft distillery to join.

The KDA is a non-profit trade association founded in 1880.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Mr. Taxi Hailed As First Official Sponsor Of The Kentucky Bourbon Trail Tour.

Mr. Taxi, an innovative taxi and transportation company serving Lexington and Bardstown, is the first-ever official sponsor of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail tour of distilleries.

Adam Johnson, Director of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail adventure, said it is no coincidence that a transportation company was selected as the initial sponsor. “Responsibility is the most important goal of our distillers,” Johnson said. “We receive dozens of requests every day from out-of-state visitors looking for a relaxed and responsible way to visit our legendary distilleries,” he said. “Mr. Taxi fills this need in a professional, high-quality and educational manner.”

This is the first time the Kentucky Bourbon Trail experience, created by the Kentucky Distillers’ Association in 1999, has authorized an official sponsorship.

“To be the first official sponsor of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail program, one of the top tourism attractions in the country, is a true honor and compliment,” said Ray Sjogren, CEO of Mr. Taxi.

Sponsorships are available for transportation companies, restaurants and bars, hotels and inns, tourism attractions and convention and visitors’ bureaus. Prospective sponsors must have a link to the Bourbon industry or the responsible consumption of spirits.

Using state-of-the-art booking, applications and tracking technology, Mr. Taxi offers flexible and affordable Bourbon packages to all seven distilleries that participate in the official Kentucky Bourbon Trail. Mr. Taxi guests are treated to gourmet lunches with Bourbon and Kentucky inspired themes. Drivers are educated on the history of the Bourbon industry and the various distilleries. Mr. Taxi drivers all are Certified Tourism Ambassadors through the Lexington Convention and Visitors Bureau, a specialized hospitality program that offers in-depth training in local attractions, history, events and more.

KDA President Eric Gregory applauded Mr. Taxi’s support and said the sponsorship program is a result of the skyrocketing global popularity of Kentucky Bourbon and the historic tour. “Kentucky is the only place in the world where visitors can enjoy the one, true authentic Bourbon experience,” he said. “We have two centuries of rich tradition and proud heritage that can’t be duplicated anywhere else.”

Kentucky Bourbon Trail distilleries have logged more than 2 million visits in the last five years, with 450,000 in 2011 alone.

“September is Bourbon Heritage Month and we welcome all visitors who are coming here to celebrate America’s only native spirit,” Johnson said. “And if you want someone else to do the driving, we encourage you to call Mr. Taxi.”

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Chuck Cowdery Bourbon Festival Book Signing, Saturday, 9/15, 3 to 4 PM, Spalding Hall Lawn.

If you are attending the Kentucky Bourbon Festival next week, stop by and say hello on Saturday, 9/15, between 3 PM and 4 PM. I'll be signing books at the Fine Bar Art booth, on the lawn in front of Spalding Hall. We'll have copies of Bourbon, Straight and The Best Bourbon You'll Never Taste to sell and sign.

If you're going to the Master Distillers Auction, that is supposed to end at 4 PM, the same time the signing is supposed to end, but I'm sure Lisa won't mind if I hang around a little longer. The auction is in Spalding Hall, the signing is right out front.

Also on hand at the Fine Bar Art booth will be Henry Preiss. His former company, Preiss Imports, bought A. H. Hirsch from the Hue family, then managed the brand until they finally sold it all a few years back. He will sign your books too. This could be a one-of-a-kind opportunity to get both of our autographs at the same time, since we aren't planning to do this again.

Kentucky Bourbon Festival activities occur throughout the Bardstown area starting Tuesday, but swing into a different gear at 4 PM on Friday afternoon when the Spalding Hall lawn opens. The distilleries all have booths on the lawn in front of Spalding Hall and that's where the Fine Bar Art booth will be too. There's a lot going on, including booths selling Kentucky arts and crafts, a classic car show, live music, a midway with rides for the kids, and tons of carny food.

The Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History is on the first floor of Spalding Hall. It will be open until 6 PM on Friday and Saturday, and 4 PM on Sunday.

Spalding Hall is on Fifth Street just north of Stephen Foster Ave. Local youth groups have the parking concession at various lots surrounding the Spalding Hall grounds. The lawn activities run Friday from 4 PM to 10 PM, Saturday from 10 AM to 10 PM, and Sunday from 10 AM to 5 PM.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Print Edition Of The Best Bourbon You'll Never Taste Is Now Available.

The Best Bourbon You'll Never Taste. The True Story of A. H. Hirsch Reserve Straight Bourbon Whiskey, Distilled in the Spring of 1974, by Charles K. Cowdery, is now available in a print edition.

This is the story of the now legendary A. H. Hirsch Reserve bourbon that recently sold at auction for $500 to $800 a bottle. As good as this whiskey is, its story is even better, and it has never been fully told until now.

The original, ebook edition, published in April, is still available in both the Kindle and Nook formats. Suggested retail price is $7.99.

The print edition is a trade paperback, 108 pages, $22.95 plus $3 shipping, $25.95 total, and is available now directly from the publisher.  Click here to order the print edition using PayPal or any major credit card.

Although the print edition is not yet available on Amazon.com, it will be shortly. When it is, it will be announced here.

Click here for more information about the book. Email for information about quantity discounts.

Whiskeys Top Shanken's 'Hot Prospects.'

For the first time ever, the whiskey category has the highest number of brands in Impact’s spirits 'Hot Prospect' rankings. Seven whiskey brands earned Hot Prospect honors for 2011, narrowly edging out vodka, which had six.

The winning whiskies are Woodford Reserve Bourbon from Brown-Forman, Pendleton Canadian whisky from Hood River Distillers, Bulleit Bourbon from Diageo North America, Glenmorangie single malt Scotch from Moët Hennessy USA, The Balvenie single malt Scotch from William Grant & Sons USA, Devil’s Cut Bourbon from Beam Inc. and Seagram’s 7 Dark Honey from Diageo North America.

The Hot Prospects designation is for brands that posted at least 15 percent depletions growth in 2011, while also showing consistent growth in 2009 and 2010. Brand volume must be at least 50,000 cases but not more than 200,000 cases. New products can also qualify as Hot Prospects if they pass the 50,000-case mark in their first year.

Also on the list, as a liqueur, is Evan Williams Honey Reserve from Heaven Hill. It is through only the narrowest of technical distinctions that Evan Williams Honey is considered a liqueur while Seagram's 7 Dark Honey is considered whiskey. Both can be found in the American whiskey section of most liquor stores.

That the list includes more bourbons than single malt scotches is notable. That it includes flavored whiskeys at all raises worries about category confusion, but also shows that these products have developed a strong following in a short time. Seagram's 7 Crown, the #1 American Blended Whiskey, has been a moribund brand in a moribund segment, making the rise of Dark Honey a surprise.