A robust American whiskey industry, which we all want, means there will be products for certain audiences, whether they be people who like cherry-flavored whiskey, or people who can and care to spend $200 or more for a bottle of bourbon.
It's a big tent. Not everything is for everyone.
On Wednesday, Beam announced that it will release on Kentucky Derby Day (Saturday, May 4) a new edition of Jim Beam Distiller’s Masterpiece. It is an extra-aged Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, barrel-finished in Pedro Ximénez (PX) sherry casks, and bottled at 50% ABV (100° proof). It will be sold only at the distillery gift shop in Clermont, Kentucky. The price is $200 a bottle.
If $200 sounds like a lot for a bottle of whiskey, even if it does come in a wood box, consider that Heaven Hill has a bottle of 23-year-old Evan Williams it sells only at its gift shop for $300. It comes in a leather bag.
And Kentucky has some catching up to do. Last week The Macallan (that's a single malt scotch) announced their latest expression, a single cask whisky aged in American Oak for 22 years, sold in a package with a bombproof flask for $1,500. Yes, bombproof.
Has whiskey loss due to bombs become a problem?
For a measly $200, Beam won't even tell you how old the whiskey is ('extra-aged' tells you zip) nor how limited the edition is (The Macallan 22 is 550 bottles), although they imply that if you're not there bright and early on May 4, you won't get one.
This is actually the third release in the Distiller's Masterpiece series, but it's been more than 10 years since the first two came out.
If you are a person of more modest means, you might want to hold out for the Jim Beam Signature Craft Series 12-year-old bourbon, finished in the same new American Oak barrel it was born in, which should be coming out soon for about $40 a bottle. And that cherry-flavored stuff costs about $20. Something for everyone.
If you're interested in the new Distiller's Masterpiece, go to the American Stillhouse website for more information. The gift shop opens at 9:00 AM on Saturdays, which gives you plenty of time to buy your bottle and get to Churchill Downs in time for the Kentucky Derby.