Friday, June 13, 2014

If They Didn't Make Products Like These There Wouldn't Be a Whiskey Shortage

Kidding, of course. The whole 'Whiskey Shortage' thing is way overblown and consumer product companies are in the business of making and selling products consumers want. That what they want these days is bourbon whiskey and products made with bourbon whiskey is a good thing for bourbon lovers, even those who wouldn't touch this with a ten foot straw. Plus this doesn't, at 12.5% ABV, contain very much bourbon anyway.

In a way, this is how it used to be. People made lots of different concoctions for parties and the alcohol those drinks contained was usually bourbon, simply because bourbon was what most people drank and what they had in the house. If somebody secretly spiked the punch, they spiked it with bourbon. I'm talking about 50 - 60 years ago, before America discovered vodka and rum, not to mention tequila.

Lots of old party punch recipes called for brandy, for which bourbon is easily substituted. After vodka and white rum became common, it simply was easier to suggest them for punch-type recipes because they are fairly neutral as far as flavor contributed by the alcohol. Drinks made with vodka or white rum taste like the other ingredients. The alcohol is just there for the alcohol, not for flavor.

But use bourbon or rye instead and you have something different. In some recipes it might just be wrong, but in most cases it adds a depth and richness most people enjoy. That's why products like this aren't just a gimmick. The whiskey's contribution to the taste makes a lot of sense.

Evan Williams Kentucky Slush and other products like it are a type of pre-mixed cocktail, similar to the canned and bottled highballs so popular in Japan right now, or the bourbon-and-dry enjoyed in Australia ('dry' = ginger ale). As you can see from the label, the official classification is "bourbon whiskey with natural flavors and caramel color." Specifically, it is Evan Williams Bourbon combined with "the natural taste of Lemonade, Orange Juice, and Sweet Tea for a slushy, cool-down cocktail that is a breeze to make."

How easy? Either freeze it in cups for about four hours, or freeze the whole bottle for about eight hours. Because the alcohol won't freeze, it will never freeze solid. Instead it makes a slushy! The bottle is plastic so after it is as frozen as it will get, you just pull out the pourer and squeeze the sweet slush into glasses.

It will only be sold in June, July, and August, and this year only in Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.

Next year, the world.


Unknown said...

I like tobthink that, if people didnt believe everything they read and are told, there would be no whiskey shortage.

EllenJ said...

"...and the alcohol those drinks contained was usually bourbon, simply because bourbon was what most people drank and what they had in the house. If somebody secretly spiked the punch, they spiked it with bourbon. I'm talking about 50 - 60 years ago, before America discovered vodka and rum, not to mention tequila."

Well, with apologies to Jim Rutledge, who had nothing to do with the product, the whiskey "spike" in those punches was most likely Four Roses -- as that brand was known at the time. Of course, where I came from (Pennsylvania, before Ohio), it was most likely Windsor or some other cheap Canadian whisky, since the idea was to put alcohol into a drink people could pretend was "innocent" as inexpensively (and undetectably) as possible.

I, like you, can appreciate what Heaven Hill is doing. I'm not the least bit "offended" by the use of the Evan Williams name for what is essentially a "me-too" product designed to be a step up from Mike's Hard Whatever. Heck, I think it's a great idea and I hope to see it flowing right past the Brown Forman offerings at tailgate parties this summer. In a response to another of your blog articles, I noted Diageo's marketing; remember Georgel Dickel's (pre-Diageo) Water Conservation Society promotion, with recipes for making summer punches using Dickel? Too bad they didn't think of bottling them up already pre-mixed. I wouldn't be surprised to see Diageo doing something like Max Shapira, if not this summer then next.

Historically (and I'm surprised you didn't include this, since I know you have a lot of info about them) an outfit called Heublein did this sort of thing a lot during the '60s and '70s. There are still lower-ABV versions of some of those cocktail-in-a-bottles around. In fact, take this as a suggestion: you could do a pretty comprehensive and interesting series of features on just that subject. Craft/Artisan distiller Paul Tomaszewski has been doing that all along at M.B. Roland, as have others such as Masters of Mixes. Some, maybe most, of these are really not a consideration for whiskey enthusiasts, but others (Roland, as one example) definitely are. Again, this is part my current campaign to separate the idea of quality alcohol beverage production from that of straight whiskey distillation. It's just an idea; I'd give it to SKU, but you came up with the inspiration first.

Anonymous said...

"bourbon-and-dry enjoyed in Australia ('dry' = ginger ale"
Canadian and dry at my house(USA)
Does JD still make Tennessee Tea?

Harry said...

Hhhm. So, bourbon/whisky houses are putting flavorings in their basic products instead of letting us put flavorings in their products (i.e., cocktails, smashes, punches, shrubs, etc.). Soft drink companies did this. Vodka makers, too. I also do it when I buy a clunker bottle of bourbon - relegate it to mixing with Coke/ginger ale/Sprite/BBQ sauce/whatever. I wonder if the houses are doing what I do - take the product they don't like neat and would have trouble selling and add it to flavors they do like and can sell readily. I hope so because it means they can sell more whisky including the whisky I like without raising prices or reducing my supply.

tmckenzie said...

Well, its selling in VA. I have been making at mt vernon all week, and I must as my duty check in on my nearest store. The clerk says it is moving quite well. Of course I walked past to get something more suitable. Hey, more power to them.