Wednesday, January 14, 2015
What the New Year Brings
I've been taking a little break. Here are some odds and ends by way of gradually working my way back into things in 2015.
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And now, some news.
Jim Beam Rye is the best-selling straight rye whiskey in the U.S. and Beam Suntory has just announced that it is repositioning Jim Beam Rye a little bit. It will now be called Jim Beam 'Pre-Prohibition Style' Rye. The new suggested retail price is $23. The idea appears to be to get more separation from Beam's Old Overholt, which is only three years old and usually priced below $20. Jim Beam Rye is and always has been at least four years old. Flanking it on the other side is Beam's Knob Creek Rye, at about $30. Proof is the other differentiator. Overholt is 40% ABV, the new Beam Rye is 45%, and Knob Creek Rye is 50%. This appears to just be a proof and label change. What makes it 'Pre-Prohibition Style' is still vague.
In 2014, most of the volume growth in 'whiskey' was in 'whiskey in quotation marks,' i.e., flavored whiskeys and similar quasi-whiskey products, led by Sazerac's Fireball, which was up 65.5% and sold almost 4 million cases, according to Impact Databank. Most Fireball drinkers think it is whiskey but it is actually a liqueur, as is Jack Daniel's Honey.
The Stave & Thief Society is a new bourbon certification program targeted at Louisville's hospitality community. Louisville's Distilled Spirits Epicenter is coordinating the curriculum and will administer the workshops, learning materials, and exams. The program is endorsed by the City of Louisville's Bourbon & Food Work Group and the Kentucky Distillers' Association. Details are at StaveAndThief.com.
Tourism at Buffalo Trace was up 26 percent last year. The Frankfort distillery welcomed 123,331 guests in 2014. Since the end of 2009, Buffalo Trace Distillery has grown its annual number of visitors by 145 percent. In 2015, the visitor's center will be enlarged by 5,500 square feet.
In a thoughtful piece on Drink Spirits, site founder and managing editor Geoff Kleinman takes aim at the Distilled Spirits Council (DISCUS) for its lackadaisical enforcement of industry marketing standards. He sees it as very much a fox-guarding-henhouse situation, ripe for reform.