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.

First, some housekeeping. You now have the option of subscribing to 'The Chuck Cowdery Blog,' to instantly receive all new posts via e-mail. Just scroll down and look for 'Follow The Chuck Cowdery Blog by E-Mail' in the right-hand column, just below the 'Search' window. The service is provided by FeedBurner. Type in your email address and click 'Submit.' FeedBurner will send you an email asking you to confirm your subscription. Your email address won't be used for any other purpose.

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

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.


Anonymous said...

DISCUS? Reform itself? HA!

beardedbeast said...

Email blast works perfectly!

kaiserhog said...

I would think Old Overholt would be the most logical brand for the "pre-prohibition" rye whiskey.

Anonymous said...

I tend to think as "kaiserhog" did, as Old Overholt by name meets the "Pre-Prohibition" "historical" aspect, however, since I have seen it begin to leave the shelves in Pennsylvania where it was founded before Beam's acquisition (due to lack of sales), I see this as Beam's way of raising the price of the (their) top selling Rye. Sadly, I see this as being about profit on bulk sales, and not about what makes sense to the consumer, or a whiskey historian such as myself. I truly like Old Overholt even though it is made by Beam using the same mash bill. It seems to take one back to a simpler time just by imagination.