Tuesday, November 27, 2007

More Kentucky Brandy

A correction to my Kentucky Brandy post: Brown-Forman owns neither Korbel brandy nor Korbel Champagne. Korbel Vineyards is privately owned by a guy named Gary Heck. Brown-Forman handles sales and marketing for the California Champagne line. It used to market and sell the brandy too, but turned that business back to Heck a few years ago. Brown-Forman has no relationship to Korbel Brandy except they sell them used Jack Daniel’s barrels for their aging.

According to Korbel Brandy's web site, "a new barrel is simply too strong in the harsher oak characteristics." It also says they char the barrels. This, however, may be a misstatement. The barrels are charred, of course, by the manufacturer before the Jack Daniel's goes in. Does Korbel char them again? I doubt it.

So, all of the top four U.S.-made brandies are distilled in California from California grapes. Korbel and E&J are aged in California, Korbel in used Jack Daniel's barrels. Paul Masson and Christian Brothers are aged in Kentucky in used bourbon barrels. Paul Masson and Christian Brothers also are bottled in Kentucky.

This business, the partial production of domestic brandy (the aging and bottling part), is in Kentucky providing jobs and tax revenue because bourbon whiskey production is located there. So, whiskey production doesn't just provide the whiskey-making jobs and revenues, it also brings other business to Kentucky, business that could be anywhere.

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