Tuesday, December 29, 2009

What's New In The Bourbon Country Reader.

The new issue of The Bourbon Country Reader, Volume 12 Number 4, went into the mail just before Christmas. No doubt its arrival warmed hearts much like a holiday toddy.

Sometimes people ask if the articles in the newsletter also appear here, on the blog. Usually, no, and in this particular case, 100 percent no.

Here's the line-up.

The headline for the lead story probably speaks for itself; "Decoding The Bottom Shelf; The Quest For Good, Cheap Bourbon."

We also mine a document filed in the Wild Turkey acquisition last spring for tidbits about the brand's future under new owner Campari.

Is the rye renaissance real? We have data.

And we review two of the 2009 Buffalo Trace Antiques, the Weller and the Handy.

You may wonder why we still publish a paper newsletter sent through the U.S. mail. The real reason is because it's still hard to sell information on the web for what it's worth. The romantic reason is that we're writing about an industry that values tradition, so we do too. Take your pick.

You may also wonder why I'm affecting the imperial "we." We don't know, it just sounds right.

Click here to subscribe, with a credit card or PayPal. We publish every other month, or thereabouts, and you get six issues for $20.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

History Of Yellowstone, Part Two Of Two.

The Gethsemane Station distillery was rebuilt after Prohibition, but not as Yellowstone and not by Dant. It closed for good in about 1961. The Taylor & Williams name lived on, as both a distillery name and brand name.

After prohibition, J. B. Dant and his son built a new distillery in the Louisville suburb of Shively to make the revived Yellowstone bourbon. Various Beams and Dants were involved in that operation too. Another Louisville-based whiskey maker, Glenmore, bought Yellowstone, brand and distillery, in 1944.

Yellowstone was a significant brand in its heyday, but as a mass or popular price brand, it suffered brutal share losses during bourbon’s sharp decline in the 1970s.

Production started to slow in the 1980s, as bourbon sales declined, and Yellowstone closed for good in 1991. What little bourbon Glenmore was making was being made at Medley in Owensboro. A portion of the Shively plant was later used to make blending spirits from fruit, but it never made whiskey again.

The Yellowstone brand was sold to Luxco, a bottler and rectifier in St. Louis. Luxco is a non-distiller producer which acquires whiskey where it can, much like the way Yellowstone began 137 years ago. Unfortunately, these days it is not very good.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

History Of Yellowstone, Part One Of Two.

This is a short history of the Yellowstone bourbon brand and the distilleries that have borne that name. Part two tomorrow.

The Yellowstone whiskey brand was created by the wholesale firm of Taylor & Williams shortly after the national park was established in 1872. Taylor was D. H. Taylor, who started the firm in Louisville about 1865. J. T. Williams joined the company in 1877. They were wholesalers and bought whiskey from various distilleries.

Sometime in the 1880s they contracted with J. B. Dant to make Yellowstone bourbon for them. Dant had a (then) new distillery in Nelson County, Kentucky, at Gethsemane Station. It was called Cold Springs Distillery. In about 1903, Taylor & Williams merged with the Cold Springs Distillery. Dant became president and the distillery was renamed Yellowstone, as that brand had become very successful.

Taylor and Williams themselves were out of the picture by then, but their names lived on.

In 1910, Dant acquired an adjacent distillery owned by M. C. Beam, which was itself a combination of two older distilleries, the oldest dating to 1872. Thereafter the whole complex operated as Yellowstone, and was run by members of the Dant and Beam families, until Prohibition.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Holiday Bourbon Trail Schedule.

Still looking for that unique gift? Or perhaps a holiday adventure with friends and family? Why not celebrate the yuletide season on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail?

"Several of our historic distilleries and their gift shops are open this week for the Bourbon lovers on your Christmas list," said Eric Gregory, president of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association. "We wish everyone a safe and happy holiday, and ask that you enjoy Bourbon responsibly."

All of the distilleries will be closed Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, but open most other days. Here's the schedule. (All times are Eastern Standard Time). For complete directions and more information, please visit www.kybourbontrail.com.

Buffalo Trace, Frankfort
Thursday, Dec. 24, 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 26, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 27, closed
Monday, Dec. 28 – Thursday, Dec. 31, 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Saturday, Jan. 2, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Four Roses, Lawrenceburg
Thursday, Dec. 24, closed
Saturday, Dec. 26, 9 a.m. – 3:p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 27, closed
Monday, Dec. 28 – Wednesday, Dec. 30, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Thursday, Dec. 31, closed
Saturday, Jan. 2, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Heaven Hill, Bardstown
Thursday, Dec. 24, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 26, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 27, noon – 4 p.m.
Monday, Dec. 28 Wednesday, Dec. 30, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Thursday, Dec. 31, closed
Saturday, Jan. 2, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Jim Beam, Clermont
Thursday, Dec. 24, closed
Saturday, Dec. 26, 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 27, 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Monday, Dec. 28 – Thursday, Dec. 31, 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Saturday, Jan. 2, 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Maker’s Mark, Loretto
Thursday, Dec. 24, closed
Saturday, Dec. 26, 10:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 27, 1:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Monday, Dec. 28 – Thursday, Dec. 31, 10:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Saturday, Jan. 2, 10:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Beginning Jan. 3, closed on Sundays until March 7.

Tom Moore, Bardstown
Thursday, Dec. 24, closed
Saturday, Dec. 26, closed
Sunday, Dec. 27, closed
Monday, Dec. 28 – Wednesday, Dec. 30, tours at 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
Thursday, Dec. 31, closed
Saturday, Jan. 2, closed

Wild Turkey, Lawrenceburg
Monday, Dec. 21-Thursday, Dec. 24 – 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 26, 9 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 27, closed
Monday, Dec. 28, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Tuesday, Dec. 29, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Wednesday, Dec. 30, 9 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Thursday, Dec. 31, 9 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Saturday, Jan. 2, 9 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Woodford Reserve, Versailles
Thursday, Dec. 24, closed
Saturday, Dec. 26, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 27, 12:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Monday, Dec. 28 – Wednesday, Dec. 30, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Thursday, Dec. 31, closed
Saturday, Jan. 2, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Beginning Jan. 3, closed on Sundays until March.7.

Send A Bourbon Lover To School.

Dates for the 2010 Woodford Reserve Bourbon Academy will be March 6th, April 3rd, and June 12th. The sessions run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

This is a unique opportunity for any bourbon lover to become an expert on bourbon and American whiskey. Students spend an interactive day at the beautiful Woodford Reserve Distillery near Versailles, Kentucky, with Woodford Reserve Master Distiller Chris Morris. They enjoy a delicious bourbon-inspired lunch, and participate in hands-on demonstrations, a behind-the-scenes production tour, and a series of tastings.

Cost is $150 per person, plus tax, and includes lunch. Reservations are required and can be made by contacting Kandi Sackett at (859) 879-1934, or kandi_sackett@b-f.com

Friday, December 18, 2009

Bourbon Is Good For Kentucky In So Many Ways.

I don't know Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear, but he has been smart to support the state's whiskey producers like he did yesterday. Obviously, distlleries provide jobs and are good for the commonwealth's economy, but the full scope of those benefits isn't always obvious.

Straight whiskey is just one of the types of distilled spirits you can find in a liquor store. There are many others. To be labeled 'Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey,' the whiskey has to be distilled and aged in Kentucky, which in addition to distillery and warehouse jobs, means they buy corn locally too.

You can't make Kentucky bourbon anyplace except Kentucky. You can make bourbon anywhere in the United States, but Kentucky bourbon is what people look for and want.

You know, like California raisins or Wisconsin cheese.

Kentucky bourbon does not have to be bottled in Kentucky. When the industry was struggling, a lot of it was not. When the industry is strong and the Kentucky business environment is positive for beverage companies, there is an incentive to bottle the bourbon close to the distilleries. Bottling is the most labor-intensive part of the process, so that means lots of jobs.

It makes sense for the big, international companies that control the worldwide beverage industry to consolidate their bottling as much as possible. If there are good reasons to bottle your bourbon in Kentucky, you might as well bottle other things there too. Typically the bottled and cased goods go into an adjacent finished goods warehouse, then are shipped from there to distributors. That means even more jobs, as well as business for local trucking companies.

Brown-Forman and Heaven Hill Distilleries have their headquarters in Kentucky and their bottling is there too, even for products not made in Kentucky or even the United States, such as Canadian Mist Canadian Whisky, which is bottled in Louisville.

Like bourbon, brandy is usually aged, but it is usually aged in used barrels, and since bourbon makers only use new barrels, they always have a lot of used barrels to sell. Heaven Hill brings its Christian Brothers Brandy in tanker trucks from the distillery in California to be aged in Kentucky, rather than shipping empty barrels out there. When it's ready to be bottled, that happens in Kentucky too. Constellation, which used to own the Tom Moore Distillery in Bardstown, does the same thing with its Paul Masson Brandy.

Sazerac Inc. is technically headquartered in New Orleans and the company has major operations there, but Mark Brown, Sazerac's President, lives and works in Kentucky. Earlier this year, Sazerac bought a large bottling house in Owensboro, Kentucky, along with several bourbon aging warehouses there. The company has three bottling houses in Kentucky. The others are in Frankfort and Bardstown.

When Beam Global acquired National Distillers in 1987, two of the assets it got were a distillery and bottling house in Frankfort and a rectification and bottling plant in Cincinnati. Cincinnati primarily made the company's DeKuyper Liqueurs line. Making liqueurs is relatively simple. You're mixing together ethanol (i.e., vodka), sweetener, and flavoring concentrates, then bottling the result.

Beam closed the distillery in Frankfort back in '87, but the site had a modern bottling house and good access to the interstate highway system. Beam still uses the aging warehouses there and has steadily expanded the bottling capacity.

It was recently announced that Beam will close the Cincinnati plant and those operations will move to Kentucky. Beam Global has three bottling plants in Kentucky. Cincinnati is its only bottling facility outside of Kentucky. 

The change, which is expected to be completed sometime in 2011, will add 21,600 square feet to Frankfort. It is expected to create about 120 new jobs in Kentucky. Beam Global is headquartered in the Chicago suburb of Deerfield but its roots are in Kentucky and its biggest product is still Jim Beam Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. So, sorry Ohio.

Kentucky is a socially conservative state and about half of its counties prohibit the sale of alcoholic beverages. You'll probably never persuade someone who believes alcohol comes from the devil that it is nonetheless good for business, and therefore good for the state, but that has always been the uphill struggle Kentucky's whiskey-makers face. In recent years it has gotten better. Let's hope it continues.

Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame Inducts U.S. President William Howard Taft.


Kentucky’s signature Bourbon industry last night marked the 100th anniversary of a landmark decision by President William Howard Taft at a ceremony to induct the former leader into the prestigious Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame.

In December 1909, President Taft released an official decision that defined whiskey standards in the United States. Before that time, imitators trying to capitalize on the growing success of Kentucky Bourbon often made counterfeit whiskey using artificial colors and flavors.

But Taft’s decision set the standard for how whiskey is labeled – straight, blended or imitation – and protected the time-honored process of Kentucky Bourbon. “By such an order as this decision indicates,” Taft wrote, “the public will be made to know exactly the kind of whisky they buy and drink…

“It injures no man’s lawful business, because it only insists upon the statement of the truth in the label.”

In recognition of the anniversary of his historic act, the Kentucky Distillers’ Association Board of Directors unanimously voted to induct Taft into the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame. The ceremony took place last night at the Governor’s Mansion in Frankfort, hosted by Gov. and Mrs. Steven L. Beshear.

Taft, born in 1857 in Cincinnati, Ohio, was President from 1909-1913 and later the 10th Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. He died in 1930.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Old Forester Is In Favor Of Clean Water.

You hate to reduce it to that, but worthy cause tie-ins are a marketing strategy. They work best for the product and the charity when the tie-in is natural and not forced.

This one is just about perfect. Here is the text of an email that was sent today to members of the 1870 Society, the Old Forester enthusiasts club.

It takes a plentiful supply of crisp, clean water from limestone springs to make Old Forester. And we’re eternally grateful to have such a valuable resource right where we live.

Sadly, for too many people around the planet, there simply isn’t enough safe, clean drinking water just to survive. Together, we can help change that.

So, in the spirit of the giving season, we’re pleased to announce that Old Forester is making a donation of $2,500 to charity: water on behalf of you and Old Forester enthusiasts everywhere.

charity: water is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing clean and safe drinking water to people in developing nations.

So thank you for enjoying our bourbon, and for helping make a difference.

Favorite whiskey myths debunked.

All of the following statements are false, although many of them are widely believed. (The statements in parens are true.)

Bourbon whiskey must be made in Kentucky. (Bourbon may be made anywhere in the United States.)

Kentucky is the only state legally allowed to put its name on a bourbon label. (No such law or rule exists.)

To be called bourbon, a whiskey must be aged at least two years. (Two years is the requirement for straight bourbon. Although the rules say bourbon must be aged in new charred oak barrels, they don't say for how long.)

Jack Daniel’s cannot be called bourbon. (Not true. Its owners just prefer to call it Tennessee whiskey.)

A bourbon mash must be at least 51 percent corn and not more than 80 percent corn. (The 51 percent floor is right but there is no ceiling. The difference between bourbon and corn whiskey depends on the type of barrel used.)

Sour mash whiskey tastes sour. (Sour mash is a technique for keeping whiskey mash at the ideal pH from batch to batch. It does make the mash taste sour, but not the whiskey.)

Only some American whiskeys are sour mash whiskeys. (Although not every maker puts the words 'sour mash' on the label, they all use the sour mash method.)

Whiskey made in a pot still is superior to whiskey made in a column still. (The two types of still are different, but in the end what they do is the same.)

Canadian whisky contains neutral spirits. (It doesn’t. The base whiskey in Canadian is the same as in blended scotch, nearly neutral but technically whiskey. The base spirit in American blends is neutral spirit, i.e., vodka.)

There is some reason why Scottish distillers spell their spirit whisky while most Americans spell theirs whiskey. (No reason. Whiskey is just one of hundreds of words that Americans and Brits spell differently. The spelling difference means nothing.)

Moonshine is un-aged corn whiskey. (Moonshine is any distilled spirit made illegally. Most of it is made from sugar, making it rum.)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Moonshine Today.

People are enamored of moonshine, mostly the idea of it, since few have had the real thing.

What is moonshine? Moonshine is any distilled spirit that is made illegally. It is not, contrary to popular belief, always corn whiskey. These days it is rarely whiskey of any kind, as the base ingredient is usually table sugar, which makes it rum.

We’re talking here about modern moonshine, produced by people who are doing it to make money. We’re not talking about history or hobbyists.

Recently in Eastern Kentucky, a person of my acquaintance obtained a gallon of moonshine. It was packaged in a one-gallon plastic jug of the type in which milk is commonly sold. It even had a sealed closure, just like the jug of milk you get at the grocery store. On top of the lid was the ‘Kentucky Proud’ logo.

This moonshiner has access to a bottling line, perhaps through a small dairy or orchard, as cider often comes in the same packaging. ‘Kentucky Proud’ is the official trademark of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, meant to promote Kentucky agricultural products. This moonshiner has a sense of humor.

The one-gallon plastic milk jug has become the standard package for commercial moonshine, which competes today not so much with whiskey as with the cheapest legal vodka/ethanol or rum on the market. It is consumed the same way, usually mixed with fruit juice or a soft drink. Some of it is sold to bars, who substitute it for vodka and rum without their patrons ever knowing.

Many people assume that moonshine is unusually strong. It’s usually not, because the producers use cheap, throw-away, often homemade equipment, so they’re not out much money if it gets confiscated and destroyed. The equipment is usually a simple pot still, perhaps with a rudimentary doubler, and they’re lucky if they can reach 50 percent alcohol with it. In many cases, moonshine is sold below 40 percent, which is the most common proof of legal spirits.

People think a strong taste indicates a high alcohol content, when in reality a high distillation proof removes flavor. That’s why the best vodkas taste like water. Moonshine tastes strong because it is low proof, so a lot of flavor from the raw materials is retained, as well as congeners produced during fermentation which are not removed by low proof distillation. It doesn’t so much taste strong as bad.

Is moonshine dangerous? It can be, if the maker is sloppy about making the heads and tails cuts, which can contain high levels of poisonous methanol. These are, however, commercial producers and poisoning your customers is bad for business, so most of them have mastered that technique.

In terms of raw material and production cost, moonshiners can’t produce spirits less expensively than legal distilleries can. They make money because they don’t pay taxes. Since taxes account for about 60 percent of the cost of a bottle of legal distilled spirits, that gives them a lot of room to maneuver and keeps the ancient art of moonshining alive and well.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Alcoholic Energy Drinks Bring Out The Worst In Politicians.

I'm not a big fan of caffeinated beer or, if you prefer, alcoholic energy drinks. My interest here is in the politicians who love them, and love to misrepresent them for political purposes.

"Disgusting" is what Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler called them. "The caffeine is a stimulant that triggers the false impression that kids can drink more and still function normally. The kids won't recognize they are actually drunk...And then all of a sudden, over a short period of time, it goes BAM, and they're gone."

That's right. It goes BAM! And they're gone. All of a sudden.

This notion that caffeine somehow masks intoxication is bogus, just like the common but mistaken belief that caffeine is a remedy for intoxication.

Gansler's ridiculous statement is quoted in a May, 2008, Time Magazine story by John Cloud, who himself offers the ridiculous conclusion that "alcoholic energy drinks are different because they are so obviously marketed to kids."

That was written before pressure from politicians, the public health agencies they control, and the well-funded advocacy groups that generate this nonsense, forced the two biggest U.S. malt beverage manufacturers, Anheuser-Busch InBev and MillerCoors, to stop making alcoholic energy drinks and pledge never to make them again.

Lies about alcoholic energy drinks are spread by advocacy groups that sensationalize the risks of alcohol consumption, and demonize alcohol producers, usually with wildly exaggerated or entirely false claims.

Some people call these groups neo-prohibitionists or "new dries." Their primary purpose seems to be ensuring their own revenue growth, though in the process they make a nuisance of themselves to everyone who enjoys alcohol in a normal and responsible way, which is almost everybody. Their best lie is the one about companies marketing alcoholic beverages to children, which none do.

I write about this from time to time, most recently about two weeks ago when FDA announced that manufacturers of alcoholic energy drinks must prove their products are safe. The irony here is that the only reason FDA can do this is because of the way alcohol is regulated in this country. All of the ingredients in these beverages, other than alcohol, are Generally Regarded As Safe by FDA (the term is in caps because as FDA uses it, it has a specific legal meaning).

What the manufacturers really have to prove is that alcohol doesn't change one or more of the ingredients for the worse. Can they do it? Maybe, maybe not. Maybe they'll just fold their tents like Anheuser-Busch InBev and MillerCoors did. If they couldn't take the pressure, how can these little guys?

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) praised FDA's decision in part because, "emerging research suggests that the young consumers of these products are more likely to be the perpetrator or victim of sexual aggression, to ride with an intoxicated driver, or to become otherwise injured."

Who wouldn't want to prevent those bad things?

Energy drinks, including alcoholic ones, typically contain some or all of the following: sugar, caffeine, taurine, niacin, vitamins B-12 and B-6, ginseng, ginkgo, and other herbs and dietary supplements commonly associated with energy and alertness. The alcohol content is usually about the same as a beer, although one brand is more like a malt liquor.

Nutritionists say the perceived energy boost comes primarily from sugar and caffeine. Opinions vary about the efficacy of the other ingredients. People have been mixing sugar, caffeine and alcohol forever, from rum and coke to Irish coffee. There is no mystery there.

Most people don't know these facts, and furthermore don't care, because they want those horrible booze merchants to stop selling these terrible products to their kids. All the lies work because people are so ready to believe them. That makes them perfect for cynical politicians, and is there really any other kind?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Emollient For Red Stag Haters.

Back in February, when Beam Global announced that it was launching Red Stag, "Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey infused with natural flavors," I couldn't decide if they were brilliant or crazy.

Many other American whiskey enthusiasts used much stronger words. Even before anyone had tasted it, they were calling it "Red Gag" and worse. The reaction was visceral and the anger real. There are, of course, some people who take personal offense if you put water or ice in your whiskey, let alone Coke or, heaven forbid, concentrated cherry juice.

Beam Global now reports that Red Stag has been the most successful new product launch in the whiskey category in the past five years. They also said this: "With the creation of a new segment through Red Stag, Beam Global continues to grow the American whiskey category and entice new legal purchase age consumers to try whiskey for the first time."

The Red Stag haters should ponder that. Younger people (and I mean young adults, not kids) tend to like sweeter drinks. Most of today's popular cocktails feature sweet fruit flavors. If a young adult goes for Red Stag rather than a drink made with Captain Morgan Rum, or Southern Comfort Liqueur, or Starbucks Coffee Liqueur, which choice is better for keeping the bourbon distilleries in business?

I doubt anyone would accuse me of giving any producers a free ride. My main criticism of Beam, as I wrote here, is that even if I, as a serious whiskey lover, accept that Red Stag has its place, what are you doing for me?

Another way for the serious whiskey lover to look at Red Stag is that, for what it is, Beam did it the right way. Every cook will tell you that you can't make a great dish without great ingredients. To make Red Stag, Beam took their four-year-old flagship bourbon and infused natural cherry flavor into it using a fairly complicated process that they tried to explain to me but I don't quite understand. Suffice it to say that they didn't take shortcuts.

It would appear that Beam set out to make the best, finest quality cherry-flavored bourbon that they could. They didn't have to do that. There are flavored whiskeys out there that don't go to all that trouble. Beam did and they were proud enough of the outcome to risk their most valuable asset, the Jim Beam name, on it.

I like it when companies take chances.

They didn't just do it right on paper. The product delivers, you can taste the difference. It has a richness and depth of flavor that, for example Phillips Union cherry-flavored whiskey can't touch.

Ninety percent of the time, my drink of choice is bourbon neat, but last night I had a whiskey sour. (Okay, I had two.) I've also been known to quaff a manhattan or margarita.

I found that I liked Red Stag on-the-rocks with a little Stirrings orange bitters and it didn't take me long to go through my first bottle.

Some people worry that accepting something like Red Stag lowers the standards and threatens the quality of American whiskey, which is admittedly always battling a bit of an inferiority complex vis a vis single malt scotch. Though before any scotch snobs get all high and mighty, what do you think a sherry cask finish is?

Buffalo Trace Ups The Ante.

The new issue of Malt Advocate is out (Volume 18, Number 4) and it contains a story by me entitled "Buffalo Trace Ups The Ante," starting on page 52. You can go to the web site and read it online, but if you're a whiskey fan you really should subscribe.

I started to bug Angela Traver, who runs the PR shop at Buffalo Trace Distillery, about this months ago. Buffalo Trace was doing all sorts of bold things, big and small, from buying the Tom Moore Distillery and all of the Barton spirits brands from Constellation, to acquiring the Old Taylor brand from Beam Global. I speculated that there had to be some kind of master plan in place. She didn't tell me much but encouraged me to talk to her boss, Sazerac president Mark Brown.

The opportunity came when I was in Frankfort in August for Elmer T. Lee's 90th birthday. John Hansell and Lew Bryson of Malt Advocate were also there, with some other writers and Buffalo Trace folks, at lunch in the Clubhouse, when I started to pepper Brown with questions. After lunch, John and Lew came over and asked me to write it up for Malt Advocate.

So, what is the master plan? That would be telling. Read the article.