Posts Tagged ‘bourbon’


Update: Maker’s Exceeds the Mark Ironically

May 16, 2013


You’ll probably remember myself and just about every other liquor blogger out there commenting on the Maker’s Mark controversy from earlier in the year. As a quick refresher, in order to meet increasing demand and therefore limited supply, Maker’s Mark planned on decreasing the proof of their bourbon from 90 to 84 essentially watering down their final product to stretch their inventory capabilities. Well, after a few weeks of online outrage, the brand reversed course sticking with their classic 90 proof formula…you know, for us of course.

But you’ll also remember I (along with a number of others) had another theory. Not one necessarily rooted in conspiracy but at least one that acknowledged the potential boost that this whole “debacle” could create. And turns out, this was the case. I’ve been meaning to post this for a few weeks but this article over at Quartz highlights the amazing Maker’s sales numbers seen in the first quarter. A 45% jump in first quarter profit seems to suggest the Maker’s Mark lovers out there went out in hoards to gobble up the stuff upon hearing the news. This of course is highly ironic, as the Quartz writer points out, in that the news to water down the bourbon was in response to a limited supply issue.¬†

I know I wasn’t one of the reasons for increased sales but what about you all? Anyone rush out to hoard the 90 proof stuff?


A Tuesday Night Routine is Born

April 3, 2013


I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that Tuesday nights are my favorite nights for a glass of whiskey. Weekend revelry is wonderful, but there is something irreplaceable about the slow settling a tall glass of bourbon will do for you on the second day of the work week. My routine has evolved to be wrought with pacing. Each and every step along the way includes careful and calculated selection. From choosing the right glass, to grabbing the appropriate ice cubes, and to finally, selecting the perfect whiskey, anyone else might assume the process is trivial. But for me, there is intrinsic thoughtfulness in landing on one of a number of possible combinations.

Once these choices have been made, the pour and enhancements¬† follow. For me, a go to is the simple yet undeniably delicious whiskey sour blend of bourbon, lemon juice, and honey. Here is the link to my Whiskey Sour post from a few months ago. While I often post about some more complex variations on this basic blend, it’s this simplest form that works perfectly for a mid-week drink. The honey and lemon balance the bold flavors of the bourbon perfectly and as the ice melts slowly as you sip away on your first glass, it’s as if the early week stresses dissolve in parallel. Damn I love a whiskey sour!

What about you guys? Any favorite weeknight drinks? And any preference for the night itself?



Maker’s Misses the Mark

February 19, 2013


I guess I wouldn’t be much of a liquor blogger if I didn’t weigh in on the current Maker’s Mark situation…

For those of you not obsessively interested in your alcohol, you may have missed the news that the folks at Maker’s Mark had announced a fairly straightforward way to deal with increasing demand: watering down their 90 proof bourbon to be sold at 84 proof. As you might imagine, increasing supply of bourbon isn’t exactly a fast response as the aging process presumes a bit of “proper, prior planning”. So they figured, let’s just add water. Sell less bourbon per bottle, and voila! you’ve got yourself more bourbon available to bottle elsewhere. Well it turns out, in the “every piece of news is the end of the world, let’s tell everyone we know on twitter” world we live in today, that wasn’t going to fly so well with all of those folks who live and love Maker’s bourbon.

As Nobler Mark said perfectly, “the increased demand was for 90 proof bourbon, not 84 proof bourbon” and I couldn’t agree more. It seems like a giant gaff for a successful brand to assume that just because they claimed the taste profile would remain almost identical, that loyal consumers wouldn’t mind paying the same for essentially less. Other brands (you see this a lot in non-alcoholic beverages) have quietly reduced packaging size to deal with similar issues and in these cases the response tends to be a bit more subdued; most people simply don’t notice the difference. But in the liquor world of pretty consistent bottle sizes, I’m not so sure this would have been an option either.

So this is where I backtrack on my befuddled response to the Maker’s team. Despite the negative press and the assumptions that greed dictates all, I can’t help but recognize the complexity of the situation. You might respond to me, “if you don’t have the bourbon to sell, then too bad” but here’s one of the most recognizable brands attempting to bring more bourbon into the hands of bourbon lovers. I myself am not even a Maker’s drinker but for whatever reason, I still can’t completely blast these guys for what they did. Unless I am just a naive pawn in their evil game of branding…

Due to the quick and unified response to the news, Maker’s has already backtracked. With a simple message “You Spoke, We Listened”, the bourbon will remain at 90 proof. So what if this was all just an elaborate scheme that was never meant to be fully executed. A few weeks of bad (but constant) press leads to the brand thanking its consumers for providing their strong opinions and essentially handing off the reins of brand management. “This is your brand”. Could it be that somehow this was intended from the beginning. Well some folks think its more than a bit reasonable and I think that says it all right there.

So does any of this matter? Well not a ton for those who love their Maker’s. You have your 90 proof consistency and a bit of a “win” in your personal tally. But for brands and conglomerates a like, this is a scary example of just how quickly you can shatter what you’ve spent years building. We’ve developed into fickle consumers, and for those competing in a highly competitive (and increasingly so) industry, this isn’t exactly the greatest news.

So what do you think about the Maker’s mess? Comment below to get the conversation rolling:


Who wants a bottle of my mason jar bourbon?

January 8, 2013


When I first began my bourbon lab experiments, it was with pretty moderate expectations. Despite the fact that I thought it was a pretty cool nerdy method to calculate the surface area to volume ratio of a typical bourbon barrel and to then replicate that ratio with charred oak chips in a mason jar filled with moonshine, I really had no idea how it would turn out. I tasted here and there and was intrigued by how quickly the color changed from crystal clear to a golden amber but it wasn’t entirely clear to me how long I should let it “age”. That was until our New Years Eve plans began to take shape and a beach bonfire in the middle of winter shouted for some warming liquor.

So after just two months of “aging”, I strained and filtered (through coffee filters) my young bourbon, bottled it back in the mason jar and headed east for NYE. You probably won’t be shocked to hear that I was sort of blown away by how good this came out. For one, it would be really weird of me to set up the story and then tell you it sucked. But maybe most importantly, the process while interesting in its small scale capacity truly replicates almost all of the necessary components of proper aging. Being a bit on the young side, my bourbon still has a lot of the corn-based moonshine character, but without the awful bite of the un-aged liquor. It is smooth, flavorful, and a heck of a lot better than I had expected.

So like any good scientist, I’m going back into the lab to run more experiments. I plan on tinkering with the SA/V ratio and of course the aging length but either way there is a lot of bourbon coming your way. And what better way to start off 2013 with the opportunity to get your hands on your very own bottle! If you are interested, fill out the form below and I’ll be sure to set up a mason jar with your name on it! I’ll email you back with a bit more details once you sign up.¬† Happy New Year everyone (once again) and here’s to an amazing 2013!


New Years Resolutions

January 2, 2013


Drink more bourbon, eat more tacos, build more fires!

Happy New Year Everyone!



Time to Get to Know Apple Jack

November 9, 2012

A few months back I posted about my friend’s Dad’s backyard apple jack he starting making in small batches over the last few years. The process is as gloriously DIY as you can imagine. Pick apples, create cider, ferment cider, freeze outdoors until the water content separates from the alcohol, remove “ice”, drink alcohol. The stuff was amazing and at its core American. Which is why I was so excited to start seeing and hearing about Cornelius Apple Jack from the folks at Harvest Spirits.

Fruit based spirits are nothing new. For centuries the fermentation and in some cases distillation of grapes, pears, apples, plums and much more have been a staple of cultures near and far. But Apple Jack itself, almost more than the Bourbon we all tout as the true American spirit, is directly tied to the ingenuity of the brave colonials who began this great nation (why not a little national pride during election week, right?). Freezing the fermented apple cider in barrels and tapping the liquor from the bottom worked on the same principles as I describe above in the case of my friend’s backyard. And while the product is delicious, inherently apple forward and strong for a purpose, the folks at Harvest Spirits know they can do better.

So without moving away too far from tradition, but relying a bit on some more “modern” technology, the Cornelius Apple Jack from the Hudson Valley is indeed distilled not once, not twice, but actually three times rendering a more refined apple liquor that has a smoothness the freeze distillation simply can’t create. But they aren’t done there. By aging the spirit in previously used bourbon barrels the apple “brandy” takes on some of the residual bourbon characteristics and adds serious depth in flavor. What I also love about these guys is that they are using all the so-called “ugly” fruit for production. The fruit that folks like us wouldn’t buy because of how it looks tend to be perfect for these types of projects. And being that we are making our way into the fall pretty quickly, this is a bottle of booze you’ll want to add to your collection, and quickly.

For those looking to experiment a bit on their own, I have some other ideas inspired by a bit of ingenuity. If you live near a farmer’s market, which so many of us do these days, go take a look at the apple availability and pick up some of your favorites. With the bottles of bourbon and rye, I know you have in your liquor cabinet, begin playing around with apple infusions. Vary the variety, vary the time of infusion, vary the amount of apple used, and you’ll be shocked at how delicious the outcome is. Perfect for sharing with friends and family this Thanksgiving!

*The above picture was taken from Serious Eats.


The Real American Industry Resurgence

August 8, 2012

Sorry for the lack of posting the last week or so but don’t worry, after this coming weekend, my favorite of every year, I’m sure to be back on the posting wagon. And I should probably get on the other wagon as well after we demolish some Cow Thieves…but more on that later.

Tonight is the first Nobler Gathering in some time as this summer has been a nightmare for scheduling. The “team” is heading over to Kings Co. Distillery for a little tour and tasting and it’s not at all shocking that we are psyched to get back together over some local bourbon. But it was the tweet, or should I say re-tweet by the Kings Co. folks that got me thinking this morning…

And yes, you can follow my Nobler Experimenting here…

The following is a reminder of just how exciting the world of American liquor is right now:

“In 1800, the US had 14,000 (mostly small) distilleries. In 1900: 700. After prohibition: 12. Today: 200.” – @Foodista

Think about that (I didn’t check that it’s 100% accurate but considering it was on Twitter, I didn’t think that was necessary). I’m not a financial analyst, a politician, or a whosamawhatzit, but you have to love this resurgence of American Industry. I’m not entirely sure what the hell 14,000 distilleries were doing in 1800, but as the micro or small batch distillery movement continues, I’m excited to take part in tasting it all!

Check in tomorrow for a Kings Co. post and if we’re lucky, a little wine knowledge by Nobler Adam by weeks end…





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