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Heads & Tails: Barrels and Blending Edition

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Oy, have we got a marketing story here! This one reaches all the way back to J. Frederick Hillerich, a German woodworker who immigrated to Louisville in 1842. Hillerich’s core business was barrel making, but if you know anything about his name or baseball in general, you’ll recognize it as half the brand behind the Hillerich & Bradsby bat company. But to the business of Bourbon & Billets. The company has created an experience in which one is led to use as many as “six award-winning bourbons and tasting materials” to create a custom blend. At the end of the $35 exercise, the amateur blending can buy a full bottle for $45.

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Heads & Tails: “Back in the Grave” Edition

In Banter, Drink News, Heads & Tails, Industry News by Steve Coomes1 Comment

In Chuck Cowdery’s early 2022 edition of his quarterly print piece, “The Bourbon Country Reader,” he says MGP should kill off the George Remus brand and find another name for the otherwise good bourbon created for that SKU. Not only was he a successful Prohibition-era bootlegger, he murdered his wife for infidelity. Linking legal businesses to “criminals and crime,” Cowdery writes … is an especially bad idea for makers and sellers of alcohol.” The brand was created after the portrayal of Remus in HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire” caught the attention some Cincinnati entrepreneurs. According to Cowdery, they sourced some MGP whiskey and labeled it “George Remus Bourbon,” MGP later bought the brand for itself and began growing it a couple of years ago.

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Heads & Tails: I Wouldn’t Wish For It Edition

In Banter, Drink News, Heads & Tails, Industry News by Steve CoomesLeave a Comment

Ever played this whiskey dork game? You go to a bar or restaurant and rapid-survey the bottles while thinking, “Had it. Haven’t. Have it. Hate it.” When I looked at this list of 20 top-selling whiskeys in the U.S., I added a new response. “Who drinks that?” I like several brands on this list, but I prefer their higher-proof siblings. But dang, does that mean those who spend less to drink softer spirits actually Southern Comfort—which is No. 15 on the list? I don’t even recall seeing a bottle of SoCo outside of the press sample I got a year or so ago. And Skrewball lands at No. 14? And here it comes … Who drinks that? A Heaven Hill employee I know once said to me, “I can’t believe they bought Black Velvet!” Well, look closer, hoser, it’s the 13th-most popular whiskey in the U.S. (Far as my Black Velvet score: Haven’t had it.)

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Heads & Tails: Are Single Barrels Illegal Edition

In Banter, Drink News, Heads & Tails, Industry News by Steve CoomesLeave a Comment

That’s the growing concern at Kentucky distilleries, where thousands of whiskey fans sample whiskeys from thousands of barrels every year. The news first came from WhiskeyCast operator Mark Gillespie, who’d learned that “private pick” programs—which distilleries have run for many years—was clearly outside Kentucky’s current tasting laws. Click here to read his thorough story. As you’d imagine, Kentucky Distillers’ Association is busy urging lawmakers to reconfigure tasting laws favorably and quickly. We’ve seen no official count on single barrels sold in Kentucky, but given what do know, it’s somewhere south of 10,000. Whatever that number is when multiplied by an average bottles-per-barrel yield of 170, and the total sales number is somewhere around 1.5 million bottles, give or take. And while we’re at it, let’s price those 1.5 million bottles at a conservative $40 each to come up with $60 million in sales.