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Heads & Tails: The Bulked Up Edition

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BUFFALO TRACE AUCTIONING FIVE 6-LITER BOTTLES OF O.F.C. BOURBON FOR CHARITIES

Buffalo Trace Distillery announced the upcoming auction of five, 6-liter bottles of O.F.C. Bourbon at a starting bid of $25,000 each. You read that correctly.

According to the company, “The five bottles of this highly limited release are part of the 2,022 bottles that Buffalo Trace Distillery has pledged to give away in the year 2022 and will be auctioned off during a five-day event starting Monday, March 14th in collaboration with NFT platform BlockBar. It marks BlockBar's first-ever auction and the first bourbon sold on its platform.”

More from the distillery: “The five bottles of O.F.C. Vintage 1982 will each be auctioned off with a starting bid of approximately $25,000 USD (8.83 ETH). Bids can be placed via BlockBar.com and can be made via Ethereum or Fiat starting at 10 a.m. EST on Monday, March 14th through 10 a.m. EST on Friday, March 18th. Proceeds from each of the winning, final bids will benefit the following charities.” (Click here to see the list of charities. And click here to learn more about BlockBar.)

Here's what I find entertaining about this: Those are 6-liter bottles of whiskey. Just to give you an idea of the size of these bottles, we turn to the wine world. A “magnum” bottle holds 1.5 liters (51 ounces, two regular bottles or in quaint parlance, “a handle”) of liquid. Next step up is a Jeroboam, which holds double that: 3 liters (102 ounces, four regular bottles or, in coarser circles, “a two-fisted party that may end in a fistfight.”)

Yet Jeroboam is only half the size of one of these 6-liter OFC monsters holding 204 ounces of whiskey. Depending how you drink your whiskey, that’s 135 1.5-ounce pours, 102 properly made 2-ounce cocktails … and let’s just say at least six big-ass bowls of Gilded Age-decadent punches.

According to Buffalo Trace, the bottle is 2-feet tall and weighs, with the liquid in it, 22.5 pounds. How anyone will ever get that whiskey out of the bottle and into a glass neatly will likely remain a mystery to me since no one I know will ever buy these bottles to share with me.

BOURBON & BANTER'S VIEW >> The old saying, “Flaunt it if you got it,” applies well here. Even better, “Auction it if you’ve got it, and help others in the process” is even cooler. Distilleries prove time and again that they’re generous businesses.

BROWN-FORMAN SUSPENDS COMMERCIAL OPERATIONS IN RUSSIA

From a March 9 Brown-Forman news release: “We watch in horror as millions of Ukrainians continue to face the somber realities of war. Our thoughts are with them and all those who are full of fear and uncertainty, displaced and desiring refuge, suffering and seeking peace, or mourning and missing loved ones.

“We are staying in close contact with our Ukrainian colleagues, providing assistance and financial support to help them during this time of need. In addition, we are making donations to UNICEF, UNHCR, and International Medical Corps, organizations aiding Ukrainian children and all refugees and offering medical assistance.

“In light of the war in Ukraine, we are suspending commercial operations in Russia.

“We join the global community in calling for peace."

BOURBON & BANTER'S VIEW >> It would be easy to say, “Oh, big deal, it’s big Brown-Forman making a stand. A multibillion-dollar company like that won’t even feel the loss.” Well, whether that loss in sales is large or small, I neither know nor will attempt to predict. But of all the American whiskey makers that took a beating from EU whiskey tariffs in the past few years, none took the hit Brown-Forman did. Jack Daniel’s is that liquor giant’s actual giant, a Tennessee tipple representing somewhere around 80 percent of B-F’s total liquor sales. Its annual losses to those moronic and misguided tariffs was about $150 million. So, as you can imagine, suspending sales in Russia isn’t cheering up shareholders or anyone in the C-suite.

So, to every other whiskey brand owner who reads Heads & Tails—yeah, we know that’s all of you—what are you waiting for? Join Brown-Forman in depriving Russia of the finest of American spirits: whiskey.

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BULK WHISKEY ISN’T RUNNING OUT ANYTIME SOON, EXPECT MORE BRANDS

Ever heard of Ultra Pure? Me either until reading a news release about it. The company calls itself “the leading supplier of bulk alcohols in the world,” and now it owns “a rail-accessed property strategically located in Louisville, Ky.”

Like at a rail junction, I know your thoughts are already coupling up some conclusions: bulk booze supplier gets access to “the heart of Kentucky's bourbon region” where rickhouses and bottling plants spring up like topsy. Specifically, Ultra Pure now has a 4.9-acre parcel of ground with a 28,000 square-foot warehouse slated for renovation. It’ll build a 1 million-plus-gallon tank farm for third-party storage, and a rickhouse for barreled bourbon and other whiskeys.

Here’s what’s interesting: I hear a lot of claims about the bulk business, such as, “The bulk spirits market is drying up,” or the “The bulk spirits market can supply way more brands than it is,” or from drinkers, “How many brands can this industry make out of the same bulk liquid?”

The answer: Check out Ultra Pure’s extensive line of offerings. Mind-blowing to an amateur like me, but likely de rigueur to industry folks knowledgeable in the bulk segment. If you’re an information lover, this is for you.

BOURBON & BANTER'S VIEW >> It’s rare these days that I enter a liquor store without seeing a previously unknown (to me) brand or brands trumpeting their sourced whiskeys. Companies like Ultra Pure will help ensure this trend lasts well into the future. While one sourced whiskey brand owner I’ve chatted with told me finding old bulk whiskey is tough, he said there’s plenty of young whiskey available to buy if you have the time and place to mature it.

So if you didn’t check out the Ultra Pure product link above try this one. Some of you will recognize mash bills and say, “I know who made that and I know whose bottles it's in.” Even if you don’t recognize any of them, you’ll still be amazed that just one company has this much access to bulk liquid.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Steve Coomes is editor of BourbonBanter.com. A Louisville restaurant industry veteran turned award-winning food writer, he has edited and written for dozens of national trade and consumer publications including Pizza Today, Nation's Restaurant News and Southern Living over his 31-year journalism career. As a spirits writer, Steve's work can be found in Bourbon Plus, Bourbon Review, Bourbon & Banter, WhiskeyWash.com and other publications. In 2014, he authored the book, "Country Ham: A Southern Tradition of Hogs, Salt & Smoke," and has authored other titles as a private ghostwriter.
Read Steve's full profile.

About the Author

Steve Coomes

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Steve Coomes is editor of BourbonBanter.com. A Louisville restaurant industry veteran turned award-winning food writer, he has edited and written for dozens of national trade and consumer publications including Pizza Today, Nation's Restaurant News and Southern Living over his 31-year journalism career. As a spirits writer, Steve's work can be found in Bourbon Plus, Bourbon Review, Bourbon & Banter, WhiskeyWash.com and other publications. In 2014, he authored the book, "Country Ham: A Southern Tradition of Hogs, Salt & Smoke," and has authored other titles as a private ghostwriter. Read Steve's full profile.