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The Whiskey Neat Newsletter: August 27th, 2021

Published almost 3 years ago • 6 min read

Hello Reader,

Thank you again for signing up. As a quick introduction, my name is Ed and I run the newsletters that you'll receive each week. Whiskey is a particular passion of mine and as the popularity of the spirit continues to grow not only in North America, but globally, I wanted to try and share that passion with others. So whether you're new to the world of whisk(e)y, an experienced drinker of the spirit, only hunt for the rarest-of-rare, or stick to your tried and true brand of choice - I believe The Whiskey Neat Newsletter has something to offer everyone. With that, let's kick things off!


Buffalo Trace makes headway with US$1.2 billion expansion

Some very exciting news coming out of Kentucky this week. The Buffalo Trace distillery has made progress on their $1.2B expansion. This expansion includes an extra still, more barrel storage, an expansion of the dry house operation, and more fermenters. In the future, expect even more barrel aging warehouses, as well as a new mill house to match the new distillation capacity.

Hopefully this will help tremendously with supply issues, although it's expected to be a couple more years to shrink the supply-demand imbalance. Personally, I can't find anything at my local stores from BT outside of the Buffalo Trace product itself & Weller - or pay an arm and a leg for a bottle of Blanton's.


12-Year-Old Single Malt Scotch Whiskies Priced Below $70

Turning to Scotch, UPROXX put together their list of best whiskys under $70. A couple no-brainers, but a few I wouldn't have considered were included as well. I'm not sure I agree with all of the picks, but you be the judge. One way or the other, not a bad place to start if you're relatively unfamiliar with Scotch whisky.


Coors Is Launching Its Own Brand of Whiskey

The product, called Five Trail blended American whiskey, will hit shelves on September 1st. It will be the first full-strength spirit from the Molson Coors Beverage Company. I'll be honest, I'm not expecting much, but its MSRP of $59.99 has me curious if it's going to be better than I think. Either that or incredibly overvalued. I do think it might be an interesting way that a lot of individuals get introduced to whiskey through the Coors name that otherwise wouldn't have.


The Whisky Drop by Maker’s Mark is Expanding

Maker’s Mark direct to consumer program – is expanding memberships to more fans in Kentucky and Washington D.C. interested in receiving the brand’s special releases right to their doors. The program ships two bottles selected by the distillery to each member once every few months.

Okay I have to admit I'm not sure how I feel on this one. On one hand, I think it's a great product in the age of none of the allocated whiskeys seemingly ever making their way to store shelves. On the other hand, one of my favorite parts about whiskey is going out and hunting for those rare bottles. Stopping in at my local store multiple times a week and creating a relationship in order to try and get those allocated bottles is part of the experience.

For what it's worth, Jim Beam has started doing this as well and their service is called the Barreled & Box subscription if you are interested. Again, this is only available to those in Kentucky and Washington D.C.


Michter's US*1 Toasted Barrel Finish Bourbon Releasing After A Three Year Hiatus

Really looking forward to trying to get my hands on this. To make this special release, Michter's begins with fully matured barrels of its already fantastic US*1 Small Batch Kentucky Straight Bourbon and transfers the whiskey into a second barrel made of 18-month air dried wood for additional aging. The second barrel has been toasted to precise specifications, but not charred.

Not surprisingly, this drinks extremely well on the back porch once the Fall chill just barely starts to hit in the evenings. Be on the lookout for the Toasted Michter's on store shelves, and it supposedly will retail for around $100. Good luck!


Scotch Whisky Rebounds, but is Still Under Pressure

Scotch whisky exports have been down the past 18 months, reportedly due to both Brexit and the ongoing global pandemic. According to the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), exports were up 31% the first half of this year. However, this is mainly due to the tough year that 2020 was. Comparing to the pre-pandemic first half of 2019, values were still down 10%. The US remains the top export market for Scotch whisky, but both the pandemic and a tariff of imported single-malts have posed additional challenges. As one last challenge, the cost of cardboard and glass are both up high single-digits to low double-digits. All in all, many headwinds for the spirit.


Tasting of the Week!

This week's tasting was Blade and Bow. Blade and bow is part of the Stitzel–Weller lineup. If you're unfamiliar with the Stitzel–Weller history, I definitely encourage you to look it up. It's very interesting, but the long and short of it is the distiller brand was built by legendary Julian “Pappy” Van Winkle Sr. along with Alex T. Farnsley and Arthur Phillip Stitzel. At one point the facility produced brands such as W. L. Weller, Old Fitzgerald, Pappy Van Winkle, Old Weller, Rebel Yell. However, those have all been sold to other distributors over the years and one the remaining "flagship" products is called "Blade and Bow".

The Blade and Bow brand really touts something called the solera distilling system. Essentially, when they reopened the distillery after shutting down in '92 (again you should really check-out their history) there was still a good amount of bourbon barrels that were left full from the shutdown. So the solera system is basically the distillery mixing the very old bourbon with newer, younger bourbon. Then when they bottle, they don't drain the mixed barrel all of the way - hence, the old stuff from '92 is never fully used up and lives on in the bottles today. In practice, they don't say exactly how much of the old stuff the bottles today contain and as the years go on there will be less and less of the original. I'm guessing it's trace amounts at this point. But it's kind of fun and a cool story to talk about when people try your bourbon at home, but definitely could be perceived as a little gimmicky.

On the nose of Blade and Bow, I get vague notes of fruit, spice, and fresh cut grass. On the palate is very light, with the light notes of fruit carrying over, with a lot of spices mixed in as well. The finish is smooth, and leaves me with highly pronounced notes of oak. This is a pretty good daily sipper. It doesn't have anything that's too overpowering, but it's not going to knock your socks off with any unique notes either.

There's a lot of other things going on with B&B outside of just the tasting, such as "the five keys club" - which in my opinion is sort of a rip-off of the collectible Blanton's letters on the whiskey tops. The B&B keys are an interesting way to keep people interested for those who really love the product though.

So where does that put Blade and Bow then? Like I said, it's a good daily sipper based on the tasting perspective alone. It doesn't have that note or finish that really makes it stand out amongst others in a lineup, but it could be a solid go-to for the average evening. The distillery does have a really interesting history and the Blade and Bow brand itself has a couple of fun talking points with the five keys club, as well as the solera distilling system. I don't see it mentioned enough, but for some people the backstory and talking points are really important to them as they show off their collection and taste with guests. Blade and Bow definitely has some good talking points. But, where B&B loses me is the price... $45 is what I picked mine up for. I'm going to be really blunt after having a lot of nice things to say - this is not a $45 bottle. It's possible if you really like the story behind it that I could get behind mid $30's, but mid $40's is too high for what it is and ultimately keeps it from being a daily sipper once you factor in price. I do however, encourage you to go pick up a bottle if the tasting notes and backstory sound like something in your wheelhouse and if you don't mind not getting the best value for a one-time buy.


That's all I have this week; thanks for sticking around. You'll hear from me the same time next week!

Sincerely,

Ed

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