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Hello everyone, thanks for checking out this post. I wanted to try something new starting this year where I wrap up things I observed around the bourbon community and also the website. I won’t be as wordy with these summaries because I plan to expand on the ones I feel need expanded on in their own separate article.
So let’s get started!
My Traveller Whiskey review gets pushback
I’ve gotten some hate mail after posting my review for Sazerac’s new Christ Stapleton Traveller Whiskey. It mainly revolves around what a jerk I was to write about him and his sobriety while simultaneously promoting a whiskey brand.
Huh? I think the people who wrote those comments must have visited my website for the first time because I always put the pertinent info in my review. If you want reviews that tell you if a whiskey is yucky or yummy, there are plenty of other sites for that. That’s also why I started to put section titles in my review. See a section title you don’t want to know about or that sounds boring? Just skip it and go on to the next. I’m fully aware many click on my reviews just to see the score. Many people skip my tasting notes entirely. But there are quite a few people who want to learn more than what a label tells them. Those are the readers I really want to connect to.
Chris Stapleton’s personal life deserves to be looked at especially when it became clear that he was telling his story of sobriety for the last 5 years to news outlets while “hand picking” single barrels or blend recipes with Buffalo Trace. I’m not saying he can’t do that, but it seems dishonest either way. Agree with me or not, but you have to at least acknowledge there’s some inconsistency here.
My 13th Colony Article about sourcing has gotten my name aired on a few WhiskeyTube channels. Yay?
A friend sent me a link to a new video from Jason C at Mash & Drum where he talks about my 13th Colony article where I go into detail on why I think they’ve sourced all of their whiskey. Many of you also saw the Kenny Coleman from Bourbon Pursuit podcast jumped in to offer his take that 13th Colony used color and/or flavor additives into their Double Oaked release. I’m not allowed to take a screenshot of the Facebook post, so I’m going re-type out his response word-for-word.
This isn’t even the real story. Does no one find it strange that 13th Colony has the only black whiskey on the market? I hate to burst the fanboy bubbles but their Double Oaked is doctored and you’re drinking artificial oak and coloring. I’ve tried thousands of barrels, a 45YR old bourbon (Thompson’s Reserve), there are tens of millions of barrels aging in Kentucky and none of them are this dark or have a “milky black” look to them. Tilt the bottle and you will see it. This company is very misleading. They don’t use the word “straight” on the label. It’s “southern bourbon whiskey”. Their website says straight but I can put anything I want on the internet but you can’t lie on a government approved label. They have had every opportunity to change their label to put the word straight on there and they don’t. It also doesn’t say “Distilled By” which is a violation of the CFR to be classified as a bourbon. As a part of Bourbon Pursuit, I have sent them multiple emails asking for clarification and answers only to be met with crickets or them referring me back to their FAQ. All of this leads me to the conclusion they don’t want people to know they are adding oak additives and flavoring. Fred Minnick even left this out of his top 100 because he said there is a saccharine taste to it. I would encourage everyone to continue questioning why this is the only black whiskey that can be made consistently. Sorry, but I call bullshit.
Now it seems as if many people are thinking that I had also mentioned that in my article. I did not, but after he said it I’m certainly intrigued enough and fall on the side of believing they do. There’s a lot more investigation going on behind the scenes that should hopefully produce results on if additives were used, so I’ll save my judgements for when or if those results get published.
I am in the middle of writing my own rebuttal to the rebuttal that 13th Colony posted. Haven’t seen their rebuttal? Don’t worry, I’m including it above so you can read it. I will pick apart their arguments while also addressing a few things the WhiskeyTubers said. Just know that nothing that was addressed by 13th Colony actually clears anything up. I’ve also become acutely aware how the average enthusiast has not learned how to read between the lines with statements like that. In the future, I’m going to write an article on common marketing terms and fluff that producers use to avoid saying the truth. It seems like this is something we all need a refresher on. So stay tuned.
Upcoming Whiskey Releases that somehow went right over my head
I saw a link on Reddit’s r/OhioLiquor subreddit where a person posted the State Liquor Agency’s monthly allocated bottle release list for 2024. One release in particular that caught my attention is Bomberger’s Declaration Culte Barrel Finish 100.2 Proof due in August.
This is significant because it shows a drastic shift in what Michter’s will be doing with their Bomberger’s line – making it more of a barrel-finished or experimental wood limited edition product. If you didn’t know it already, Bomberger’s (and even Shenk’s) has been essentially the experimental branch of Michter’s since 2018. Up until 2023, they were primarily using Chinquapin Oak and sometimes French Oak as barrels to mature or finish their whiskies (I assume it was just bourbon thought) in. Then in 2023 they also used a new, experimental mash bill where malted rye was used.
Here is the description that Michter’s has given to this new Bomberger’s:
Bomberger’s Declaration Bourbon honors the legacy of the former distillery known as Bomberger’s in the 1800s and later as Michter’s in the 20th Century. Please join us in toasting and celebrating American Whiskey History.
Bomberger’s is the first American whiskey to be finished in the extremely rare CULTE barrel. To make this special barrel, our French Cooper partner evaluates oak from prestigious French forests including Allier, Nevers, Vosges, and the much-revered Troncais, and then hand-selects the highest quality tight grain wood.
Because the CULTE barrel represents the pinnacle of the French coopering craft, its ultra-fine grain profile has been sought after for years by wineries aging some of the world’s finest wines. To finish our exceptional whiskey, we place fully matured small-batch bourbon into a CULTE barrel, whose staves have been naturally air-dried and seasoned for 40 months before being toasted and charred to our proprietary specifications. The result is an elegant, rich, and complex bourbon.
So what we have here is a bourbon from Michter’s that – for the first time that I know of – is being re-barreled in a newly toasted AND charred oak barrel. It would have been very cool to see what a bourbon matured in these barrels their whole life would have turned out as, but I guess we’ll have to see if they do this again in the future. I have a strong feeling this is the new normal and not just a one-off.
A pet peeve of mine gets realized on a bourbon label
And finally, this one is a shoutout of sorts to my arch-nemesis in The New Jersey Bourbon and Yacht Club, Joe V. He used the term “1B” instead of “SiB” (Single Barrel) a while ago when describing some new release. He said that it stood for “One Barrel” which meant the same thing. I showed my annoyance perhaps too much by telling him that nobody used that term. As a result, the whole group started to dunk on me by using it every time they talked about any single barrel bottle.
Well now it appears that Missouri’s finest “Ben Holladay” is putting that term on their bottles – much to my chagrin. I urgently call for the TTB to lift the approval for this label until they change it to “Single Barrel.” This abomination must not be allowed to catch on!
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