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A lot of people had opinions about my 13th Colony sourcing article. Here’s my response.

A lot of people had opinions about my 13th Colony sourcing article.  Here’s my response.

Introduction


In a way, I was not expecting my article Everything points to 13th Colony Distillery sourcing their whiskey to blow up the way it did. What started as researching the brand so I had something to talk about for my review of their Double Oaked Bourbon quickly turned into something more. I realized that there were inconsistencies with the whiskey they sold, what their labels said and what their website/social media portrayed as a distillery distilling their own whiskey.

Contrary to popular opinion, what I wrote was not intended to be a “hit piece.” Instead, I felt the information I uncovered while doing my review seemed like something that should be expanded on in an article. If it were any other distillery, I’d write about them in the same way. I feel like everyone that makes a a product is fair game to go under the microscope. The only reason I haven’t written similar articles like this one about another producer is because this is the first time I’ve encountered something so obvious. Actually, that’s not true, I spoke at length about the entire fiasco around the early days of Michter’s sourcing and labeling their whiskey.

*EDIT* Before I go any further, if you’re the kind of person who prefers to watch and hear a lot of the points I have been making in this whole controversy, the click hear to see what YouTuber “Bourbon Real Talk” has to say about it all.

As my article about 13th Colony began to gather steam across social media, many of you may have read the take of Bourbon Pursuit’s Kenny Coleman on a particular bourbon enthusiast Facebook page. His comment, which I’m typing out here because the FB page it was posted in does not want screenshots to be taken, says the following:

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.

-Kenny Coleman

Judging from the WhiskeyTubers and comments sections out there, it’s becoming clear that people are lumping my article and Kenny’s comments together like they are from the same source. I’d like to be clear that my original article never said anything about 13th Colony using flavoring/coloring additives in their whiskies. However, now that it’s been said, I believe it needs to be looked at closer. The black tint and the way it sticks to the side of the glass for a long time is more than any other whiskey I’ve tried. It also caught the attention of roughly 10 different people I’ve given pours to.

What’s in the totes?

But for the purposes of this article, I won’t be addressing the additives accusation. This rebuttal is simply about the holes people have tried to poke in my arguments about how I believe 13th Colony has sourced every drop of whiskey they’ve bottled. So let me lay out the groundwork for what I’ll be addressing. First will be the statement(s) that 13th Colony put out in response to my article. Second will be the common questions that I see floating around in various comments sections. And finally, I’m going to address two prominent WhiskeyTubers who have dedicated segments to my article. Here we go!

13th Colony’s two statements (both through 3rd parties)

“13th Colony does make its own distillate. However, as demand has increased we have also begun to contract distill our mash bill and in the future as we begin to use that additional distillate we will change our labels to reflect that. We have also sourced in the past for our Sour Mash Bourbon that has been discontinued. It clearly stated the distillate was from Wyoming on that label.”  

“The contract distilled will be completely contracted source. We are making sure it follows our recipe. In the future there will be bottles that are 100% sourced, but we expect them to be no different” “One of the big things we do with all barrels is we make sure they are all aged at our facility. We do this because we believe the weather of south GA is what provides the most unique differences in our products.”

– Paul Huie via the Georgia Bourbon Community Facebook page speaking with the distillery’s president

Let’s start by looking at the first paragraph. 13th Colony comes out and says they make their own distillate. I am not debating the fact that they have made distillate. There are a couple pictures/videos out there that show mash being fermented (the first step in the distilling process). I’m sure that mash got distilled, too. But my argument is all about the wording that they choose to use. Look at the word they are not using: Whiskey/Bourbon/Rye. 13th Colony always says they make their own “distillate” but they never says they make their own “whiskey.” These two are not the same thing. Distillate is the term for the spirit that comes off the still. When they put it into a barrel to age, it can become a whiskey. Therefore, what 13th Colony is telling us is that they have never distilled a liquid that has eventually became a whiskey. My guess? The photos/videos that they show us is distillate that is destined to be vodka.

I want you to think of it this way: in the movie Mrs. Doubtfire – Robin Williams had to interview with Sally Fields to get the job as her nanny. One of the selling points he tells her is that (s)he cooks. He gets the job. But when it’s time to make the kids dinner, he is so inexperienced that he makes a mess and sets his blouse on fire. Cut to the next scene where it shows he’s given up, ordered take-out and plated it up to the family like he cooked it. “Dinner is served” and everyone is amazed. There is evidence in the kitchen that cooking did take place, but the food that the family ate was not a result of that mess. Actually, why don’t I just make a meme out of what I’m saying?

Even if 13th Colony comes back and says that they meant to say they distill their own whiskey, it wouldn’t be enough. They need to give us a quantifier like the word “all” or “over half of.” That would be convincing. But 13th Colony never uses quantifiers. They keep it vague. And if you looked at the screenshot I put in my article of a shipment of their spirits from their warehouse, you’d be skeptical too. I don’t think they could distill even a quarter of those cases on their pot still in a full year, let alone a month.

Moving on, the next thing they point out is how they sourced their Sour Mash Whiskey from Wyoming. Yes, I know that. I said as much in my article. This is well-documented. I think the reason they bring this part us is to bolster a reader’s confidence that they’re telling the truth. Did they even read my article or did they only read the title?

In the second paragraph, I find the wording odd that they say that “the contract distilled (I think they intentionally left out a word here) will follow their recipe.” What are they talking about? Contract distilled… bourbon? Rye Whiskey? Vodka? Gin? Because even if we are to assume they’re talking about a whiskey “recipe” (note their singular tense), they technically have at least two whiskies: a bourbon whiskey and a rye whiskey. But the bourbon recipe has changed over the years. I posted screenshots from their website back in 2013 that showed them stating their bourbon recipe was 70/25/5. It stayed that way until 2016 when they removed the mash bill percentages. Now their website says their bourbon recipe is 70/21/9. There is also the video evidence I put in my article where the staff talks to the Bourbon Junkies about having barrels with 22% rye (which is a common George Dickel experimental mash bill). Then there is their 95/5 rye whiskey recipe (or is it 96/4? They have changed their story a lot). If you count all of this up, they technically have four separate recipes – so which “recipe” are they talking about? Their rebuttal is a time to be crystal clear about all points that I brought up, not open the door for more questions.

Now here’s where it gets weird. Look at the picture of the statement from Paul. He stops using quotes (as in, it stopped being the words of the President of 13th Colony and started being his own) for the final paragraph. The blue part is his own words, not 13th Colony’s. This is based on what Paul understands to be true.

One thing I want to draw attention to in the last paragraph (besides the poor wording of the second sentence) is that Paul says that 13th Colony is able produce around 75 barrels per year. You know I pick apart word structures and I find this wording to mean that they could if they wanted, but it’s not saying that they do.

Even if we are to ignore all of that, it still goes against what many of the WhiskeyTubers and commenters have quoted in their responses (they claim 13th Colony can make 2 to 4 barrels per day). The reason why I’m inclined to believe that 13th Colony can only produce a barrel per day is based off of the 250 gallon pot still that Dick Stoll used to distill with at Michter’s distillery in PA (and now it’s at Fort Nelson Distillery in Louisville). Dick was quoted by saying that he could only fill one barrel per day on that still. Subtract weekends and average time to ferment a mash (3 days) and you end up with around 75 days available to distill. So I do believe that 75 barrels is possible. One of the points I made in my 13th Colony article was “can such a small still produce all (or even most) of the liquid that you see here in the picture?” And that’s just for a monthly shipment!

Why can’t 13th Colony be more specific about the number of barrels they produced each year? Why are there no videos of them filling up barrels with their white dog? I’ve only seen a 3 or 4 pictures/videos of mash being fermented. I’ve seen one video where a clear liquid is coming off the still, but it’s so zoomed in, you can’t see where it’s going. My guess? Not into a barrel. 13th Colony doesn’t go into detail on anything because the details would invite more scrutiny.

The rest of the sentences are fluff designed to distract. Of course Arthur Graham will continue to taste every barrel. You don’t need to distill barrels of whiskey to taste them. Of course the weather is what provides the most unique differences in your products. If they are contract sourced, they’re going to age differently in Georgia than they will in Kentucky or Indiana or wherever they were distilled at. A huge point I made in my article was that 13th Colony should come clean that they’ve sourced all of their whiskey that has been bottled but focus on the fact that they’re very good at maturation, finishing and blending. I am more than willing to point out that is a strong point of theirs.

Nothing in that statement has convinced me that the whiskey that is inside of 13th Colony’s bottles is made with the same “distillate” that came off of their stills.

I also want to address one more response that 13th Colony gave to Jason C at Mash and Drum. In it they say:

Thanks for reaching out. Sadly, the article was written without ever reaching out to us or reading our website fully as we are very clear on what we are currently doing. I know you are aware we have sourced in the past for our Sour Mash as it clearly stated it was distilled in Wyoming on the label. What we are currently doing is distilling and we have begun to source our mash bill as well because of the large increase in demand. I have added the FAQ section from our website below where we state clearly, we distill and have begun sourcing as well.

We plan to continue to distill locally and source to cover demand in the future. We do not plan to respond to the article as we feel this is someone just trying to start a fight without doing the full research they needed to do.

From our website: https://www.13thcolonydistillery.com/who-we-are#FAQs Exact wording on our site today:

Do you distill your spirits?
Yes, Graham Arthur is our master distiller, and he does distill our spirits. We are proud to use local ingredients and our specialty finishes to cultivate flavor. We also source our specific mash bill from a contract distiller to supplement the volume needed to meet demand. 100% of all our barrels are aged in our warehouse and go through our specialty finishing processes, as we believe that is a huge differentiator to our flavor profile.

I want to address just two things in 13th Colony’s response. The first is that once again, 13th Colony continues to avoid using the word “whiskey” and instead continues to use the word “distillate.” These are not the same things and I think it’s cleverly disguising the fact so as not to lie that they have distilled their own whiskey. These are carefully curated responses probably by a lawyer so that they do not technically lie.

Secondly, this statement continues to avoid any sort of quantifier outside of telling us that “100% of all our barrels are aged in our warehouse.” That’s great but they never use percentages to tell us how much of their distillate makes its way into each bottle of whiskey. Even if you want to give them the benefit of the doubt that they have ever distilled their own whiskey, you shouldn’t ever assume that any bottle of 13th Colony whiskey contains anything less than 99.99% sourced whiskey.

Common questions asked in the comments section

“Did you reach out to 13th Colony before you wrote the article to ask them about their sourcing?”

No I did not. But I feel I have a pretty good reason. I already pored over their current website, their archived website (which was under a different URL for some reason), their social media accounts and read through all reviews/interviews. I read all there was to know about them and noticed where there were glaring holes in their story of distillation. I also read reviews and discussions on Straight Bourbon where they were evasive or non-responsive to questions. No other single discussion points out just how evasive they were than this one right here (it gets good on pages 3 and 4).

Even the legendary Chuck Cowdery chimed in with hard hitting questions that the rep has some rather creative responses to. In the end, the rep who speaks for 13th Colony says that 13th Colony has distilled all of their whiskey – to include rye whiskey and bourbon. This was back in 2014 and was met with a healthy dose of skepticism.

After my article came out, even Bourbon Pursuit chimed in that their questions they had sent to 13th Colony before were similarly ignored. Imagine straight up ignoring questions from the largest whiskey podcast when they come knocking! Earlier today I ignored the door when Girl Scouts came knocking to ask if I wanted to buy cookies. Why didn’t I answer them? Because I didn’t want to have to lie about why I didn’t want to buy overpriced cookies that I’m not going to eat. My point is if 13th Colony really wanted to answer the people’s questions, they would have done it long before I came knocking. Now they’re just hiding.

Many of you will turn that argument back on me and say that by not asking them, I didn’t really want to learn the answers to their questions. But that’s simply not true. Why do I need to ask them for the 100th time “are you sure you have distilled your own bourbon and rye whiskey?” They have always answered it in a way that doesn’t fully answer the question.

I think one of the funniest things so far is that even back in 2014, they were saying things like they were unaware of the possible negative connotation to using the verbiage “Distilled by vs Produced by” on the label…

… and yet almost 10 years later, they are still submitting labels to the TTB where they continue to use the word “Produced by” on the label instead of distilled. And the best part? These two labels (see below) were submitted to the TTB AFTER my article came out on December 27, 2023 and AFTER they issued their rebuttal! This just shows that they really have no intention of changing anything.

(Above) New label for 13th Colony Cask Strength Bourbon submitted to the TTB on January 8, 2024

(Below) New label for 13th Colony 15th Anniversary Bourbon submitted to the TTB on January 8, 2024

Thanks for sending me these, Mike! You’re the best.

It’s not hard to get a label changed or to fix it. It’s just that before enthusiasts got savvy to how the TTB website worked, 13th Colony could lie to consumers back in 2014 and not fear being challenged on things most people didn’t know about. They are simply stalling when they give their excuses. They hope that people forget about it and stop asking.

“13th Colony has always said they sourced, so why are people questioning it now?”

Brewzle, Jason C. (Mash & Drum) and the Bourbon Junkies all wanted to point out that 13th Colony already admitted they had sourced contract-distilled whiskey in the past. I’m well aware of that. I even mentioned that I knew their Sour Mash Bourbon was sourced from Wyoming. The key difference in what my article said and what others interpreted I said is that I was making the case that all of the whiskey they have ever bottled has been sourced. Not just one particular label. Here is a copy/paste from my original article where I said that:

The following reasons have led me to the conclusion that not only did 13th Colony source the whiskey that went into their famous Double Oaked bourbon, but that it’s very likely that they have never bottled and sold their own distillate, period.

I suppose I should change my wording to say “sold their own whiskey” (even though my title literally says the word whiskey in it). I honestly don’t give a crap about if they’re making or sourcing their own vodka, gin and rum because nobody reading these articles cares about that stuff. But I firmly believe that every bottle of whiskey that has sat on a shelf – from their rye whiskey to their (discontinued) corn whiskey to all of their bourbons – have all been sourced since the beginning. I also think that Arthur Graham has distilled spirits on their still before. But those two sentences are not saying the same thing. I think that whatever fermentation mash we’ve seen pictures of has either been an experimental batch, destined for their vodka or maybe it’s just straight up to keep the appearance that they’re a distillery. But whatever whiskey Arthur may have distilled has not made it into any bottle you or I have bought off the shelf.

If that sounds extreme, let me explain my thinking like this. Almost all distilleries out there are fearful that blending in substandard barrels to a small batch could taint it (bigger batches are fine though). So if 13th Colony sourced whiskey from the very beginning (which has been my whole argument) and their customers liked it – why would they introduce change by adding in their own inferior whiskey? Very few distilleries have had success going that route (like Traverse City). But at least Traverse City was transparent with what they were doing. Just remember the old saying “One rotten apple spoils the bunch;” so does one bad barrel of whiskey. And 13th Colony has made the smart move by not blending in their own barrels to the stuff they are sourcing because it would more than likely ruin it.

To put it another way, just look up early reviews of whatever craft distillery you want. Chances are high that early reviews were unfavorable. That’s because distilleries were still dialing in their process. A majority never get it 100% dialed in, even after a decade of experience. But the early reviews (or any reviews for that matter) for 13th Colony never use common terms like “they should get better with time” or “they’re improving.” They were good right off the bat – and that’s not normal. It’s especially not normal with the kind of equipment they have.

“Nobody was questioning 13th Colony or speaking badly about them until they had a really good whiskey. Therefore this article is a hit piece with an agenda behind it.”

The people who have said this must not visit my website or read my reviews. Sure, my early reviews were much shorter than they are now, but I’ve found my niche – it’s going in depth on the backstory behind every bottle. Just look at the “essays” I’ve written on this Journeyman rye whiskey that they have only released 2 barrels of or the history behind each annual limited release of Wyoming Whiskey or even this piece on Forbidden Bourbon where I basically write an autobiography about Marianne Eaves. I don’t just give you a score and tell you if a whiskey is yucky or yummy, I want you to be top-to-bottom informed about the whiskey you might buy with your hard-earned money. And most of the time, the story is way better than the whiskey inside.

I have no agenda. I have no whiskey brand, I’ve never picked my own single barrel and tried to sell it to followers. Most importantly, writing about whiskey is not my full time job. I’m just a guy with a website who got sick of reading regurgitated press releases from Uproxx, the Robb Report or Paste. Do I make some money off of the clicks? Sure, and it helps me to buy more bottles to review for you. But if I didn’t have this website, I’d still be writing this stuff on Reddit where I initially got started 5 years ago. I had 200 reviews under my belt before I met my business partner (the other Mike in the title) who approached me with the idea to make Bourbon Culture something more.

All I have to say is keep an eye on our website in the months and years to come. Because the reviews and articles are going to keep piling up and so is our ranking on most search engines. I’m doing this by not talking about the same stuff everyone else is talking about all the time. I love to break down the bullshit wall that brands build up so that people can learn. And if you don’t want to learn, there are plenty of YouTubers out there churning out swill.

If it tastes good, who cares?

This is such a lazy response. It’s the go-to statement for people who realize that the situation is getting too complex and they’d have to use more brainpower to form additional opinions. So they get discouraged and say “if it tastes good, who cares?” It’s meant to negate any previous arguments but it also feels like a cop out.

Besides, I already said I enjoyed my bottle of 13th Colony Double Oaked. I talked extensively about it. But in my efforts to explain how a craft distillery made such a great bourbon, I kept finding reasons to believe that it didn’t start out as their own bourbon at all. So if people are going to freak out about how good their bourbon or rye whiskey is, I want them to know what it started out as first because the distillery behind it deserves at least half of the kudos. We all deserve to know the source. Don’t let anyone try to convince you otherwise.

What the WhiskeyTubers are saying

Bourbon Junkies

“When we were there on our trip, they were mashing, or they were fermenting. We could smell it. There was corn spilled everywhere… Graham was running back and forth actually working on their whiskey.”

I’m not denying they saw this. But what I have been denying is that whatever spirit he was making actually ended up inside of a 13th Colony bottle of whiskey. For all we know, he could’ve been making vodka that day too (since vodka is primarily made from grain, not potatoes like a lot of people think)

“I can tell you they spend a metric shit ton on their water purification. That’s not something that you would spend a lot of money on if you were faking it…”

Yes because the water they have access to is probably nowhere near the quality the major distilleries have. I also don’t think that the giant limestone sheet that stretches from Indiana/Ohio all the way down into Tennessee goes down into Georgia. A gnarly water purification system has an equally large role in proofing down the clear spirits (which I still believe they source as well) and whiskies too. Having it does not prove that they are serious about distilling their whiskey. Instead, it implies they are serious about not having funky city water to cut their spirits down to proof with. In fact, I guarantee that their water purification system has more to do with proofing down their spirits than it does to the extremely small amount of distillate they make on that still.

*Reading a live comment on air* “ThatMuffinman says ‘I spoke with the guy who wrote the article before publishing. He refused to reach out to the distillery, listen to me about some of the information I heard straight from them, and disregarded tons.'”… “Modern-day media right there, it’s called cherry picking…”

It is true, ThatMuffinman is a member of one of the Discord groups that I am. We (other members too) discussed my article after it came out. I shared a screenshot from a conversation I was having with a person associated with another NDP where they leaked that 13th Colony doesn’t distill their whiskey and has always sourced it. ThatMuffinman responded that he didn’t recognize the name of the NDP in the screenshot and then commented that he was contacting the president of 13th Colony to get more information.

Later on, ThatMuffinman began to post his brief discussion with the 13th Colony president in which he said that “they are currently sourcing all of their products that are out but that is posted on the (web)site.” He said “they are distilling their product but what is out on the shelf is not theirs currently” in regards to bourbon/rye. He followed by saying that he was under the assumption that they were distilling what was in the bottle for sure. So for that period of time, ThatMuffinman seemed to confirm my belief that 13th Colony was sourcing all of their whiskey. Sure, it didn’t make sense what he said, but whatever.

Hours later, he came back and said he meant the complete opposite of everything he just said. He copy/pasted what the 13th Colony president told him, which was basically a regurgitation of what was already on the website (it’s quoted in the picture up in the first section of this article). He said I could reach out to them if I wanted.

If ThatMuffinman (which I later figured out was Paul from the Facebook post I posted above) had told me some kind of new information that I didn’t already know, I probably would have interacted more. As to if I “disregarded” the things he told me, I already read them on 13th Colony’s website. He didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already read. If I had the desire to write more about it, I could probably turn the argument back on ThatMuffinman and say that he disregarded a lot of the points I made to him. But I felt like ThatMuffinman already had his mind made up on what he wanted to believe possibly because he’s local to 13th Colony and feels a sense of regional pride.

But I will say this about the Bourbon Junkies – they also seemed to also have their minds made up on what they thought about 13th Colony and sourcing because they do business with 13th Colony by picking single barrels to sell. But I felt like they didn’t approach any of the points my argument originally made – they more or less went off of a script of why they didn’t want to believe it. I’m assuming it’s because they don’t want to ruin future barrel picks with them and lose out on all that money.

Mash & Drum

“The article says that virtually no online reviewer has ever complained about a common craft whiskey note on any of their bottles. I think that’s a little too subjective to make that case…”

Reviews and tasting notes are inherently subjective. I know that. But it is objective to say that after reading and listening to all of the subjective reviews that I could find, that none of them identified or complained about young/craft whiskey notes. That was my whole point. I called out how that simply doesn’t happen with the reviews of other craft distilleries who make their own whiskey. Sure, about 50% of reviewers are usually too nice to ever say anything bad about a whiskey, 25% will dance around the topic of youthful, craft notes if a whiskey has them and the other 25% will viciously tear them down.

“…if you look under the photo of the reviewers they show in that article, there is a little quote that says ‘dozens of takes, not a single use of the word trash.’ I don’t understand why someone would want to have another person say the word trash to another whiskey because the whole article goes out of its way to say ‘this isn’t an attack piece about the distillery’ but then you kinda write something underneath the photo. I think that’s a little bit shady.”

Admittedly, that line about listening/reading through dozens of reviews and not hearing a single use of the word trash was more of a joke than anything. It was an attempt at humor that probably came off way too dry for most to find the humor in. Within the world of whiskey reviewers and drinkers, I’m amazed at how many describe the bottles they taste in black or white terms. It’s either delicious/incredible/amazing or “trash.” I find very little whiskey to be bad enough to be called trash, but when I do it’s usually a craft product like Hudson Baby Bourbon. My underlying point still stands, I have yet to read any reviews for 13th Colony’s whiskey and found one where the reviewer hates it. That’s not a normal occurrence.

At this point, arguing about this is just trying to stretch out the subject a little bit more so viewers have to watch one more ad to generate revenue.

Speaking of profits, Jason C. also has a 13th Colony barrel pick coming up in February. So of course he’s going to argue for their honesty about being transparent company or not putting additives in their whiskey. Imagine the awkwardness of walking into that mattress factory next month if he had admitted on air that maybe there was some truth behind these allegations!

Conclusion

I think the fact that 13th Colony doesn’t address my article directly on their social media channels is telling. They just want it to go away. I wrote the article and still stand by every word I said. Nothing they wrote has changed my mind – not because it’s unable to be changed – but because it’s going to take a whole lot more proof to undo 15 years of being shady.

If I were in their shoes, I honestly don’t know what I’d do either. Admit that they’ve sourced all of their whiskey (and probably clear spirits too)? If they do that, then they might lose out on a group of enthusiasts who won’t be happy to hear that their business practices weren’t completely honest. It would definitely damage their reputation for a while. But companies like Templeton and Michter’s have shown that they can recover and thrive. We’re always going to make fun of them, but their reputation wouldn’t be sunk.

On the other hand, 13th Colony has only themselves to blame for a long history of bad decisions with how they handled questions about a products origin (just look back at that Straight Bourbon article to see how it started early). If it ever comes out that their Double Oaked contains additives, it could rock their business to the core… or maybe it won’t hurt them that much – after all, the TTB is toothless and wields no real weapons to impose consequences on them AND we have people like the Bourbon Junkies saying they’d still love drinking it if it did.

As for me, I guess one of the key takeaways is that I don’t write the stuff I do without putting in the legwork to make sure my bases are covered. And when I do get stuff wrong, I will gladly show the steps I took to arrive at my incorrect assumption. If anything, all of the drama that others made over my article shows me that people just want to push back against other opinions but don’t really put the time or the effort into them in the first place.

But the most important lesson I learned in all of this is just how awful it is to watch hours of YouTube reviewers talking about absolute nonsense when they could’ve typed up a response that would take 5 minutes to read and explain it better. God bless the person who invented adjustable playback speed settings!

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PatrickS

Tuesday 16th of January 2024

They are this generation's Templeton Rye. Too many good whiskeys in the marketplace so, just like TR, I have no need to buy their fishy "products".

BrianR

Tuesday 16th of January 2024

A video exists from 12 years ago on youtube titled 13Th Colony Distillery about Plantation Vodka https://youtu.be/otv9iKyrDXU?si=daad9eGfrYkubooN

As a consumer I wrote the following to Bourbon Real talk, let me know if anything is incorrect, anyone. My reasoning as a consumer is that Whiskey-Tubers are to blame for the mythology and 13C is just doing what they do and not correcting the record.

Start:

"Not to beat a dead horse; The 13C is not a bourbon, it is not strait or a blend of straights, its aged in a second oak barrel with maple staves (multiple finished). Based on the label alone, it is most likely just a whiskey and you can do all sorts of things to whiskey to change flavor, color, and blend."

and after his response

" @BourbonRealTalk Yeah figured it was recorded days ago. Its not you folks, it is how they labeled the product and how they allowed others to talk about it. I watched the video in which the 13C chef claimed to have a "Sweet Potato Bourbon" that's how bastardized the class 'understanding' of Bourbon has become.

My source for the Maple Staves and used barrels, 13th Colony Website. So I hope you are convinced.

13C Finishes 100% of their barrels according to them (13C website). The DO is also oak barrel finished and subjected to MAPLE WOOD STAVES (13C website), thus not bourbon. The absence of 'straight' designation' Section 5.23(a)(2) allows for all sorts of coloring and flavoring. They do say they distill from Bourbon Sour Mash, TTB rules say that this product is stored IN USED BARRELS, so more flavor added? So if it is not a bourbon or a straight bourbon, it can in fact be put in used barrels and subjected to all sorts of modern 'flavor engineering' and not even tell you. The label is the legal part, conversations and jibberish on websites not so much, if its not on the label they have made no official claim. Interesting they have a chef and not a classically trained distiller.

"Just because a whiskey is classified as 'bourbon whiskey,' without the 'straight,' that doesn't mean it does contain flavoring or coloring, just that it may under 5.23(a)(2), (Cowdry 2014: American Whiskey and Other Stuff)." However, when we consider the lengths at avoiding transparency by 13C, I would not be shocked if they did, nor would it be illegal if they did, but perhaps would explain the atypical vibrancy of the products flavor. Who knows, they ain't talking.

"there may be added to any class or type of distilled spirits, without changing the class or type thereof, (i) such harmless coloring, flavoring, or blending materials as are an essential component part of the particular class or type of distilled spirits to which added, and (ii) harmless coloring, flavoring, or blending materials (HCFBM) such as caramel, straight malt or straight rye malt whiskies, fruit juices, sugar, infusion of oak chips when approved by the Director, or wine, which are not an essential component part of the particular distilled spirits to which added, but which are customarily employed therein in accordance with established trade usage, if such coloring, flavoring, or blending materials do not total more than 2 ½ percent by volume of the finished product." TTB

Its a mess, they did it to themselves, and DO Southern Bourbon Whiskey ain;t Bourbon.

Cheers and Keep up the good work.

BR

END:

Jeff Kaser

Tuesday 16th of January 2024

Thank you for writing this. Reminds me of the tequila industry. Look at what the tequila has gone to, additive free.