One of the funniest stories is that Pappy Van Winkle—a wildly popular whiskey that we constantly get asked about regarding availability—actually experienced a theft and it was apparently an inside job. The report claims that 65 cases of the 20yr old were stolen for a cost of $26,000. That’s a really weird number because a case is 12 bottles. That means the “value” to Sazerac was $33.33 per bottle. But the bottle retails for around $150!!!!! So for the record, either the press greatly underreported the value (unlikely) or they inadvertently correctly quoted Sazerac estimating their value and the mark-up on those bottles is about 350%.
The report also mentions that it’s the #1 rated bourbon in the world and notes their 99pt score from the Beverage Testing Institute. We can correct that: they were the #1 bourbon in the world but since that 99pt score—way back in 2008—their critical scores have moderated quite a bit. They’re now tied for the #20 bourbon in the world according to us. The top of our list includes Four Roses Single Barrel (thanks to solid strings of scores from everyone), Angels Envy (thanks to a huge score from Wine Enthusiast), Old Forest Signature 2011 vintage (two good scores from 2012), Parker’s Heritage Cognac Finish, and regular old Knob Creek.
CNet reported a great website that came up for sale: drunk dialing your congress person. The description is exactly what you might guess. The app will randomly select a member of congress whereupon your phone will dial and you have the opportunity to exercise your American right of petition and complain as much as you want. Great idea. And very, very American. Here’s the website: http://drunkdialcongress.org/.
For what it’s worth, we often use the federal Tax and Trade Bureau website to look up the filings for different spirits. True to form, the partial shut-down caused the website to be disconnected. A dubious call, in our opinion, since it was a static database and could have easily remained up while congress worked things out. We’re pretty sure it cost extra hours just to take the thing down. So, we called up congress and let them know what we thought about that.
Beam, Inc sold off one of their bottling plants in Maine to Sazerac, according to many sources. It came about after their purchase of Pinnacle vodka from White Rock… so presumably some of the Pinnacle bottling will move away from Maine and towards Kentucky. Why does this matter? It’s one of those cases where you wonder if the flavor is something that’s exactly portable. Will the flavor profile change? In the case of the bizarre variety of Pinnacle flavors, perhaps it doesn’t matter. But when labels shift states and producers, one can’t help but wonder if you’re buying a label or you’re buying a spirit. For their part, Sazerac also bought several brands from White Rock. The Portland Press Herald notes Tortilla Tequila, Desert Island Ice Tea, Firewater Cinnamon Schnapps, and Kapali Coffee Liqueur. (Amazingly to us, as of this writing we have 6,800+ spirits listed and none of these labels are among them, suggesting to us they’re very local, very niche, and have never been submitted to major competitions for judging.)
There is a great example of opening a corked wine bottle with only a shoe. Well worth checking out this very short video showing how to do it. Basically, just whack the bottle against a tree and let the sloshing liquid slowly force the cork out. Genius. And yes, we tried it here at Proo66. And yes, it works. But try it at your own risk.
Popcorn Sutton’s Tennessee White Whiskey is being sued by Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey because the bottles are “confusingly similar,” according to the AP report. This makes us sad. Yes, the bottles are similar… but is Brown-Forman really concerned that the volume of Popcorn Sutton’s is going to cut into the volume of the largest selling whiskey on the planet? There are lots of square bottles of whiskey with black labels that are ”confusingly similar” to Jack Daniel’s using… on notable that comes to mind is Evan Williams 7yr bourbon. Another is Ezra Brooks bourbon. Overall, we’d say that Popcorn Sutton’s is less like Jack than several other examples. In any event, the liquor industry in general is confusing with its hordes of flavors, editions, and styles. Given the state of the industry, we find this lawsuit rather preposterous and smells like an example of a big company picking on a smaller company simply because they can. (Evan Williams and Ezra Brooks are both owned by larger companies with their battery of lawyers for defense.) Maybe what the industry really needs is fewer lawyers and fewer regulators.