Archive for the ‘whisky’ Category

The Brown Family Constitution

The Brown Family printed their Constitution on this Bourbon label, and the government ratified it late this summer.

The main point of the document seems to be keeping the publicly traded company under family control. Barron’s has estimated that “The Brown family owns about 70% of Brown-Forman’s Class A voting shares (BFA).” Six months ago The Wall Street Journal reported:

In an effort to ensure that it remains independent and under family control, liquor maker Brown-Forman Corp. is pushing to get family shareholders more involved in the company. … The effort is among the strongest in a growing number of family-controlled companies trying to better educate and unify family shareholders. … Today, there are 117 living descendants of the founder and 38 widows or spouses, the company says. … Potential suitors could include spirits giants Diageo PLC, Pernod Ricard SA or Bacardi Ltd.

The Sunday Paper explains that Old Forester Bourbon became America’s first bottled bourbon in 1870. George Garvin Brown handwrote a guarantee and his signature on every bottle. Old Forester is named after Dr. William Forrester, a leading doctor in Louisville. It is:

the only bourbon legally produced and sold before, during and after Prohibition. From 1920 to 1933, its distillers held one of only 10 government permits that allowed production of bourbon for medicinal purposes. … When Prohibition was enforced, there were more than 200 distilling operations in Kentucky alone—all put out of business in one fell swoop. … The Old Forester strain of yeast is the oldest strain of yeast in the industry.

The Barron’s article, from a few years ago, says “Brown-Forman’s fortunes hinge on Jack Daniel’s, which accounts for some two-thirds of profits. … Brown-Forman might not exist today, save for its purchase of Jack Daniel’s for $18 million in 1956.”


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64 Proof Beer (More or Less)

Time Magazine calls the above beer one of the world’s strongest. It looks to be considerably stronger than any beer that the US rules can tolerate. In other countries, Tactical Nuclear Penguin is sold as a beer, at 32% alc./vol.

But this approval shows that, under US rules, this “Super-High-Alcohol-Beer” is actually a distilled spirit (Spirits Distilled from Grain). The Time article explains how BrewDog uses low temperatures to get the alcohol content so high:

the brewery was able to attain the high alcohol content by freezing the beer at a local ice cream factory, at temperatures as low as -6°C (21°F), for 21 days. Alcohol freezes at lower temperatures than water, and removing water from the solution increased the alcohol concentration.

Under US law, such manipulation of the alcohol may be treated as distillation. The Time article points to two even stronger products that at least start as normal beers (before becoming tactical or nuclear):

The drinking games continued in February when a German brewer, Schorschbrau, released a 40% ABV beer called Schorschbock. The BrewDog boys fired back a few weeks later with high-octane concoction Sink the Bismarck!, which checks in at 41%, enough to reclaim the “world’s strongest beer” mantle. …

There is no sign that these other two have been approved for US sale at all yet, let alone as beer.



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malt beverage, whisky

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Alcohol from Brad Paisley


What do these three things have in common? All three are featured in Brad Paisley’s song, “Alcohol.” Of all the songs about alcohol beverages, this one is worth covering, because it mentions specific brands and deals directly with the interplay of alcohol and society. It also has witty lyrics. It would be even better for this blog if it dealt specifically with a legal topic, but perhaps that’s asking too much of Mr. Paisley.

Here are the most pertinent lyrics:

Well I’ve been know to cause a few breakups
And I’ve been known to cause a few births
I can make you new friends
Or get you fired from work

And since the day I left Milwaukee
Lynchburg, Bordeaux France
Been making the bars
Lots of big money
And helping white people dance …
Alcohol. Alcohol

I got blamed at your wedding reception
For your best man’s embarrassing speech
And also for those naked pictures of you at the beach
I’ve influenced kings and world leaders

I am medicine and I am poison
I can help you up or make you fall

The song does a good job of putting the good and bad in perspective.


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alcohol beverages generally, malt beverage, whisky

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Single Malt (Not Scotch) Whisky


The Malt Advocate blog had an interesting article about Single Malt Whisky from other than Scotland (specifically, Amrut Single Malt Whisky, made in India). The initial post, on September 7, 2009, tends to suggest that TTB would not allow “Single Malt” on whiskies produced outside of Scotland.

Do they? Should they?

Amrut’s apparent difficulty touched off a fairly strong torrent of comments. The Spirit of Islay site points out (comment 4), having done a recent tasting and review, that “It’s bloody good whisky.” Mark Gillespie explains (comment 3):

Amrut is sold in the UK with no objections from the [Scotch Whisky Association], since it’s clearly labeled as an Indian product. The SWA goes ballistic when someone in another country tries to pass off locally produced whisky as Scotch.

With admirable understatement, the distiller (Ashok Chokalingam) observes (comment 11):  “This is a pain the neck for us.” He also explains that he cleared it with the SWA before the launch — in Glasgow, Scotland. Other commenters proceed to mention several good examples of already approved Single Malt Whiskies not from Scotland. Just two days later, Ashok reports (comment 23) “[At least for] now, the terminology issue is sorted out. This is half of the battle that got over.” At comment 27, TTB tends to say the regulations require a Malt Whisky label to indicate “Straight” if aged two years or more.

More than a month after Mr. Chokalingam said the issue is largely resolved, there is still no sign of a new label approval for this brand. Stranger still, the 2004 approval (for Amrut Single Malt Whisky) has been sitting in plain view the whole time.


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Sin City Libations

Click for Sin City COLA

Sin City seems to be alive and well in the hearts and minds of drinkers and marketers everywhere. Sin City Whiskey (above) is imported by Side Pocket Foods of Oregon. Viva Las Vegas is a California white wine bottled by Cartlidge & Browne Winery of American Canyon, California.


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whisky, wine

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