Red Stag Lowers Proof

In a move that should shock nobody, the proof of Red Stag by Jim Beam will be dropping from 80 to 70 beginning March 1st.  Prices will remain unchanged, as you probably imagined.  This move follows a recent history of shortages and price increases by Four Roses and Jim Beam.  In fact, many of you probably remember two years ago when Maker’s Mark (another Beam brand) proposed cutting the proof of their product instead of risking a shortage.  In that case, they saved face by reversing the decision, but we can’t imagine there will be as much pressure on the Red Stag brand.  We recommend you buy in the next two days if you are a fan!

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Booker’s Limited Edition Collection

Beam Suntory posted a press release last week indicating that it will be releasing a collection of Booker’s Limited Edition bottlings throughout 2015.  As big fans of “regular” Booker’s ($59.99), and even bigger fans of last year’s Booker’s 25th Anniversary Edition ($99.99), this is very exciting news to us!

While very few details are available, the first of the Limited Editions will be inscribed as batch “2015-1” and called “Big Man, Small Batch.”  Judging by the picture in the press release, we are assuming this will be released alongside the “regular” Booker’s and priced somewhere in the $79.99 range.  With the age being similar to the “regular” stuff (6-8 years) indicating a lower range price, and the stained wooden case indicative of the 25th Anniversary Edition indicating a higher range price, this seems to be the middle ground.  Further details from the press release:

  • Proof: 128.7
  • Age: 7 years, 2 months and 16 days
  • Batch Notes:  Culled from seven different rack houses, Batch 2015-1 blends the flavor tendencies of several small groups of barrels to create a complex bourbon with a vanilla nose.
  • Sipping Suggestions: With ice or cut with water

As of now it’s not on the books in Michigan, and doesn’t appear to be slated to hit them in March either.  We would guess it will be available to the Michigan market in April.

New Jim Beam Products Available in Michigan

Okay, so the Lions lost a heart breaker yesterday, winter weather finally arrived just in time to mess up your Monday morning commute, and it’s also the first work day of the New Year for many of you.  Let’s face it – you could use some good news, right? Right!  It just so happens that I have some for you, and it comes in the form of two Jim Beam products that are new to the Michigan market.

The first is their latest release (third overall) in the Signature Craft line, which is called Jim Beam Signature Craft Quarter Cask.  It may be a mouth full, but I wouldn’t write it off as it is a fairly new idea in the Bourbon market.  This blended product all starts with the flagship Jim Beam aged a minimum of 4 years, which is then blended with a number of other Straight Bourbons.  Each of these additional Bourbons go through the normal aging process, then are finished or re-aged in smaller barrels (“quarter casks”) for a minimum of another 4 years.  By using the smaller casks, it allows each Bourbon to have a drastically different taste profile due to the variations in surface area of the staves that the liquid is exposed to compared to the internal volume.  Generally speaking, the smaller the barrel the more of an oak flavor the Bourbon will acquire over a shorter period of time.  In this case, since Jim Beam has used multiple sizes of smaller casks, some new and some used, and presumably stored them in different methods for different periods of time, it gives them a wide range of flavor profiles to blend.  Think Four Roses (which is a blend of 10 unique Bourbons), but with a wider range of flavors available to choose from prior to blending.  At a state minimum price of $39.99 for a 750 mL bottle of this 86 proof blended Bourbon, it may be worth trying this for the new concept alone.

The second new product is Jim Beam Bonded.  “Bonded” or “Bottled in Bond” is a special label that means that the Bourbon is aged and bottled under the supervision of the U.S. Government.  This was the way all U.S. liquor was produced in the pre-prohibition era, but the rules have since loosened up.  To qualify to use this label today, as always, the liquor must be aged in a Government supervised warehouse for a minimum of 4 years, and then bottled at 100 proof.  Accordingly, this is essentially your standard Jim Beam “white label,” but bottled at 100 proof instead of 80 proof. If you enjoy stronger Bourbons it may be worth picking up a bottle, and at a minimum price of $24.99 for a 750 mL bottle it is the same price per alcohol content as the 80 proof offering.

22 Year Old Lost Prophet Bourbon Released Today

The Detroit Lions match up against the Dallas Cowboys in a playoff game later this afternoon, which may be remembered as one of the most important games in recent Lions history.  The highly anticipated 22 year old Lost Prophet Bourbon is also being released to the Michigan market today.  Coincidence?  I think not!  The only question is whether you should search for a bottle ahead of time so that it’s ready for the post-game celebration, or if the hunt will be more enjoyable with the fresh victory still dancing in your mind.

For those unfamiliar with this particular Bourbon, it is the fourth release from the Orphan Barrel Project.  If I’m still not making much sense, this is a project being undertaken by Diageo to bottle and sell extra-aged whiskeys that have been “lost” in their warehouses.  All of the whiskeys are marketed as being produced by the Orphan Barrel Whiskey Distilling Co., but in actuality have been previously produced at other distilleries.  They are then bottled at the Diageo-owned George Dickel distillery in Tennessee.  The first three whiskeys from this project were released in 2014, with this being the fourth.  So far all of the project’s whiskeys have been Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskeys, but I suspect this may change with future releases.

Anyway, time to get to the details on this particular offering!  This Bourbon is thought to have been distilled at the former George T. Stagg distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky.  The astute reader may realize that this distillery is now known as Buffalo Trace, and isn’t associated with Diageo.  This means the Bourbon was moved from the original distillery, and explains why it was “tucked away in a corner of the historic Stitzel-Weller rickhouses in Shively, Kentucky,” as the official Lost Prophet description notes.  The tasting notes follow:

“A soft spoken whiskey, with aromas of honey, apricot and clove that reveal a silky, full-bodied taste with notes of spiced vanilla and a touch of leather, culminating in a sweet smoky finish.”

This rare, extra-aged, 90.1 proof Kentucky Straight Bourbon is now available to the Michigan market in 750 mL bottles, with a minimum shelf price of $119.96.  I suspect it will be hard to find, and probably even harder to find at the state minimum price.  However, it may be worth the hunt as this is a one-time release, and will never be bottled again.  Please leave a comment if you are lucky enough to secure a bottle!

Old Forester 1870 Replaces Single Barrel

As of today, Old Forester Single Barrel will no longer be available in Michigan.  While this may sound like disappointing news to Single Barrel Bourbon lovers, it may not be as hard to swallow as it first sounds.

A new product, Old Forester 1870 Original Batch will now be available. It will be the first release in their new Whiskey Row Series being introduced to celebrate the brand’s history.  According to the Old Forester website – and as the name indicates – this release will be created in a similar fashion as their original batches:

“Old Forester selects barrels from three different warehouses, with each barrel originating from a different day of production, with a different entry proof and a different age profile. The three expressions of Old Forester are batched together to craft Old Forester 1870 Original Batch.”

Both of the Bourbon’s mentioned are 90 proof, and 750 mL bottles of the 1870 will be available in Michigan starting January 4th, 2015 with a minimum shelf price of $44.99.