Kentucky Bourbon Inventory Sets 40-Year Record

Kentucky’s inventory of aging Bourbon barrels set a 40-year high in 2014 with 5,669,682 million charred oak casks gently sleeping in Bluegrass warehouses, the Kentucky Distillers’ Association announced today.

That’s the highest number since 1975 when the state’s distilleries reported 5.8 million barrels.

“The last time Kentucky had this much Bourbon, Jimmy Hoffa was still alive,” said Eric Gregory, President of the non-profit trade group founded in 1880 that promotes, protects and unites Kentucky’s signature Bourbon and distilled spirits industry.

Other tidbits from 1975: a gallon of gas was 44 cents, BIC launched the first disposable razor, Saturday Night Live debuted on NBC, The Rocky Horror Picture Show opened on Broadway, the stock market closed at 852 points and the world lost the last two Stooges.

“The global resurgence of Kentucky Bourbon is phenomenal, but there’s much work to be done,” Gregory said. “The Commonwealth still produces about 95 percent of the world’s Bourbon, yet we rank eighth in the country in the number of permitted distilleries.

“Other states are changing laws and working to lure the next generation of distillers from locating in Kentucky. We can’t let that happen. We must modernize our archaic alcohol laws, especially in the tourism sector, and better compete before our historic monopoly slips away.”

Kentucky Bourbon is one of the Commonwealth’s most historic and treasured industries, a thriving $3 billion economic engine that generates more than 15,400 jobs with an annual payroll topping $700 million and pours $166 million into state and local coffers each year.

Production has soared more than 170 percent since the turn of the century, with only 485,020 barrels filled in 1999. Distilleries crafted 1,306,375 barrels last year – the highest production mark since 1970 and the third straight year with a million barrels born.

Amounts include all distilleries in Kentucky compiled from state Department of Revenue data. The KDA represents 28 of the state’s distilleries, from legendary, global brands to emerging micro distillers that are building upon centuries of craftsmanship and tradition.

Other key facts released today:

  • Bourbon isn’t the only spirit aging in barrels. When you include brandy and other whiskies, the state’s total barrel inventory was 6.2 million in 2014, the highest total since 1975.
  • The tax-assessed value of aging barrels this year is $2.1 billion, an increase of $223 million from 2014 and more than double the value since 2006.
  • Distilleries paid $14 million in ad valorem barrel taxes last year to the state and local communities, the majority of which goes to fund education, public safety and other worthy causes.

In order to meet the growing global thirst for Bourbon, more than $1.3 billion in capital projects has been completed or is planned in the next five years by KDA members, from new distilleries to aging warehouses, bottling facilities, tourism centers and more.

“This truly is the Golden Age of Bourbon,” Gregory said. “And it’s an honor to once again proclaim that Kentucky has a million more barrels of Bourbon than people living in our beloved Commonwealth.

“We look forward to working with our elected officials to keep the barrel rolling and to strengthen Kentucky’s rightful place as the one, true and authentic home for America’s only native spirit.” Full article here.

Woodford Reserve Donates $15,000 to Wounded Warrior Equestrian Program


Following Kentucky Derby 141 ®, Woodford Reserve has donated $15,000 to the Wounded Warrior Equestrian Program to continue developing equine therapy programs for wounded veterans. The donation stems from net proceeds raised from Woodford Reserve’s annual $1,000 Mint Julep Cup program. 2015 marked the tenth year of the program, with more than $410,000 total raised for equine and humanitarian causes to date.

“The Wounded Warrior Equestrian Program is grateful for Woodford Reserve’s support and donation,” said Bridget Kroger, the organization’s founder and president. “It was a true honor to have partnered with Woodford Reserve to continue our quest in giving both veterans and rescued thoroughbreds a second chance. We look forward to extending our mission with this donation.”

The Wounded Warrior Equestrian Program was selected through a national consumer voting campaign to receive the net proceeds of this year’s $1,000 Mint Julep Cup sales.

“Woodford Reserve is proud to continue support for organizations committed to bettering the lives of those involved in the horse-racing community,” said Jason Kempf, Woodford Reserve brand director. “We want to thank our community of brand fans and consumers for their support of our first-ever charity voting program. It was through their help and participation that the Wounded Warrior Equestrian Program received their donation.”

Woodford Reserve has additionally made a $1,000 nominal donation to the Permanently Disabled Jockeys’ Fund, who additionally participated in the national consumer voting program. The donation will be used to disburse the medical costs faced by injured jockeys.

Long-time Four Roses Bourbon Master Distiller Jim Rutledge to Retire


Four Roses Distillery’s CEO and President, Satoko Yoshida, announced today the retirement of long-time Master Distiller Jim Rutledge – effective September 1, 2015.

Jim is in his 49th year working in the Bourbon business with Seagram and Four Roses, and he has been Master Distiller at Four Roses for more than 20 years. His passion, enthusiasm and loyalty for Four Roses Bourbons and the distillery employees and staff were instrumental in returning Four Roses Bourbon to the USA after spending more than 40 years in European and Japanese markets only.
In 2001, Rutledge was inducted into the inaugural class of the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame. He was given a “Lifetime Achievement Award” by Malt Advocate Magazine in 2007, and in 2008 Whisky Magazine named him “Whisky Ambassador of the Year – American Whiskies.” In 2012, Whisky Magazine also named Jim to its Icons of Whisky Hall of Fame, for global whiskies. He was the 2nd American inducted into this elite group of whisky makers.

When asked about retirement and what may lie ahead, Rutledge stated that his passion for the Bourbon industry, and especially Four Roses, will never diminish, and he went on to say he plans to stay involved in the industry he loves in so much – perhaps including various roles as Four Roses’ Master Distiller Emeritus.

Four Roses is the only Kentucky Bourbon Distillery to use 5 proprietary yeast strains in combination with 2 mashbills to distill and age in new white oak barrels 10 unique Bourbon recipes. Rutledge went on to say that nothing will change with his retirement, and Four Roses will continue producing the 10 Bourbons with the same loving care to ensure the continuance of the very mellow and smooth Bourbons as its consumers have become accustomed to finding with all its Bourbon renderings.

Rutledge announced, with his usual passion and enthusiasm, that Brent Elliott will replace him as Master Distiller. He went on to say: “With Brent’s knowledge of the Bourbon industry, the distillery process, and his passion for all facets of Four Roses Distillery operations, I have every confidence the growth of Four Roses Bourbons will continue under Brent’s leadership.”

Ms. Yoshida stated that she and the entire Four Roses team of employees wish to sincerely thank Jim for his many years of passion for the Bourbon he made for so many years and also the dedication and loyalty he exhibited throughout his career for the employees of Four Roses. “He will be missed as the ‘face of Four Roses Bourbon,’ but we now wish him much happiness and success in his retirement years. I am also excited to have the opportunity to work with Brent in his new capacity as Master Distiller.”

Castle Brands Announces Investment in Kentucky Artisan Distillery


Castle Brands Inc. (NYSE MKT: ROX), a developer and international marketer of premium and super-premium branded spirits, today announced that it has purchased approximately 20% of Copperhead Distillery Company, which owns and operates the Kentucky Artisan Distillery.  The investment is part of a wide-reaching agreement to build a new warehouse to storeJefferson’s bourbons, provide distilling capabilities using special mash-bills made from locally grown grains, and create a visitor center and store to enhance the consumer experience for the Jefferson’s brand.

Castle Brand’s investment will be used to purchase land near the current distillery and for the construction of a new warehouse and tasting facility in Crestwood, Kentucky. The warehouse will have the capacity to store up to 10,000 barrels, with room for expansion, and will facilitate the continued growth of Jefferson’s wood finishes and barrel-aged cocktails.

A Jefferson’s visitor center which includes a store, showcases the Jefferson’s brand and is already open to visitors.

John Glover, Chief Operating Officer of Castle Brands, said “Kentucky Artisan Distillery is the perfect partner for Jefferson’s bourbon.  It is the brainchild of Steve Thompson, former President of Brown Forman Distillery Company.   They specialize in “Estate grown and distilled” small batch production of very high quality bourbon and rye.  Steve not only has a lifetime of experience making the highest quality spirits, but has built a flexible, scalable distillery that can add great value to the Jefferson’s brand.”

Stephen Thompson, President and General Manager of Kentucky Artisan Distillery, stated “We are excited to partner with Castle Brands to further develop the super-premiumJefferson’s portfolio.  We look forward to working with Castle Brands for many years to come and welcoming friends to the new Jefferson’s visitor center.”

Buffalo Trace Distillery Visitor Center Expansion Now Complete


Buffalo Trace Distillery just completed two big construction projects, having finished a 5,500 square foot expansion of its Visitor Center and having completely renovated the historic Old Taylor House, the oldest structure on the Distillery’s property.

The Visitor Center

Buffalo Trace did a vertical expansion of its Visitor Center by expanding upward into the second floor where there is more room to grow as needed.

A newly constructed grand staircase made of white oak leads to the beautiful new space, which is complete with four additional tasting bar areas and a new meeting and event space. At the top of the grand staircase, guests are welcomed to the second floor by a huge mural of a landscape of the Distillery. A collection of historic article clippings and photos from the Distillery archives can also be viewed on the wall at the top of the stairs.

Future additions from the Distillery archives are already being planned for the second floor, including the construction of a vault. The vault will be built into the back wall to hold rare, old bottles and display them in a unique, interactive way for guests to view. Display cases featuring old bottles and artifacts will also be installed on the second floor, including one dedicated to the Single Oak Project.

By expanding upward, the first floor now has ample space for Gift Shop merchandise and features a new checkout counter and dedicated spirits space. Additionally, new bathrooms have been installed on both floors.

“We are thrilled to have completed this expansion,” Marketing Services Director Meredith Moody said. “The new space looks beautiful, and having this additional space will allow us to accommodate more guests in our Gift Shop to allow for our rapid growth of tour visitors.”

Old Taylor House

The Old Taylor House sits on the Distillery property today as not only the oldest structure at the Distillery, but the oldest residential building in Franklin County, Kentucky. Constructed in the late 1700s, with the second floor added in the 1800s, the house was originally built for Commodore Richard Taylor who served as superintendent of navigation on the Kentucky River and who was great-grandfather to Colonel E.H. Taylor Jr.

Since its inception, the two-story house has held many different roles, including being a residence, first aid clinic, and even a laboratory for the Distillery.

After a long life of good use, the house had begun to deteriorate, but has now been fully restored to preserve its rich history.

Evidence of that preserved history can be seen in details throughout the house down to the horsehair that was used as a bonding agent in the original construction of the walls.

The renovated house features beautiful hardwood floors and fresh paint throughout, and is lit by hanging Edison bulbs. The second floor lab displays old beakers and artifacts once used in the house.

“We’re so excited to have been able to restore such a significant piece of our history,” Moody said. “The restoration looks beautiful and we look forward to utilizing this space for many more generations.”

The Distillery intends to incorporate the restored house into some of its existing tours.

A joint grand opening for the Visitor Center and Old Taylor House will be held in early July. Full Article Here.

Radiator Tumblers


Gear: Fill them with your favorite coffee in the morning or your favorite whiskey at night, Radiator Tumblers are a wonderful glass to sip out of. Each set is wrapped in a beautiful hand stitched sleeve crafted from premium leather and assembled by individuals on the autism spectrum. What’s cool about these glasses is that a percentage of the profits from each sale are given to charity.

Distilled: From absinthe & brandy to vodka & whisky, the world’s finest artisan spirits unearthed, explained & enjoyed

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Books: Today’s world of spirits is experiencing an explosive increase in craft distillers and pioneers of new distillates. It’s about men and women tearing up rule books and creating new spirits with extraordinary personality and passion. Distilled uncovers the best spirits the world has to offer. These are not necessarily the best-known examples on the planet – though if they are good, they have a place here – but the best crafted and most interesting. Spirit by spirit Joel Harrison and Neil Ridley explain what you need to know to appreciate a spirit – its ingredients, its classic forms, the choices a distiller makes in creating it – and offer their picks to ‘Drink Before You Expire’ – the world’s best examples of their type, from gin and rum to shochu and tequila. There are plenty of suggestions for how to drink too, with innovative and classic cocktails and their insider tips on getting the best out of your spirits.

WhistlePig Makes “Old World” Rye a Permanent Expression in Portfolio


WhistlePig is proud to announce that its newest permanent expression, the Old World, will soon be available across the United States. The Old World combines the boldness of American rye with an elegance imparted from the finest European Sauternes, Madeira and Port oak wine casks.

“WhistlePig’s Old World delivers an exquisite balance of flavors through its unprecedented aging process and careful finishing in the highest quality wine casks,” said WhistlePig Founder and CEO Raj Peter Bhakta. “This new release is the culmination of years of innovation at WhistlePig.”

After studying the best techniques of the Old World — particularly Scotch whiskies — Master Distiller Dave Pickerell and the WhistlePig team finished 12-year-old rye in premium European Sauternes, Madeira, and Port wine casks, releasing these single wine barrel finishes individually as the Old World Series in limited quantities this spring.

The series debuted with the Sauternes finish, making WhistlePig the first company to age American rye in casks from this highly rare, sweet white wine. The Madeira finish was inspired by America’s first President, George Washington, who was a passionate drinker of Madeira wine and also a distiller of rye whiskey himself. The port finish combines the bold taste of rye with the sweetness of the Portuguese wine, perfectly combining the old world with the new world.

WhistlePig then carefully married the three whiskeys into the Old World, highlighting their distinct flavors to create an exceptionally balanced spirit. This ultra-premium straight rye is distinctly American, yet harkens back to its stately Old World roots.

“The result is a new form of America’s first and boldest spirit, rye whiskey, with the essences of Madeira, Sauternes, and Port, adding a level of complexity and refinement that is rare in a whiskey,” said Dave Pickerell.

The Old World comes from a mash of 95% rye and 5% malted barley and has a suggested retail price of $117.99. Barrel-finished and bottled by hand at 86 proof on the WhistlePig Farm, the Old World Series won the 2015 Double Gold Award for best rye at the 2015 San Francisco World Spirits Competition. More information here.

Tasting notes for the Old World

  • Composition: 30% Sauternes, 63% Madeira, 7% Port
  • Nose: Caramel, vanilla and winter fruit
  • Palette: Rye spice, apricots, plums, raisins, dates, and honey
  • Finish: Dark chocolate, winter fruit, caramel, and vanilla