That up there is Bulleit Bourbon. It is my favorite whiskey by a factor of maybe a billion? Idk. I drink all kinds of whiskey and I love them all, but I always find myself going back to Bulleit.
Because it was my first love. Allow me a very hipster-y moment right here and let me state that I started drinking Bulleit in the fall of 2007, way before its current surge in popularity. But why did I buy it that one day at the ABC in Falls Church? I liked the way the bottle looked. It was cool. It looked legit. Plus it said ‘Frontier Whiskey’ right on the front. The kind of whiskey you drink on the frontier. Yea, hard, that’s real bourbon, man. Real hard bourbon. Good drinking.
What makes Bulleit ‘Frontier Whiskey?’ Nothing. Nothing but the raised letters on its bottle. But it worked. It worked for me. It stood out in a sea of Jims and Jacks, and as it has grown into one of the most popular bourbon brands, everyone is trying to get in on the quality bullshit it fooled me with.
In a new book, Bourbon Empire, author Reid Mitenbuler catalogs all the bullshit we are fed when we are served whiskey, which really should be unnecessary, because all I need with my whisky is an ice cube and a twist of lemon peel.
So be an educated consumer and don’t fall for shit like:
“Small batch”: The term “craft” is often — and erroneously — pegged to size instead of quality, Mitenbuler points out. But unlike other products, bourbon contradicts that very rule that size matters. “The size of a still, big or small, pot or column, has far less impact on a whiskey’s quality than the skill and know-how of the distiller operating it,” he writes. Distilleries both massive and small commonly source grains from the same suppliers, he adds. Since the larger producers often receive volume discounts, you may pay more for bottles made by smaller companies even though they were distilled from the same product.
Yea who really gives a fuck? I don’t. I just want my whiskey to taste good. It doesn’t have to be the one that Daniel Boone sucked down on, especially because that’s probably not true.
Pictures or names of historic figures. Frontiersmen, early presidents and other historic American figures are often depicted on the bottles of American-made craft bourbons. But in many cases, the bourbon has nothing whatsoever to do with them. “When I once asked brand proprietor Trey Zoeller why he named his whiskey [Jefferson’s Bourbon] after the former president, he simply laughed and said, ‘I had no marketing budget. I simply wanted a recognizable face associated with history and tradition,’ ” Mitenbuler writes.
Whyyyy? Why not just serve whiskey? It’s so good on its own. And ignore any one that purports to be the best cough pappy cough pappy waste of money cough.
A high ranking. “Rankings are subjective, arbitrary, and vulnerable to the industry’s marketing efforts,” Mitenbuler writes. Instead, taste different bourbons in your price range yourself. Experience shows, he says, that in blind tastings, “expectations are always confounded.”
We are educated consumers, whiskey makers. Don’t feed us crap.*
*This is not true as evidenced by how I fell for Bulleit’s marketing.
Read the full article here to educate yourself on the ploys of big bourbon. Don’t be a sucker, yo!*
*Just drink what you like.*
*May I suggest Wild Turkey?