The Tasting Panel magazine

April 2010

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Page 42 of 116

SPECIAL REPORT: WHisk(e)y Kentucky Spirit TWO BOURBOn PRODUCeRs POUR THEMSELVES INTO THEIR BRANDS story and photos by Fred Minnick Right on Target M attorney and Vietnam veteran worked hard to put the once-forgotten 1830s August Bulleit recipe back in the hands of consumers. A few things have changed since he sprinted out of the bourbon starting gate in 1987, including adding Seagrams and eventually Diageo as partners. But one thing has remained the same: Tom Bulleit is still passionately pitching Bulleit Bourbon door- to-door. Only now he does so as a hall-of-fame distiller and his daughter, Hollis, chips in. The father-daughter duo meets with mixologists all over the country, working with the likes of Southern Wine & Spirits mixologist Francesco Lafranconi as well as upscale chain BLT and the Michael Mina Group. “Bartenders like Bulleit’s high rye content,” Tom Bulleit says. Tom Bulleit remains on the front lines with his Bulleit Bourbon. Combined with the selling efforts of Diageo’s 18 Masters of Whiskey, lately Hollis and Tom have targeted the West Coast. California represents the highest revenue state, while Portland, Oregon, San Francisco, Austin, Texas, Las Vegas and New York are the highest-grossing urban markets. However, continued growth is not likely to come from traditional advertising. Tom Bulleit says the brand’s total ad budget is less than $10,000 a year. He believes his time is better spent on the front lines with mixologists. He travels 80 percent of the time, just like the old days. “We consider ourselves partners in the chemistry of mixology,” Tom Bulleit says. “My chemistry stops at the back bar, theirs starts at the front bar.” 42 / the tasting panel / april 2010 Tom Bulleit is still selling his family recipe the old-fashioned way ore than 20 years ago, Tom Bulleit was knocking on doors around Kentucky pitching his family bourbon recipe. The former tax Searingly Good F MAKER’S 46 is the fi rst new whiskey in 50 years from a Bluegrass State favorite or years, Bill Samuels Jr.’s Maker’s Mark custom- ers have requested a new product. Now, for the fi rst time in more than 50 years, they will fi nally get their wish. By July, Samuels, President of Maker’s, hopes to announce Maker’s 46, a premium bourbon that should sell for around $40 a bottle. As of press time, the bourbon maker had only three barrels of this new spirit and no packaging yet devel- oped. What they did have was a formula to take existing Maker’s and make it better. The idea for Maker’s 46—named after the barrel wood profi le developed by Maker’s cooperage partner, Independent Stave Company—was born when Samuels had a drink with Master Distiller Kevin Smith sometime in 2008. “I said, ‘Why don’t we mess around and see if we can create Bill Samuels Jr. comtemplates 50 years of Marker’s Mark. something new,’” Samuels explains. Samuels says that Independent Stave Company developed a system to take the staves after the Maker’s had been aged for its six to six-and-a-half years and sear rather than toast them. The idea was to track the fl avors in the wood like cooking a steak. Then, they reconfi g- ured the barrel with the seared staves and re-aged the existing Maker’s. The result is an intensifi ed Maker’s fl avor profi le. “You don’t get any raw alcohol at 94 proof,” Samuels says. “You get a long fi nish without bitter over notes.”

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