Thursday, August 10, 2017

What Fresh Hell Is This?



On Monday, it was "The Death of the Brand Ambassador." Today, it is "Revenge of the Global Partner," reminding us that fanciful titles for paid celebrity spokesfolk are also a hot new thing. Just ask Wild Turkey Creative Director Matthew McConaughey.

McConaughey got his gig about a year ago. Kunis has been global partnering with Jim Beam since 2014. Today she recommends that we drink Jim Beam Vanilla, for when "you love the taste of bourbon but are sometimes looking for something a little different." A mixture of vanilla liqueur with Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, it adds to the Jim Beam flavored portfolio that includes Jim Beam Apple, Jim Beam Kentucky Fire, Jim Beam Honey, and Red Stag by Jim Beam Black Cherry.

Jack Daniel's Honey is the leader in the flavored whiskey segment. It is a mixture of Jack whiskey and honey liqueur. By mixing whiskey with a liqueur you can introduce grain neutral spirit (i.e., vodka) as part of the drink's alcohol content, as neutral spirit is the alcohol component of most liqueurs. A blended whiskey that contains neutral spirit must disclose that fact on the label. Liqueurs are assumed to contain neutral spirit, so a whiskey blended with a liqueur doesn't face that requirement. Jack Honey and Jim Vanilla are classified as 'distilled spirit specialties,' not whiskey.

Neutral spirit costs a lot less to manufacture than whiskey. That makes flavored products more profitable and helps stretch currently tight whiskey stocks. Products classified as 'specialties' can also be sold at a lower proof, 70° (35% ABV) rather than the minimum of 80° (40% ABV) required for whiskey.

But to the typical consumer, it says Jack Daniel's or Jim Beam on the label so it's whiskey, right?

If you hate these products, blame Sazerac's phenomenally successful Fireball, another whiskey/liqueur mixture.

When Jim Beam first got into the flavored whiskey game, they said it would never get as crazy as flavored vodka.

We'll see about that.

18 comments:

cotton 1 said...

I have purchased flavored bourbons and mixed with apple juice and butter adds a nice flavor when mopped on ribs and pulled pork

Anonymous said...

If it will help the real bourbon go further I say go for it, that leaves more straight bourbon for us.

Fox Creek said...

Ha! I can remember when fruit flavored vodka (dyed garish colors) was bottom shelf dirt cheap swill for hobos and rummies. Remember Mr. Boston lemon vodka?

Chuck Cowdery said...

I have a vague memory of cherry vodka from my misspent youth.

Erik Fish said...

Checking the OLCC list of available vodkas, there is horseradish, whipped-cream, bacon, heavy water (I'm sort of hoping that's not the same stuff they use for nuclear reactors), wasabi, cotton candy, peanut butter, and organic cucumber among the flavored types.

I think flavored whiskey has a ways to go :)

Gary A. Turner said...

There's a reason flavored vodka went crazy . . . and no reason to believe it wouldn't happen in this category. But as anon said - more for us if it distracts the squirrels chasing shiny things :)
(note - not hating on squirrels, or those who enjoy those flavored whiskies; folks should drink what they enjoy! Just hoping it means folks who are simply "trend buying" will forget about whiskey for a minute!)

Tommy tom said...

Interesting that in a control state (Ohio) the shelves are full of flavored whiskies, but try to get Eagle Rare, Buffalo Trace, Russell's Reserve etc etc on a consistent basis.

Anonymous said...

I remember when Beanie Babies were supposed to be in short supply, and morons went out and bought them at inflated prices.

Jon Hamre said...

@Tommy Town

That isn't the case in all states that have controlled liquor though. Oregon does a great job getting and stocking lots of great whiskies all the time. I can go to almost any store and pick up a Weller Antique at full retail without an issue. The bottlings you all named are simple to get, while difficult things such as ECBP and EHT Rye are only marginally difficult to find but even then we have a searchable database listing inventory of every liquor store...

Anonymous said...

With a lovebomb like Mila pushing it, Beam vanilla is sure to go through the roof in sales, right?

Trent said...

Jon Hamre - that could mean Oregon doesn't drink a lot of (good) bourbon. So consider yourself lucky...

Erik Fish said...

"Trent:
Jon Hamre - that could mean Oregon doesn't drink a lot of (good) bourbon. So consider yourself lucky..."

For Oregon stores at least, it rather indicates the opposite. I do not know how Ohio's state liquor monopoly works in practice, but in Oregon, state liquor stores are operated by independent franchisees who decide what spirits to stock off the state's list, depending on customer demand and expected profitability. Since many are very well--stocked with excellent whiskey (it varies a bit by socio-economic location), that's what they are primarily selling. If Ohio stores are short on desirable whiskey, but loaded with flavored vodka (I'm just taking the previous poster's word here), I would suspect that's what those stores find to be most in demand.

Anonymous said...

There is also a likely possibility that these products use Orange Wine, a nasty neutral spirits substitute that is taxed at wine instead of spirit levels saving big companies millions while not offering any tangible benefits to the economy.

Robert Skula said...

It is also a great place to dump your off barrels. Some say the solution to pollution is dilution.

Brian McDaniel said...

If Orange Wine is really that neutral then it can't be too nasty in itself. Neutral is neutral.

Brian McDaniel said...

I think what Anonymous is trying to say is that maybe these things are sweetened with orange wine, because he/she hates it. Honestly though, orange wine is being pushed as a novelty thing now, and I doubt it would be worth it to quietly put it in these products. I think these "whiskey novelties" are just made as cheaply as possible, and that probably involves a lot of HFCS and GNS.

Chuck Cowdery said...

There is a neutral spirit made from oranges that is used as a blending agent for vodka. I don't know much about it, except Florida Distillers is one manufacturer and at one time, they were making it at the old Yellowstone plant in Shively. Its only relevance to this product is that the apple liqueur component is liable to contain just about anything.

Brian McDaniel said...

Ah, they call that "other than standard orange wine" (OTSOW). Which is totally different from the orange wine made from grapes which turns out orange.