Maker's Mark Wins!

Ok, so I'm not nearly as excited as that headline makes it seem. But since I did write about this very topic just last month, I took a little interest in the first news we have out of these cases. 

It seems that the first of the many "handmade" cases is over, having been dismissed by the judge "with prejudice."  The decision itself, while being a bit heavy on the legalese (I guess that's appropriate in this instance), is an entertaining read since it basically calls bull on many of the claims that common sense tells you it should. You can read it below. (Hat tip to Brian @sippncorn for tweeting a link to the decision.)

Of course Maker's Mark is happy. And they did what any happy company would do: issue a press release.

So...that's that right? Well, not exactly. As both Chuck Cowdery and Mark Gillespie have reported on their respective websites, this is just one of the cases and may have no bearing on the others. Plus, there may be an appeal. Stay tuned!


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Bourbon News: Margie Samuels to be Inducted into the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame

I'm not normally the type of writer who just passes along press releases. I prefer telling stories. But in this case I'm going to do it for a couple of reasons. One is that it I think this is a pretty cool story. It's nice to see people who are due recognition get it, especially when they happen to be female in a stereotypically male industry.

I say stereotypical because woman have always played a big part in the whiskey industry. Fred Minnick's great book—Whiskey Women: The Untold Story About How Women Saved Bourbon, Scotch & Irish Whiskey—showed us that woman are a big part of the history of whiskey. 

In this case, the person being honored is Margie Samuels of Maker's Mark fame. The story goes that the entire Maker's brand was built on her ideas. The red wax? Margie. The distinctive and beautiful look of the distillery? Margie. Heck, they say even the name was her idea.

So like I said, I think this is a pretty good story and you can read the press release here: 

The other reason I feel ok passing this along is purely selfish. I'm going on vacation. I'll be in Kentucky next week visiting bars, distilleries and events. I'll be finishing the week with the Kentucky Bourbon Festival. If you are in the area and you see me out and about be sure to say hi! 

Woodinville Whiskey: Straight Bourbon Release Event. December 7, 2013

Woodinville Whiskey Straight Bourbon Whiskey. Photo courtesy David Cole, www.davidcolecreative.com.

A reader and fellow designer, David Cole (@Davidscole on twitter), reached out to me today to let me know about an event that is taking place in Washington on December 7th, 2013. As it is bourbon related and in a state that I absolutely adored visiting a few years back, I thought I’d pass it along. FYI, David designed and created the packaging on this bottling. His site is www.davidcolecreative.com.

What: Woodinville Whiskey Company Straight Bourbon Release

When: December 7th, 2013. Doors open at 7 am, but there will be coffee and doughnuts at 6 am.

What makes this special? Well, for one thing it is a craft distiller releasing a straight whiskey. That’s pretty darn special right there. Add in the fact that they made the whiskey and aged it for 2 years in standard sized barrels and it gets even better. 

What will you be buying? This is the first release of straight whiskey from Woodinville Whiskey company and they are releasing it in collector’s edition bottles complete with “a custom pewter label and custom display box.” Or so their website says. It goes on to say that there are 388 wheated bourbon bottles available and 207 rye bourbon bottles. Bottles are 750 mL each and will retail for $149.95. Limit one bottle per person.

What do I think? Well, to be honest, $150 for a 750 mL is quite a bit above the limit of buyer’s remorse for me, especially for a two-year old whiskey. That said, I’m also a fan of letting the whiskey speak for itself and I haven’t tasted it so I can’t pass judgement on whether or not it is worth the price. I also need to remember that this is a “collector’s edition bottle” that really looks quite pricey to produce (as I said, I’m a designer and know how expensive printing small runs can be and yes…roughly 600 is a tiny print run even without all the extras that are happening on this). Hopefully future bottlings will have a more reasonable price tag. So ultimately, if you are a fan and in the area, maybe you want to show up on the seventh, plunk down your cash and let us all know how it tastes.

Oh and it really is beautiful packaging. Nice work David. You’ve done beautiful work.

45th Parallel to release New Richmond Rye

I recently received word that local craft distiller, 45th Parallel Spirits, would soon be coming out with a new rye whiskey. They are planning to release New Richmond Rye to the public at the distillery Sunday, February 10, from noon to 5 pm.

I reached out to Co-founder Paul Werni to answer a few questions regarding the upcoming release.

So tell me, why did you decide do a rye whiskey? 
Historically it is a true American whiskey dating to colonial times, there are comparatively few rye options on the shelves, and a good rye whiskey is enjoyable to drink.

What's the age of the whiskey?
The first release is 2 1/2 years.  We will stagger the release to allow for 3 and 4 year aging.

What is the proof it will be bottled at?
92 proof

What is the approximate price?
$40 to $45 pre-tax.  $45 tax included at our distillery

Will this be available any where other than the distillery?
This spring it will be available in Northwestern WI and the Minneapolis Metro.

How many bottles do you anticipate the first batch will yield? When are you anticipating the next batch to be ready?
600 initially then 300 bottles per month until 2014 when the monthly number will double.

Catch all question here: Is there anything special that might interest a whiskey enthusiast to try your take on rye whiskey? 
It is not 100% rye. Some corn is included.
All grain comes from local farms within minutes of our building.
Aged in traditional 53 gallon barrels. No small barrels.
All mashing, distilling, aging, and bottling takes place at our distillery.  
This is a Straight Rye Whiskey.

I'd like to thank Paul for taking the time to answer my questions. 45th Parallel Spirits, LLC is located at: 1570 Madison Avenue, New Richmond, WI 54017. They produce 45th Parallel Vodka, Midwest Vodka, Midwest Gin, Border Bourbon and other distilled spirits. If you'd like to learn more about their bourbon, I did a post about the launch party and a review of it here. They make good stuff. For what it's worth, their vodka is the vodka I keep in the house. I hope to pick up a bottle of the rye and I'll review it here when I do.