Abbas Kazerounian, who’s law firm is suing Maker’s Mark and Jim Beam over the use of the phrase hand-made on their bottling, went on this weeks WhiskyCast show hosted by Mark Gillepsie. It’s an excellent interview, and Mark asks a lot of tough questions. As I mentioned in a previous article picking on George Dickel’s labeling, few things on the label are legally protected outside of alcohol content and volume. Check out WhiskyCast episode 524 for the interview.
Fred Minnick, on Whisky Advocate, narrows down the bourbon shortage:
Consumers are able to buy bourbon … if your measure of the “bourbon shortage” is there is bourbon sitting on the shelves and in the warehouses, then, there is no shortage. But the bourbon shortage is not about everyday bourbons sitting on shelves—Jim Beam White Label, Wild Turkey 101 or standard Evan Williams.
Everyday consumers are less likely to be affected. If you’re looking for rare bourbon, however, the supply and demand curve is through the roof.
In an armed robbery of a liquor store in Montreal, someone stole ￼$100k worth of whisky￼, including The Balvenie 50 Year Old whisky valued at $49,500 Canadian. This unfortunate theft takes one of only 88 bottles of The Balvenie Fifty out of legal circulation.
You’d think that The Balvenie 50 Year Old whisky would be rare on its own for the obvious reasons—it’s been matured for 50 years in European oak sherry hogshead and it’s extremely limited release. Personally, though, I think The Balvenie Fifty is worth far above the list price because of the man behind the whisky.
David Stewart is known as one of the most influential whisky innovators in Scotland. He was the first to double-mature whisky when he created The Balvenie DoubleWood. Double maturation is the process by which a whisky is primarily aged in one-type of oak (typically American oak), and later briefly finished in another type of oak (often European oak). Today, The Balvenie 12 Year Old DoubleWood is one of the best selling whiskies in the world, with full credit to David Stewart.
David Stewart has over 50 years of experience in the whisky industry. Unlike Drake, David Stewart actually started at the very bottom as a clerk for Grant & Sons. Over the course of his career, he was promoted to malt master for all of the company’s scotch including The Balvenie, Glenfiddich, and Grant’s Family Reserve. He has seen the industry move from blended whisky, to high-quality single malt whisky, to age statements, to double-matured whisky, to no-age statement whisky.
While David Stewart is semi-retired now, he continues to innovate working strictly for The Balvenie distillery. The Balvenie Tun 1401, Tun 1507, and Caribbean Cask whiskies are excellent examples of continued innovation with a focus on flavour and balance. To put simply, David Stewart understands balance, and he understands the smallest measures of flavour and how those flavours influence the final product. If you drink and appreciate Balvenie, you appreciate this focus on balanced flavour.
As a legend like David Stewart moves into semi-retirement, the new limited release whiskies he’s responsible for become immediate collector’s items. In 2012, on the celebration of his 50th year, he selected one barrel that would become The Balvenie Fifty. This is the one in 88 bottles of whisky that was stolen.
Unfortunately, just like with the black market in the art world, I’m sure there’s someone that will be willing to buy this stolen rare whisky. It is, however, numbered. And that might make the person pouring The Balvenie Fifty a touch nervous when sharing it with friends.