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Let’s play a game. Pretend you’re in charge of the Distillery or NDP of your choice for one day. What three “game changing” decisions would you make?
Here are the rules:
- Be realistic. You can’t snap your fingers and create 40 year old bourbon that doesn’t taste too woody. You can’t arbitrarily decide to go back 20 years and make more Pappy, or charge $10 for something that normally costs $150.
That’s it. Just one rule.
In my scenario, I’m in Charge of Heaven Hill. I do the following:
Barrel-Proof Bernheim Wheat Whiskey. I’d add it to the regular lineup. Why? If you tasted last year’s Parker’s Heritage Wheat Whiskey, you know that with a little age or a lot of proof, this wheat mash bill absolutely shines. By not waiting for 13 years of age, this could be released as a somewhat reasonable price (comparatively, of course) at only 7 years, like standard Bernheim.
Barrel-Proof Evan Williams. Like above, I’d make this a regular release. It used to be a fixture in the Bardstown and Louisville gift shops in a ceramic jug. It was excellent. This should be a relatively easy transition, as Black Label Evan Williams isn’t a particularly aged whiskey, likely 5-7 years old, and one of the more common barrels Heaven Hill should have in stock. Adjust the price accordingly for less product-per-barrel and it’s a clear and easy winner.
Old Fitzgerald. I’d change the production process. What would be different? I’d go back to a Stitzel-Weller-like era barrel entry proof of 114º or even as low as 105º. Old Fitz, back in the day, was an outstanding wheated bourbon. But once Heaven Hill began producing it, there was a big change to the barrel entry proof to 125º. I’d take Old Fitz back to its roots. Wheated bourbons do really well at that lower barrel entry proof, and allow the final product to be cut to a more crowd-pleasing level without adding as much water as those who go into the barrel at 60%+ ABV.
How about you? What are your 3 game changers?