Monday, October 15, 2007

Last Night's Tipple

I had another pour of Elmer T. Lee Bourbon last night, and there really is nothing new to report. It remains a rich, sweet, flavorful Bourbon and a very good value at $26 a fifth.

A number of distilleries now offer retailers the opportunity to hand-pick the barrels of a particular Bourbon that will be used to fulfill their order. The two big Chicago and online retailers, Binny's and Sam's, both have such bottlings of Elmer T. Lee, although Spec's, my friendly neighborhood liquor superstore, does not. It's a good proposition for both the distiller and the retailer, I think. The product appears to be more exclusive and can be sold (both wholesale and retail) for slightly more than the regular bottling, but the distiller doesn't have to dip into his truly exclusive stocks to do the bottling -- he preselects the the barrels that will be used for, say, Elmer T. Lee, and the retailer just gets to select from among those. The retailer stimulates repeat sales because each batch he selects will be slightly different -- the Bourbon enthusiast will be motivated to try them all. The retailer also gets to imply that what he selects is better than the run-of-the-mill stuff offered under the label. Is this accurate? Maybe, but I'm skeptical. The distiller wants the brand, whether bottled as a special for a retailer or not, to have a consistent profile, and it seems reasonable that all the barrels available for the brand have similar characteristics.

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