Meanwhile, I found the New Zealand and US side letter amusing:
>To the extent contemplated in the Code, New Zealand shall not permit the sale of any
product as Bourbon Whiskey or Tennessee Whiskey, unless it has been manufactured in
the United States according to the laws of the United States governing the manufacture of Bourbon Whiskey and Tennessee Whiskey and the product complies with all applicable
regulations of the United States for the sale or export as Bourbon Whiskey or Tennessee Whiskey.
I assume this must be quite prevalent in New Zealand if they wrote a letter specific to this one issue. I didn't see a similar letter with France regarding cognac or champagne.
In Europe, many traditional kinds of cheese, alcohol and meat are covered by a system known in various countries as AOC (France, Appellation d'origine contrôlée) or DOC (Italy, Denominazione di origine controllata). Conceptually speaking, the idea goes something like:
1. Large-scale producers can always just create a trademark and market it. Customers will be able to recognize the product and evaluate it based on its reputation.
2. Small-scale producers, however, lack the reach to advertise and be recognized on their own. But what if they're making a traditional, high-end product for which their region is famous? Well, we could set up a shared "brand", where anybody from the right region can agree to follow traditional recipes and have their quality judged. And eventually, customers will realize that Parmigiano-Reggiano means "a certain kind of really good traditional Parmesan cheese from Italy."
Under this system, the right way to think of things like "champagne" and "Tennessee Whiskey" is to treat them as a particular kind of brand. Any company can sell products under this brand, provided (a) they come from the right region, and (b) they meet a certain set of quality standards.
The system of AOC/DOC seems to work well for both "foodie" customers (who want to be able to recognize a high-quality traditional product), and small- to mid-size producers (who get to pool their branding efforts). The only cost of this system is that names like "Tennessee Whiskey" essentially become international trademarks under the control of a regional organization.
Not being allowed to lie isn't a penalty. E.g. if you are raising pigs in Texas you shouldn't be allowed to label your product as being "Ham from Italy." Whether or not it tastes better is completely irrelevant.
What happens when the name of the product _is_ the name of the region though. For example, Champagne or Parmesan? Giving your product another name clearly disadvantages you.
In the case of champagne, I'm usually unwilling to pay for the regional "brand." Instead, I often buy "cava," which is another regional AOC for sparkling wine, this one run by producers in Catalonia (and elsewhere in Spain). It's a bit cheaper, which is probably less than ideal for the producers, but I still know more or less what I'm getting.
You could argue that one or the other of these two situations is less than optimal. But as a customer, I find that AOCs and DOCs generally help me buy products I'll like. And since it would be hard for the producers of "Tennessee Whiskey" to enforce their agreed-upon quality standards on a company in New Zealand, it does make a certain amount of sense to limit participation geographically.
What if nobody bothers making quality "Parmigiano-Reggiano" in the US because they know it is close to impossible to compete against the brand name and the margin are not worth it to even try? Maybe, if Americans were allowed to call theirs "Parmigiano-Reggiano" they'd put a lot more effort into making it high quality given that they'd have a much bigger chance of making a profit.
Champagne is already limited to a region in Europe, but that hasn't stopped, say, Catalonia from making Cava: their own regional brand for what is, in essence, the same thing. If anything, this also allowed local producers to band against the old name, which now indicates it's a product made in France.
So in practice, its not a big deal for good competitors.
One that's currently being litigated in the EU is whether labeling products not from Greece as "Greek yogurt" is misleading. I personally think yes, especially given the capital 'G' and the parallels with other clear origin-designating terms like "Greek wine" and "Greek olive oil" (and mixed origin/style terms like "Scotch whisky"), but it could end up going either way.
That’s what’s done here. You see that it is not the exact original product (sometimes you don’t even want the original product, but a specific fake of it), and you see still what it’s similar to.
The problem we see, if it is a problem, is that regions with big demand buy the product to regions with worst brand and then sell it as their our.
A lot of the Italian olive oil comes from Spain.
A lot of wine get the grape from other regions.. things like that. Not really a problem, I suppose, just a lie.
Nods to tradition can certainly go too far, but I like allowing the regional names to be a little exclusive.
(But as a Brit I completely approve of your joking, too)
In practice, most TN whiskey is home distilled, and not barrel-aged. (and also, never sold) Instead, you "char" the whiskey by putting charred birch, maple, or oak sticks inside a bottle and then aging for a relatively short time. Commercially-produced TN whiskey is always barrel aged, though.
Process-wise, the key difference is charcoal filtering before aging (Search for "Lincon County Process"). Taste-wise, it varies, but TN whiskey is usually less sweet than bourbon. It's still corn whiskey, so it's relatively sweet and has a hint of that distinct sour mash taste. However, I've never had one that's as "sticky-sweet" as Makers Mark, Woodford Reserve, Four Roses, or the other really sweet bourbons.
The problem is, making real bourbon is very difficult because you have to let so much evaporate off that producers lose a lot of product. E.g. 84% of the Buffalo Trace 2015 George T. Stagg evaporated off. That's a lot of lost product -- so they're opening these 53 gallon barrels and pulling out about 8 gallons of product. Producers don't like those numbers, but that's how you make real bourbon. So it leaves most people thinking they dislike Bourbon before ever having drank a real classic bourbon.
By comparison, Scotch is a very simple, cloying beverage. Scotch's complexity all comes from the peat, it's all show. If you pour enough peat in any whiskey it will taste roughly like Lagavulin. Bourbon is a more honest beverage, you're not covering anything up, which means a bad Bourbon is very bad and a good Bourbon is very, very good.
Scotch is the IPA of whiskey. It's criminal if you ask me.
This isn't even close to true; the entire Speyside region (which produces more Scotch, and more popular Scotch, than any other region) refutes it --- most Speysides have little if any peat.
Drinking an 18 year Bourbon is like drinking a 40 year barrel-aged Speyside. Sure, if you can get your hands on a 40 year old barrel-aged Speyside Scotch, I misspoke. But that's rather outside the budget of even the most die-hard Whiskey fans.
As a result, most Speysides fall roughly into that same category as the shite bourbons. Once you stop covering up their failings, you're left with a boring, watery, lifeless whiskey.
It's like if we were talking beer and I said "Americans just cover up their beer with flavorants so you don't realize they're watery garbage. German and Belgian beers are superior." and you fired back "That's not true! Coors Lite doesn't do that!" No, you're right, Coors Lite doesn't do that.
Is there more crappy Speyside than crappy Islay? Yes, of course: there is more Speyside period, the world's most popular Scotch whiskey comes from Speyside, and most blended Scotch is built from Speyside distilleries.
What any of this has to do with the idea that Scotch is all about peat is past me. Once again: the most popular Scotch in the world has minimal peat, and lots of Speysides have no peat at all. Ergo: it cannot be the case that Scotch is simply peat-flavored whiskey.
People who talk enthusiastically about American beer don't generally think about Coors Lite, let alone talk about it.
The age comment you made about bourbon and Scotch is also weird, since most bourbon is aged less than 12 years to begin with. At 18 years, you're asking me to compare a cask-strength Pappy or Buffalo antique --- bourbons that were built to be aged past the point where most bourbon would suffer for it --- to Scotch. That's a pretty apples/oranges comparison.
To pick up a 40 year barrel-aged Glenrothes you're looking at paying about €4500 a bottle, and that gets you about 90% evaporation. That's only 6% more angel-share than a $70 dollar bottle of BT Antique Collection.
If you can afford that, more power to you, but that's not really in the realm of what I'm talking about. The Scottish climate is just inappropriate for the making of proper whiskey in a timely and cost-effective fashion.
You said, "At 18 years, you're asking me to compare a cask-strength Pappy or Buffalo antique --- bourbons that were built to be aged past the point where most bourbon would suffer for it --- to Scotch."
I've been talking about BT/Pappy, etc. the whole time. Did you read my first comment?
"The problem is, making real bourbon is very difficult because you have to let so much evaporate off that producers lose a lot of product. E.g. 84% of the Buffalo Trace 2015 George T. Stagg evaporated off. That's a lot of lost product -- so they're opening these 53 gallon barrels and pulling out about 8 gallons of product. Producers don't like those numbers, but that's how you make real bourbon. So it leaves most people thinking they dislike bourbon before ever having drank a real classic bourbon."
Second: if you're going to talk about "how you make real bourbon", you're probably better off not bringing a Veblen NDP like Pappy into the discussion.
Third: there is plenty of amazing bourbon to be had that isn't a Buffalo antique at $120 a bottle, so I object to the "real bourbon" notion you're putting forward. 84% of Weller didn't evaporate, it's not aged 18 years, costs $30, and it's the same juice as Pappy, just handled more competently so it doesn't taste like grass clippings.
Fourth: who the hell drinks 40 year old Glenrothes? I'm talking about the Glenrothes you buy at the liquor store.
Fifth: once again, what does any of this have to do with whether Scotch is defined by peat flavor? I'm pretty sure you were just wrong about that.
Why would you throw around NDP like that's a bad thing? NDPs are no better or worse. Pappy, if you're talking Stitzel-Weller Pappy, is one of the best Bourbons you can/could buy, period.
Yes, Weller 12 is great (like Pappy 12). It's not syrupy enough, but that aside, it's a quality Bourbon at a competitive price. Is it as good as a 23 year SW Pappy? You're kidding yourself -- they're in completely different leagues.
What's more, with a Weller 12 you're still looking at 42% angel-share. Considerably higher than anything you'll see out of Scotland.
I'm sorry my peat comment upset you. Maybe it's a regional thing, by and large when we say Scotch we mean Islay or High-land. Either way, it's a lot of watery garbage, peat or no.
I think I don't believe you that viscosity is a simple function of evaporation.
Think about it: in both US and Scottish whiskey, the spirit going into the barrel is much higher proof than what's in the bottle, or what you should reasonably drink it at if you've got a cask-strength bottle. If "good whiskey" is "thick whiskey", where "thickness" is the amount of water the distillate had lost relative to alcohol, then we'd all just be buying the highest proof spirit; you could treat the ABV like a point score for quality. Both US and Scottish whiskey is diluted to a place the distiller wants it to be at.
We also wouldn't need tasting notes describing the legs, because if it's just about evaporation, then it's purely a function of ABV, and that's printed on the bottle!
Certainly the idea that one should evaluate a whiskey based solely on its legginess finds support in zero whiskey sources I can find.
I don't just think Pappy is overpriced Veblen whiskey that people overpay for because it's the only brand they've heard of --- although people absolutely do that, and secondary market prices, which are the only place you can reliably buy the stuff, make it one of the major rip-offs in all of spirits. I also think Pappy is inferior to Weller. Maybe I've just been given flawed bottles; the 20 literally tastes like grass clippings, and I'd take a FR SB over any of the other Pappies any day.
At any rate: Scotch is not "all about the peat". You have to not drink a lot of Scotch to think that. Which is fine! Just moderate your stridency a bit. :)
It's not just the water loss that matters, but the total evaporation that increases your protein ppm, and the length of time those proteins have had to break down in solution, that provides the complexity to a proper whiskey.
You don't detect that by legs, but by mouth-feel -- surface tension and viscosity are not the same thing.
Scotch is a fine beverage, it's just not Bourbon.
I would like to advocate for a explode-to-frontpage comments feature ... so we could have a new front page item for "that great scotch vs. bourbon argument we had in the TPP comments".
It's why I come here.
'dang, any thoughts?
Everyone has a personal choice, but I'm of the opinion that if you don't like Maker's Mark, you probably won't like bourbon.
Malts from other regions of Scotland vary a lot, and as a point of interest, many are matured in bourbon casks because it imparts sweet notes.
Scotch generally doesn't age in new oak. But all bourbon does, by law. So there's a pipeline of used barrels for Scottish distilleries to use.
If you get a chance to try to Woodford Reserve new/old wood rye sample, you'll see why Scots use our barrels: the first aging in whiskey in a new barrel extracts huge phenolic flavors. Those woody flavors would compete with Scotch, especially since Scotch generally ages much longer than bourbon. Meanwhile, sherry barrels are much more expensive and contribute their own distinctive flavors. So bourbon casks are they way you go when you want a neutral aging environment.
I was moved to nerd out about this because you suggested Scotch is aged in ex-bourbon casks because of the sweet notes they impart. I don't think this is true. I am a fiend for ex-sherry Scotch, and the sweetness generated by an ex-sherry casks is usually unmistakable, club-you-over-the-head powerful.
You'll notice that lots of Scotch releases make a big deal out of the wine casks they age in --- what kind of sherry, what age the barrel --- but few ex-bourbon Scotches will say anything but "aged in bourbon casks".
That's because bourbon casks are boring. :)
(Also, good lord, thank you for tilting at this windmill...Really blocked on Stockfighter?)
I want to like Balvenie more than I do, if only because they're so fussy about barrels. Also from what I understand a more end-to-end vertically integrated operation than most of the other distilleries, which share malt processors and other inputs through their corporate ownership.
The Dailuane is, I think, mediocre as a whisky, but possibly the most drinkable carrier for sherry flavor on my shelf. I run out of and re-buy Dailuane and GlenDronach more than anything else.
I am just a major dork about liquor is all.
Also, it's not Bourbon or single malt, but Templeton Rye is one of my favorite whiskeys (and reasonably priced): http://www.templetonrye.com/
Bulleit Rye, Dickel Rye, Redemption, Whistlepig, High West --- there's like 100 more, but those are the big names --- are all MGPI. You can buy whichever's cheapest; of the MGPIs, Templeton is the one I'd avoid, now that they've confirmed that they're not only quietly relabeling MGP, but also adulterating it.
Now I'm really curious about the "alcohol flavoring agent" from Clarendon Flavor Engineers. I've had Bulleit Rye and High West as well and did not enjoy them.
A good bourbon like Pappy's shouldnt be compared to a smokey peaty scotch like the Laphroaig quater cask I have in my cabinet. For me Bourdons are a daily drink and Scotch is for a celebration.
Anyways Japan and now Taiwan have been winning the most recent awards.
I do like how what I hear about Scotch matches what I know of Tennessee: the best stuff is brewed for locals with the exports being knockoffs. Except a few things like Jack Daniels where the standard brews are widely available. Best stuff comes from the moonshiners, though. :)
* Go to where the locals shop and they're selling the same brands the whiskey specialty stores sell.
* The gas stations have better Scotch selections than most US liquor stores.
* The expensive distillery-only products are generally the most interesting whiskies, and they're the stuff least likely to sell to the locals.
* Virtually all of the distilleries, and most of the best distilleries, are owned by gigantic corporations that own portfolios of distilleries.
The entire Scotch industry is an export industry. No doubt there's quite a lot of bad Scotch exported, but it seems to me like more or less all the good Scotch is exported too.
France is not a signatory to the TPP, so you wouldn't.
Why would they want to brand their whiskey as Tennessee whiskey or Bourbon?
Bourbon is widely recognized as a US whiskey, probably from Kentucky, using that name for something made in NZ is more likely to piss customers off than anything else (Tennessee whiskey has a somewhat more obvious geographic meaning).
I think it would be more principled to either let anyone produce it (subject to style requirements), or to geographically restrict it to only the vicinity of Kentucky. But the U.S.'s position seems to be to want to make it a specifically American brand, but otherwise not regionally restricted. Which I understand the trade motivations for, but honestly I don't see bourbon from Tokyo as any less authentic than bourbon from San Francisco, assuming it's made correctly.
I'm specifically asking if it is going to matter to the distillers outside the US if they can use it in their product names or not (I'm opposed to preventing the use of blah-style to describe foods).
But I'm pretty skeptical that those teenagers care that their cheap whiskey be called Bourbon.
The common conception was that they were distinct drinks, and that Whiskey was too expensive.