Is bourbon being de-premiumized?

This will be me just voicing my worries about the bourbon industry.

A while ago I read on Sku’s Recent Eats that Elijah Craig no longer has the big ’12’ on the front label. It has moved to the back label instead. The same has happened for Eagle Rare 10 years old.

What worries me (and probably others too) is that this is a preparation for dropping the age statement all together and hoping not many people notice it. This has not happened for those brands yet, as far as I know.

I guess it was in 2014 or so, I voiced my worry somewhere on Twitter when Knob Creek changed the front label from stating a big ‘9’ to a small print ‘aged nine years’, but it stayed on the front label. Please note that it was a ‘nine’ instead of the more prominent numerical variant. Also note that I said ‘was’.

Now, some two weeks ago or so I saw a new front label popping up on the internet, where the ‘aged nine years’ has been replaced by, hold on, ‘patiently aged’.

Patiently aged? That falls in the same category as ‘Slowly matured’. It means nothing.

By the way, when Googling the Patiently Aged variant I found that his has been circling for a while, but I just hadn’t seen it popping up anywhere yet.

I would not be surprised if Elijah Craigs follows suit quickly and drops the age statement. It seems the time for properly aged bourbon, where they indicate it at least, has gone. Of course, there are still quite a few bourbons with an age statement on it, and not all brands will follow suit.

It is, however, a trend. I think it already started when Jim Beam Black went from 8 years old to 6 years old. But anyway, I will keep this in mind when I’m at a bottle shop in the near future and stock up a bit.

Oh, and before the yaysayers/naysayers start: I have not tried the new Knob Creek yet. I might in the future. This is not necessarily saying anything about it being a worse whiskey, just that age statements are quickly becoming a thing of the past. Which is something I personally don’t like.


About Sjoerd de Haan-Kramer

I'm very interested in booze, with a focus on whisky. I like to listen to loads of music and play lots of Magic: the Gathering, and board games too. I'm married to Anneke, have two daughters Ot and Cato, a son Moos and a cat called Kikker (which means Frog, in Dutch). I live in Krommenie, The Netherlands.
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