Friday, April 4, 2014

This Week in COLA's: Really Old Glenlivet, New Bourbon from Barton and More

Every week, I review the TTB's latest label approvals, or COLAs.  It's a fun thing to do and it's one of the main sources for my Complete List of American Whiskey Distilleries and Brands. If I find something new, exciting, funny or weird, I'll usually Tweet it, but since not everyone is on Twitter, I thought I would start a new blog feature, where I will occasionally list some of the latest fun COLAs I've found.  This is a particularly exciting time of year because spring is when many of the labels are approved for the fall special releases.

Keep in mind that just because a label has been approved does not necessarily mean that it will be used. While most whiskey labels found on COLAs do seem to end up on bottles, sometimes companies approve a label for something they are still developing in order to have the label ready or to protect their trademark of a certain name, so don't assume everything listed here will hit the shelves.

So what's new and interesting in recent labels?  How about some old Glenlivets from Gordon & MacPhail.  I mean, really old:  1948 and 1955.

As for this fall's bourbon releases, the label for this year's Old Forester Birthday Bourbon is out, and the 2014 Parker's Heritage Collection will be a 13 year old straight wheat whiskey.

Diageo got approval for the label for Rhetoric, a 20 year old Kentucky bourbon that will be the latest addition to their Orphan Barrel series.

Sazerac approved a series of labels for a new line that appears to be from its Barton 1792 Distillery.  The line is titled "1792" and includes five expressions: Small Batch, Single Barrel, Full Proof, Sweet Wheat and High Rye.  The full proof is listed as 125 proof and would be the first barrel proof offering from Barton.  The Sweet Wheat is a wheated bourbon and the High Rye is a high rye recipe bourbon.  They are all NAS.

One recent approval which I found amusing was this label for J. Tyler Signature Bourbon, a bourbon from an operation with the sinister name Shadow Beverage Group.  I like the placeholder that appears on the label:  "Story of J. Tyler Here."  I'm sure there's a good story about J. Tyler, whoever he is, and how he invented a special bourbon formula a hundred years ago.  They just haven't decided what it is yet.

Duke Bourbon is a Kentucky Straight Bourbon honoring John Wayne.  The label says it was "truly inspired and crafted by legends, with the old bottles unearthed from my Father's private liquor collection, preserved for over 50 years."  Er, what?  It goes on to say it is a collaboration between John Wayne's son and Wild Turkey's Jimmy Russell and was distilled in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, presumably at Wild Turkey, but the label application was submitted by the Popcorn Sutton Distillery in Tennessee.  Very strange stuff, but I'm sure we'll be hearing more about it.

Stay tuned for regular label updates.


Alex said...

Duke: 88 proof? How "artisanal", or something.

Funky Tape said...

How does Barton put 125 in and get 125 out at any length of barrel maturation time? Unless of course they water the real full barrel proof down.

sku said...

Funky Tape, yeah, I took that as meaning whoever wrote the label is in marketing and has no idea what they're talking about. It obviously makes no sense.

Justin Victor said...

On the 125 proof matter: federal regs say it can go into the barrel at no more than 125 proof. Barton could be putting it in lower than that and that could account for it coming out at around 125 proof, right?

sku said...

Sure that's possible, but that's not what the label says. I think they either just screwed up their wording, or as Funky suggested, they diluted it down to 125. Despite the use of the term "full proof," nowhere on the label does it say it was undiluted.

Justin said...

Ok, after now having gone back and actually read that label I am sure Sku has it right. They are most likely adding just enough water to bring it back to 125 proof. Still though, that's probably not that much of a dilution. It makes not mention, as does the likes of Bookers, of being "uncut" from the barrel, just that 125 proof is considered best. Whatever.

Jason Beatty said...

Thanks for the heads up! I keep telling the cronies to buy barrel strength 12 year because it will be obsolete soon... They don't listen

Funky Tape said...

As the demand and popularity of cask strength or barrel proof grows I assume the BS and nonsense will grow concomitantly. Will SKU be able to keep the sheep from going over the cliff along with the quality, age and integrity of the industry? No pressure or anything!!!! ;)