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Archive for the ‘whisky accessories’ Category

I survived the drought of 2009

"I survived the drought of 2009" shirt (click for full size picture)

Phase 2 of the Knob Creek “Thanks for nothing” marketing push arrived in my mailbox this afternoon…a T-shirt that states “I survived the drought of 2009″ (pictured to the right, with my half-empty KC bottle and custom label). As has already been reported by others, Knob Creek Stillhouse Members received an email last week titled “Thanks for nothing.” In it, Knob Creek announced that due to high demand, they’ve run out of Knob Creek until the next batch gets bottled in November. The stock currently in stores will be all that’s available until then. In addition to sending out these t-shirts to Stillhouse Members, they apparently sent out sealed, empty bottles to spirits journalists.

You know, I might actually wear this t-shirt. I don’t usually go for shirts with product marketing pictures and text, but this one is reasonably subtle compared to a lot of others. The back of the shirt is plain, the wording on the front is reasonably small, and the bottle looks pretty cool. Go ahead and call me a geek, or a pawn in the hands of corporate marketing for signing up as a “Stillhouse Member”, but I know you’re just jealous of my cool shirt. :-)

Here’s the text from the letter I got with the shirt (and a scan of the letter below). Apparently I’m supposed to wait until the “drought” is over before sporting the shirt:

Dear Knob Creek lover,

It seems you’ve helped cause a bit of a “situation” here at the distillery. See, because you, and many others like you, have been such loyal consumers, we’ve temporarily run out of Knob Creek Bourbon. And for that you deserve a huge thanks.

With that said, it’s quite possible that you might not be able to find us in our usual places for a bit. Should this happen, take a deep breath and keep in mind that our next batch will be fully matured and ready to go this November (we’d bottle it now to boost supply, but then it wouldn’t be aged a full 9 years and it wouldn’t really be Knob Creek).

And once you’ve weathered the storm, be sure to proudly sport this t-shirt commemorating this historic event.

Now, hang in there and cherish every drop of Knob Creek like it’s the last, because, well, it could be. Until November anyway.

Cheers,

Your friends at Knob Creek

P.S. If you can’t find a bottle of Knob Creek anywhere, visit knobcreek.com and find out which locations (if any) in your area are lucky enough to have a few bottles left on their shelves.

Knob Creek "Thanks for nothing" letter

Knob Creek "Thanks for nothing" letter

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Birth announcement package from Maker's Mark

Birth announcement package from Maker's Mark

I signed up to be a Maker’s Mark ambassador back in September.  This is similar to being a “Friend of Laphroaig” or an Ardbeg Committee member.  In other words, it’s a marketing gimmick.  Is it geeky?  Sure.  Is it lame?  I suppose some would say that (I like it so far, though).  Is it worth doing?  Yeah, why not?  It’s not like it costs anything.  Anyway, on to the purpose of today’s post:  my wife sent me an email yesterday with a picture attached showing a package that had arrived, stamped with “Historic Birth Announcement Enclosed” on the front.

One of the benefits of being a Maker’s Mark Ambassador is that you can submit your name (or some arbitrary text) to be included along with 29 others on a barrel of new spirit (names inscribed on a plaque).  In 6 or 7 years, when the barrel is mature, you’re then invited to come to the distillery in Kentucky and purchase a couple of 1 liter bottles from your batch.  You’re given your own special label to go on the back of the bottle, and you get to do the wax dipping and stamp a special seal on the wax.  [Note:  My wife actually said to me "You should go do that when your barrel is done".  Cool!  Note that she said you, though...not "we".]  I submitted “Arizona Hershauers” (as opposed to the Indiana or Michigan Hershauers from my extended family) in September, and received the following letter in this package:

Letter from Maker's Mark about "my" barrel

Letter from Maker's Mark about "my" barrel

Also included was a “Barrel Dedication Certificate” and a bunch of Ambassador business cards.  I attempted to earn some awe and respect from my wife by presenting one to her (like it says in the letter).  Fail.

Ambassador barrel certificate and business cards

Ambassador barrel certificate and business cards

Finally, here is a picture of the actual plaque that’s mounted on the barrel with the 30 Ambassador names.  Note that you can also order a replica plaque for $40 to mount proudly in your man cave.  You’re also allowed to customize the replica, opting whether or not to show the other names, and you can also change your own text (just in case you put something lame on the original like “ARIZONA HERSHAUERS”.

Maker's Mark barrel plaque

Maker's Mark barrel plaque

So, there you have it.  If you’re feeling alone and insignificant in the world, go become a Maker’s Mark Ambassador and be a part of whisky-making history.  Say what you will about marketing schemes like this, the crew at Maker’s Mark really goes all out to make you feel like a special part of their team.  The materials used for promotional kits like this are high quality, they maintain regular communication via email throughout the year, and from comments on their Facebook page, it sounds like they make you feel very welcome and special when you visit the distillery to collect your batch bottles.

Additional Info

  • Maker’s Mark Embassy:  The Maker’s Mark Ambassador web site link.  You can sign up to become a new ambassador from here.
  • Facebook:  The official Maker’s Mark facebook page.  5,925 members and counting.
  • Other goodies: Maker’s Mark sends out other goodies to Ambassadors at times.  I got a well packaged tube of wrapping paper, along with Maker’s Mark bottle-shaped gift tags before Christmas 2008 (note the MM Bottle snowflakes on the paper):
Note the Maker's Mark bottle snowflakes

Note the Maker's Mark bottle snowflakes

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How do the various batches of Aberlour A’bunadh compare?  What about the annual releases of Port Ellen or Brora?  How will my current (and discontinued) bottle of Laphroaig 15 year compare to the new 18 year?  I’m having trouble warming up to Ledaig 10 year because of the nose.  I wonder if that will change over time (but I won’t necessarily want to buy another 75oml bottle later to find out).

Boston Round sample bottles

Boston Round sample bottles

There are plenty of reasons to store whisk(e)y samples for use/enjoyment at a later time.  Maybe you have a large basement and plenty of space to store full size bottles.  I don’t, and I’m not sure how much more kitchen cabinet space I can take up before my very understanding wife finally pushes back.  Additionally, some would argue that it’s not a good idea to store whisky for an extended period in a bottle with lots of air in it (I’m curious to see what comes of this guy’s aging experiment).

I wanted to start setting aside some scotch for later use, and ended up placing an order from Specialty Bottle in Seattle for 15 Clear Boston Round 4 oz bottles at $0.56 each, plus another $0.04 each for an upgrade to polyseal caps.  The polyseal caps contain a cone-shaped insert that supposedly provides an extremely tight seal.  They also have 2 oz bottles for $0.44 cents each($0.48 with polyseal caps).

If you’re bottling samples to share with others, they also have shrink bands that you can cover the lid with (you shrink them with a hair dryer).  The shrink bands are only sold in 250 count packs for $5 each.  The 2 and 4 oz bottles use different size bands as well.  If you know somebody that you intend to trade samples with, you could go in with them and split the cost.

I used the first bottle to save 10cl of my Port Ellen 7th release (from a 20cl original bottle).  I suppose I could have just kept it in the 20cl bottle, but I wanted to play it safe and cut down on the amount of air in the bottle (and seal it up tight).  For the label, I used the original from the 20cl bottle.  I put about an inch of water in a pot and brought it to a boil, stuck a screwdriver in the empty bottle and held onto the handle, and dangled the bottle over the steam for about 2 minutes.  The label peeled right off, and had enough of the glue on it still to just stick it right on the boston round bottle.

[Update 6/9/09] These bottles are great!  I just bottled up some samples to exchange with another whisky fan here in town.  We’re exchanging a combination of 2 and 3 oz samples.  2 oz (60ml) seems like a natural amount to exchange for a true “sample”, so I’m getting ready to place another order for some 2 oz bottles.  I’m also going to order some shrink bands, as I’ll feel better about driving the samples around in a sealed bottle, should I happen to get pulled over or get in a fender-bender.

If you have your own tips for storing whisky, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.  Would you go with Amber or Blue bottles instead of clear?  I like to be able to see the color of the whisky in the clear bottles, and any samples I’m storing will be in a dark place.

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