Thursday, January 16, 2014

So Much Wrong With This...

Got this off the BLNN. I really hope it's wrong, because it really is just so wrong...

Japan's Suntory buys Jim Beam drinks group in $16bn deal
Japanese family-owned drinks firm Suntory is to buy the US beverage group Beam Inc, the company behind the Jim Bean bourbon brand.

Under the deal, worth $16bn (£9.7bn) in all, Suntory will pay $13.6bn in cash and take on Beam's debt.
For those that sneer at Jim Beam, remember that Maker's Mark is also owned by the company. So now that is Japanese as well... Call me old-fashioned if you will, but throwing more than 200 years of American tradition away just isn't right. Jim Beam has been a uniquely American brand for only slightly less time than there has been an America.

Now, I have to wonder if this means that, technically, there will be no more bourbon whiskey. Since one of the requirements for a distilled spirit to be called "bourbon" is that it be made in the USA, if the new owners of Jim Beam decide to consolidate efforts and ship the process overseas, it's possible we will see the end of bourbon as it is currently known.

As a writer, I cannot even begin to tell you how sad this makes me...

That is all.


Paul, Dammit! said...

No, no no. Don't you worry. Basil Hayden is still here and still making far superior bourbon.

I believe Japan consumes more whiskey and bourbon per capita than we do... at 5x the price.

libertyman said...

Hmmmm. Maker's Mark is relatively new to the scene, and I think owned for a time by Pepsi.
But I imagine the whole idea is to keep making it here, just lots more of it.
Ironically, I believe Bourbon County is a "dry" county.

libertyman said...

Well, quick research shows Bourbon can be made anywhere in the US.

Knotthead said...

Bourbon can be made anywhere in the U.S., but only Kentucky can apply an appellation of origin, unless the rules have changed.
Jim Beam also makes Knob Creek along with Makers Mark, both of which I like, but not my favorites. If you object to buying a Japanese sellout, try to find some Four Roses Small Batch or Single Barrel. Both are better than any Beam products.

Scott_K said...
'The best whiskey is coming not from Scotland any more, but from Kentucky,” he said, adding that Buffalo Trace, a bourbon distillery in Frankfort, Ky., is “arguably the best distillery in the world.”'

Anonymous said...

For many years all Four Roses Bourbon production went to Japan.

When I had visitors at work from Japan, we typically gave them Blantons bourbon. The Danes. Poles and Brits preferred Knob Creek.

I doubt the Japanese will do anything silly like move the distillery. They just want to make sure they have a ready supply.

Maybe they stole the Pappy Van Winkle?


Roy said...

As Knothead said, Bourbon can be made anywhere in the US, not just in Kentucky. Bourbon is defined more by its recipe than it's location. However, Kentucky is famous for its bourbon whiskey, and in order to be labeled "Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey", it must, of course, be distilled in Kentucky.

Jim Beam is not the only bourbon brand out there, it's just the best known. If I'm not mistaken, I believe the Brown Forman company is the largest distiller in the world.

I don't think there is anything to worry about. I'm sure Jim Beam will continue to be made in Kentucky.

And by the way, Four Roses is owned by the Kirin Brewing Company, also a Japanese firm.

LCB said...

Who owns Wild Turkey? When Makers Mark's price jumped last year I switched to Wild Turkey 101. Found I liked it better. I'm sure there are better bourbons, but I'm not willing to pay for them.

Makers Mark is not new. It has been around since 1958. But perhaps that's what libertyman meant by "relatively new".

Makers Mark was a private brand until 1981. And the distillery is registered as a national landmark. So...the brand could be moved to another location in KY, but I don't believe the distillery could ever be torn down. And they'd lose the appeal of the small, open air mash tanks that was one of their selling points.

LCB said...

Just did a little bit of research. Wild Turkey is owned by an Italian beverage company. question is...are ANY of the Kentucky Bourbons owned by a US company?

Dave H said...

There's a company down the road that has acquired a LOT of beer, wine, and spirits companies over the past few years. They tend to leave the production facilities in place, because in winemaking location can make a difference in the product. (Although one of their products, Wild Irish Rose, could be made in just about anybody's bathtub.)

Acquired companies like that may lose office jobs like HR and accounting as those functions are absorbed by the parent company, but production is usually left in place.

Ed said...

It appears that starting an American owned bourbon producer and marketer would be a great opportunity, as there appears to be great demand domestically and overseas for a good product. If nothing else, there also appears to be foreign buyers for such companies.

DaddyBear said...

Fear not, my friend. There are many distillers here in the Bluegrass, and should the Japanese or whoever buy all of them up and move production, there are still enough Scots-Irish Kentuckians who know how to turn charred wood, clear water, and grain into the tears of the angels.

LCB said...

Fear not, my friend. There are many distillers here in the Bluegrass

But who owns them is the point of Jay's post. Until I saw the news report about Jim Beam being bought, I thought Maker's Mark was still an independent company.

Heck, I thought Knob Creek was a separate distillery. Maybe it is...but it's owned by the same company that owns Maker's Mark and Jim Beam.

I have to agree with Jay here; there's just something "wrong" about Kentucky Straight Bourbon distilleries owned by Italians and Japanese. :-p

Roy said...

Like I said - Brown Forman. They make "Woodford Reserve", "Old Forester", and "Early Times" bourbon. They also own "Jack Daniels", "Canadian Mist", and Collingwood" distilleries.

And that's just whiskey. They also make wine, vodka, tequila, and various liqueurs.

Chris said...

So, taking a Nip of bourbon takes on a whole new subtext.

Knotthead said...

"And by the way, Four Roses is owned by the Kirin Brewing Company, also a Japanese firm."

Thanks Roy, for telling me something I did not know, and for kicking off a few minutes of interesting research. Not important who owns it, as long the product is good. It looks like the Japanese ownership is responsible for Four Roses' metamorphosis from a cheap rotgut of blended whiskey to some damn fine bourbons.

By the way, I understand the Japanese are producing some fine whiskeys these days, but more along the lines of Scotch production techniques. Similarly expensive too. I guess they like it so much it's hard to get them to turn loose of it.