Wednesday, February 13, 2013

1135 The Whiskey Rebellion

1135 The Whiskey Rebellion

No, not the tea party-like tax uprising of 1791.  This one’s happening right now.  And unlike then, the ire is directed not at the government but at the distillers of Maker’s Mark Bourbon which is pretty good if you like a Southern drink.  It’s also very fancy and fairly expensive and at 90 proof (that’s 45% alcohol for you non-drinkers,) it’s extremely potent.

In New York, the drink of the older natives is Rye or Rye-and … something.  No one batted an eye years ago when the equally potent Fleischmann’s whiskey went from 90 proof to 80 proof for its bottom shelf starter booze, but Fleischmann’s is only a few steps up from a medicinal rub and priced accordingly.  And you still can get the 90 proof version if you hunt carefully in bad neighborhoods.

Maker’s Mark hangs its water-down on increased demand. It’s going from 90 proof to 84.  Eighty four?  This was announced only recently.  But as you know, adult beverages are aged for a few years.  And it was a few years back that they made the decisions that affects buyers today.  They just kept their mouths shut about it until now.

Distillery boss Rob Sanders says no one will notice the difference.  Not even their taste testers could tell, he claims.

Oh?  NPR broke into its endless stream of long, sound effect-filled boring reports about third world transportation disasters, water shortages in countries no one ever heard of and fundraising marathons to announce that in Kentucky, bourbon country, this move is not easily swallowed.   Kentuckians are switching in droves to Knob Creek and other fancy brands. (The Old Grand-dad Old Crow Wild Turkey crowd doesn’t care. They’re drinking the instant coffees of bourbon anyway.)

All of this has an economic impact, too.  The original stuff gave you more bang for the buck.  So now, if you drink it at all, you have to drink more of it.  And you can bet the price isn’t going down.

“We study this kind of impact a lot,” says economist Bertha Fumpfhausen-Yang of The Pennsylvania State University College of Hospitality in State College, PA.  “As one of the country’s premier drinking towns, we keep an eye both on the impact on our student consumers and the 482 bars and (state owned) liquor stores that serve them. This is bad news all around.”

So MM probably hopes the snob drinkers of the rest of the country and in Europe and Asia will just accept the change.  Economist Fumpfhausen-Yang
doesn’t think so:  “Our drinkers will probably switch to 151 Rum, which is much more expensive but is 75.5% alcohol.  One drink will make MM look like mountain dew... the real thing, not the soda.

We leave this topic now with a song.


--Your correspondent promised himself that he wouldn’t watch the state of the union speech and kept his promise.  It doesn’t matter what President Obama proposes, the Republicans in congress will find a way to stall it.  Their definition of good faith negotiating is to put on their Joe Cool sunglasses and turn off their hearing aids and voting “no” on everything that’s decent, fair and feasible.

--GE is selling its remaining 49% of NBC to Comcast, and doing it earlier than they’d planned because the price is right and the interest is low.  No major objections here except they’re buying the company’s real estate along with it... including the condo floors of what was once called the RCA building and now is the GE building... and probably will re-name it the Comcast building.  While Comcast has so far been a reasonable steward of the NBC legacy, but naming a historic major landmark building for itself in the heart of New York is blasphemous.

(Self plagiarism alert: The final shrapnel item was written for this post, but appeared earlier on the New York Radio Message Board website.)

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2013

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