All posts by Victor The Assassin

Your ‘Craft’ Rye Whiskey Is Probably From a Factory Distillery in Indiana

The artisan whiskey industry has a big secret—many of the ‘small-batch’ distillers are actually buying their product from a large factory in Indiana.

Read the promotional materials for the Rancho de Los Luceros Destilaría and you form an image of a supremely artisanal effort. The distillery creates “small batch heirloom spirits handcrafted in New Mexico.” Each batch of their rye whiskies, vodka, and gin is “individual and unique,” and “each bottle is hand bottled and hand marked with batch and bottle number.”

These are the standard selling points of the craft-distilling movement, with its locavore lingo, terroir talk, and handmade hype. But, in the new crowd of micro-distillers, it is now standard for the alcohol being sold to come not from their own distinctive stills, but from a hulking factory in Indiana.

Lawrenceburg, Indiana (not to be confused with bourbon-locale Lawrenceburg, Kentucky) is home to a massive brick complex that cranks out mega-industrial quantities of beverage-grade alcohol. The factory, once a Seagram distillery, has changed hands over the decades and was most recently acquired by food-ingredient corporation MGP. It is now a one-stop shop for marketers who want to bottle their own brands of spirits without having to distill the product themselves. MGP sells them bulk vodka and gin, as well as a large selection of whiskies, including bourbons of varying recipes, wheat whiskey, corn whiskey, and rye. (They also make “food grade industrial alcohol” used in everything from solvents and antiseptics to fungicides.) Their products are well-made, but hardly what one thinks of as artisanal. And yet, much of the whiskey now being sold as the hand-crafted product of micro-distilleries actually comes from this one Indiana factory.

Upstart spirits companies selling juice they didn’t distill rarely advertise the fact. But there are ways to tell: whiskey aged longer than a distillery has been in business is one of the telltale signs that the “distiller” is actually just bottling someone else’s product. KGB Spirits, the company behind the New Mexico “destilaría,” was founded in 2009; but its flagship Ceran St. Vrain straight rye whiskey comes with an age statement of 15 years in the barrel. Or take Breaker bourbon, the “first bourbon produced in Southern California since Prohibition.” The Buellton, California company behind the brand, Ascendant Spirits, wasn’t started until 2013. Yet, they brag their “ultra small batch bourbon” is aged 5 years. So how do you open a distillery one year and have 5- or 15-year-old whiskey to sell the next? Not by making it.

“I have purchased hundreds of barrels of rye and bourbon from them,” John Bernasconi admits when asked about the Indiana factory. A principal in the New Mexico company, Bernasconi says that purchasing whiskey from MGP and bottling it is “a means to develop a brand and help fund the next step” of actually distilling a unique product. It may be a sensible enough business strategy, but as whiskey writer Charles Cowdery points out, “There’s no reason to think anyone knows how to make whiskey or can learn how to make whiskey based on buying whiskey.” Cowdery has been railing for years against the proliferation of what he calls “Potemkin distilleries,” many of which own shiny new copper stills to wow visitors, but actually sell factory-made spirits they’ve acquired in bulk.

High West hopes to make the transition, at least in part. The Park City, Utah distillery has been celebrated for its well-aged rye whiskies and its bourbon-and-rye blends, all of which come from the Indiana factory, as owner David Perkins readily acknowledges. High West makes some un-aged spirits and they are currently aging some whiskey of their own, but they have no plans to stop using the whiskies available from Lawrenceburg. “Since MGP whiskey is [more than] 80 percent of my revenues, it might be silly to wean myself off of that,” Perkins says. “I don’t think my employees would like the pay cut!”

Part of the problem is the competition. MGP has plenty of aged whiskey ready to go in the bottle right now. An upstart distiller has to buy a still and learn how to use it; then buy all the ingredients and actually ferment and distill them; buy barrels and build or lease warehouses in which to put them; and then sit on the investment for years. Todd Leopold, master distiller at Denver’s Leopold Bros., has managed to do it. But how much easier, he says with disdain, for those who just buy whiskey off the shelf and market it. “All that they do is hire salespeople, make up a BS story, and boom, they look like a distillery,” Leopold says.

Dozens of new brands are packaging whiskey bought in bulk from Indiana. But it isn’t the only source. Some recently launched whiskey brands, such as the much-hyped WhistlePig Rye (which touts the product as “hand-bottled” on a Vermont farm), get their product from a factory distillery in Canada. Others are picking up cast-off barrels from high-volume Kentucky “macro-distillers” who occasionally find themselves with more whiskey than they can sell under their own labels. But Cowdery warns that the newbie “distiller” shouldn’t count on finding brilliant whiskies in the barrels being shed by the big brands: “They’re not getting rid of their best stuff.”

The Indiana distillery, by contrast, does sell its best stuff, because MGP Ingredients doesn’t have any brands of its own. Originally, the rye that was made there had a particular purpose—as a component to “flavoring whiskey” in the Seagram’s Seven Crown blend. But it turns out that the rye in MGP’s warehouses, when not used for blending, is very good whiskey all on its own—one more reason why the industrial product is behind so much of the “craft” rye revolution.

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How to Bake a Pumpkin Pie (from Scratch)

Check out the comments!  metric recipes flamewar.  lol

This instructable is a continuation of my How to Bake a Fresh Pumpkin instructable. Baking pumpkin pies from scratch is somewhat of a tradition in my family, and ever since having had pies made from fresh pumpkin, I can’t eat the ones made from canned pumpkin. You can use this instructable to make a pie from canned pumpkin, but if you’re planning on using a fresh one you should follow the instructions in my other instructable. See the last page for a bonus recipe for homemade whipped cream with flavor booster.

Source: How to Bake a Pumpkin Pie (from Scratch)

Ben Carson’s Church Believes the U.S. Government Will Team Up With the Antichrist

According to mainstream Seventh-Day Adventist doctrine, the Second Coming of Christ will occur after the U.S. government teams up with the Catholic Church – which Adventists believe is the ‘Babylon’ of the Book of Revelation, with the Pope being the Antichrist – to compel Adventists and others to worship on Sunday, rather than Saturday.

That may seem like a small hook on which to hang the fate of the world, but for Adventists, it is a core belief, taught at “prophecy seminars” and elaborated in excruciating geopolitical detail by key Adventist leaders.

Is it awkward for Ben Carson to run for president, if his faith believes the U.S. government will team up with the Antichrist?

 

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Silicon Valley to millennials: Drop dead

Silicon Valley is tossing millennials aside like yesterday’s laptop.

The commonly held belief is that with hard work and a good education, a young person in America can get a good job. But despite falling unemployment, college grads age 22 to 27 are stuck in low-paying jobs that don’t even require a college degree. The percentage of young people languishing in low-skill, low-paying jobs is 44%, a 20-year high.

David Wheeler

Only 36% of college grads have jobs that pay at least $45,000, a sharp decline from the 1990s, after adjusting for inflation. Perhaps most depressingly, the percentage of young people making below $25,000 has topped 20%, worse than in 1990. In other words, those with a bachelor’s diploma were better off before the digital revolution.

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Feted in China, Jerk Xi’s U.S. profile dims in shadow of pope and Boehner

Source: Feted in China, Xi’s U.S. profile dims in shadow of pope

Francis flew out of Washington, heading to a rapturous reception in New York and a star turn at the United Nations General Assembly, just as Xi was arriving.

Under Xi, U.S.-Chinese relations are at a low, hurt by tensions over cyber theft and China’s assertive moves in Asian maritime disputes.

“To be contrasted with someone who has no military, no economic might and be completely eclipsed, I think it’s astounding. I don’t think the Chinese are noticing the contrast in messages”.

Xi slid further down the U.S. news agenda on Friday morning, when Republican House of Representative Speaker John Boehner announced his resignation. The big networks quickly cut off Xi speaking at a news conference with Obama to follow a briefing by Boehner.

Xi: jerkity jerk jerk JERK

Jeb Bush Doesn’t Care About Black Voters

His remarks this week expose the GOP’s flawed approach to a neglected electorate.

Source: Jeb Bush Doesn’t Care About Black Voters

John Ellis Bush, known to us by his initials and the accompanying exclamation point, has proven in this presidential race that he is an awful politician. Even with two candidates now out of the running, the former Florida governor has been the chief underperformer, polling well behind a reality-show provocateur, a failed CEO, and a born-again surgeon new to politics. To put it kindly, his campaign has been uninspiring to a vitriolic Republican voter base seeking to hold on to a cultural status quo they see slipping away from them.

Game of Thrones just smashed a 15-year-old record for most Emmy wins in a single year

Dwarfs?  Really?

Game of Thrones: Emmy voters really, really like you. The HBO drama just smashed a 15-year-old record set by The West Wing in 2000 to earn more Emmys in a single year than any other TV show in history. Game of Thrones’ roster of wins includes three at tonight’s ceremony, including writing, directing, and a Best Supporting Actor trophy for Peter Dinklage. Game of Thrones’ 11 wins already dwarfs The West Wing’s nine, but the number might get even bigger: the series is also nominated for Best Drama, which has yet to be awarded. Scott Meslow

Source: Game of Thrones just smashed a 15-year-old record for most Emmy wins in a single year

Jackie Collins, Novelist Who Wrote of Hollywood’s Glamorous Side, Dies at 77

Ms. Collins, sister of the actress Joan Collins, had been battling breast cancer, her family said in a statement.

Source: Jackie Collins, Novelist Who Wrote of Hollywood’s Glamorous Side, Dies at 77

Barry Gewen said of Ms. Collins’s “American Star: A Love Story” that it might more appropriately be titled “Coming Up for Air.”

  • I think that backhanded compliment is the the best obit for Jackie!