Saturday, November 17, 2007

Abuse of Alcohol- Historic Fine Whiskey to be destroyed

While the raison d'etre of government is waste this needs to be halted: From WSMV Nashville:

Vintage Whiskey May Be Poured Out
Law Requires Officials Destroy Whiskey That Cannot Be Sold Legally
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Here's a sobering thought: Hundreds of bottles of Jack Daniel's whiskey, some of it almost 100 years old, may be unceremoniously poured down a drain because authorities suspect it was being sold by someone without a license.

Officials seized 2,400 bottles late last month during warehouse raids in Nashville and Lynchburg, the southern Tennessee town where the whiskey is distilled.

"Punish the person, not the whiskey," said an outraged Kyle MacDonald, 28, a Jack Daniel's drinker from British Columbia who promotes the whiskey on his blog. "Jack never did anything wrong, and the whiskey itself is innocent."

Investigators are also looking into whether some of the bottles had been stolen from the distillery. No one has been arrested.

Authorities are still determining how much of the liquor will be disposed of, and how much can be sold at auction.

Tennessee law requires officials to destroy whiskey that cannot be sold legally in the state, such as bottles designed for sale overseas and those with broken seals.

"We'd pour it out," said Danielle Elks, executive director of the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission.

“If it's forfeited to the ABC, we will divide the alcohol into sellable and unsellable alcohol. The alcohol that's available for sale will be auctioned off to the licensees in the state, and the funds will go to the state,” she said.

The estimated value of the liquor is $1 million, possibly driven up by the value of the antique bottles, which range from 3-liter bottles to half-pints.

One seized bottle dates to 1914, with its seal unbroken. Elks said it is worth $10,000 on the collectors market. Investigators are looking into whether the liquor was being sold for the value of the bottles rather than the whiskey.

"Someone was making a great deal of profit," she said.

Tennessee whiskeys age in charred white oak barrels, but the maturing process that gives them character mostly stops when it is bottled. A bottled whiskey can deteriorate over a long period of time, especially if it is opened or exposed to sunlight and heat.

Christopher Carlsson, a spirits connoisseur and collector in Rochester, N.Y., said old vintages of whiskey in their original containers are highly prized.

"A lot of these bottles are priceless," he said. "It's like having a rare painting. It's heavily collected."


For now, the whiskey is being stored in a Nashville vault.

Elks acknowledged that pouring out the whiskey would not be a happy hour for her.

"It'd kill me," she said.

Officials with Jack Daniel’s agree.

“Certainly we would be all in favor of the bottles being auctioned off in some way in which the proceeds could go to charity. We've had some discussions with ABC in Tennessee about that particularly, with the oldest bottle that dates back to 1914,” said Jack Daniel’s spokesman Phil Lynch.

But not everyone’s motives are so noble. Some just wish that enormous stash of Tennessee sipping whiskey could be put to good use.
. . .

Attorneys are currently researching Tennessee law to see if the bottles that aren't sold at auction could somehow be preserved for historical purposes.

Pouring a million dollars, literally down the drain is unconscionable and the law should be changed immediately to prevent such waste. At the very least convert it into E85 rather than pour it down the drain - some lucky car would get some very vintage fuel.

This is Jack Daniels Whiskey - a signature American and indeed Tennessean product, for the State of Tennessee to desecrate such a fine and historic item is simply awful. Indeed, the Executive Director of the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission even acknowledged it would be a terrible fate for such fine alcohol.

While my personal favorite is Irish Whiskey, specifically Bushmill's or Jameson's, Jack Daniels is an American icon and a fine and noble whiskey that can stand on its own merits and such historic whiskey, especially the 1914 bottle should be preserved. At least give it to the Jack Daniels Distillery with the condition that it must be kept there in a museum to show the history of their fine product, auction it off for charity in the state, or simply, since its already seized, make any buyer pay the appropriate tax on the alcohol and reintroduce it into the stream of alcoholic commerce.

Save Jack!

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