Heaven Hill Brands is dropping the 6-year-old age statement for Fighting Cock. Company officials cited “supply challenges” for the label change.
A Heaven Hill spokesperson said the age statement was removed to accommodate a tight future supply of aging Heaven Hill bourbon, particularly of Evan Williams and other premium products that are annually growing at double digit rates. Fighting Cock remains at 103 proof, the company said.
By removing the age statement, Heaven Hill is not bound by law to keep the minimum age of the bourbon barrels used at six years old.
Heaven Hill also said it updated the labels of each Elijah Craig offering. “We extended the well-known block Elijah Craig typography of the Small Batch to our Single Barrel offerings (18 and 23) which will be re-released later this year,” a spokesperson said. “To then help better distinguish between the various expressions within the Elijah Craig family, we will be emphasizing their primary differences on the face label – Small Batch, Barrel Proof, and Single Barrel. For Elijah Craig Small Batch, this is a reflection of our commitment to bottling exclusively from a dumping of 100 barrels or less. As part of this effort, the ’12 Years Old’ statement on Elijah Craig Small Batch is now on the back label (as is the case with Barrel Proof).”
Officials said it would not speculate whether Elijah Craig 12-year-old would eventually lose its age statement and did not indicate other aged-stated products were under consideration for losing their age statements. But in general, the age statements are disappearing in the bourbon business. Very Old Barton and Jim Beam Black are recent additions to the non-age-stated bourbon aisle.
Similar trends are occurring in Scotland. What Heaven Hill did and Jim Beam and Barton did before them is supply strategy 101. You can stretch product out by dropping age statements and lowering proofs.
With that said, for core bourbon consumers seeking value bourbons, it’s becoming harder to find aged-stated bourbon under $40. International markets and demand from every corner of the country have certainly influenced this phenomenon. But the old school consumers, the ones who brought bourbon to the dance and create Twitter handles like this, are practically begging distilleries to stop dropping age statements.
I can personally handle Fighting Cock losing its 6-year-old statement, but I don’t want to know a bourbon life without Elijah Craig 12-year-old. So, let’s just leave that one alone.