January 20, 2011, Louisville, Ky. – Brown-Forman announces the Early Times brand is returning to its bourbon roots with Early Times 354 Bourbon. Crafted with pure water, select grains, proprietary yeast and carefully distilled and matured in select oak barrels, it’s the newest (and in a way, the oldest) member of the Early Times family. After an absence as a bourbon in the US market since 1983, Early Times 354 joins Early Times Kentucky Whisky in an expansion of the presence of the famous Early Times brand.
At the tender age of 15, Jack Beam began working at his family’s distillery. In short order, he was running the operation and in 1860 built his own distillery at a place called Early Times Station, Kentucky. Beam named his whisky Early Times, both as a tribute to its place of origin and as a nod to the old-world craftsmanship that goes into making it. He believed in the “early times method” of whisky-making – mashing grain in small tubs, boiling the beer and whisky in copper stills over open fires. It’s an abiding belief that has stayed with the Early Times brand all along, continuing long after Early Times became part of the Brown-Forman family of brands in 1923.
By the 1950s, Early Times was the best-selling bourbon in the world. As the vintage advertising from that era proclaimed, Early Times is “the whisky that made Kentucky whiskies famous.” Steeped in bourbon history, Early Times Distillery’s federal permit, No. 354, is the longest held in Kentucky.
As the only distilling company to own its own cooperage, Brown-Forman changed Early Times from a Kentucky bourbon to a Kentucky whisky in 1983 – allowing the company to achieve a perfect mix of seasoned and new barrels and create the smooth, mellow taste of Early Times whisky.
“Early Times is the second oldest continually produced Kentucky whisky on the market - second only to Brown Forman’s Old Forester,” said Chris Morris, Brown-Forman Master Distiller. “Early Times 354 Bourbon takes as a part of its names the distillery’s famous permit number - 354. This is the longest held operating permit in Kentucky. Everything about Early Times 354 supports the brand's historic past and reputation for great taste.”
Early Times 354 will launch an ad campaign to coincide with the product’s release in several trade magazines focused on a national, independent, blind preference taste test in which Early Times 354 was preferred to Jim Beam White Label by male, Jim Beam drinkers ages 25-55.*
“The results of the taste test were what really told us we had a winner,” said Joe Murray, Early Times Brand Manager. “Early Times 354 is a premium line extension offering a quality product, at an accessible price point, capitalizing on the growing number of consumers entering the bourbon category.”
With a unique retro-classic package similar to the 1930’s Early Times bottle, Early Times 354 will initially be sold in 17 U.S. markets with more to follow in 2011. Each bottle is presented at 80 proof with a suggested retail price of $15.99 for a 750ml bottle.
*Independent study, national blind preference test; preferred to Jim Beam White Label by male Jim Beam drinkers ages 25-55. Tragon Corporation, 350 Bridge Parkway, Redwood Shores, CA 94065
Tasting Notes for Early Times 354 Bourbon
Color - deep amber
Aroma - spicy with sweet fruit, fresh oak and delicate corn notes underscored by a layer of vanilla and caramel.
Taste - a lively entry with spice, caramel and vanilla that melt into a mixture of fresh and dried fruit notes.
Finish - warm with subtle hints of apple and corn