1970s Cabin Still – Group Review – Part II

Yesterday we brought you Part I of a very fun group review of some 1970s dusties, organized by Josh from The Whiskey Jug. Together with Josh of the Coopered Tot, Steve (Sku) of Sku’s Recent Eats,  Aaron of It’s Just The Booze Dancing, and Patrick (a.k.a “Pops”) of Bourbon and Banter, we started with a side-by-side of current the Old Crow, made by Jim Beam, and a 1970s National Distillers’ bottling.

Today, we’re on to…

Part II – Cabin, Still?

In the 1960s, (Old) Cabin Still was a respected brand of the legendary Stitzel-Weller distillery, brought into the fold by Pappy Van Winkle. But in 1972, as Josh Feldman tells in a great Coopered Tot post, tragedy struck:

Then a huge corporation, Norton Simon, that had been clumsily dabbling in bourbon, found themselves in a jam with a bunch of bad whiskey they couldn’t sell, so they bought Stitzel-Weller so they could gradually dump the boondoggle failure whiskey into their bottom of the line Old Cabin Still brand.  This ruined the whiskey – effectively murdering the brand.

At least for a time, Norton Simon mixed their awful juice with Stitzel-Weller’s. But within a few years it had become all but undrinkable – a sad end for a brand that predated Prohibition:

Photo by Josh Feldman, The Coopered Tot
Photo of a 1919 Old Cabin Still by Josh Feldman, The Coopered Tot

Josh set us up with samples of a Cabin Still made sometime between 1974-76, shortly after Norton Simon swooped in. On to it, then:

Producer: Norton Simon. Distiller: Norton Simon/Stitzel-Weller. ABV 40%. Mashbill: undisclosed.

Nose: woodstained oak.  Cooked sweet corn. Overripe apples. A touch of wallpaper glue.  Newspaper ink – the funny pages. The palate? Weirdly at war with itself. There’s something pleasant in the middle fighting to get out – the Stitzel-Weller juice? – but it’s trapped in a pool of acridity. Thin mouthfeel, with what seems like black pepper, but then on the finish degrades to a near chemical spirit burn. Educational, if less than delightful.

Huge thanks again to Josh for the chance to take part! Let’s do it again soon!

Don’t forget to check out the others’ Part II reviews:

Happy National Bourbon Heritage Month, friends! – BO


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