RIP Truman Cox

Recently I, as a (part-time) whiskey blogger, have been urged to take up the banner and “give Maker’s Mark shit” for lowering the proof of their bourbon. I’m not going to do that. The decision to lower the proof of Maker’s is unfortunate and disappointing, but the level of internet outrage regarding the proof change is completely out of proportion, surpassing even the Ebay/Pappy hysteria of 2012. I have no desire to contribute to this silliness any more than I already have.

Instead, I’m going to call attention to something much  more worthy of getting upset about: The death of A. Smith Bowman Master Distiller Truman Cox.

I didn’t know Truman very well. We were Facebook friends and I only recall meeting him once in person. He was the kind of guy who would greet you with a hearty handshake and a smile. As a friend of mine said, he was above all a genuine guy. He loved his family and he seemed to enjoy life immensely.

He was also a whiskey man through and through.  His prior position was at Buffalo Trace as chief chemist. He became Master Distiller at Bowman at a crucial time, as Bowman had recently moved to a new location, had a relatively new owner, Sazerac (also owner of Buffalo Trace), and was in the midst of a profound transformation. 10 years ago, Bowman was little more than a curiosity. It was the only large-ish bourbon distillery still operating in the state of Virginia and had only one (fairly) widely distributed brand, Virginia Gentleman. It came in 80 and 90 proof expressions.

When Truman moved to Virginia, the transformation of Bowman was well underway. The 90 proof VG had been replaced by Bowman Brothers Small Batch Bourbon at 90 proof  and a 100 proof single barrel bourbon, John J. Bowman, was also introduced (review coming soon). Also made are Abraham Bowman Rye (I review the TPS barrel-stength version here) and Sunset Hills Gin. Under the brief period of Truman’s leadership the transformation of Bowman was completed, and Bowman began putting out some of the most highly regarded and sought after private bottlings of bourbons and ryes among enthusiasts. They were able to have the best of both worlds. They operated like a micro-distillery in many ways, but they were also able to draw upon the resources of a large spirits company like Sazerac and a large distillery like Buffalo Trace.

Truman was one of the brightest rising stars in the world of American whiskey and his sudden death is a great loss for the industry and bourbon drinkers alike. Here are some links:

The Spirits Business Article on Truman’s death.

Lew Bryson on Truman’s passing.

Chuck Cowdery on Truman’s death

Truman’s famous barrel dance.

Truman tasting Pappy Van Winkle 20 y/o

Truman’s autobiographical bit on the Bowman website

Members of StraightBourbon.com congratulate Truman on becoming Master Distiller

Here’s hoping he gets that bottle named after him at last.

2012 in Review, Part I: Michigan beer & mead.

Compared to the ongoing tumult in the whiskey world, the world of Michigan beer and wine was an ocean of calm in 2012. Calm, but not dull. Optimistic, joyful, or hopeful might be the best words to use. The world of craft beer, Michigan continues to be a leader despite increased competition. Bells is taking its place as one of the largest and most successful microbrewers in the country. Founders and New Holland confirmed their positions and justified their positions as leaders in the movement as well.

Many brewers experienced various sorts of growth in 2012. One of this blog’s favorites, Arcadia Ales, announced that they are expanding their operation and moving to the belly of the beast, as it were, Kalamazoo, Michigan, home to Bells. They will keep their pub and restaurant in Battle Creek, but the majority of the brewing operations will be moving into the new facility. They also expanded their canning operation to include their delicious Sky High Rye. Also expanding was Jolly Pumpkin. They are set to open a new pub and restaurant in Royal Oak, Michigan, Sipology’s home town, sometime soon. The place was rumored to be opening last fall but the Jolly Pumpkin never appeared. The bankruptcy of the former owner of the building the brewery has its eye on may be to blame for the delays. Real estate problems aside, the growth in popularity of sour beers has brought a lot of interest to Jolly Pumpkin. Milking It Productions is already in Royal Oak, and has also been slowly expanding their range and their reach. Their Jet black lager and Sno White Ale (recently reviewed) are both excellent and quick sellers judging by the short amount of time they spend on shelves. The “up north” brewers, like Short’s, North Peak and Keweenaw have continued to expand their offerings and distribution as well.

B. Nektar meadery in Ferndale, currently just a mile or so from Sipology HQ, is also moving and expanding. The new facility is a five minute walk from the old one and will include a tap room. It will no doubt be an improvement on their current set up for tastings: three card tables with bottles and a cash register. B. Nektar continued to release interesting meads with mass appeal this year, like Zombie Killer, Evil Genius and Naughty Ginger. Their most intriguing release this year was Sleeping Giant, a wildflower mead aged in former rye whiskey barrels. They were expensive ($24 for a 375 ml bottle) but promise to be one of the coolest things they’ve done. Maybe I’ll review it soon. Maybe I’ll just let it languish in the cellar for a few years.

2012 in wine and cider next.

My Two Ounces: What’s that mean? Whiskey Edition

All disciplines and hobbies have their own set of lingo. The world of whiskey is no exception. What makes this even more confusing is that all whiskey-producing countries have their own terms and laws. Here are some of the most common terms found on whiskey bottles of all types and the most basic definitions I could give them. I have only included terms used for Scotch, American, Irish, Canadian and Japanese whiskies. These are all I can think of for now. I hope it is enlightening. And please give me crap about it if I screw up. That’s what the internet’s all about.

ABV: Alcohol By Volume, in other words, how much of the volume of the liquid in the bottle is taken up by ethanol (the alcohol in alcoholic beverages). This is expressed as a percentage. If I knew more about chemistry, I’m sure I could explain it better. See proof below.

Age Statements: The age statement refers to the time between when the unaged spirit was put into the barrel and when it was removed from the barrel, usually rounded down to the nearest year. When there is an age statement on a bottle of whiskey of any country, the number refers to the age of the youngest whiskey in the bottle. Whiskeys without age statements are described as NAS (No Age Statement). They are usually, but not always, close to the minimum age allowed by law. That is four years old for American straight whiskeys and bonded whiskeys (see below), and three years old for all Scotch, Irish and Canadian whiskies.

Barrel Strength/Cask Strength/Barrel Proof/undiluted: The whiskey has been bottled at the same proof  it was when it left the barrel. No water has been added.

Blended Whiskey/Whiskey, a blend: All whiskey-producing countries have their own rules and practices regarding blending.

Blended Scotch: A blended Scotch is composed of two components, single malt (usually several of them, see below) and grain whisky (also see below). Generally, the more expensive the blend, the higher the proportion of single malt. If the blend has an age statement, it applies to the grain whisky component as well.

Irish Blends: Irish blended whiskey is usually a blend of whiskey made from malted barley in a pot still and unmalted barley. Generally, the more expensive the blend, the higher the proportion of malt. If the blend has an age statement, it applies to the grain whiskey component as well. Most Irish whiskeys are blends.

Canadian Blends: Canadian Blends are somewhere between Scotch/Irish blends and American blends taste-wise. The grain whisky element is distilled until it is almost, but not entirely, flavorless. The malt component in Scotch/Irish blends is replaced by flavorful whiskies similar to American rye, bourbon and corn whiskeys. Generally, the more expensive the blend, the higher the proportion of flavoring whisky. If the blend has an age statement, it applies to the grain whisky component as well. All but one or two Canadian whiskies are blends. See Canadian Whisky.

American Blends: Most American blends are basically vodka favored with whiskey. Bottles labeled blended bourbon or rye contain a blend of vodka (flavorless neutral spirit) with bourbon or rye. Some newer whiskeys that blend two or more types of whiskey (bourbon with rye, for example) also qualify as blends, but their makers tend to downplay that term since American blends have a bad reputation among enthusiasts. If the blend has an age statement, it applies to the neutral spirit component as well.

Japanese blends: Similar to Scotch blends above.

Blended Malt: Formerly known as vatted malts, blended malt Scotches are blends of multiple single malts. Unlike true blends they contain no grain whiskey element.

Bottled-in-Bond or Bonded: The Bottled-in-Bond law stipulates that any American spirit labeled as such must be at least four years old, bottled at 100 proof (50% ABV), and the product of one distillery in one distilling season. It is mostly used for bourbons, but also for rye and apple brandy and can even be used for vodka or gin. It was intended as a sort of quality control but now some bourbons that qualify as Bottled-in-Bond choose not to use the term because it sounds old fashioned.

Bourbon: An American Whiskey made from at least 51% corn and aged in a new oak barrel that has been charred on the inside. It must be made in the U.S. It does not have to be made in Kentucky, although the vast majority of it is.

Bourbon cask, sherry cask, port cask, etc: Scotch, Irish and similar whiskies are almost always aged in used barrels (casks). The former contents of the cask impart different flavors to the whisky. Most whisky producers use a variety of casks to age their product. Bourbon and sherry are the two most commonly used in Scotland and Ireland.

Canadian Whiskey: Whiskey made in Canada. Almost all of it qualifies as blended by American standards. Like Scotch and Irish, it must be at least three years old. Unlike in the British Isles and the U.S., under Canadian law non-whisky flavoring elements may be added to whisky. These include sherry, port, madeira and other wines, brandy, and even fruit juice. See Canadian Blends above.

Cask Strength: See barrel strength above.

Charcoal Filtered: The whiskey has been filtered through activated charcoal, similar to a home water filter, after aging. Some labels display the words more prominently than others, but most whiskeys are filtered in this way. This is different from charcoal mellowing and in addition to chill-filtering; compare chill-filtering and Tennesee Whiskey below.

Corn Whiskey: An American whiskey made from at least 80% corn (compare bourbon above) and either unaged or aged in a used oak barrel. There is a subtle difference between unaged Corn whiskey, which is meant to be consumed as is, and White Dog (see below) which has been distilled with the intent to be aged at a later date, at least in theory.

Diluted: Any whiskey (or other spirit) that is sold at under 80 proof/40% ABV in the U.S.

Finished: The whiskey has been transferred to a different barrel (or had oak chunks added to the barrel or the like) for a brief time at the end of the aging process. Bourbon and other American whiskeys are allowed to be finished in a used barrel as long as the bottle is labeled as “finished in X barrels” or something to that effect.

Grain Whisky: In the Scotch and Irish whiskey worlds, grain whisky is whisky usually made in a continuous still (as opposed to a pot still) and made from something other than malted barley. Usually it is just whatever grain is cheapest at the time with corn (maize) and wheat being the most common grains used. Grain whisky is typically blended with single malt whisky to produce blended whisky. It is occasionally bottled on its own as a curiosity. The term is not used in American whiskey circles.

Irish: Any whiskey made in Ireland. Traditionally, Irish whiskey is made from malted and/or unmalted barley and distilled three times before aging. By law it must be at least three years old.

Japanese Whisky: Whisky made in Japan. It is made in a similar style to Scotch single malt and blended whisky.

Natural Colo(u)r: No caramel coloring has been added. Adding caramel color is legal for Scotch, Irish, Japanese and Canadian whiskies.

Proof: Now only used for American whiskey. American proof is the ABV doubled. So 50% ABV= 100 proof and so on. American whiskey must be at least 80 proof to be sold in the U.S. Otherwise it must be labeled as diluted.

Pot Still: Implies that the whiskey was at least partially distilled in a pot still as opposed to a continuous still.

Regions: Single malt Scotches are classified according to where they were distilled. There are four traditional regions. These are often mentioned on bottles of Single Malt Scotch. They are Highland, Lowland, Islay and Campbeltown. The Highland region is the largest by far and is subdivided into other regions, like the Islands and Speyside. Speyside is the largest of those in terms of number of distilleries and is itself subdivided into smaller regions like Dufftown and the Livet valley. Region plays a much smaller role in the classification of Irish, Canadian, Japanese and American whiskies.

Reserve: Meaningless marketing term meant to convey the image of extra age or rarity.

Rye: A traditional American whiskey made from at least 51% rye and aged in a new oak barrel that has been charred on the inside. Same goes for other named whiskey types but with their respective grains. Wheat whiskey is at least 51% wheat, American malt whiskey is at least 51% malted barley, and so on.

Scotch: Any whisky made in Scotland. By law, all Scotch whisky must be aged for at least three years in a barrel or cask as it is more commonly called in Scotland. See Single Malt, Blend, Grain Whisky.

Single Barrel/Cask: All the whiskey in the bottle is from one barrel. Most whiskeys are a combination of the contents of different barrels.

Single Malt: Used for Scotch and Irish whiskies, a single malt is a whisky made from only malted barley in a pot still and is the product of a single distillery. It is usually blended with grain whisky to produce a blended whisky. Single Malts are also bottled on their own, either by the company that owns them or by a private bottler. Single Malt used on a bottle of American whiskey is only an indication that it qualifies as a malt whiskey by American law. Other whiskeys that call themselves Single Malts generally follow the Scotch usage.

Small Batch: From a smaller batch of barrels than bigger selling brands. It’s essentially a meaningless term meant to make the whiskey inside the bottle seem rare and desirable.

Sour Mash: The mash (distiller’s beer) is brought to a low Ph before distilling. Although some whiskey labels display the words more prominently than others, all major American whiskey brands are made using a sour mash.

Straight: American whiskey legal term. Any whiskey that is at least two years old and the product of a single U.S. state may be called straight whiskey. If it is under four years old, the label must bear an age statement.

Tennesee Whiskey/Whisky: Whiskey made in Tennesee. In practice, Tennesee whiskey is very similar to bourbon. It uses a recipe that is identical to a bourbon, but unlike bourbons it undergoes a process of charcoal mellowing, also known as the Lincoln County process. Before barreling, the white dog (see below) is run through a large vat of maple chunk charcoal. This removes some flavor compounds and adds a few others. It is then barreled and aged like bourbon and other straight whiskeys. Tennesee whiskeys could probably be sold as bourbons, but Tennesee whiskey makers prefer to sell it as Tennesee whiskey.

Unfiltered/Unchillfiltered/Non-chill filtered: The whiskey has not undergone a process called chill-filtering in which the whiskey is chilled to around zero degrees Celsius and then filtered. The process is performed after aging and is intended to reduce any haziness that the whiskey may exhibit. Chill-filtering produces a clean-looking spirit that looks good on the store shelf, but the process can also remove some flavor compounds. Whisky producers marketing themselves toward enthusiasts will often not chill filter their products and brag about that fact on the label. Unfiltered also implies that the whiskey has not been filtered through activated charcoal, a common practice (see above).

Vatted Malt: See Blended Malt above.

Wheated Bourbon: This style of bourbon is made with corn, malt and wheat instead of the more usual corn, malt and rye.

Whiskey: A spirit distilled from grain and then (usually) aged in an oak barrel. In layperson’s terms, a whiskey is a beer that has been run through a still. Most whiskeys are then aged in a barrel for a period of time. Whiskey with an e is the preferred spelling in the U.S. and Ireland, although some American brands like Maker’s Mark, Old Forester and George Dickel omit the e. Curiously, U.S. Federal regulations governing whiskey also use the e-less spelling.

Whisky: See whiskey above. Whisky without an e is the preferred spelling in Scotland, Japan and Canada. In spite of what some believe, there is no more difference between whiskey and whisky than there is between labor and labour or color and colour.

White Dog: A term from the American whiskey world meaning a clear spirit that is destined to be aged in barrels and become whiskey. The Scotch equivalent is new make. Many start-up and even established distilleries have been releasing their own white dog recently as a curiosity or to raise some quick cash in the case of the start-ups.

Confused about wine labels? So is everybody else. Check out the simple interactive guide to reading world wine labels from Delish.com here.

My Two Ounces: My Favorite Bourbons Under…

I’ve had some requests from friends of the blog for lists of my favorite bourbons in certain price ranges. This sounded like a fun exercise, but there are some challenges. First, not all bourbons are available everywhere. Second, not all bourbons are the same price everywhere. Third, there are some bourbons I don’t usually care for, but I like some of the specially selected retailer bottlings. Finally, some bourbons are only released in limited quantities once a year. Some of them, like the Old Forester Birthday Bourbon and the Four Roses annual releases, vary quite a bit from year to year. Others, like the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection (BTAC), are pretty consistent.

For my recommendations I have decided to include bourbons available in Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky or Chicago, i.e. places where I shop. For all bourbons available in Michigan, the price I will be using is the state minimum retail price. Bourbons not available in Michigan will be marked with an asterisk and I will use the price listed at The Party Source in Covington, Kentucky. All prices are rounded to the nearest dollar before sales tax. I will note retailer bottlings I like in each category at the end of each list. For the purposes of this list, I have included Tennessee Whiskeys. Rye whiskeys are not included, but get their own very short list at the bottom.

Whew. So without any further ado, and without comment (mostly)…

Favorite bourbons under $25

*Heaven Hill Old Style, 6 y/o,  Bottled-in-Bond (White Label) $9

*Very Old Barton, Bottled-in-Bond $13 (the 90 proof version is available in Michigan for the same price)

Old Ezra 101 $16

*Ancient Ancient Age 10 y/o (not to be confused with 10 star) $18

Geo. Dickel Old #12 $22

Elijah Craig 12 y/o $22

Old Forester Signature $22

Old Grand Dad 114 proof $23 (Old Grand-Dad Bottled-in-Bond is also a great value)

Retailer bottlings of Buffalo Trace and Old Weller Antique are also worth seeking out.

Favorite bourbons $25-$49

*W.L. Weller 12 y/o $25

Evan Williams Single Barrel (I like the 1994, 1997-2000 vintages) $29

Wild Turkey Rare Breed $35

Four Roses Single Barrel $40

Old Rip Van Winkle 107 $40

Retailer bottlings of Elijah Craig 18 y/o and Four Roses Single Barrel, Barrel Strength (OBSK, OBSV, OESO, or OESQ recipes) can be stellar.

Favorite Bourbons $50 and up

Pappy Van Winkle 15 y/o $65

Four Roses Ltd. Ed. Single Barrel $70

Four Roses Ltd Ed. Small Batch $70

Geo. T. Stagg $71

Parker’s Heritage Collection (Wheated or Cognac finish) $80

Favorite ryes

Under $25: *Rittenhouse Bottled-in-Bond $22

$25-$50: Bulleit Rye $25, Sazerac Rye $28

Over $50: Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye $60

My Two Ounces: Public and Private Houses, part 2

When I joined 1789b, I was expecting a sedate and sober (in a manner of speaking) place where serious bourbon lovers could have a civilized discussion about the world’s finest beverage. What I found was different than what I expected.

At first I was surprised at the number of members who really didn’t seem to be all that interested in bourbon at all. Several introductory posts began something like this, “I don’t know much about bourbon but the co-founder of this site invited me to join. We got to know each other through the Cigar forums.” Odd, I thought, that a place that was supposed to be the home of serious boubon-peoplewas being populated by cigar people whose interest in bourbon seemed to be marginal. The opposite was true too. Ed Phalen, a pillar of the bourbon community, was nominated for membership. The public comments about his nomination were overwhelmingly positive. Then one of the founders of the forum posted that some members had sent him private concerns about Ed and that his nomination was under review. Then the whole thread disappeared.

Other aspects of the membership were curious. I was told that certain classes of people were deliberately excluded from membership. There were to be no people associated with “the industry” at all, even those who work at liquor stores were excluded. But one of the most frequent posters while I was there was someone who was for many years (and to my knowledge still is) an employee of Kentucky Bourbon Distillers (KBD). Bloggers (should I have been insulted?) and professional writers on American Whiskey were also excluded to preserve the purity of the
forum.

Another thing that was surprising was that in a forum that was supposed to be for “mature” persons, there was plenty of pettiness. Cheap shots at those excluded critics and bloggers abounded. There was even a thread entitled “John Hansell whining AGAIN” which was a response to this post from Hansell’s blog. Taking shots at someone unable to respond didn’t seem particularly gentlemanly to me.

1789b was most disappointing in how unbelievably BORING it was. One of the most active sub-forums was one devoted to food. Not bourbon & food, just food. Many of the threads were very similar to ones on SB.com, and not the interesting ones either. One of the most potentially exciting sub-forums at 1789b was the “guest of the month” sub-forum. Someone in the American whiskey industry was invited to join 1789b for a month and interact with the membership. The first (and only) month I was there the guest was David Perkins of High West distillers/bottlers. What could have been a very cool experience was nothing but a bunch of softball questions (“How do you find such great whiskeys?”) and more thinly veiled shots at whiskey writers (“What do you think of critics who say things about you?”).

In spite of all this, I stayed. The private bottlings that members of 1789b were getting together for their membership were just too mouth-watering so I decided to stay on to take advantage of those.

I didn’t log on for about a week and a half because I was so bored and annoyed with the forum, and my arthritis had just started to rear its ugly head. When I tried to log on again, I discovered that I couldn’t. I tried again the next day but I still couldn’t get in. So I sent private messages to my friends on SB.com who I knew were 1789b members (including one of the founders) to ask them if they knew what was going on. A few replied but they knew nothing. Neither founder never replied. I replied that I didn’t really have to time to post regularly anyway due to my schedule, which was certainly true. But I was also fed up with the forum and frankly a little miffed that I had not even received an email or message telling me that my account was about to be terminated. As far as I can tell, my account was deleted because I failed to post often enough to fulfill the forum requirements but I have still not received any official explanation.

In the end, I bear no ill-will toward any members of 1789b or the management, although I would like an explanation of why I was booted. I still consider most of the membership of 1789b to be friends and I understand the desire to filter out the “noise” of the internet. I just realized that I am not a gentleman’s club kind of person. I’m a saloon guy. I like the noise, I like the newbies, I like the trolls and most of the time I like the mods. Maybe there’s a place for 1789b in the online whiskey world. They certainly seem to have found their niche, but SB.com is my internet whiskey home and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

My Two Ounces: Public and Private Houses, part 1

Even its critics would admit that Straightbourbon.com is the online heart of American Whiskey fandom. It was founded over ten years ago by Jim Butler, bourbon aficionado and Silicon Valley scientific systems analyst. Butler still owns and operates the site himself. It is an online expression of the community of bourbon-lovers that formed at the gatherings that took place in Bardstown, Kentucky around the Kentucky Bourbon Festival. When the group got too big to meet in their rooms at the Bardstown Best Western, they moved the festivities to the gazebo behind the hotel. The Gazebo has been the spiritual center of this community ever since. The only rules for the Gazebo are that people bring at least one bottle to share (it doesn’t have to be fancy) and bring their own glassware.

The Straightbourbon.com (SB.com hereafter) forums share in the freewheeling spirit of the Gazebo. The chat room attached to Straightbourbon.com is even called The Gazebo. Anyone is welcome and as forums go, it is a pretty polite, easy-going place. It currently has over 7,000 members and by my estimation has close to 100 members who post at least once a week. I am a member there with a few thousand posts under my belt, mostly due to over a year of unemployment. I go by the enigmatic handle Josh (not to be confused with Joshua or Macinjosh).

There are other online bourbonforums and blogs, of course. There is whiskey writer Michael Veach’s Bourbonenthusiast.com forum. There are also the blogs of whiskey writers like The Chuck
Cowdery Blog
, John Hansell’s What does John know? and others. There are also the blogs of amateurs (in the true sense of the term) like bourbondork, sku’s recenteats, and this one. While they all have their place, none have the saloon feel of SB.com.

Not everyone appreciates the feel-wheeling atmosphere of SB.com, though. Complaints have been made about the shifting membership of the forum, the changed tone of the forum from the old days, and the usual complaints about moderators, newbies and trolls. Off and on there would also be heated (by SB.com standards) discussions about the at best gray-market sale and resale of whiskey by forum members.

In reaction to these and other complaints two long-time members of SB.com started a new forum called 1789b earlier this year. The founding of a new forum was nothing new, but what makes 1789b different is that it is a private forum. Membership is only open to those who have been nominated by another member and approved by the membership. If SB.com is a saloon, 1789b is intended to be a private gentlemen’s club in the classic sense of the term. The forum rules state that only mature, active members are desired and that members are expected to behave themselves. Most controversially, members are also required to refrain from any discussion about 1789b with those who are not members of 1789b. This has prompted a few sarcastic nicknames for 1789b from non-members including Super Secret Bourbon Club and Bourbon Fight Club (“The first rule of Fight Club is: you do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is: you DO NOT talk about Fight Club!”).

A few weeks into 1789b’s existence, I was informed that I had been nominated for membership. My first reaction was surprise. I assumed it had been created specifically to exclude people like me, but out of curiosity and consideration for a few friends who were members already, I joined. It was not what I expected. More on that later.

My Two Ounces: My Sample Policy

My Two Ounces is a new occasional feature of this blog.  It’s basically me vomiting my opinion regarding something booze-related onto the internet.

This first one is more of a policy statement. I never thought this diary of my alcohol use would get enough attention to be worth anyone’s attention, but I have already gotten an offer or two of free (I’m assuming) samples. I rejected the first offer simply because I realized I hadn’t thought the issue through. But I have now.

So here it is: I will accept samples. When I do, two things will happen and one thing won’t.

1) I will disclose, when reviewing that product, that I have received a free sample or otherwise gotten special treatment.

2) I will do my best to review that product promptly.

3) I will not guarantee a positive review.

So there it is.