My understanding was the old rye whiskey Even and Jr. bottle (Willett, Red Hook, Black Maple Hill, Classic Cask, their own "Vintage" etc. etc.) was originally Bernheim whiskey. Is that incorrect?..
Quite probably correct, though I suspect only the Kulsveens and the various selectors would (or not, so far) confirm. For what it's worth, Drew Kulsveen himself told me a couple of years ago that, at that time, they had rye in the KDB warehouses from Early Times, old Bernheim and "DSP-113", which is Buffalo Trace.
...It was also my understanding that Julian's FR Rye 13 (which is really close to 20 years of age) is currently a tanked marriage of Medley and Bernheim ryes. It also sounds like the Sazerac Rye was tanked as a similar marriage back around 2004. Of course I have yet to hear anyone on staff at Buffalo Trace admit the Saz has been tanked at all...
Correct, re Julian's rye. BT has recently confirmed to Malt Advocate's John Hansell that the Sazerac rye was tanked about three years ago (see his blog at their site).
...The question is this. Why was so much rye made between 1981-1985? There was no real market. I've heard the theory that the industry was just stubborn and pretended to ignore downward trends. That's reasonable but I don't really recall there being a large rye market before that which could have been over-estimated and collapsed. Rye didn't seem to be highly in fashion anyway. So I'm still stuck at why produce the amount they did in the first place ?..
That I have no answer for, just the same questions. But, let's all give due credit to Heaven Hill, Jim Beam and Wild Turkey, who have continued to produce rye even up to today (if only a day or two a year). Straight rye is wonderful whiskey. That we can still taste it today is because of them, in addition to the Kulsveens.