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Giobo
10-24-2000, 12:09
Greetings from Boston, home of the Bourbon Boys. We love wheated bourbons, especially Van Winkle's
Does anyone on the website know if the following bourbons are wheated:
VanWinkles 12 year old "lot B"
VanWinkles 20 year old
Van Winkles 23 year old.
Jim Murray, author of several whiskey books says that the 20 and 23 year olds are not wheated. It was our understanding that all theVan Winkles were the same wheated recipe only aged for different times. Any info on this will be greatly appreciated.

cowdery
10-24-2000, 13:42
The man himself, Julian VanWinkle III, participates in this forum, so he can tell you for himself, but I am quite sure that all of the whiskey he bottles under the VanWinkle name is wheated.

--Chuck Cowdery (http://cowdery.home.netcom.com)

cowdery
10-24-2000, 13:44
I should have said "all of the bourbon he bottles under the VanWinkle name is wheated," since obviously the Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye is not wheated.

--Chuck Cowdery (http://cowdery.home.netcom.com)

kitzg
10-24-2000, 15:29
Julian makes some of the finest bourbon on earth. However, if I understand my conversation this past weekend with him, the 20 yr old was not wheated nor was the 23 yr old. The new 20 yr old coming out soon is wheated.

As Chuck said, Julian will undoubtedly read all this. I'm fairly certain I understood correctly.

Greg

jvanwinkle
10-24-2000, 15:45
Hi Bourbon boys.
Greg is correct. My original 20-Year "Pappy", which I am out of, was un-wheated as is the 23-year "Pappy". The new 20-year "Pappy" coming out this December is wheated. It is the same distillation as my 10, 12 & 15 year Bourbons. This will be the first time this particular distillation has been bottled at 20-years old, and it is wonderfull-if I do say so myself!
Julian

**DONOTDELETE**
10-24-2000, 17:52
Trust me, Julian, you sure aren't by yourself! The New Pappy is one outstanding bourbon. Linda & I spent Friday evening at D.Marie's with Mike, Greg, and Jo (sorry to have missed you and Sally) sipping (among many other things) their sample of the new bourbon. We'll be adding a new page to our website about that and Mike's tour of the Shively distilleries soon, and the following about the new Pappy Van Winkle 20-year-old is a quote from it...

"...you don't even have to drink this bourbon to be blown away by it; you need only pass the glass under your nose every once in awhile. Jo's comment after tasting her first sip (this time around that is; it's the second time she's tasted it) is just simply, 'WOW!'. *Well, that pretty much captures everyone's opinion."

=John=
http://w3.one.net/~jeffelle/whiskey

kitzg
10-24-2000, 20:33
One comment. The world misses the real Pappy, the man - for good reason. A great man. The world of bourbon lovers should miss the old Pappy Van Winkle's 20 yr. old but welcome the new Pappy 20 yr old with open arms. Can we really go from ecstasy to sublime? We think so.

Greg

**DONOTDELETE**
11-01-2000, 13:15
While I can not answer whether all the Van Winkle's are wheated, I can tell you about the most magnificent wheated bourbon I have ever encountered. I recently toured the Buffalo Trace distillery and met bourbon brand manager, Ken Weber. He showed me a bottle of W.L.Weller 19 year old wheated bourbon. The package is an eloquent Arian wine bottle complete with hand written labels showing the distilled and bottled dates. A scripted name is printed on the bottle and a back paper label tells the story of this marvelous whiskey.
So moved was I, that I asked for a private tasting and he took me to his office in the stately Stony Point mansion (home of Col. Albert B. Blanton) and poured me a small sample. This is what legends are made of. With only 300 cases being produced, the world may never know what the absolute best tastes like. I have already contacted my favorite package store and signed up for the first available bottle.

cowdery
11-01-2000, 14:33
I trust everyone else is as delighted as I am to have a Buffalo Trace representative in our midst.

--Chuck Cowdery (http://cowdery.home.netcom.com)

Giobo
11-06-2000, 09:21
Ken,"WOW!!! ",is all I can say. It seems a shame that this is such a limited production run that few of us will get the chance to experience what may be "The Ultimate Bourbon". While it is obvious that personal taste is going to rule when anyone votes what is the all time best, I wonder what our webmates would vote as "The Ultimate Bourbon". This could be a lot of fun or it could start another war.
I guess I am biased, but I have to say that wheated boubons have another level of class that non-wheated spirits can't touch. If
adding more wheat to the mashbill can work such magic, why haven't more distillers become aware of this secret? Has Julian Van Winkle, like The Shadow achieved the "power to cloud mens' minds", so that he has staked out this lofty summit of bourbondom and kept it to himself?

cowdery
11-06-2000, 11:20
In addition to the former Stitzel-Weller brands (Old Fitzgerald, Old Weller) and the VanWinkle bottlings, the other wheated bourbon is Maker's Mark. Wheat v. Rye really is a matter of personal taste, not an indicia of quality per se. As famously advertised by Maker's Mark, wheat supposedly is gentler than rye, so a wheated bourbon has less bite. Some people like that bite. Wheat is one way to diminish it. High distillation proof, high corn content and charcoal leaching (i.e., the Lincoln County Process) are ways to produce a mild flavor with a rye formula. Otherwise, it takes time to tame a rye whiskey. I'm thinking about Wild Turkey Rare Breed or Kentucky Spirit, Labrot and Graham Woodford Reserve, Evan Williams Single Barrel and 12-year-old Old Charter. All are traditional formula bourbons, well tempered by age, and very fine.

Back when there were hundreds of distilleries in the Ohio River watershed, there undoubtedly were many that used wheat instead of rye, even wheat and rye in combination.

One explanation for why rye formulas have become dominent could be the Beam family. In addition to the Jim Beam company and Heaven Hill, Beams have been employed at dozens of different distilleries and the traditional Beam family formula is rye-based. On the other hand, members of the Beam family worked at both Stitzel-Weller and Maker's Mark, but that only shows them capable of making a wheat formula. They may still prefer a rye formula.

--Chuck Cowdery (http://cowdery.home.netcom.com)

**DONOTDELETE**
11-06-2000, 17:09
I too have often wondered about the uniqueness of wheat formula bourbons. Even Maker's Mark is really just Bill Samuel (senior)'s take on the Old Fitzgerald recipe (including the yeast, according to Sally Campbell). That is, the Stitzel-Weller Old Fitz recipe -- no one ever said that was the way it was made before they bought the label. In fact, I don't think I've ever actually read anything that indicates any particular commercial distillery ever used anything but corn, malt, and rye in making bourbon. I can't remember ever seeing a 19th century ad or label that indicated wheat being used. Are you really sure that it wasn't a relatively recent (~1900) invention by the Stitzel brothers? After all, we take the standard warehouse rick system for granted, but that also came from the Stitzels (Fredrick), in the late 1800's.


...Otherwise, it takes time to tame a rye whiskey. I'm thinking about Wild Turkey Rare Breed or Kentucky Spirit, Labrot and Graham Woodford Reserve, Evan Williams Single Barrel and 12-year-old Old Charter. All are traditional formula bourbons, well tempered by age, and very fine.

Yes, and all are considerably younger than Julian's fine product and the best of the Stitzel-Weller wheaters. In fact, although I do enjoy five-year-olds like Old Fitz and Maker's Mark, it does seem to take more time to make really good wheat-formula bourbon than it does for rye. Evan Williams Single Barrel is ten years old and excellent. Old Rip Van Winkle's <u>youngest</u> offering is also 10, and all the rest are older and noticeabley smoother, richer, and more finished-tasting. The Old Charter and the 12-year-old Wild Turkey (which is also the oldest of the whiskeys used for Rare Breed) are as mature as you would ever want. I really don't think they could get any better (through aging). Woodford Reserve and Kentucky Spirit are half that age and they've become all they can be (which is plenty). Meanwhile, Julian's wheaties are just beginning to become acceptable within their own range of maturity... which then goes on to extend up to 15 and now 20 years. It's kinda funny in a way -- the original choice of wheat may have been based on the fact that it's cheaper than rye, but it seems to take twice as long to get a good bourbon out it. Then again, it's a really good bourbon.

Anyway, do either you or Mike (or anyone else) know of an actual document that indicates the use of wheat by a successful commercial distillery that wasn't related in some way to the Stitzels?

=John=
http://w3.one.net/~jeffelle/whiskey

**DONOTDELETE**
11-06-2000, 17:19
John,
There are many reference to using wheat in distilling including all wheat whiskey. Glenmore had wheat whiskey and wheat and rye whiskey mash bills but no wheat and corn. Henry McKenna got his start by distilling the left over grain from the mill he ran and this included wheat whiskey but there is no indication that he made a wheat bourbon. There were probably others that did use wheat instead of rye but they may have been like Pappy Van Winkle and kept it a trade secret. The hopper for the wheat and barley was labeled "Rye and Barley" until after the death of Pappy Van Winkle. He did not want other to know his secret recipe. Other distillers may have felt the same way.
Mike Veach

**DONOTDELETE**
11-06-2000, 17:59
Oh my!!
Thanks for the info, and especially for the juicy tidbit about the hopper labels. So I guess Pappy would be having conniptions if he knew we were all discussing his secret on an open, world-wide forum. I'm sure glad Julian isn't that secretive. But look at all the respect Pappy's (and Julian's) bourbon gets (not to mention word-of-mouth advertising and sales). 'Cause it's still pretty unique, even when all the other distillers know about it.

Are there any examples of these other distillers' wheat products? Perhaps in the museum? Now THAT's what I'd like to see in addition to the University of Bourbonia general ciricula... a sort of 'post-graduate' course featuring some of these impossible to find bourbons.

By the way... This weekend we visited with Marvin & Evelyn Franz at their home. We had an opportunity to try (a thoroughly enjoy) the dreaded Distillers' Masterpiece. More on that later (in the appropriate topic area). We've been spending some of this evening finding appropriate mixture substitutes, having decided that Knob Creek and Cognac just doesn't even come close (ain't different opinions wonderful?). Pictures at eleven...

=John=
http://w3.one.net/~jeffelle/whiskey

**DONOTDELETE**
11-06-2000, 19:09
John,
Send Marvin and Evelyn my greetings the next time you see them.

I don't think Pappy would be too upset. Remember those were different times and I think Pappy would have led the way with these super premium brands in the same way Julian is today. In fact when you consider that Pappy was bottling 8, 10 and 15 year old bourbon when everybody else was selling 4 to 6 year products, you could say that he did lead the way to the new premium market.
Mike Veach

cowdery
11-07-2000, 13:06
Recipes for bourbon weren't too formalized until late in the game, primarily after the law got involved, first with the Bottled in Bond Act in the late 1800s, and the other laws and regulations that followed. It was only post-prohibition that bourbon was defined as being at least 51 percent corn, etc. In the old days, certainly for most of the 19th century and before, people used whatever they had. If all you had was corn (which was often the case), you made a 100 percent corn whiskey, even malting some of it. If you had some small grains handy, you threw them in for flavor. If you had some barley, you malted that because it malted more easily and converted the starch more effectively than other malts.

The earliest distilleries were associated with mills and operated on a barter system. The farmer brought his grain to the mill and the miller kept a portion of it (e.g., 10 percent) as his fee for providing the milling services. The miller would then distill his share. In the nature of that system, the miller didn't control what he got. He got a percentage of whatever came in the door. This probably varied throughout the year as the harvest times for different grains occurred. One week he might have a lot of corn, the next week a lot of wheat, and the week after that a lot of barley. Whiskey can be made from any grain and probably was, based primarily on what farmers decided to grow, not on the distiller's preference for a certain formula.

Corn was always the most plentiful and productive grain, in terms of yield, so it generally formed the base for all distilling in Kentucky. But corn whiskey doesn't have much flavor. You need some small grains for that. Of these, rye and wheat were the most common and most often used, sometimes in combination, based, as I said, more on availability than preference. As wheat production moved west, rye in the necessary quantities may have been more readily available, or perhaps since the dominant American made whiskey was rye, bourbon makers decided drinkers preferred that taste. In other words, when they had a choice, they made bourbons that resembled ryes.

Subsequntly, the impetus to make a wheat whiskey probably came from the desire to make a whiskey that would taste good with less aging--an economic concern--and I think wheat meets that need (though apparently John Lipman disagrees). Or it may have been the marketing instinct to create a point of difference. Remember, at that time there were hundreds of distilleries, mostly selling to wholesalers. If you, as a distiller, had corn whiskey and wheat whiskey and rye whiskey to sell, you had more to offer than someone who only made corn.

Some of this is speculation, of course, but it is consistent with the historical realities as I know them.

--Chuck Cowdery (http://cowdery.home.netcom.com)

**DONOTDELETE**
11-19-2000, 21:32
To my taste, the best wheat and the best rye bourbons are of a similarly phenominal taste. But I prefer the average wheat to the average rye, by a pretty strong margin. It seems like it's easier to get very good whiskey from a wheat mashbill than rye, but it takes a lot of effort from either to attain the truely sublime.

John A. Dube

Ken Weber
11-30-2000, 13:17
Now I know who you are! I have had people e-mailing me with questions and I had no idea who was sending them my way. They refered to "Mr. Harris", but I just drew a blank on the name. Looking through the forum section, I found that you mention my name a few times. I will have to make sure I quit lying and making up things that I can't back-up! I am happy to see that I have not said anything too incriminating in your note.
I have been reading the wheated discussion with much interest. I have also been interested in the rye comments (pun intended!). As the brand manager for Weller (and Sazerac Rye), I am very interested in the histories of these whiskies. It seems that Sally's account of Marker's Mark being based on Weller took many people by surprise. From what I have learned, Pappy gave Bill Samuel's father the recipe, yeast strain, and some financial assistance in setting up his operation. Whether the recipe or yeast have been altered over the years, only the Samuels' know.
I wish I seen you at WhiskeyFest in New York. Several people commented on the differences in taste of some of the wheated bourbons and rye whiskies. Like any product out there, different strokes for different folks.

MashBill
11-30-2000, 21:54
Ken,
Pappy may have helped Bill Sr. start up Maker's but they must have changed the formula somewhere along the line. I think the Weller and Old Fitz products are far superior to Maker's. Of course that's just my opinion.

Bill

**DONOTDELETE**
12-01-2000, 06:41
MashBill said, "Pappy may have helped Bill Sr. start up Maker's but they must have changed the formula somewhere along the line. I think the Weller and Old Fitz products are far superior to Maker's. Of course that's just my opinion."

Hi Bill,

My opinion, too, but that's just because I prefer that style of bourbon. I imagine the Samuels' haven't altered a thing (in fact, I'm sure they're proud to be able to say that). What I think is that Maker's was never really intended to be competitive with the Stitzel-Weller bourbons. Its style, as well as its marketing and placement puts it up against Jim Beam and (perhaps less successfully) Wild Turkey. It does this very well, and in doing so reduces the market share of these two formidable competitors of Old Fitzgerald.

Pappy Van Winkle's mom sure didn't raise no fools!


=John=
http://w3.one.net/~jeffelle/whiskey

Ken Weber
12-01-2000, 07:38
I remember seeing a magazine ad or article about the yeast strain being used by Maker's. Bill Jr. says that he remembers his father baking bread with several different yeast strains until he hit upon the one he know employs in the making of his bourbon. From my background in the ad/marketing business, this has my radar tingling! But, who knows.
Ken

cowdery
12-03-2000, 13:27
It is a point of pride among distillers to make their own yeast, i.e., to capture and propigate a particularly suitable wild yeast strain. Jim Beam still uses the yeast Jim Beam himself propigated on the back porch of his Bardstown home in 1933.

I was told the story about Bill Samuels Sr. and Pappy Van Winkle this way by a former employee of Old Fitzgerald. Supposedly, Bill and Pappy were great friends. Bill told Pappy he was thinking about buying a small distillery and getting back into the whiskey business. He asked what course Pappy would recommend. Pappy said, "take my Old Fitzgerald recipe...I'll give it to you...put it in a fancy bottle and charge an arm and a leg for it. You won't be competing with me because that's not my business, and you'll make a fortune."

Fitz and Weller are the same recipe. Nothing was said in this telling about yeast. I can't prove whether or not this exchange happened, but I pass it along for what it's worth.

--Chuck Cowdery (http://cowdery.home.netcom.com)

**DONOTDELETE**
12-03-2000, 17:55
I read in Regan's The Book of Bourbon, that the Maker's Mark yeast strain was pre-repeal of prohibition. "When T. William Samuels reentered the business, he brought with him the strain of yeast he had used back at the old distillery..."

John A. Dube

**DONOTDELETE**
12-03-2000, 18:02
According to oral history tapes of Roy Hawes at the University of Louisville the yeast came from Stitzel-Weller and after it died out on them the first year, Pappy had to give them another starter. (Roy Hawes was Master Distiller at Stitzel-Weller at the time of Maker's Mark founding and experienced the events first hand).

Mike Veach

**DONOTDELETE**
12-03-2000, 18:13
John, much as I enjoy reading Gary and Mardee's books, I'm afraid there's just too much misinformation in them to accept anything they say unless you see it backed up somewhere else.

=John=
http://w3.one.net/~jeffelle/whiskey

**DONOTDELETE**
12-03-2000, 18:25
Proof once again that you just can't "Stump The Veach"! :-))

Linn Spencer

Have Shotglass. Will Travel.

Ken Weber
12-04-2000, 09:03
Having believed Bill Jr.'s story about his dad baking bread with different yeast strains to settle upon the best strain for his bourbons, has left me somewhat dejected to find it ain't so. You would think that after spending the last 15 years in marketing I would not be so naive. Well, live and learn.

Ken

**DONOTDELETE**
12-04-2000, 10:11
Ken, Bill baking bread is the official story line they tell during the tour. I know Mike Veach to be a deep well of bourbon knowledge and scrupulously honest.

Linn Spencer

Have Shotglass. Will Travel.

cowdery
12-04-2000, 14:32
I have never heard the bread story told in reference to yeast, but only in reference to the choice of flavor grain, e.g., rye v. wheat. When you think about it, that makes more sense. Distiller's yeast is more like sourdough starter than it is like the dry yeast most people use for baking. Have you ever heard of a baker experimenting with yeast strains? Probably not, but I guess if one did, it would be a distiller.

I doubt Bill Sr. used a yeast from the old T.W. Samuels plant for one reason. Even Bill Jr. will tell you that his father quit distilling originally because he was disgusted by the product they were making there.

--Chuck Cowdery (http://cowdery.home.netcom.com)

Ken Weber
12-04-2000, 15:17
I had heard that Bill Sr.'s first attempt at running a distillery ended in bankruptcy. He then went to work for Pappy, before striking out on his own in Loretto. Is this true or am I just spreading gossip?

Ken

**DONOTDELETE**
12-04-2000, 17:31
Linn,
Did someone doubt my honesty? I did not think so but it is good to know that I can depend on you to defend my honor as a historian. I personally believe in speaking softly and always have a good citation of your source.
Mike Veach

**DONOTDELETE**
12-04-2000, 17:35
Chuck,
I have just checked Bill's autobiography and he says just about what you have said about the old recipe.
Mike Veach

**DONOTDELETE**
12-04-2000, 17:39
I have never heard this story before. I doubt the bankruptcy part and I know for a fact that he never worked at Stitzel-Weller so I suggest you check your source before you spread this rumor further.
Mike Veach

**DONOTDELETE**
12-04-2000, 18:40
No, but honesty is a commodity in short supply these days. I just wanted to stress the point that your word is as good as your research. Impeccable.(yes impeccable has two c's - I looked it up!)

Linn Spencer

Have Shotglass. Will Travel.

**DONOTDELETE**
12-04-2000, 23:07
Chuck said... "I have never heard the bread story told in reference to yeast, but only in reference to the choice of flavor grain, e.g., rye v. wheat."

That's the way I understood the story, as well. I think maybe Ken is confusing it with the story of Jim Beam growing multiple wild yeast cultures on his porch (until he either found what he wanted or Mrs. Beam made him stop) when he started the distillery back up after Repeal.

"...I doubt Bill Sr. used a yeast from the old T.W. Samuels plant for one reason. Even Bill Jr. will tell you that his father quit distilling originally because he was disgusted by the product they were making there."

That might be marketing talk. Perhaps a bit of sour grapes, too. The family brand had been sold to the Foster Trading Corporation, who not only refused to sell it back but successfully sued Bill Sr. to prevent his use of "Old Samuels", his original choice for the brand name.

=John=
http://w3.one.net/~jeffelle/whiskey

boone
12-05-2000, 02:11
Someone call Bill and ask him what is the real story!!!!!!!!!!!

boone

Chris
12-05-2000, 06:08
That's kida funny because I just got this email saying that he will host an online chat Dec. 5th from 5 pm to 6 pm. I have attached the email.
Chris

**DONOTDELETE**
12-05-2000, 07:18
It looks like the fates have appointed you, Chris. Participation on the Ambassador page is by invitation only. I went out to the site and it's password protected. I suppose the password was included in the email you received (please DON'T post it!). So you'll have to be the "ambassador" from StraightBourbon for us. This looks like it may become an ongoing event; perhaps you can arrange for some more of us Bourbonians to be allowed to join in?

By the way, for those who enjoy Bill Samuels' unique and humorous advertising style, the Maker's Mark website is a lot of fun. Several of the bourbon companies have websites with pretty much the same kind of stuff in them, but MM's style is as fresh and fun as the magazine ads.

Also, the bread story as quoted from the History part of the site, goes like this...

"...He then developed a new recipe based on locally grown maize (corn) and malted barley coupled with gentle winter wheat - opposed to the traditional and harsher grain, rye. Funny enough, he did this without a distillery. He baked bread in our family kitchen, experimenting with different grains to come to this conclusion"

=John=
http://w3.one.net/~jeffelle/whiskey

Ken Weber
12-06-2000, 10:58
In no way am doubting your honesty! Both Linn and Omar have vouched for your integrity. Being in marketing, it is I who am of dubious repute!

Ken

kitzg
12-06-2000, 11:06
Hurrah (I suppose it is hooray in Kentucky - just kidding) for your logic. This is not a very big industry and with about four phone calls you can find out about anything. It is true that some PR types (let's please not just call them marketers) will hide or distort the truth. But I love your sense of "just get the man on the phone" logic.

;-)

Greg

Ken Weber
12-06-2000, 11:09
I have checked my sources and can report the following. Bill Sr. did NOT work for the Stitzel-Weller Distillery. He did, however, obtain financial support from Brown-Forman and Pappy to purchase the distillery at Star Hill. The recipe did come from Pappy. His earlier attempt at running the family owned T. W. Samuel's Distillery ended when business was not going well and he found himself in a situation where it was prudent to sell out.
I will make sure I have my ducks in a row before going public again. With that being said, I will now remove my foot from my mouth!

Ken

cowdery
12-06-2000, 13:13
I believe Sam Cecil has also confirmed to me that Bill Sr. was unhappy with the quality of the product produced at T.W. Samuels.

--Chuck Cowdery (http://cowdery.home.netcom.com)

cowdery
12-06-2000, 13:26
Bill (Jr.) has told me that his father was pretty well fixed financially when he bought Star Hill, at least personally. (In other words, I have no doubt he prudently spread the risk as much as possible by obtaining other investors.) "He didn't need it," was how Bill put it, but he wanted to do it to leave a legacy.

In the evolution of the Maker's Mark recipe, it should be noted that the first Master Distiller there was Elmo Beam, who had worked for Bill Sr. at T.W. Samuels. After Elmo's death, he was suceeded by Sam Cecil, who also worked at T.W. Samuels. The Samuels, at least in the two most recent generations, have never been "hands on" distillers. They have been businessmen who always hired professionals to actually make the whiskey.

As for their advertising, although it always appears under Bill's signature, he doesn't write it and has very little direct involvement with the advertising strategy or creative execution.

--Chuck Cowdery (http://cowdery.home.netcom.com)

**DONOTDELETE**
12-06-2000, 23:14
Ken said, "I will make sure I have my ducks in a row before going public again. With that being said, I will now remove my foot from my mouth!"

Now don't you worry about that, Ken. Just about everyone here has enjoyed a fine foot supper from time to time (with maybe a little Old Crow to wash it down). That's why we come here! Besides, much of the "official" history of the bourbon world is often at odds with the actual events, and reconciling that is part of the fun of being a bourbon hobbyist.

Comprehensive knowledge of the product, beyond the company line, isn't really a requirement for a brand manager, so the mere fact that you sought out this site shows you have an admirable quality of real interest. That counts a lot here, and it will certainly help to make you one of the best-informed brand managers out there. Your quickness to take questions right to the people with the answers makes it work for you. We benefit from what you come back with, and you benefit by the fact that you'll learn not only a lot about Buffalo Trace but also more about your competitors than their own brand managers know!

Thanks for joining us; now get that foot out of your mouth and get back to work!

=John=
http://w3.one.net/~jeffelle/whiskey

boone
12-07-2000, 03:26
Thank you Chuck!

I knew that my great Uncle Elmo worked there but I didn't know the time line. Thanks for the information for my family documents. You know a lot about my family but others out there don't. If ya drink some of the local bourbons around here my folks had a hand in making it probably a time or two in their lifetime. Ya see we are starting to be the almost "not" forgotten Beams.

What a absolute dissapointment that Bill Samuels does not write the great ads that are in the newspapers and magazines. When I read them I could almost picture him sitting there writing every word!!! What a great dissapointment!

I have spoken,(twice) Hi, John, Linn, and Greg!!!!!!

Great-Grandaughter of Joseph L. Beam
one of Kentucky's great Master Distillers

boone

cowdery
12-07-2000, 10:42
Elmo Beam was responsbile for the first two distilling seasons at Maker's Mark, until his death.

Your branch of the Beam family should be a little less forgotten after the next issue of the Malt Advocate appears containing my story about them (plug, plug). Should be any day now. (Okay, probably January 1 or thereabouts.)

--Chuck Cowdery (http://cowdery.home.netcom.com)

Ken Weber
12-11-2000, 13:56
I am going to kind of tip-toe around an issue here (I don't want to step on anyone's toes). While working for a spirits company in Louisville, I was approached about working for an advertising agency (Doe Anderson), specifically on one liquor account. It seems that the gentleman who handled the Maker's account was ready to retire and they were contemplating bringing someone on-board with spirits experience, as well as a certain disposition that bordered on that of a diplomat. They were concerned because a certain individual at Maker's liked to get very involved in the creative process and they needed someone who could work with eccentric individuals without killing them. I did not persue the position, nor do I know from first-hand experience, but I can say that people close to the horse's mouth have told me that Bill played an active role in the development of company advertising. When I think about it, I have seen him in some very unusual advertising campaigns, such as the picture of him dressed in drag, among others. Surely he had to come up with the idea, because no ad man in his right mind would suggest such a thing to someone in his position. But, you never know.

Ken

cowdery
12-11-2000, 17:19
When I lived in Louisville (admitedly, more than 13 years ago), I knew some of the Doe Anderson people who worked on the MM account. No one ever suggested that Bill was not involved, even very involved, but they told me he did not write the ads and was not the principal "creator" of the campaign. I have worked with Bill although not per se as a client. He is very...let's say...self-confident, and he has tremendous energy. I think the hardest part about having him as a client is that he would just plain wear you out.

--Chuck Cowdery (http://cowdery.home.netcom.com)

boone
12-13-2000, 17:08
This story was on the front page of my local newspaper;

Spirited History

Autobiography chronicles the rise of Maker's Mark, By Jim Brooks, The KENTUCKY STANDARD

LORETTO--Bardstown is known as The Bourbon Capitol of the World but people may not realize the town's importance to a bourbon produced in Marion County.

Bardstown is where Bill Samuwls Sr.--the creator of now famous Maker's Mark bourbon whiskey-developed the vision of what new whiskey was to become.

The story is chronicled in Bill Samuels Jr.'s new book "Maker's Mark--My Autobiography."

Samuels tells how his father burned the family's 170 year old bourbon recipe and started with an ambitious idea--reinventing bourbon.

The discussions about this new bourbon actually began around the end of World War I, Samuels said.

Bill Samuels Sr. started with the grains that are used to make a smoother-tasting bourbon.

He decided to replace the rye with red winter wheat, and tested his theory in the kitchen-baking bread to help determine what the new grain formula might be like.

"Unlike Thomas Edison, who experimented through trial and error, when your're making bourbon you can't experiment because it takes six years to do it,"Samuels said.

And his father's drive to create a new bourbon became a natural addition to the family, Samuels said.

"This book is really a look at the product from the perspective of what it was like growing up with the little brother I never had,"Samuels said.

His father's work to create Maker's Mark "chewed up a lot of resources," Samuels said. "Which meant there were less for the rest of us-my sisters and myself.

It took up and enourmous amout of time, and it wasn't just my father. Mom was as engaged in this as he was.

His mother's contribution included designing the distinctive packaging, but went beyond that, "Samuels said.

"She had a pretty good palate, too. She helped him with all he did."

Samuels said his father had a habit of saving everything connected with the early days of creating Maker's Mark, an that gave him ample material for the book.

"I knew I had to eventually put (the history of Maker's Mark) in some format-not just to sell it but just to have it.

The book includes a photo of the first bottle of Maker's Mark produced, signed by all the employee's.

Bardstown is a vital part of what made that first bottle possible, Samuels said

"The real formative years, before Dad jumped off the cliff and bought this little place, all those years were in Bardstown, "Samuels said.

He joined his father's company in 1967 and went into marketing.

"Dad was scared to death of me, Samuels said. "He knew I was going to come over here and screw it up in a heartbeat.

"My Charge was to go find customers," he said. "And that's kind of what I'm still doing."

One of his biggest tasks was finding out how to promote the brand in a way that his father would approve.

"My father didn't like the concept of trying to sell sombody somethig they didn't want to buy," Samuels said. "He felt that wasn't a very gentlemanly thing to do.

A real breakthrough for the company was a 1980 front-page story in the Wall Street Journal.

"That's when the light bulb went off," Samuels said.

"With that article we realized we could get people to talk to us-which allowed me the chance to talk back- without offending my father,"Samuels said.

Friends talk to friends on a different level, Samuels said, and the company's marketing efforts took on the some of a conversation amoung friends.

"It took eight seconds to say that but it took us 13 years, he said. "If it wouldnt's have been for Kentuckians drinking all our whiskey, we would have died.

His father never showed an interest in the advertising for the product.

"To my knowledge, he never granted an interview in the entire history of the company,"Samuels said.

But the younger Samuels has been active in advertising an promotion by his own admission.

"I realized if we could make this a little more fun and a little less serious, everybody would enjoy it more," he said.

Thus began his appearances in costume over the years, many of which are showcased in the book.

The company's distinctive advertising-including those that didn't work-are also included in a section titled, "Our History of 'Bad' Ads."

"I guess if we created a style or an approach to marketing, it's because Dad wouldn't let me talk to anyone that wasn't already a friend," he said.

Maker's Mark advertisements get a lot of criticism from advertising professionals for a simple reason, Samuels said.

"They didn't make any sense to them," he said. "But they made a lot of sense to our customers."

Like the company's advertisings the book is very visual, Samuels said.

"The book is a collection of all the stuff that I thought was fun, and the stories of Mom and Dad hanging around, trying to get something started," he said. "And I promise not to write another one."

It's an amazing story that Samuels credits to his father's initial vision of what Maker's Mark should be.

"Here you have what started out as a hobby, more than 50 years ago- and that includes the 'getting ready' time-and I don't think any of us in our wildest dreams imagined that in the year 2000 we would have an American icon.

"Sometimes as we go down the road we forget where it all starts," he said. "And it all started in Bardstown.

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