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View Full Version : Medley Distillery question for the historians



VT Mike
05-31-2013, 08:43
I was trying to figure out who the current owners of the Charles Medley Distillery are (looks like it is still owned by CL Financial, the parent company of Angostura) when I cam across this page (http://www.sazerac.com/medley.aspx) that kind of makes it sound like Sazerac owns the Charles Medley Distillery.

After a bunch of digging, I think that whoever put that page together pulled the information from the Medley timeline (http://www.bourbonenthusiast.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=1702&p=5990&hilit=schecter#p5990) that Mike Veach made, but mixed together information from two different distilleries that the Medley family owned.

The Sazerac page mentions the Daviess County Distillery which was purchased by the Medleys in 1901. In the next paragraph they say the distillery was purchased by Abraham Schecter in 1978, acquired by Glenmore in 1988, acquired by United Distillers in 1991, and sold to Sazerac in 2009.

But the Medley Family owned quite a few distilleries, so the timeline gets a little confusing. I'm pretty sure the Daviess County Distillery was owned by the Medleys from 1901 to 1940, and was then sold to Fleishmann's, who owned it until they were bought by Glenmore in 1989. In 1991 Glenmore was bought by United Distillers. In 1995 Barton Brands bought the old Daviess County Distillery, the old Glenmore Distillery, and many of the brands that had been owned by the Glenmore Distilling Company. Barton Brands eventually became Constellation Spirits before being purchased by Sazerac in 2009.

It looks like the old Green River Distillery was purchased by the Medleys in 1940 (they changed the name to Medley Distillery) and they sold it to Renfield importers in 1959, but the Medleys continued to run the distillery after they sold it. Charles Medley (son of one of the Medley brothers who used to own the distillery) became the master distiller in 1969. It was then sold to Abraham Schecter in 1978. The distillery closed in 1987, then was bought by Glenmore in 1988 and reopened. Glenmore was purchased by United Distillers in 1991. The distillery was closed in 1992, then purchased by Charles Medley in 1995 along with existing whiskey stocks (he changed the name to Charles Medley Distillery). In 2007 Charles sold the distillery to Angostura. Their plans to reopen the distillery ended in 2009 when their parent company, CL Financial had a liquidity crisis. They still own the distillery but are trying to sell it.

So, am I correct that the Sazerac page I linked to above blends together the histories of the old Daviess County Distillery and the old Green River Distillery, and that it is the former not the latter which is currently owned by Sazerac? Hopefully Chuck will chime in here, he seems to be pretty authoritative on these things.

Bourbon Boiler
05-31-2013, 17:27
Curious about this myself. I was near Owensboro for Memorial Day Weekend, and wanted to drive by but didn't make it.

bourbonv
06-05-2013, 06:37
I think your confusion here is that Sazerac owens the old Glenmore Distillery that was built by M.V. Monarch in the 1890s and bought by James thompson and Bro. in 1899 or 1900. The Davies county ditillery, that became Fleischman was located adjacent to the Green River/Medley distillery on the other side of town from Glenmore. Glenmore purchased the Fleischman brands, but the distillery was closed by that time and I am not sure that Glenmore ever owned the property where it stood.

Mike Veach

VT Mike
06-05-2013, 16:25
Thanks for chiming in Mike. The Sazerac website actually has has separate pages for Medley and Glenmore:
http://www.sazerac.com/glenmore.aspx
http://www.sazerac.com/medley.aspx
so it sounds like they bought both properties in 2009. They mention the bottling line at Glenmore, but don't say what they are doing with the other property (assuming it is the old Daviess County Distillery), maybe warehousing?

I emailed the PR contact listed on the Saz website yesterday asking them to clear up the confusion. I'll post any info here that I get from them.

mp

KyFriedChicken
06-05-2013, 17:47
Curious about this myself. I was near Owensboro for Memorial Day Weekend, and wanted to drive by but didn't make it.
15604

Empty parking lot with some other small company still using the property.

Bourbon Boiler
06-05-2013, 19:54
15604

Empty parking lot with some other small company still using the property.

Well, I'm glad I didn't make the drive.

T Comp
06-05-2013, 19:58
Thanks for chiming in Mike. The Sazerac website actually has has separate pages for Medley and Glenmore:
http://www.sazerac.com/glenmore.aspx
http://www.sazerac.com/medley.aspx
so it sounds like they bought both properties in 2009. They mention the bottling line at Glenmore, but don't say what they are doing with the other property (assuming it is the old Daviess County Distillery), maybe warehousing?

I emailed the PR contact listed on the Saz website yesterday asking them to clear up the confusion. I'll post any info here that I get from them.

mp

This is interesting. Based on how Sazerac words it, sure seems they own the Medley distillery property too or did they just buy the name. I find it strange that they don't have a Sazerac sign up by now and still the old one as KyFriedchicken's photo shows.

And for those following along who don't know...the Glenmore facility is at 2001 E. 4th Street, Owensboro and Medley is at 10 Distillery Rd., Owensboro.

KyFriedChicken
06-05-2013, 19:59
Well, I'm glad I didn't make the drive.

I found 2 Ritt 23s at a shop close by so it was well worth my trip that day. Probably my favorite rye I have tasted. Grabbed an Old Medley while I was there too. They had boxes of Old Medley just sitting on the floor.

bourbonv
06-06-2013, 09:22
I think the 2009 date refers to Sazerac purchasing Barton who owned some of the Medley brands, and not the distillery. The Medley distillery is still up for sale last I heard. It is a shame that it never re-opened because it is good distillery that made excellent whiskey. It is rich in heritage and could be a real showplace on the bourbon trail.

Mike Veach

T Comp
06-06-2013, 12:06
I think the 2009 date refers to Sazerac purchasing Barton who owned some of the Medley brands, and not the distillery. The Medley distillery is still up for sale last I heard. It is a shame that it never re-opened because it is good distillery that made excellent whiskey. It is rich in heritage and could be a real showplace on the bourbon trail.

Mike Veach

I think the same Mike but this specific language by Sazerac referencing the distillery is...well... I guess like many bourbon labels and a bit misleading :grin:.

"The distillery went through several ownership changes from 1978 through today. In 1978, the Abraham Schecter family of Chicago purchased Medley, then just ten years later, it was acquired by the Glenmore Distillery. Then in 1991, it was acquired by United Distillers eventually joining the Sazerac Company in 2009."

bourbonv
06-07-2013, 07:58
Distillers often create the illusion of a distillery that does not exist through DBAs. The prime example is that Chris Morris was given a business card listing him as the "Master Distiller of the Rebel Yell Distillery" by United Distillers in the 1990s. The distillery existed only on paper.

Mike Veach

VT Mike
06-07-2013, 09:48
I got an email back from the Sazerac PR contact, she said their historian was researching the information and they would let me know what they find out. I'll be sure to post when I hear more.

squire
06-07-2013, 10:00
Thanks Mike . . . . .

cowdery
06-08-2013, 13:27
That's pretty funny, actually. The Sazerac write-up is simply wrong unless you strictly equate 'the company' with 'the business,' and exclude the physical plant. The chain of ownership they describe is true up to the last few words. It omits the fact that United (Diageo now) sold the business (i.e., the brands) to Constellation and Luxco and the physical plant back to Charles Medley, who eventually sold it to the secretive Trinidadians who still own it. All Sazerac acquired of the Medley 'business' was the part Constellation still owned. Luxco still owns the Medley Company's leading bourbon, Ezra Brooks, for example. But Sazerac got all of the Chi-Chi's pre-mixed cocktails, which is probably a lot more valuable. (To be 100% accurate, the Chi-Chi's were never part of Medley. That was Glenmore's business.)

The Medley site is inactive except for the former finished goods warehouse, which was sold at some point (probably by Charles) to another company and is no longer part of the distillery property.

As in the animal kingdom, bigger companies eat smaller ones. In fairly rapid succession, Medley bought Fleischmann, Glenmore bought Medley, and United bought Glenmore and Schenley, then Grand Metropolitan, to become Diageo. Diageo today contains the DNA of something like 50 acquired companies going back hundreds of years.

AGarrison
06-08-2013, 14:23
Diageo today contains the DNA of something like 50 acquired companies going back hundreds of years.

That would make a very interesting family tree poster. Maybe something for a new Cowdery book?

sutton
06-20-2013, 13:19
So ... who is distilling current Old Medley 12 yr and Ezra Brooks 12 yr/ 15yr? Or is that only speculating as Luxco doesn't reveal its source? Did Sazerac acquire the Old Medley brand? Wow is this confusing. Don't know how you guys keep it all straight...

Phil T
06-20-2013, 14:40
So ... who is distilling current Old Medley 12 yr and Ezra Brooks 12 yr/ 15yr? Or is that only speculating as Luxco doesn't reveal its source? Did Sazerac acquire the Old Medley brand? Wow is this confusing.


You're right, any answer would be speculative. I can't comment on the Old Medley, but the general consensus here is that EB is HH juice.

squire
06-20-2013, 14:53
HH I suspect but don't really care so long as it's reasonably priced.

cowdery
06-20-2013, 17:21
Suspicion leans toward Heaven Hill because they have a past, disclosed history with Luxco, but that was years ago, things change, and Luxco may also buy from other sources.

Josh
06-20-2013, 18:43
Last Ezra B I had tasted kinda Old Forestery.

VT Mike
07-17-2013, 08:31
I got an email from the Sazerac PR person about three weeks ago letting me know that they had researched the information with the help of two outside historians and made changes to their writeup. At that time the website hadn't been updated, but they told me that would be happening soon. I just checked back and it has been changed.

They left most of it alone, and it still inaccurately blends together the histories of the Daviess County Distillery and the Green River Distillery, then at the end it basically says that Sazerac bought a bunch of brands that used to be owned by the Medley Distilling Company.

Oh well, I hope they didn't spend too much money on the outside historians.

The original version:

The Medley Distilling Company traces its roots back to 1634 when John Medley immigrated to Maryland from England and established Medley's Neck on the banks of the Potomac River. Included in the items brought over from England was the family still.

Over 150 years later, John Medley VI joined the throngs of settlers traveling west, through the Cumberland Gap and settled in Washington County, Kentucky. The family still from England also accompanied him on his journey; leading to the founding of the Medley Distillery in 1812. In 1901, Medley purchased a Distillery known as the Daviess County Distillery. This company survived Prohibition by selling bonded whiskey to the American Medicinal Spirits Company.

The distillery went through several ownership changes from 1978 through today. In 1978, the Abraham Schecter family of Chicago purchased Medley, then just ten years later, it was acquired by the Glenmore Distillery. Then in 1991, it was acquired by United Distillers eventually joining the Sazerac Company in 2009.

and the revised version:

The Medley Distilling Company traces its roots back to 1634 when John Medley immigrated to Maryland from England and established Medley's Neck on the banks of the Potomac River. Included in the items brought over from England was the family still.

Over 150 years later, John Medley VI joined the throngs of settlers traveling west, through the Cumberland Gap and settled in Washington County, Kentucky. The family still from England also accompanied him on his journey; leading to the founding of the Medley Distillery in 1812. In 1901, Medley purchased a Distillery known as the Daviess County Distillery. This company survived Prohibition by selling bonded whiskey to the American Medicinal Spirits Company.

The distillery went through several ownership changes from 1978 through today. In 1978, the Abraham Schecter family of Chicago purchased Medley, then just ten years later, it was acquired by the Glenmore Distillery. The distillery again changed hands in 1991 when it was acquired by United Distillers and was in turn closed in 1992. It has changed ownership since 1991 but remains closed today. The Medley brands that were produced at the distillery have been sold to various distilling companies, including the Sazerac Company.

squire
07-18-2013, 10:55
I'm betting Mike Veach wasn't one of the consultants.

VT Mike
07-19-2013, 00:32
I'm betting Mike Veach wasn't one of the consultants.

My feeling as well, same goes for Chuck.