View Full Version : ???'s on Bellows Club Bourbon est. 1830

01-16-2004, 05:45
I recently came upon a 1963 ad for Bellows Club bourbon. It was advertised as "the light bourbon", established in 1830. Does anyone know who made this and where, Frankfort or Louisville?

Also, the ad mentioned a 1/4" barrel char. Is this a normal amount of char, a deep or shallow char? Are there standards that regulate the amount of char? Any info is appreciated.

giobi <font color="black"> </font>

01-16-2004, 13:00
I know only that around 1980 (and maybe for some time after) Bellows Club bourbon was still available. I used to buy it occasionally in Plattsburgh, New York when I lived in Montreal. The taste was light and struck me at the time as "dusty" or "barnyard". That was probably due, in part at least, to a decent amount of rye grist in the mashbill. Today I have an appreciation for rye-oriented bourbons that I lacked at the time, so I might well like it more today.

It was a "price brand", i.e., priced lower than most bourbons, an economical buy. Some price brands of the time were worth more than the price asked, e.g., Old Yellowstone. Bellows Club was lower shelf in taste as well as price, good for mixing with soft drinks but a little ... robust taken straight (although no doubt it had its devotees). Still, I recall it fondly as one of the many then available brands - now much diminished in number and production source - one could experiment with.

I will let others more knowledgable than I discuss barrel charring and who manufactured Bellows Club.

I have not seen the brand on store shelves for many years now.


01-16-2004, 14:03
My Dad's Pour was Bellows Club Bourbon , and was my first taste for bourbon http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/drink.gif... I have not seen it for years now and for old times I miss it http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/frown.gif ...Will Watch this thread to see where it leads ...
Bill G

01-17-2004, 20:50
I sell Bellows (80pf) in my store for $11.75/1L. On the front label, it says it's from Clermont*Frankfort, KY. The top of the label reads, "MELLOWED FOUR YEARS IN OAK BARRELS." I haven't tried it, yet. It does look kinda light in color.

01-17-2004, 22:33
Good to hear the brand is still with us. Sounds like Jim Beam or Buffalo Trace is filling the bottles at present. Interesting the label would mention two localities associated with different companies..



01-18-2004, 06:29
I'm guessing it's probably Jim Beam. Sounds like it is distilled in Clearmont then aged and/or bottled at their plant in Frankfort.

01-18-2004, 07:11
Thanks, Jeff, I was thinking of Trace in Frankfort but I am sure you are right.


01-18-2004, 08:00
Clermont, Frankfort that's a Beam product. This "ad" was in 1963. Labels have swapped hands and swapped hands and swapped hands and what may have belonged to one Distillery 25 years ago would belong to another distillery today. Typical exampe, is T.W. Samuels, everyone knows that T.W Samuels is Bill Samuels (Maker's Mark) but it was sold. The name went with it. Today that label belongs to Heaven Hill.

I think, Bobby calls these labels "cat and dog labels". All distilleries have em. Good Grief, we have bunches and bunches of em.

I don't know what 1/4 barrel char is but today they char barrels in numbers. They list them as #1, #2, #3 and #4. Elijah Craig uses char #3.

I hope this helps http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif.

http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif Bettye Jo http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif

01-18-2004, 10:02
Bettye Jo, or Bobby, what is the market for these small regional labels?

Do some people just have their favorite brand and stick with it ("my family always bought Bellows?").

Or are these "well brands" used mostly by bars and restaurants?

Or are they true price brands so that people buy them (or any others similarly priced) for reasons of economy?


01-18-2004, 10:32
I'm neither Bobby Jo nor Bettye Jo, but the answer is "all of the above."

01-18-2004, 10:34
Beam owns the former Old Grand-Dad plant at Forks of the Elkhorn, which is also in Frankfort.

They put both locations on the label not because they necessarily do split functions between the two sites, but so they can without changing the label.

01-18-2004, 12:59
I noticed that Bellows has its name on other liquors as well...gin, vodka, rum, scotch...when I did a search on it in my retail beverage guide. Must be like Barton's as an all purpose "well brand" type product line.

01-18-2004, 22:03
Now I just did something that got a funny result ,, I did a search on the NH liquor web site for Bellows Club Bourbon ...they came back with Ezra Williams Black Label ? http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/confused.gif
Mistake or do they know something ? I know if you search for a brand they do not carry or have it will tell you not found or zero stock ....Any ideas on this ?
Bill G. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/confused.gif

01-19-2004, 11:44
but most often used as well brands. IMHO barely drinkable (except, of course the vodka for mixed drinks)

01-19-2004, 12:37
My recollection of the Bellows Bourbon, going back over 20 years, was it had a strong, "unrefined" taste. Now that it is made by Jim Beam (and it may have been then as well), one wonders what makes for a very ordinary bourbon. I mean, we know that it will be made from a mash of at least 51% corn, aged in new charred wood for at least 4 years, etc. So how "bad" can it be, and why?

Could it have to do with the type and amount of small grains? E.g., I thought the Bellows formula might use more rye than many bourbons out there yet we know that high rye bourbons can be very tasty. Could it be that it is "thinner", ie. they derive the distillate from a less rich mash than normal (old-time brewers referred to this is the "length" factor, i.e., how much water is mixed with the fermentables)? I do not think so; whether the mash is rich or less rich, what goes over is alcohol and water, so, say, a 10% abv. malty mash would yield more than a 7% mash, but you would just keep distilling more of the 7%-er to get the quantity of alcohol and water you want(or make less if that is what you want). Or do richer mashes, ie. those with more dextrins and unfermented sugars, somehow produce a better quality alcohol, ounce for ounce, than more attenuated mashes of the same alcohol content?

Could it be that the lesser grade bourbons do not submit to a doubling or thumping process?

Or that when marrying casks for any brand, some will despite being made "normally" not be up the standard deemed necessary for that brand and therefore this whiskey is considered a kind of second grade and sold as a price brand?

In retrospect, possibly the Bellows did have a robust, "congeneric"-influened taste, but at this distance I am not sure without being able to try it again, which (at this moment) is not possible. I recall it having a kind of damp cardboard flavour.

Not all whiskeys can be worldbeaters or even strong middle or upper shelvers.

What is it that makes the second grade ones (from a taste point of view) taste like what they are?


01-19-2004, 13:34
Bellows Club is one of the brands that came into the Jim Beam portfolio when they acquired National Distillers in 1987. They discontinued many of those brands, keeping only those that had sustainable volume.

Any brand with "Club" in its name was originally created for exclusive sale to private clubs. That's also why they frequently offer a full line of products (brandy, gin, etc.).

I'm quite sure Jim Beam does not make a separate "Bellows Club formula." The whiskey in Bellows Club is probably the same as Old Crow and some of their other bottom shelf brands. I believe Beam makes three mashbills, a straight rye, the rye-heavy bourbon used primarily for Old Grand-Dad, and a straight bourbon used for everything else. This has always been my understanding and it is stated in the Regan's book as well.

It's possible they use a fourth mashbill for their "cats and dogs" and, if so, the difference may be in the yeast. I feel the Beam yeast has a distinctive flavor that is very apparent in Jim Beam White. I have not noticed this taste in Old Crow and the other lesser brands but, admittedly, I don't drink them very often either. It's also possible that their fourth mashbill would have slightly more rye in it than the Beam mashbill, which is a little lighter in that department than a standard bourbon.

I know from personal observation that Beam does not make its brands in the distillery, and this is true of all distillers. What I mean is that the brands are created at the end of the process, after the whiskey has aged, when it is being selected, dumped and bottled. You won't find a barrel in a Beam warehouse marked "Bellows Club."

So, how do you make a bad bourbon? A standard bourbon formula, with a substantial amount of rye (though not as much as Grand-Dad), and indifferent aging will taste pretty rough and harsh. That's a working theory, anyway.

Logically, too, the vast, vast majority of Jim Beam's bourbon output goes into Jim Beam White. If I had to guess, and this is only a guess, 75 percent of their output is sold as Jim Beam White and the remaining 25 percent is everything else, i.e., black label, Booker's, Knob Creek, Old Crow, Old Taylor, Bellows Club, etc. If I'm wrong, I'm probably too low. It might be as much as 90 percent. They'll make an effort, though the addition of some older whiskey, for example, to make JB White taste the way it should. They won't go to that effort for a Bellows Club or Old Crow. So if for some preverse reason you want to taste the worst bourbon Jim Beam makes, that's the way to do it.

01-19-2004, 15:08
Good thoughts, thanks.

By the way, at the moment I am drinking a beer aged in a Bourbon cask, in fact, it was sourced in Chicago and is made by Goose Island.

There is a trend of making very strong craft beers like this (10% abv. in this case, spiked in part by the bourbon left in cask). Not sure I like the idea of very strong beers except as a speciality for rare occasions, but this beer is extremely good. It does not really taste of bourbon whiskey, but has a powerful extra depth and complexity.

And so, a thought for the use of an indifferent bourbon should one happen on a bottle: add a dash to a glass of stout or other rich beer, it will make of it something rather different than the constituents, and as in cooking, the quality of the alcohol added to the base recipe is relatively unimportant.


01-19-2004, 18:59
while traveling in Ireland, I found it to be a very common custom among older Pub patrons to order a pint of Guinness stout with a shot of Irish whiskey poured in it...I tried it and found that it enhanced the stout without really tasting like whiskey. I don't know if they use any particular whiskey for this or if any will do...I only tried it once.

01-19-2004, 19:07
Somewhere in the Regans Book they say that Beam " Barrels to Product" That it is in fact predetermined what it will be when they barrel it. I used to think all the different Brands visible on the barrel heads at the warehouse near Jim Beams Outpost was for entertaining the tourists. I had to wait for their truck with newly filled barrels go by the other day ,They are filling a Warehouse at Limestone Springs. All the Barrels I could see had a 3 inch KC on the ends. I really doubt however that one would find Bellows Club, Old Bourbon Hollow , or Old Sunnybrook any where there. Most likely they would be Jim Beam or Old Crow.

01-19-2004, 19:40
I believe Beam makes three mashbills, a straight rye, the rye-heavy bourbon used primarily for Old Grand-Dad, and a straight bourbon used for everything else.

(sorry for straying off the thread topic, but this fascinates me!)

In the notes that accompany my Booker's bottle, it specifically says that Basil Hayden's "unique recipe calls for a larger percentage of small grains in the mash (rye and barley)..." Would that mean that BH and OGD are siblings perhaps?

01-19-2004, 20:21
Would that mean that BH and OGD are siblings perhaps?

It is the accepted belief that that is indeed the case. Basil Haydens shares the Old Granddad Mashbill.

01-20-2004, 05:41
According to Stefan Gabanyi's book titled "WHISK(E)Y", it says on p. 36 "Basil Hayden was a historical figure for whom another bourbon was named as well: OLD GRAND-DAD." I think I read somewhere (I'll try to find it later) that BH and OGD are the same high rye mashbill and this is the highest rye mashbill in play at the moment. I think this is correct remembering http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif but maybe others here can correct me if this turns out to be wrong. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/confused.gif Cheers, Ed

01-20-2004, 08:05
Memories can play tricks but I remember Old Grandad in the 1980's and earlier as being a rich, fruity bourbon with a big taste. Basil Hayden which I've had a number of times strikes me as completely different to that, dry, austere, grainy. I have not tried Grandad lately so maybe it has changed since the time I recall it having a big luscious kind of taste. Anyone who has the Grandad BOB (because this one would presumably be closest to Basil Hayden) and would like to give taste notes could clear up some of the issues regarding whether BH and Old Grandad taste very similar and whether Grandad may have changed in taste over the years.


01-20-2004, 11:56
Yes, Basil Hayden is, effectively, an expression of Old Grand-Dad. Basil Hayden was the grandfather of the founder of the Old Grand-Dad brand, R. B. Hayden, and the figure after whom that brand was named.

01-20-2004, 12:00
Goose Island's Bourbon Barrel Stout is a seasonal offering and quite wonderful, with a distinct taste of raspberry. A now-defunct Lexington brewery originated the style, I believe. The beer is so heavy and rich that I tend to nurse one for quite a while. It almost needs a lager chaser.

01-20-2004, 12:02
I have no reason to doubt you, Bobby, or Gary and Mardee, so it's possible their practice has changed. My information on this subject is dated.

01-20-2004, 12:46
I suppose these posts should now go to "off topic" but I've not tried the Goose Island BHS and will do so! Sounds great! Combines 2 of my passions into one! --Greg

01-20-2004, 16:21
Reputedly, the 'portrait' on the Old Granddad labels in a representation of Basil Hayden.

01-20-2004, 17:25
I drink OGD 86 often and OGD 114 as much as possible (which is not much). The 114 is big, bold, sweet, round, flavorful - sort of like Rare Breed but with different flavors. I can detect some similarity in the 86 but, by comparison, it is thin, watery, and a bit vodka-ish. Some bourbon flavor is there, but it certainly doesn't bloom like the 114. After saying all that, OGD 86 is still one of my favorite low-priced pours (when I can get it on sale).

Since I've never had the BH, I can't make that comparison.


01-20-2004, 17:33
Thanks Tim, excellent notes.

Now does anyone have an Old Grandad circa 1975 in the bunker..? http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif


01-21-2004, 08:43
It's awesome.

01-23-2004, 17:10
Somewhere in the Regans Book they say that Beam " Barrels to Product"

I have Regans' book and at the moment am unable to find it in there.At any rate I spoke to someone who rolls barrels for Jim Beam, and it is the practice to mark the barrels as to what product it will eventually become. They also are bringing the white dog off at different proofs based on what bottling it will be. It almost seems that this would be the industry standard , can you imagine someone crawling over 1.2 million barrels deciding what will become what.
Even Buffalo Trace knows which barrels they plan to become Blantons.

01-23-2004, 17:38
can you imagine someone crawling over 1.2 million barrels deciding what will become what

I can imagine it, very dimly, but that person actually would be PAID to have that much fun. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/bowdown.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/bowdown.gif What a job! Cheers, Ed V.