View Full Version : Sam Cecil's Book

05-12-2004, 15:31
Many of us have mentioned, "The Evolution of the Bourbon Whiskey Industry in Kentucky" by Sam Cecil, a gentleman now (surely) in his 80's who was trained as a distillery chemist and started in the industry in the pre-war era. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in bourbon history. Much of it is a catalogue of who owned what distillery (in the various counties of KY) when, but the book is also a trove of information on many other subjects related to the industry. Sam has a dry, distinctive sense of humor and it comes through in many stories he tells in the book, some almost as afterthoughts, or stray reminiscences. Here is one, about the Dant family and their whiskeys. At one point a schism occurred in the family. After Prohibition the original Dant distillery (# 169) was started up again by George Dant with the help of Shorty Dant, his nephew. Shorty's brother Will decided to set up a distillery too, with a man called Head, under the name "Dant and Head". Thus, there were two Dant companies operating in the 30's. Ultimately the famous corporate raider Armand Hammer bought both operations. Sam Cecil picks up the story:

"J.E. 'Shorty' Dant, a nephew of George Dant, was an officer in the company when Hammer bought it. After he was let out, he became a storekeeper gauger. He was assigned to Dant #169 [the original pre-Prohibition Dant operation] and also #47 alternately [#47 was the Dant and Head distillery]. Shorty related a story to me in 1952 about the use of a Dant label by the Dant and Head Distillery. After Prohibition Shorty's brother Will Dant and Joe B. Head established the distillery of Dant and Head and were bottling whiskey as 'W.W. Dant'. Uncle George felt this was an encroachment on the 'J.W. Dant' brand [J.W. was founding ancestor, in 1836], and he sued to stop them and also asked for damages. George won the suit, and Dant and Head sent him a check for the judgment. On top of the check was the slogan 'Fine Dant Whiskies'".


05-12-2004, 19:50
On top of the check was the slogan 'Fine Dant Whiskies'".

That is a good one, Gary. Everytime I read it, and this isn't stated, I think, Back to court we go!

05-12-2004, 22:26
Here is a picture of Sam sittin' on his front porch 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

05-13-2004, 17:46
That was a nice picture of Sam you posted, Bettye Jo.

On page 132 of Sam's book there is a picture of the staff of Barton Brands taken in 1967 on the occasion of the 2,000,000th barrel produced. A nice picture it is, with the slight mystery (to me) that all black and white pictures have.

Question: standing at the far end to the right of the second row is a smiling Oscar Getz. To his right one man over is an equally smiling, confident-looking gent wearing a light-colored windbreaker. He is holding his hands behind his back and wearing a beret-style hat. Is that Elmer Lee? I met Mr. Lee twice, in the last two years, and it seems a dead ringer even though the picture is almost 40 years old. And if it is Elmer Lee, how is it he worked for Barton's, has he not been associated with Ancient Age (now Sazerac Brands)?


05-13-2004, 17:58
Since Bobby liked that story Sam told about the Dant litigation of the 1930's, here's another Sam story from his book, from the same page as the former one, in fact. It presents in combination two qualities which perhaps characterise the South, or at least Kentucky, namely irreverence and stoicism:

"The distillery [no. 169 Dant, bought by Armand Hammer] had never been modernised and was nothing more than a shell, with large holes in the clap board and sheet metal siding. Hammer made an inspection of the distillery on a cold and windy winter's day and found Jim Devine huddled next to the beer still he was running. Making conversation, Hammer said to Jim, "Cold in here, isn't it?". Jim replied, accompanied by spitting a stream of tobacco at a crack in the wall, "Aw, I don't pay much attention to it. The wind comes in these cracks here and goes out those over yonder".



05-13-2004, 20:06
If I may, Gary, I read something recently about Elmer finishing an engineering degree at UK following his service in WWII then getting a position at what is now Buffalo Trace. I think it was owned by Schenley at the time, and Schenley had lots of distilleries. It would not seem a far stretch for personel to work at more than one place, Sam Cecil was with Schenley for a time as well. I don't think we can associate Schenley with Barton.

In that same picture in Sams Book, Dr. Paul Kraus is the man , standing at the far left, the 2nd man to his right, with a tie, I believe was identified by Flaget Nally as his brother. Why can't I write things down that I take the trouble to ask of the people who really know this stuff? http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/banghead.gif

05-14-2004, 08:24
A little more info on Dr. Kraus...

I find it interesting that he was the distiller for McKenna (Seagrams) before he joined Bartons in 1949...

Bartons is bigger than ya think...by the appearance of the Bardstown plant with just a few lines cramped together (wood plank floors) you can get the wrong impression.

I can't remember the name of the "big company" that Barton's is a part of ( <font color="red"> fill in the blank, Chuck </font> ) http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif Barton's has many locations, their corporate headquarters are in Chicago...They have a massive bottling facility in Owensboro, Ky. with 14 high tech lines...That's twice the size of Heaven Hill...

These articles were published in the Kentucky Standard, Sept. 6, 1964.

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

05-14-2004, 08:27
The rest of the story...

05-14-2004, 19:40
I have them backwards, Dr. Frank Kraus is standing on the far left and Paul , his brother is 2 to the right with the tie on. Good find BettyeJo. Barton is part of Constellation. The ticker symbol is STZ. They like Heaven Hill and Jim Beam have a diversity in Spirit beverages that is formidable.

05-14-2004, 21:13
Constellation Brands, parent company of Barton Brands, had net sales of $2.7 billion in 2003. By comparison, Brown-Forman had net sales of $2.4 billion for the same period. Neither is a small company. Heaven Hill, being privately held, does not release its financials, but I'm sure they are in a much more modest neighborhood.

05-15-2004, 08:55
Here's the write up about Sam Cecil...

Sam, worked with my grandfather http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif Harry M. Beam http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif while he was at Heaven Hill. He also talks about working at the T.W. Samuels Distillery...In one of his books (not gonna thumb through http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif) there is a old picture of him (Sam) at the T.W. Samuels plant...Included in that picture (sitting) is my http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif Uncle Elmo Beam http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif and Bobby's grandfather "Shorty"...All of 'em are smiling, like they just did something really sneaky 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 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

05-15-2004, 08:58
The rest of the story...

05-15-2004, 17:16
Sam mentions the help they got from other distilleries. Two stories I heard on my last visit to Bardstown confirmed this. Bill Samuels told me that Pappy Van Winkle was just one of several people who provided invaluable help when they were getting started. David Beam told me that his uncle Earl (Parker's dad) at Heaven Hill would always order an extra bushel of hops when they placed an order, because Maker's Mark was too small to make even a minimum order with the hops supplier.

Hops, you ask? Hops are an ingredient in the yeast medium.

05-15-2004, 20:41
Heaven Hill, being privately held, does not release its financials, but I'm sure they are in a much more modest neighborhood.

I wasn't thinking of dollar amounts, just the brand portfolios that each of them bring to their respective tables. However, since I'll take a good bet or a bad one from time to time, I bet if there were any way to know, everyone would be surprized that Heaven Hill turns more dollars a year rather than less. BettyeJo relates the story of the day after the fire when Max lays it on the line about how many orders they have to fill and that the Bourbon loss, while bad, only represented a small percentage of the total there. Heaven Hill's barrel count is about half of what Jim Beams is. Looks small, but when you consider that Beam uses 2 plants to do twice as much work, then that makes Heaven Hill's Bourbon side as big as either one of Beams 2 plants.

05-16-2004, 01:01
Well, money is the big leveler, isn't it?

Comparing portfolios is hard. What do you compare? Sheer number of products? Number of categories in which they participate? Barton/Constellation is big in beer and wine, which Heaven Hill doesn't touch. Brown-Forman is in wine but not beer, but does have consumer durables, which Barton/Constellation and Heaven Hill do not.

My guess, and it's just a guess, is that Heaven Hill's business is in the hundreds of millions, not in the billions like BF and B/C. And while BF and B/C are in the low billions, Diageo, Fortune (Beam's parent) and Allied-Domecq are like $6, 7, 8 billion. So, relatively, Heaven Hill is pretty small.

05-16-2004, 10:06
This is from the Heaven Hill site, they are number 7. However they hold the 2nd largest inventory of Bourbon in the world. If we can find out numbers 6 and 8, we could get an idea how big they are.
Diageo owns Burger King, I think they want to sell it, and Allied-Domecq owns Baskin-Robbins, No doubt big contributors to the bottom line and still nothing to do with Beverage Alcohol.
I was only looking at the portfolios of beverage alcohol, not the luggage, china, golf balls and so forth.

05-16-2004, 10:14
Golf balls?

No wonder golf drives me to drink. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/drink.gif

Well, maybe it's more of a nudge. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/lol.gif

05-16-2004, 10:17
Yeah, my folks used hops too http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif Here is a post with my Uncle Desmond's Beam's jug yeast recipe http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif Uncle Desmonds recipe (http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/showthreaded.php?Cat=&amp;Number=6398&amp;page=&amp;view=&amp;sb=5 &amp;o=&amp;vc=1)

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

05-16-2004, 13:46
Thanks, Bettye Jo. Even people who know quite a bit about bourbon-making (okay, me) are a bit hazy about the mysteries of yeast-making. I also have been told that these yeast mixtures are quite tasty.

05-16-2004, 14:01
Fortune Brands, parent company of Jim Beam, has been described as one of the last of the old-style conglomerates, owning a variety of businesses that seemingly have no relationship to each other, but I disagree, to whit:

Jim Beam Brands Co. -- beverage alcohol
Aristokraft Kitchen Cabinets -- where you keep your beverage alcohol
MasterLock -- for locking up your good bourbon
Moen Faucets -- for the water to dilute your good bourbon
Kensington, Swingline and Wilson Jones office supplies -- because you need a good job to afford good bourbon
Titleist golf balls -- because the way you play golf makes you drink

05-18-2004, 23:03
I just read an article that described Constellation as "the world's largest wine company" since its acquisition of BRL Hardy.