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**DONOTDELETE**
10-18-2000, 17:22
I am making this post because there is a lot of interest in the Rare Bourbon Collection from United Distillers. I was there when the concept for this collection was originated and one of my last projects was the research for the labels.

The idea of the Rare Bourbon Collection came from Scotland and the Rare Malt Collection that was being bottled there. The rare malts were malts from distilleries that had been closed and their malts would never be made again. The idea was to bottle these whiskies and sell them at a high price because they were products that would never again be available on the market. My boss at U.D. was well travelled in Britain and he had seen these products at whisky tastings. He found out that there were three barrels of Blue Ribbon Bourbon made at the Schenley distillery at Ekron, Ky. sitting in the Bernheim warehouse. He wanted to bottle this rare bourbon and treat it in the same way as the rare scotches were being marketed. It was a great idea but then the yankees in Connecticut got a hold of the idea. They did not like the idea that there were only three barrels (as far as I know those barrels are still in the warehouse) and wanted a brand with larger volume. They also were not too particular about where the whiskey really came from. They had us research several old Schenley and Stitzel-Weller brands and they would pick the "story" they thought was most interesting to sell to the public. They picked up on the Henry Clay and Finch labels. They did pick some old whiskey that was made for expired brands put it in these bottles. The bourbon for Finch if I remember right came from the Old Quaker distillery in Lawrenceburg, Indiana while the Clay whiskey was from another expired Schenley label. They were rare bourbons but not the bourbons they claimed to be because the marketing people up north changed the original concept.

The real history of Finch is that it was a Pennsylvania rye and one of the original Schenley brands. They continued to make this brand up into the late 1970's and sometimes made a bourbon to put into that label. Henry Clay on the other hand was one of the brands sold by James E. Pepper. He actually owned two distilleries in the Lexington area - James E. Pepper in Lexington and the Henry Clay distillery in the county. They were known at the time as the "Big Pepper and the Little Pepper" distilleries. The Henry Clay distillery was dismantled during prohibition but the Henry Clay label passed on to Schenley who continued to bottle it until the 1960's for a regional market.

Mike Veach

**DONOTDELETE**
10-18-2000, 19:08
Thank you, Mike. That's really great information on these rarely-seen brands.

Now I have a couple of speculative questions...

(1) How old would those three barrels of Blue Ribbon bourbon be today?
(2) How many barrels of say, 10-or-12-year-old-but-significantly-oak-deficient Heaven Hill whiskey do you suppose would you need to add to those three to make a really good 10 or 12 year old bourbon?
(3) Would there be enough of a market for it that you wouldn't need to charge an outrageously high retail price per bottle?
(4) What would you and Linn and I need to do to make this happen?


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

MashBill
10-18-2000, 19:58
Mike,
Thanks for the information! You are a national treasure!

I wonder how long it will take for the marketing weasels to realize that bourbon afficianados (those individuals crazy enough to spend +$50 per bottle) want to know the true origin, age, and history of the whiskey we are drinking? I personally don't think the yuppies are buying bourbon, but if that is who the marketing types are trying to attract, then the yuppies would be just as impressed by the true origin of a whiskey rather than some fictional blather.

Oh well, I've ranted enough! I need a shot of bourbon! I think I hear a Kentucky Spirit calling my name.....

Bill Legge

**DONOTDELETE**
10-18-2000, 20:47
John,
In answer to your questions:
1) The barrels were early to mid 70's (I seem to recall them over 20 years old in 96)
2) The barrels are probably empty by now because if you don't take care of a barrel it will dry up very quickly once it reaches a certain low point causing it to leak. Even if they did have anything left in them I would not bother because they were too woody for my taste four years ago.
3) No. There would be so little bourbon in those barrels that the price would have to be high to make it worth while.
4) I think I will pass on this deal. The leagal cost for a label approval is beyond a historian's reach and that does not include purchasing the necessary whiskey.
Mike Veach

**DONOTDELETE**
10-19-2000, 17:02
John,
If I was going to invest in bottling I would be more interested in some of the other whiskey that U.D. was looking at for their rare bourbon collection. This included 14 year old rye and rye mash whiskey (even though I think I know where that whiskey went already) and some 18 year old corn that was a 140 barrel proof or so but still very smooth for such a high proof. They also had some other whiskey that was made for the Schenley blends that was bourbon aged in used barrels. These could of been some interesting products had they ever seen the light of day.
Mike Veach

jvanwinkle
10-19-2000, 17:27
Too late guys,
I bought those three barrels(Blue Ribbon) from UD a few years ago. As I remember, the distillation date was 1976. So it was about 20 years old when I bottled it and shipped it to Japan under a private label. The whiskey was just OK-but over the hill as far as any good sippin whiskey.
Thought you'd be interested.
Julian

**DONOTDELETE**
10-19-2000, 18:48
Julian,
I always wondered what happened to those barrels. I thought it was way over the hill myself. In my opinion that bourbon just did not age well.
Mike Veach

**DONOTDELETE**
10-19-2000, 21:12
Julian, what can you tell me about a brand called David Nicholson? I got a bottle of 7-year-old 100-proof from Randall's and it turns out to have been made by Old Fitz. Tastes a lot like Old Fitz BIB, too, but a little richer. It's really a very good bourbon, which was a pleasant surprise. I suspect it was bottled at least a couple years ago, so it's probably pre-Bernheim Stitzel-Weller whiskey.

P.S. - I'm waiting for Party Source to get Russells' Reserve (or Ezra Brooks' new "Ezra B" 15-year-old, which they've ALSO never heard of) in stock. Soon as they do I'll go buy some and pick up some of the smoked fish you suggested. Maybe I won't even wait for the whiskey...

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

jvanwinkle
10-20-2000, 08:53
John,
When you go to get the smoked fish at the Party Source, remember, it's in Florence, not the store right across the river.
David Nicholson label was an old Stitzel-Weller brand. It was 7-year, 100 proof always, except for a period when they tried to sell a 90.4 proof black label that did not work.
The label was owned by my family until last year when we sold it to David Shermann in St. Louis. It for years was THE premium Bourbon in St, Louis. The wholesaler let the brand go down hill so much, we sold it. Could not control the brand from Louisville. It is sold only in Missouri and southern Illinois.
It is whiskey made at Stitzel-Weller. They may have bottled some whiskey a little oder than 7 years, so that's why the one you tasted may be a little better. Now, Heaven Hill is making their whiskey for future use, with the wheated recipe.
Julian

**DONOTDELETE**
10-25-2000, 09:45
You guys seem to know wat you're talking about and I need some help.

I'm in posession of a bottle of 'Very Very Old Fitzgerald', still in it's original box, un opened. My husband;s been trying to find out more about this bottle for aged and have had no luck. I've managed to figure out that the distillery has been bought by UD, and that's pretty much it. Any ideas on where I can look to get more info on this bottle?

The seal is numbered BA OF 002461, it says 'Bonded Twelve Years Old Straight Bourbon Whiskey 100 proof', and there's another label that says it's a collector's item. The bottle itseld is a brown colour with metallic random lines on. These lines look a bit like tinsel you'd put on a Christmas tree.

I'm trying to get some good info together for him as a special birthday present, but haven't had much luck, and time is running out fast - can anyone out there help?

Thanks

Fitzie

**DONOTDELETE**
10-26-2000, 17:13
It was my experience while at United Distillers that these bottles were usually bourbon distilled in 1963 and bottled in 1975. The dates should be on the green tax stamp if the stamp is intact. The dates do sometimes fade but if you hold the stamp under a black light they will appear even when faded beyond normal vision. This will make an excellent gift for your lucky husband if he is a bourbon drinker, but do make sure he does drink it. This whiskey is as about as close to perfection as it gets (at least for us wheated bourbon drinkers).
Mike Veach