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cowdery
01-07-2006, 13:25
I devoted the most recent issue of my newsletter (http://cowdery.home.netcom.com/page9.html) to the subject of dubious historical claims in the marketing of American whiskey.

When you see a historical claim in a whiskey's marketing, are you inclined to believe it? Or do you usually dismiss it as marketing fluff? Either way, do you care if it's true or not?

My rationale for excusing many of these claims is that they were first made before anyone conceived of 'truth in advertising' as a value. To some extent they were grandfathered in when the government began to police product claims in the early 20th century. No one means any harm. It has simply become part of the brand's fabric, its background music.

I like knowing what's true and what's fluff, but I don't mind the fluff.

kbuzbee
01-07-2006, 16:06
I guess I'm the same way, Chuck. I enjoy hearing the "lore". It doesn't influence my buying or drinking enjoyment. I guess I take all of it with at least a grain of salt but the stories are fun.

By the way, I really enjoyed your latest issue. Nicely done. Always a good read!

I would LOVE to have interviews with the master distillers to hear what they think their advantages really are. I know it would be laced with the marketing bullet points but something like the Whiskey Magazine round table discussions would be fun to read.

Ken

gr8erdane
01-07-2006, 17:02
The way I look at it, lore doesn't add or detract from the product in the bottle. I've bought a lot of bottles without tasting them first but when it comes to replacing them, I had to like what was in the first bottle well enough to finish it. All the marketing hype in the world won't make a difference to me if I didn't like what was in the first bottle.

ratcheer
01-07-2006, 18:34
I don't really care whether its true or not. I think, "Maybe, maybe not. Its a nice story." and go on my way. Like the thing about Knob Creek and Lincoln growing up. Its mildly interesting, but who cares?

Tim

bobbyc
01-08-2006, 15:26
Like the thing about Knob Creek and Lincoln growing up.



That one is generally accepted, as much as you can accept something from a little over 150 years ago. The odd thing is they mention that if left at the distillery, young Abe was certain to grow up to be the finest Master Distiller ever, And I'm given to wonder if perhaps they might really have thought he would have been the finest warehouseman or fireman of the boilers rather than the top slot. I suppose a hundred years from now it will be said of Bill Clinton, that if he had been born in Ky he would have been the best Brands Manager ever to come form our fair state. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/lol.gif

squire
01-08-2006, 17:45
The stories are nice and they add a bit to the lore. At least some of the old brands are being kept alive. J.W. Dant ran it off a log and even though the brand exists now only in name the 100 proof BIB HH expression is a good whiskey and a bargain at its price.

Regards,
Squire

bobbyc
01-08-2006, 18:02
I like JW Dant a lot. That is the Brand my Dad drank the most of.My mother worked at Beam and the only time he drank Jim Beam was the 1 bottle she got at Christmas or if he ran into Baker.

BourbonJoe
01-09-2006, 03:05
I like JW Dant a lot.


So do I Bobby. Last night I had a pour of 86 proof Dant from 1959. It was as good as anything I've ever had.
Joe http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/usflag.gif

chasking
01-09-2006, 08:38
I find most of the historical claims on whiskey bottles blatantly not credible. It saddens me, as I think, "Who do they think they're kidding?" Ultimately, none of that is going to determine whether I buy a whiskey or not. If the whiskey's good, I don't care if you can trace it back to 1783; if it's not, I likewise don't care if you can trace it back to 1783.

I think it's high time that distilleries started taking more pride in what they're doing RIGHT NOW. I do think that's starting to happen, particularly with the (relatively) recent spate of whiskeys named after living distillers (ETL, RR, Baker's, Booker's). If a real person is willing to put his name on a bottle, THAT is something to which I would give some weight.

P.S. I know Booker is dead, but he was alive when Booker's was launched, within recent memory---recent enough that I doubt the flavor profile has wandered much.

jspero
01-09-2006, 09:48
I find most of the historical claims on whiskey bottles blatantly not credible. It saddens me, as I think, "Who do they think they're kidding?" Ultimately, none of that is going to determine whether I buy a whiskey or not.



I agree with that. I automatically assume anything written on a bottle is made up marketing crap and usually don't read it. If the contents of the bottle taste good to me, I'll likely buy it again regardless of what is written on it in the way of lore or product history. I never use the "stories" on bottles to attract me to new products, either.

Jay

bluesbassdad
01-09-2006, 10:47
I used to care -- a lot.

Then I discovered this site. Now I feel like a kid who has recently learned there is no Santa Claus.

I really wanted to believe that one Kentucky distiller's limestone water and charred oak barrels were better than another's, that one great-great grandfather's recipe was better than anything before or since, and, most of all, that a quaint, small operation in days gone by produced a consistently better product than today's modern facilities, just because they cared so doggone much.

Now I know I was being snookered, and yet I miss the joy that reading labels once gave me. I can't stop reading them, even though I know better. Now I cringe every time I read a reference to a charred, white oak barrel -- as though that makes the bourbon inside different from other bourbon.

I can't think of another industry about which I've ever had similar feelings. Perhaps that's due to the bourbon industry's marketing practices. Perhaps not. For instance, I can't imagine allowing myself to be convinced that today's Ford is a better car than, say, a Toyota because Ford was the first to adopt an assembly line, or that X is better than Y because its origins can be traced further back in time.

Notwithstanding, all the stories do create a backdrop, "background music" if you will, that may well continue to attract new consumers while enhancing enjoyment by existing, more knowledgeable ones -- as long as they don't take it seriously.

I suppose that someone who has had a hand in creating such ad copy may be in a category all by himself in regard to this matter.

Yours truly,
Dave Morefield

mrt
01-09-2006, 13:38
For one like me who feels great interest in history, family roots and tradition, replies here are really dissppointing http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/frown.gif
I alvays read the stories of the brands carefully, and it significantly improves my bourbon enjoyment...At least, may I belive that the stories aren't completely fiction? I like reading them and hoping them to be -at least partly-informative and real...And, although it doesn't determine whether I'd buy a bourbon or not, yes I care...

T47
01-09-2006, 17:58
I enjoy History as well. Itís nice to know whatís true, and whatís just fluff, but like Chuck, I donít necessarily mind the fluffÖI guess it is part of the History as well. Did you read this (http://cowdery.home.netcom.com/articles/allamer.html) article? I really enjoyed it. These days with multi-national companies and a huge world economy, it would be nice if some of these Distilleries would stay American owned forever. Check out Chucks article, itís a good read!

gr8erdane
01-09-2006, 22:01
After reading your post, I went back and read my own and I agree, most here are a bit disappointingly negative. As for my post, I was just saying that marketing plays little part in what I buy these days. I have always been a history buff and love to pass on bourbon lore to those who don't run away screaming or fall asleep on me. However, I always add the customary disclaimers to all the nonsubstantiated historical anecdotes.

When I look at my collection of bottles though, I think more on the history of a given bottle than of the brand name on the label. I look at my bottle of WT Tribute and know that I got it from Tim. I look at the Pendennis Club and it came from Bobby. I look at the WT 12 Gold Label and think of Dawn. EWSB 90 from Bettye Jo, ORVW Olde Time Rye from Randy, Old Ezra 15 from Cliff, etc..... Then I look at the half empty bottle of Bookers and see the foundation of my collection, where it all started. You see, the personal history that is part of me is what I really enjoy, much more than the stories of who was the first distiller, who was the first to use charred oak barrels, or who created the first wheater recipe.

camduncan
01-09-2006, 22:12
and love to pass on bourbon lore to those who don't run away screaming or fall asleep on me



Jeez Dane, I thought I was the only one that did that to people http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/smilielol.gif


Back on topic, I always read the history on the lables and attached info sheets. But I do always take it with a grain of salt. As I'm not a major history buff (I do enjoy reading bourbon history in books like Chucks though), I usually can't tell if the blurb is stretching the truth or not. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/skep.gif

bourbonv
01-10-2006, 06:24
Chuck,
Another interesting question to ask here is, "Would you be impressed if a distillery placed a legitimate historical claim on the label?" For example if Elmer T Lee said something like "Elmer T Lee introduced the modern concept of single barrel bourbon to the world".

Mike Veach

doubleblank
01-10-2006, 08:15
We'd all probably like these stories to be accurate....but if we demanded 100% historical accuracy, there wouldn't be any stories to tell. I must be part Irish as any good Irish storyteller will point out .....its more important to tell an interesting story than to worry too much about the complete accuracy. Maybe it was actually 1797 and not 1783 ..... and maybe the barrel wasn't charred in a barn fire.....but these stories represent a plausible way things may have happened. I can imagine being a purveyer of spirits in times of old and the whiskey salesman from KY comes calling. I know he is going to have a story of why I should buy from him......and I'm going to find it entertaining if he has any chance of making a sale to me.....the other criteria being he has a good product at a fair price.

These days in the Information Age, those stories probably don't help make many new customers. They do help support the image they have developed in the marketplace for certain products. What's getting new customers today are 1) the innovative products being introduced and 2) better whiskey in the bottle. Both of these things are changing much of the public's perception of whiskey. HH's Bernheim, BT's BT and Antique Collection, OF BB, etc, etc. Most of these aren't relying on a false story of folksiness, etc.

Randy

Ken Weber
01-10-2006, 08:29
Dave,
Being a marketing type at BTD, I must say that you have written most eloquently on this topic. I must also say that I agree with you! It is indeed difficult to distinquish between fact and fiction. When we try to educate consumers about a particular brand, it is not an easy task. I have to agree that the verbiage on the back of Buffalo Trace tends to get a bit flowery and really does not inform about the contents therein. When we produced the Antique Collection, we included a "fact" sheet with each case. The intent was simple and straightforward - provide the factual information concerning the production of the brand.

When communicating with consumers,tasting notes are often used. These are a bit subjective and I know from past experience that they are sometimes fabricated or written by someone who is beholden to the brand owner.

If we were to say that Blanton's is the best single barrel bourbon by virtue of it being the first, we would be making a claim that carrys no credibility with discerning bourbon drinkers. BUT, since there are more undiscerning bourbon drinkers/buyers, then why not make the claim and reap the rewards? The answer is simple, some people will resort to this while others take choose not to; it all comes down to ethics. What is more important, the bottom line or maintaining your integrity? As simply as this is stated, it is indeed a difficult question!

Ken

bobbyc
01-10-2006, 20:06
I look at the Pendennis Club and it came from Bobby.



You do know that Pendennis Club is toast? Last Bourbon Fest I had arranged a trade with Roger for a couple of those against a couple of 200 anniversary Jim Beam. Imagine my chagrin when I found out that distribution had been stopped and the sole bottles of it had been cleaned out just moments before I dropped in to pick a couple up. I think there may be a stray here or there but as of yet have not seen them.

gr8erdane
01-10-2006, 20:20
I got two bottles from you Bobby and one is history, the other will remain closely guarded...

bobbyc
01-10-2006, 20:37
It is a fine 7 year bourbon, we realised a little too late what a sleeper it was. Now I wonder what the Rich ol'Boys are pouring these days. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/stickpoke.gif

Edward_call_me_Ed
01-11-2006, 08:25
This thread has been bubbling and boiling in my mind since I read the first post. If I were to try to write everything I have thought about the topic it would turn out to be too long and need footnotes. Here is my best try at a short version.

Do I believe the history printed on the label? In a word, "No." Oh, the corporate person might still have some sort of continuing existence, but does that mean that there is some sort of family tradition/transmission from the old still on great great great grandpa's farm back up in the holler behind the old log cabin he and his neighbors built back before Scarlet O'Hara found out what came after that first passionate kiss? Yes, No, Maybe.

Yes, there is a deep and venerable tradition. No, it isn't quite as folksy as the labels would have us believe. And maybe, yes, it is that family tradition that make bourbon great. The same families have been in the business for generations, just ask Bettye Jo Boone.

And what about the bean counting marketing types? Without them there would be no fine bourbon at all, just popskull out of the back of a pickup, if that. Or maybe there would be some truly fine bourbon made just like great great great grandpappy made it. One barrel at a time, just enough to go around among the cousins as long as the uncles don't drink it all up before it is bottled....

Part two:

Does the label, the bottle, the story on the label matter? Aren't the contents of the bottle, the taste, what really matter? The fact is that the bottle, the label and the story all have more influence on how we perceive the taste than we care to admit. Case in point, a marketing firm changed the color of the Seven-up can without changing the contents at all and people tasted more lemon and lime in the drink. They got really upset, "Don't you do a New Coke on me!" A little yellow added to ink and the flavor profile was markedly different.

It is late. I have got to go to bed.
Ed

miller542
01-11-2006, 11:08
When you see a historical claim in a whiskey's marketing, are you inclined to believe it? Or do you usually dismiss it as marketing fluff? Either way, do you care if it's true or not?

I like knowing what's true and what's fluff, but I don't mind the fluff.



I tend to dismiss most marketing "lore" as being based on some seed of truth, which is then spun into creating the brand image. The bottle shape, label, story, etc. are then created to fit that image. Sound marketing, to be sure, but there should be some basis in reality. Like Ken Weber asks "What is more important, the bottom line or maintaining your integrity?" If it's all fluff, how well does that reflect upon the integrity of the actual product?

This site and several books help to sort the truth from the fluff, but I enjoy it all. It's fun to read the label and step back in my mind and think about the way things might have been in the years before, during, and after Prohibition.

Ultimately, I see the marketing lore as a fun way to preserve the rich history of the bourbon industry and its role in the development of America. A history that I would not like to see forgotten any time soon.

mrt
01-11-2006, 11:57
...Ultimately, I see the marketing lore as a fun way to preserve the rich history of the bourbon industry and its role in the development of America. A history that I would not like to see forgotten any time soon.


[/QUOTE]


Completely agree. Since we all know that there's a historical background, then we can enjoy reading and thinking about it, regardless of what percent of the stories is "fluff". Especially given that, the older times of bourbon country attracts even my attention from here-the eastern end of Europe.

ProofPositive
01-11-2006, 17:08
...Ultimately, I see the marketing lore as a fun way to preserve the rich history of the bourbon industry and its role in the development of America. A history that I would not like to see forgotten any time soon.





Completely agree. Since we all know that there's a historical background, then we can enjoy reading and thinking about it, regardless of what percent of the stories is "fluff". Especially given that, the older times of bourbon country attracts even my attention from here-the eastern end of Europe.

[/QUOTE]

I agree with both of you 100%. Without the legends and stories, Bourbon would just be another spirit in a world of many. As it is, our favorite whiskey stands alone as very individualistic and part of the very fabric of Americana IMHO. Not any other country has anything close that I can think of like what we have in Bourbon http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/toast.gif

http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/usflag.gif Wayne

Peter_Pogue
01-13-2006, 16:14
These are indeed some terrific posts. I believe every historical fact should be documented when someone is making a historical claim. I think Mike Veach's historical documentations are irreplaceable. In fact, I think there is much of Kentucky bourbon history that is or has been lost and Mike will later be shown to have been a very important part of bourbon history by what he has and is preserving. If history weren't important we wouldn't pay attention to it. Is Ted Kennedy a better politician because of his family history? No, but in many circles he is given credibility (okay, maybe a poor example). In your own communities there are lawfirms with names of people who have long since passed but the aura of the history they have passed on is still revered. No one should be ashamed of making great bourbon (and there are many) who have no history because they will soon be the story in generations to come. Likewise, at some point there will be a brand in honor of a Parker Beam, a Greg Davis, or a Bill Friel, and rightfully so. History plays an important part in what is Kentucky bourbon whisky as does the innovation being displayed (and hopefully will continue to be displayed) through new brands and ideas.

cowdery
01-13-2006, 21:38
The Pogues are a perfect example. They have never misrepresented the source of their whiskey and they have told a true story about their family's heritage as Kentucky whiskey-makers. That doesn't seem so difficult, does it?

barturtle
01-16-2006, 19:10
When I look at my collection of bottles though, I think more on the history of a given bottle than of the brand name on the label.



I agree. I can look at my collection and remember where I got the bottle, why I searched it out, how hard it was to find, how long the drive was and why I was in that place to begin with.

The only thing I seem to forget about the bottle is the price I paid for them, as that is not important and I would rather forget that they cost me anything. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/lol.gif

ProofPositive
01-16-2006, 22:58
The only thing I seem to forget about the bottle is the price I paid for them, as that is not important and I would rather forget that they cost me anything. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/lol.gif



These are exactly the words I have been looking for to express my thoughts on the subject. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/thankyousign.gif

True, I have been spending some money of late - more than I probably should have. However, I'm coming up on my 47th B-day. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/ohgeez.gif

In bourbondom, I'm a late bloomer. There's no guarantee how long we'll be on this earth.....and, borrowing a true but worn out phrase: "you can't take it with you". http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/nope.gif

I have some ground to make up for the wasteful years spent hanging out with the 'best' of Lynchburg, TN & St Louis, MO.

There's only one way for me now: 'full steam ahead and damn the torpedos'....no looking back!!! http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/lol.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/drink.gif

http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/thankyousign.gif

http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/usflag.gif Wayne

gewhite
01-21-2006, 07:25
I'd like any comments or corrections on this history of Jesse Moore's history:


(continued)
By the late 1850s Jesse was making good money and he traveled east several times to keep an eye on Emily. On one of those trips he met a refined young lady, Frances Paine Melcher, who was in Worcester with her architect brother, Richard T.D. Melcher. She was the 28 year old daughter of Samuel Melcher III, a noted architect and housewright of Brunswick, Maine, the builder of most of the early buildings of Bowdoin College and of numerous sea captains' homes now on the National Register of Historic Places. Jesse and Frances were married in 1858 and returned to Louisville to live.

Despite his attempts to keep an eye on Emily, she married Henry Stowe, a clerk, on July 23rd, 1857, a marriage Jesse apparently did not approve of. Emily and Henry moved into rented rooms with his widowed mother. It was not the marriage the successful distiller would have wished for his daughter.

In the years leading up to the Civil War Jesse's business flourished, but the attack on Fort Sumter in 1861 unsettled his world. Within a few weeks the Confederates closed the Mississippi to Northern trade, shutting off the route to his lucrative California market which was not to re-open until the summer of 1863. Even then, Southern raiders continued to prey upon the ships that carried his bourbon to San Francisco. Whiskey was still much in demand in the East - it is even possible that General U.S. Grant's usual drink was Jesse Moore Bourbon. Grant was headquartered for a time at Louisville's Galt House Hotel, and the story goes that when people complained to President Abraham Lincoln that Grant drank too much, he replied "Well, find me the brand Grant drinks. He fights. I want to serve it to my other generals."

Kentucky was a border state during the war, and Louisville was dangerously near the front lines. Governor Beriah Magoffin, a Southern sympathizer, tried to keep the state neutral but the legislature voted to join the Union. William T. Sherman moved a Union army into Louisville to hold it for the North. Two Confederate armies attempted to take the city and were repulsed, but Confederate Colonel John Hunt Morgan of Morgan's Raiders made four forays through Kentucky, burning the courthouse in Lebanon and possibly Jesse's distillery there. Louisville became such an uncomfortable place for Fannie Moore and her young sons, Edward and George, that in 1864 she and Jesse packed up their belongings and "refugeed" back east to Worcester. There, for the huge price of $8,000, they bought the most expensive home in town, the Draper Ruggles House, a Greek Revival mansion.

Jesse's brother George J. Moore stayed in Kentucky, in fact his son, George Henry Moore, had been working in Jackson Mississippi as a bookkeeper before the war and became an enthusiastic Confederate. He joined the 39thMississippi Infantry and wrote his mother in 1861 that "any rebel can whip 50 Yankees."

There had been no Federal excise tax on liquor since the War of 1812, but one was imposed in 1862 to help pay the costs of the Civil War. During the war Jesse's employees kept an eye on his whiskey business, for despite his absence it stayed in operation. In 1865 George Henry Moore returned from the Union prison camp at Johnson's Island, Ohio, where he had been interned after being captured at the battle of Alatoona, Georgia, and worked for a time for his father, who was then a hat dealer. In 1866 George Henry Moore joined Jesse in his whiskey operation.

That year George Henry Moore married Catherine Deweese in Louisville and they eventually had five children including a daughter, Jessie, and a son, Sherley.

In 1865 the Mercantile Bureau, R.G. Dun & Co., listed Jesse for the first time, giving him an excellent credit rating as a wholesale grocer. A year later Dun listed him as a "dealer in fine whiskies." By 1870 Dun would give Jesse its highest credit rating and estimate his net worth at more than $100,000.

Jesse bought or built at least two other distilleries nearer Louisville between 1859 and 1875. In that latter year he disposed of his interest in the Grigsby distillery in Marion County to J.W. Dant, who became one of his suppliers. With his nephew, George, Jesse built a new distillery, the "Belmont"," followed by the "Astor" and the "Nutwood", at 17th and Lexington (now Breckinridge St.) in Louisville, to help supply the growing West Coast demand that followed the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869.

B.P. Moore may have put Jesse in touch with an immigrant bartender from Serbia, Elia Chielovich, who became the Moore representative in San Francisco to handle the demand the railroad generated.

Chielovich ordered Jesse Moore's Kentucky Bourbon in standard 40 gallon barrels and filtered, rectified it, cut its proof and bottled it in his own bottles, made at the Pacific Glass Works on Mariposa Street in San Francisco. Those bottles carried both the Moore and Chielovich names and are highly prized today by bottle collectors.

The chief competition in San Francisco for the Kentucky bourbon trade was John H. Cutter's fine Bourbon whiskey, shipped to his agent, Anson P. Hotaling, in distinctive 50 gallon barrels. Walter Hoge, Chielovich's manager, decided it would be cheaper to ship the Moore whiskey in the same style of high-class 50 gallon cooperage and asked the Louisville office to have barrels made that resembled Cutter's.


Hotaling fumed, but lived with the new Jesse Moore barrels for two years, by which time John Cutter's Kentucky partner, C.P. Moorman, had bought out the old man and began to run the business himself. Hotaling persuaded Moorman to sue, and his attorneys, William Paterson and Alexander Campbell, took Hoge to Federal District Court in San Francisco. (Case # 9,783). They argued that the distinctive Cutter barrel was a part of their registered trademark.

Federal Judge Lorenzo Sawyer disagreed, finding that a trademark is a distinctive mark, that the Moore and Cutter marks were not alike and the container the whiskey was shipped in was not part of the trademark. He dismissed the complaint, with costs, on October 21st, 1871.

The Moores, however, became unhappy with Chielovich's sales efforts. Another easterner, Henry B. Hunt, worked in the San Francisco office, and when George H. Moore traveled to California to check on the business he decided Hunt was the better salesman and sacked Chielovich, who went to Reno, where he built and operated a famous saloon.

George sent his brother in law, Cornelius Deweese Jr., to California in 1875 to watch over the agency there. Deweese, his wife, Jennie and son, Arthur, lived in San Francisco through 1887 and Jesse and George visited annually to be sure things were being run well. In 1876 they took Hunt in as a partner in the West Coast operation, and it became known as Jesse Moore-Hunt Co. Jesse took his nine year old daughter, Mabel, along with him on his 1881 trip and she had her picture taken at 124 1/2 Front Street in San Francisco.

In 1890 English emigrant Thomas Kirkpatrick became the manager of the San Francisco office, then at 404 Front Street, later at 517 Devisadero. The most familiar of the Jesse Moore bottles are, fact impressed with the name "Jesse Moore-Hunt." Credit bureau R.G. Dun first rated Jesse Moore-Hunt Co. in 1878, giving it its highest credit rating and estimating its capital as nearly a quarter of a million dollars. The Jesse Moore-Hunt Co. bottles are also in high demand among collectors.

George J. Moore died in 1875. He had tried a variety of businesses including groceries, hats and management of a lottery, none of which were as successful as Jesse's bourbon. When it came time to bury his brother, Jesse had to buy a cemetery lot at Louisville's Cave Hill Cemetery. At the same time he moved Lucy Ann to Cave Hill from her resting place in a little burial ground on the outskirts of the city.

to be continued

gewhite
01-21-2006, 07:31
Jesse Moore, continued

In addition to the California and Nevada trade, Jesse, George and Hunt built up a thriving export business out of San Francisco, with considerable "case goods" being shipped to the Sandwich Islands, later to be known as Hawaii. After Hawaii became a U.S. territory in 1900 the import duties on whiskey were eliminated and Lovejoy & Co. at 19 Nuuann Street in Honolulu, became their Hawaiian wholesaler.

Jesse Moore & Co. became the largest seller of aged Bourbon and rye whiskey in the United States in the later years of the 19th century, with their "AA" blend their most popular product. Jesse Moore Bourbon was advertised from coast to coast. Both Jesse and his nephew became wealthy.

By 1885 R.G. Dun calculated Jesse Moore & Co. as worth well over $1 million and gave the company an "unlimited" credit rating. By then George and Jesse had taken in Max Selliger, an ambitious young salesmen, as a partner to help run the distilleries and Moore - Selliger & Co. was rated separately by R.G. Dun (later today's Dun & Bradstreet Co.) as worth nearly $1 million, also with "unlimited" credit. George and Max took another young man, Nathan Hofheimer, into the firm in 1879, but in 1884 Hofheimer left Louisville to seek his fortune in New York.

George H. Moore built a fine new mansion at 4th and Breckinridge in Louisville and bought a summer home in Chautaqua, New York, where in the summer he and his family took in the famous lectures from politicians and philosophers. Their sons, Sherley and James, took the Grand Tour to Europe and George himself assembled an expensive collection of art by famous painters. In Worcester, Massachusetts, Jesse bought a ten acre tract near his own mansion on Catharine Street and there built homes for the five children he had with Frances. He bought an office building in downtown Worcester and a rental "three-decker" on the west side of the city.

Frances preferred to live in genteel New England rather than the more frontier-like Louisville and Jesse never moved back to Kentucky, though he traveled frequently to Louisville and to San Francisco. While the bourbon whiskey trade was an honorable one in Kentucky, back in Massachusetts Temperance was popular and the Anti- Saloon League was a growing power. Jesse never let his whiskey business get into public print at home, and allowed to his neighbors that he had "retired" from the liquor business. Nevertheless, he kept controlling interests in both Jesse Moore & Co. and Jesse Moore-Hunt Co.

In the late 1880s American distilleries began to produce more whiskey than they could sell, particularly the distillers of immediate-use liquor that was not aged, A group of distillers from north of the Ohio River - Illinois and Nebraska - got together to form a "trust" to limit production and raise prices. The bourbon men of Kentucky and Tennessee never joined that combination, finding that their product was a premium drink that brought a higher price and was not as over-produced as the liquor the northern distilleries were making. Nevertheless, there were attempts to consolidate even the bourbon producers. For Jesse Moore the idea was a mixed blessing As a marketer, low prices from the distillers who sold him their product was a good thing, and his Louisville distilleries themselves were only a part of his operation.

In 1890 Nathan Hofheimer, who had gone into the international liquor trade in New York, put together a syndicate of English investors who came up with $11 million to try to buy and combine the best Kentucky distilleries.

Two years later Jesse decided it was time to retire. He was 80 years old and had had a long and profitable career. According to papers he left, Jesse sold his shares in Jesse Moore & Co. to Hofheimer's group for $600,000, though George H. Moore and Max Selliger retained the controlling interest.

George's daughter, Jessie Moore and Jesse's son, George D. Moore fell in love and were married in 1894, in one of the largest weddings in Louisville's social history. The family still owns the lavish sterling silver service George H. Moore gave his daughter on their wedding day. The young couple moved to Worcester and built a 20 room home at 201 Salibury Street on the city's fashionable west side, a home that is now on the National register of Historic Places.

George H. Moore died, suddenly, in 1896 at the age of 61. Selliger bought most of the stock from his widow, although Sherley Moore retained shares worth $100,000 and remained as made vice-president of the firm, which was consolidated with the San Francisco operation as Jesse Moore-Hunt Company Inc.

Jesse died in Worcester in 1898. Sherley, the last of the Louisville whiskey Moores, left the liquor business in 1901 to head a furniture company. Today, to the family's knowledge, there are but two descendants of the Moores in Louisville, a great-great granddaughter of George J. Moore and a great-great-great grandson.

Selliger ran Jesse Moore - Hunt Co. until the Volstead Act brought in Prohibition in 1918. The San Francisco operation was closed after its manager, Edward J. Baker, was indicted in Washington State for participating in a bootlegging operation with Seattle Mayor Hiram C. Gill.

Selliger kept the shuttered distilleries at 17th and Breckinridge in Louisville in good repair, and when Repeal came in in 1933 he sold both the distilleries and the Jesse Moore name to Leo Gerngoss and Emil Schwartzhaupt who renamed the facilities "Bernheim," combining them with several properties they had bought from I.W. Bernheim. They in turn sold all of the distilleries to Schenley, which was acquired by United Distillers in 1987. United rebuilt the facility in 1992, using the old Moore stills.


The former Moore "Belmont" Distillery still exists as the "Bernheim" operation of Heaven Hill, which bought the plant in 1999 following a disastrous fire at its Bardstown, Kentucky, distillery and warehouse. Bourbon whiskey historian, the late Sam Cecil, who once worked as a manager for J.W. Dant, recalled that he last bottled a few cases of whiskey with Jesse Moore labels in 1953, just to keep the trademark alive.

Jesse's three sons and two daughters lived in Worcester until the middle of the twentieth century. Son George D. Moore was graduated from Harvard, studied in Europe, became a professor of chemistry and an inventor. Frank A. Moore went to MIT, became an architect in New York and designed houses for the Morgans, Vanderbilt and Astors. Jesse's youngest daughter, Mabel Reynolds Moore, married the Rev. Eliot White, the Rector of St. John'
s Episcopal Church, in 1904 and became my grandmother. Edward Moore, Jesse's oldest child, became part owner of Carson-Pirie-Scott, the Chicago department store, and was the last of Jesse's children to die, in 1952.

The only place that the name of Jesse Moore still appears is on the collectible bottles in which his fine bourbon whiskey was sold.

This much I know about Jesse and his business, but I am certain there is more to be learned. I am most interested in hearing from anyone who has any information about Great Grandfather Jesse Moore and his excellent liquor. The family would like to find a photo of Jesse and any additional information on his career in bourbon whiskey.

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Gordon E. White, Post Office Box 129, Hardyville, Virginia, 23070.






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gewhite
01-21-2006, 07:35
apparently part (1) got lost:
Jesse Moore history:
Jesse Moore, The Bourbon Whiskey King

Jesse Moore, my great grandfather, was a Connecticut Yankee, a swashbuckler, a romantic and the maker of some of the finest bourbon whiskey ever to come out of Kentucky. He arrived in Louisville in 1833 and his distilleries operated in Kentucky and Indiana from 1838 until Prohibition came in, 20 years after his death. "Jesse Moore's fine bourbon whiskey" was sold all over the United States and was exported to Europe and to Hawaii before it became a state. His largest distillery still exists in Louisville, at 17th and Breckinridge.

Just who was Jesse Moore and how did he become one of the legendary bourbon kings of Kentucky?

The original Moores in America, John and Mercy, came to Newport, Rhode Island from England before 1704 when they bought a tract of land in what was then part of Westerly, Rhode Island, now known as Richmond. John farmed the land and was a cooper, producing barrels and kegs for the strong apple cider and frontier whiskey of those days. The Moore family lived in Richmond for three generations, and were farmers, local government officials and seamen until President Thomas Jefferson's 1807 Embargo shut down New England's sea trade and caused a severe depression in the area.

A third generation Moore, John, took his new wife, Catherine Reynolds, 30 miles west into Connecticut where newly-developed water-powered spinning and weaving mills produced thread and cloth. John was both a farmer and a part-owner of a thread mill in the small town of Ashford, about 35 miles south of the manufacturing city of Worcester, in central Massachusetts.

The Moores had a daughter, Waity, in 1808, a son, George James Moore, in 1810, and a second son, Jesse, in 1812, during the war with England. The war and the Embargo forced Americans to rely upon their own manufactures as they were unable to import their needs. Uninterested in farming, George J. Moore went as a young man to the brighter lights of Worcester where he apprenticed to a banker and accumulated a small savings. When Jesse was old enough to work off the family farm he followed George to Massachusetts and worked in a wire mill in Worcester.

In the early part of the 19th century the Northwest territories of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois began to open up, attracting the adventurous with un-tilled land, broad rivers and unlimited opportunities. New York built the Erie Canal connecting the Hudson River with Buffalo and the Great Lakes, and Maryland and Pennsylvania built the National Road, extending that wagon trail until it reached from Philadelphia to Wheeling, Virginia, on the Ohio River. In about 1830 George took his small savings and headed west, stopping in Kentucky at the falls of the Ohio River where a new town, Louisville, had been chartered in 1828.

Back in Worcester, Jesse met Hannah Clapp, then 13, the daughter of a proud family that had come to New England in 1620 with the Mayflower Pilgrims. Hannah and Jesse fell in love, but her father, Seth, told Jesse that Hannah was too young to marry and that Jesse's prospects were too meager for his daughter. In 1833 Jesse set out for the west, following his brother's trail by wagon to Wheeling where he bought passage on one of the steamboats, the 156 ton Jefferson, that carried freight and passengers the 450 miles down the Ohio River to Louisville.

On the way down the river they stopped at the town of Limestone, soon to be better known as Maysville, a steamboat port that served the large Kentucky county known as Bourbon where enterprising farmers were producing corn liquor for the trade to St. Louis and New Orleans. Bourbon County had good limestone water without iron in it, perfect for distilling fine whiskey. The whiskey from Maysville, with the legend "Bourbon" burned into the heads of the barrels it was shipped in, was becoming famous throughout the states that bordered the Mississippi River as the best drinking whisky in the young nation.






It was a heady time in America. A frontiersman, Andrew Jackson, the hero of the Battle of New Orleans, was in the White House. Jackson was a man who mistrusted the old eastern banks and particularly the Bank of the United States in which the government kept its money. He famously vetoed the renewal of the bank's charter in 1832 and deposited federal funds in state banks run by his cronies, thus providing money that those banks rushed to invest, sometimes unwisely, in canals, turnpikes, land and industrial facilities until the new western states, including Kentucky, were awash in currency.

By the time Jesse reached Louisville his brother had established a bank at the corner of Wall and Water streets, known grandly as the Savings Bank of Louisville, with George James Moore as its president and cashier. He advertised "will buy and sell checks and drafts on all the principal cities of the United States." George loaned money - often much more than he had on deposit - by issuing, as was legal then, his own currency, known colloquially as "Shinplasters." He also traded in the notes of other banks, liberally discounting the paper money issued by out of town institutions.

Louisville then was a rapidly-growing town, making much of its location where a series of low falls on the Ohio River forced the steam-powered riverboats to off-load their goods and portage them around the rapids. Jesse found work with another recent immigrant from the East, John Fonda, of Troy, New York, who had set up shop as a wholesale grocer. Shortly after Jesse arrived George fell in love with and married Fonda's daughter, Catherine. In 1835 they had their first child, George Henry Moore, born in his parents rooms in Louisville's National Hotel.

One of the men to which George J. Moore's bank loaned money was Darius North, another Yankee from Connecticut. North used George's funds to invest with Virgil Soaper, a local lawyer, and farmer Andrew McFidan, in building a steam-powered mill and distillery at Mount Vernon, Indiana, 100 miles down the Ohio River.

In 1837 President Jackson, who did not believe in either banks nor the flimsy currency they printed, directed that all public lands must be paid for in specie - gold or silver. There was not enough gold in the new nation to cover the debts accumulated for the public lands that speculators had bought, the market collapsed, and the panic of 1837 laid waste the economy, especially in the west. People to whom George J. Moore had made loans could not pay their debts and John Fonda's customers had no money to buy his goods. The McFidan distillery mysteriously burned to the ground early in 1838.

Commerce in Louisville came nearly to a halt, and the positions of a banker who could not repay his depositors and a grocer who could not pay his bills became distinctly uncomfortable. George, Jesse and John packed up their belongings and took a boat down the Ohio River to Mount Vernon, claimed their share of the smouldering mill and distillery, and set about rebuilding it. Before the end of 1838 the distillery, re-named the "Phoenix," was again producing 225 barrels of flour and 1,300 gallons of sweet mash corn liquor a day. In those days machine- blown bottles were still an expensive rarity so frontier whiskey was usually sold in forty-gallon barrels to saloons and country stores which would in turn fill the customer's own glass bottle or earthenware jug from the barrel.

Mount Vernon, in Posey County, Indiana, was distinctly backwoods compared to Louisville, and Catherine, with a three year old son and another child on the way, preferred the larger Kentucky city, as did the Fondas. As the panic subsided and economy began to recover, they went back up the river, John and George joined forces in the grocery business in Louisville, leaving younger brother Jesse in charge of the distillery.

Jesse meanwhile had continued to correspond with Hannah, a blossoming beauty back in Massachusetts. The warmth of their young love ripened despite the distance that separated them.

Catherine and George Moore had a daughter, Kate, in 1839. George was too preoccupied with his family and his and John Fonda's grocery business to worry much about the distillery, which, under Jesse's management, did well. Encouraged by his new-found success, Jesse wrote Seth Clapp and asked for Hannah's hand, was accepted and returned to Worcester to claim his bride.


The marriage records in Holden, Massachusetts, note that on August 15th, 1839 Hannah B. Clapp of Paxton, Massachusetts, was married to Jesse Moore of Louisville, Kentucky. The newlyweds returned to Mount Vernon, traveling more than a thousand arduous miles along the National Road to Wheeling and down the Ohio River to their new home. The following year, 1840, they had a daughter they named Emily Clapp Moore. Tragically, three years later a cholera epidemic swept through Mount Vernon, and Hannah died.

- to be continued

gewhite
01-21-2006, 07:38
Jesse Moore, continued

How Jesse managed to raise Emily over the next seven years we do not know. Perhaps his sister-in-law, Catherine, helped care for the little girl. The property records in Mount Vernon show that in 1843 Daniel McMullen, of Louisville, bought a twenty percent interest in the Phoenix distillery and that Jesse bought a forty percent share from his brother that same year, giving him and McMullen control of the enterprise. By 1848, five years later, however, McMullen and Jesse sold their interests in the Mount Vernon distillery and returned to Louisville.

George J. Moore disposed of his remaining 40% interest in the Phoenix distillery in July of 1850. During that same summer Jesse, who badly needed a mother for his daughter, retraced his steps to Massachusetts and wooed and on August 21st, 1850, married Hannah's sister, Lucy Ann Clapp, in the same Congregational Church in Holden, Massachusetts where he and Hannah had taken their vows 11 years earlier. By September 25th 1850 Jesse, Lucy Ann and Emily were back in Louisville, living in rooms at the American Exchange Hotel.

The discovery of gold at Sutter's Mill in California finally ended the long period of stagnation as specie began to flood into the American economy. Jesse and his partner Daniel McMullen set themselves up at 503 South Main Street in Louisville as confectioners, purveyors of sugar, candy, cakes, wines and liquors. Gradually their advertising shows that they shifted their emphasis toward liquid refreshment until by 1859 the business was entirely "fine bourbon whiskey," and McMullen left the firm to become a partner in the Louisville Sawmill Company.

Several authorities relate that in 1853 Jesse and Daniel Grigsby bought a small distillery with a three-pot wooden still near Lebanon, Kentucky, about 60 miles south of Louisville, to supply their customers. Jesse brought his whiskey, and others to be blended with it, to quarters near the riverfront on Louisville's "Whiskey Row", where he rectified it, reducing its proof from 160 to a drinkable 100. He marketed it first to local saloons and hotels in Louisville, but soon extended his reach to towns up and down the Ohio River. He had become a good judge of fine whiskey and was adept at selling his wares as premium aged bourbon, a far smoother drink than the red-eye, rot-gut that was the common drink in most American saloons at the time.

In 1852 Jesse's second cousin, B.P. Moore, left Connecticut to make his fortune in the California Gold Rush. B.P. turned out to be a poor miner, but he settled in San Francisco and became a successful salesman. He could not help but notice that the per capita consumption of whiskey in the gold fields of the Sierra and the fleshpots of San Francisco was prodigious, several times that of drinkers in New England and even Kentucky. We believe that B.P. Moore persuaded Jesse to market his whiskey in California. Jesse began to ship barrels of his liquor to San Francisco by sea from New Orleans around Cape Horn, a long, arduous and expensive route.

A typhoid epidemic hit Louisville in 1856 and Lucy Ann fell ill and died, leaving Jesse once more with a daughter to care for, but this time a blooming 16 year old. We believe that he took Emily back to Worcester and left her in the care of her grandfather, Seth, (her grandmother, Betsy Clapp having died in 1845).
- to be continued (not in the correct order!)

bourbonv
01-21-2006, 08:27
Peter,
Thank you for the kind words, but the real credit goes to the institution that actually house these documents. These institutions include the Filson Historical Society, The Kentucky Historical Society, the Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History, The University of Louisville Archives and Special Collections at the Univeristy of Kentucky. All I have done is made myself familiar with their collections and encourage people with such collections to donate tham to one of these fine institutions so it can be best preserved and available for scholarly research. I admit that working at the Filson I encourage the Filson as first choice, but I also state that any of these institutions is better than an attic or cellar with the possibility of grandchildren throwing away "all that old junk of grandpa's!" after they are gone.

Mike Veach

cowdery
01-23-2006, 23:08
Gordon (gewhite),

You have created something very valuable and well done, with so much good, factual information, and you do a good job of weaving the family history with the general history of the region and period. I see from my records that you have been working on this for almost three years. Well done.

Because it is such a good job I hate to see you spoil it with a couple instances of what appears, at least, to be pure speculation, e.g., "it is even possible that General U.S. Grant's usual drink was Jesse Moore Bourbon" and "Confederate Colonel John Hunt Morgan of Morgan's Raiders made four forays through Kentucky, burning the courthouse in Lebanon and possibly Jesse's distillery there."

I assume in the latter case you know Jesse had a distillery at Lebanon and that the Lebanon Courthouse was burned during that period, and draw from that the "possibility" that the distillery was also destroyed.

Both theories seem to hang from very thin threads, which I hate to see since the rest of your information seems solid and rich.

By comparison, here is an appropriate use of speculation: "How Jesse managed to raise Emily over the next seven years we do not know. Perhaps his sister-in-law, Catherine, helped care for the little girl." That a close adult female family member may have assisted in that task is reasonable conjecture.

Your research shows that Jesse Moore was a successful distiller, more successful than many, possibly more successful that most, but preeminent? Calling him the "king" of bourbon might be overreaching.