View Full Version : On Gold Veins and Old Fiddles

10-18-2001, 21:50
Ok history buffs, I need a little help with gold veins and old fiddles.

Searching for old bourbon, I found a Very Old Fitzgerald, 8 yrs, bonded, bottled in 1960 at DSP-KY-16. The seal over the gold and green top has Stitzel Weller's name prominently displayed. No gold veins painted on glass surface.

Then there's a similar Old Fitzgerald piece (bottled 20 yrs later, 1980). Labels look almost identical, except the '80 label is oval shaped and the top is now red and gold. But this time it's Very, Very (word used twice) Old Fitzgerald and the whiskey is 12 instead of 8 yrs old. There's no mention of Stitzel Weller, but the DSP is the same. Painted gold veins now appear on bottle surface.

Comparing both bottles, I'll make some assumptions. Please correct me if wrong.

1) The surface gold veins came about in late 60s or early 70s.
2) Stitzel Weller and OF separated sometime between 1960 and 1980.
3) The practice of listing the DSP on label was discontinued during that 20 yr span.

Next, I got a bottle of Weller's Antique Reserve, Barrel Proof, 10 yrs old. The butterscotch color label clearly states it's distilled and bottled by Stitzel-Weller. This bottle is a 110 barrel proof. Not certain what year it is and there's no DSP designation. The bottle has gold veins painted on and I wonder if its circa '72 since there's a 72 among other numbers on the bottom.

I also found a neat little half pint bottle of Old Fiddle, a 5 yr old bottled by Bardstown Distillery. It is shaped like a fiddle. Any idea what year it was made?

Finally, I was given a bottle of Fairfax County Bourbon. It's bonded, from Virginia's Smith Bowman Distillery. The label depicts George Washington and Lord Fairfax fox hunting about 1747. The revenue stamp is hard to read but it appears to be made in fall of '63, bottled fall of '67. Anyone familiar with this mid 60s bottle?


10-19-2001, 04:20
Wow Omar someone gave you a very good and quite rare old bourbon in that bottle of bonded Fairfax County bourbon. What you have there is the original rye recipe for Virginia Gentleman in a four year old bonded version. The bourbons of A. Smith Bowman were never widely distributed, and found only in Virginia; Maryland, and the Carolinas. Even today Virginia Gentleman has a very limited distribution. I suggest you save that for a very special occasion - such as the next time you; Vickie, and myself get together! http://www.straightbourbon.com/images/icons/wink.gif

Linn Spencer

Have Shotglass. Will Travel.

10-19-2001, 08:02
The Very Old and Very, Very Old Fitzgerald always were two distinct products. One didn't evolve into the other. The 12-year-old Very, Very Old Fitzgerald has legendary status among bourbon fans as one of the very, very best bourbons of all time. The more recent 12-year-old version of Old Fitzgerald, called Very Special Old Fitzgerald, doesn't come close. The gold veined bottle was always for the VVOF, never the VOF. The same gold veined bottle is still used for Weller Antique.

At some time after the Van Winkle family sold Stitzel-Weller in 1972, the name of the plant itself was changed from Stitzel-Weller to Old Fitzgerald. That is probably why the SW name doesn't appear on the later bottle.

I don't know when they stopped putting the DSP number on the label. Some of that was a matter of regulation, but some of it could have been a casual decision, when label stock ran out, when marketing decided to redesign it, etc.

As for the fiddle, if John Lipman doesn't reply check his web site. He has one of the fiddles and may have some information about it posted there. The Oscar Getz museum also has at least one of them. I'm surprised at how many there are around, but it's so unusual I guess it is the kind of thing people tend to hang on to.

<A target="_blank" HREF=http://cowdery.home.netcom.com>--Chuck Cowdery</A>

10-20-2001, 07:21
"...The same gold veined bottle is still used for Weller Antique"
Not any more. Shortly after Buffalo Trace took over, the bottles changed over to the plain version. Since that just about coincides with the changeover of contents from pre-1992 SW to Bernheim-distilled, I'd grab up any threaded bottles you happen to find on the shelves.

Omar, the fiddle-shaped bourbon bottles have been around for a long time. I don't know where the original idea came from (maybe it was another of E.Booze's early bottles); Mike Veach might know. But the Oscar Getz museum has some dating from way back into the 1800's. The one you have from Old Bardstown is made to resemble those. We have one, too; I think ours is from the fifties or early sixties. We actually brought it along with us to the festival, in hopes that we might convince the reclusive Mr. Even Kulsveen to grant us a visit. It's still sealed and we'd have enjoyed opening and tasting it with him. We still expect to meet him eventually, and the bottle will remain virginal until then. For those who haven't plowed through the back messages (I know you have) Even is a member of the Willett family, who own and once operated a now-closed distillery practically next door to Heaven Hill. Old Bardstown (which is now a Heaven Hill brand) used to be theirs when the distillery was running. A few years ago, Even began using the bottling facilities to produce award-winning brands such as Noah's Mill, Rowan's Creek, Johnny Drum, Kentucky XO, and others. Most are for export only and even those sold in the U.S. are never advertised and few people know about them. Several of us here consider these products to be some of the finest stuff you can get (and others of us hate them -- Even does have a distinctive style and his customers like their bourbon old and woody). Anyway, the bourbon he used was the remains of the Willett stock and when that ran out he began selecting and buying from other distillers. The whiskey in the fiddle bottles is original Willett whiskey, and even though it was probably never a "premium" brand to begin with, it does have that distinction and novelty.

<A target="_blank" HREF=http://w3.one.net/~jeffelle/whiskey>http://w3.one.net/~jeffelle/whiskey</A>

10-20-2001, 17:30
Hello all
I have a bottle of Old Weller the original 107 proof, not antique. Made in 75 bottled in 82 with the cream
colored rectangular label. Has the red and gold top with gold veins on the bottle. No mention of
S-W or DSP-16 and taste very similar to the V V O F 12 yr old 100 proof that Omar has. Does anyone
have info on this bottling? Thanks - Life is good - Den

10-22-2001, 13:42
I noticed that after I posted, that the "current" bottle of Weller Antique in my collection lacks the gold veins.

I'm willing to forgive Buffalo Trace that indiscretion for all the good they do.

<A target="_blank" HREF=http://cowdery.home.netcom.com>--Chuck Cowdery</A>

10-22-2001, 19:51
Check I. W. Harper's 15 -- it has the gold veins as well. Too bad the design may be gone, much like the Bourbon Heritage collection bottles that were sold with cigars not very long ago. Remember?

I like the painted veins, it gave the bottles a sort of antique, cracked glass look. We may never know exactly when/why the veins sprouted on bourbon bottles, but the design survived at least 3 decades and it's a shame to see it go. Blanton's trademark horse stopper changed a bit in the early '90s but fortunately they kept the little horse and he's still going strong.


10-23-2001, 04:37
Quoth Omar, "We may never know exactly when/why the veins sprouted on bourbon bottles..."

That's a good question. I kinda think that UD used that on the Heritage Collection Harper bottle because it looks traditional, but I've always wondered why they picked that brand instead of the Weller Centennial. I know that I.W.Harper has had some really beautiful packaging throughout its history; we have half of a six-piece collection of etched crystal decanters and the Getz Museum has several really wonderful pieces. Could it be that they started the gold threading before Stitzel-Weller? Mike, we need your input on this. By the way, who makes these bottles? I know there's an English firm that makes one particular bottle that several distilleries like. It's the one (and the same) that Weller Centennial comes in, and so does Wathen's, the old versions of Bulleitt, the new version of Elmer T. Lee, and a brand of tequila whose name I can't remember at the moment. In other cases, such as Old Weller for example, does the distillery say, "This is what we want this brand's bottle to look like" and go shopping for a bottle-manufacturer? Or do bottle makers' reps come visit the distillery from time to time and say, "Here's our latest model of bourbon whiskey bottle. See these here gold threads? They'll surely increase your sales by thirty percent"? Mike? Julian? Bettye Jo? Sam? Lincoln?

<A target="_blank" HREF=http://w3.one.net/~jeffelle/whiskey>http://w3.one.net/~jeffelle/whiskey</A>

10-23-2001, 16:17
So many questions, where to start...

I will start with the gold vein bottles. The bottle collection at U.D. contained many of these bottles and as far as I could tell was first used with the older Fitzgerald products (Very Old, Very Very Old, and Very Extra Old Fitzgerald) in the late 1950's. It was then used on the Weller Antique starting about 1960 or so. (Trivia for your consideration: the real old bottles of Weller Antique do not have two etchings of W.L. Weller but instead have Weller on one side and Pappy Van Winkle on the other side of the label.)

The bottles chosen for the Heritage Collection were all bottles being used with other U.D. products with the exception of the Dickel Bottle. Tennessee had just passed a law allowing the sale of bottles to visitors when the Heritage Collection was created so they decided to use the bottle designed for the distillery sales as its bottle. The Weller bottle was from Bell's Scotch, the Fitzgerald bottle was from one of the Canadian whiskies, The Harper bottle was the Antique bottle and the Charter bottle was a Gin bottle, I think. I am not sure now where the Charter was used but it was a gin/vodka/tequila bottle.

Mike Veach