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chefmel
06-26-2008, 19:10
Hi Everyone,

I need help on filling in the blanks on T.W. Samuels distillery and brands after Prohibition. According to family history (or legend), my great uncle, Samuel Westerman, owned the distillery for a number of years after the Samuels family had it. He supposedly had it until the mid 1970's when he either sold the plant and labels or maybe just sold his share of it. Here's what I've been able to find out so far:

1. According to Sam Cecils Book, THE EVOLUTION OF THE BOURBON WHISKEY INDUSTRY IN KENTUCKY , page 120, Sam Westerman is listed as the "Manager" of the distillery in 1949.

2. When I was in Bardstown about 10 years ago, I stopped at the Museum and one of the volunteers there graciously coppied a couple of pages from a book or magazine talking about the distillery and my uncle. I don't know which book or magazine it was but the reporter met with Charles Ritman who was the comptroller in charge of sales. It talks about the T.W. Samuels label being out of production from 1943 to 1951, so this interview happened in 1952 or later. He talks about the "moats" around the warehouses (which I don't remember seeing when I was there) and also says they were producing Elijah Craig and Jim Porter bourbons at this time.

3. I found a web page listing the T.W. Samuels Distillery as being Incorporated by Stanhope Foster and Samuel Westerman. It also mentions that they incorporated the name in Florida on August 29th, 1969. Samuel Westerman was listed as the President, Treasurer and director of the company. The address is listed as being on Lenore Rd. in Deatsville. This information was from 1969 or later.

Most of the history on the distillery that I've read says the distillery ceased operations in 1952. So, I'm trying to piece together where my great uncle fits into the picture. Were they still distilling and bottling in Deatsville after 1952? Or, did he just have his office there and either purchased whiskey from other distillers or actually had them produce and bottle his labels for him? My mother also mentioned years ago that he had in interest in either National Distillers or American Distillers based out of Detroit. I believe this company was his distribution arm. I never took the time to meet my great uncle when he was still alive as he and my great aunt had divorced a number of year before. I still received a christmas gift and birthday card every year from him. If my memory serves me right, some of those items were postmarked from Louisville, Ky. Anyway, if anyone has any info that will help me, it would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!

Mark

mozilla
06-26-2008, 19:26
Mark,

IIRC, there are some old threads about that plant somewhere in here. There were also some pics.

Account #2 sounds like some writing from Bluegrass Belles and Bourbon.

I wish I knew more to help you, maybe one of the locals will see your post. Bettye Jo lives in Bardstown and knows the history very well.

mozilla
06-26-2008, 19:30
Yeah, do a search on Deatsville.....

cowdery
06-27-2008, 01:10
I've never found anything on that subject more comprehensive that Sam Cecil's book. I can confirm that Samuels didn't distill again after whatever date Sam says, I guess it was 1952, but I don't believe they immediately cleared out the warehouses, so they would have continued to run that part of the operation until all of the whiskey had been sold, which may well have been several more years. There was a bottled water operation running out of there fairly recently, like in the last 20 years.

chefmel
06-28-2008, 11:27
Yeah, do a search on Deatsville.....
Thanks Jeff - Great idea I hadn't thought of!

Mark

chefmel
06-28-2008, 11:30
Mark,

IIRC, there are some old threads about that plant somewhere in here. There were also some pics.

Account #2 sounds like some writing from Bluegrass Belles and Bourbon.

I wish I knew more to help you, maybe one of the locals will see your post. Bettye Jo lives in Bardstown and knows the history very well.
I found some of those old threads a few weeks ago - in fact, that's how I found out about SB. There was someone who's uncle owned the property and I sent him a PM about it but haven't heard back from him yet. Is Bettye Jo a member of our fine group here? I'd love to talk to her!

Mark

mozilla
06-28-2008, 13:37
Yes, Bettye Jo is Boone. She knows lots of families and is part of the Beam family as well. If HH is not working overtime right now, she would be a wonderful source.

chefmel
08-30-2008, 18:37
Hi Everyone,

I found a daughter of a former worker through Toddy's and she's finding a decent amount of information for me. Apparently, the distillery did continue production for quite awhile after 1952. I have other - info if anyone is still watching this post I'll get into more detail.

Mark

cowdery
08-30-2008, 20:07
I'm watching. Tell me more.

chefmel
10-02-2008, 17:44
Sorry Chuck for such a long wait! Things have been crazy around my place the past month. I'll gather the info I got from my contact and share it with you in a couple of days.

Mark

fishnbowljoe
10-17-2008, 00:18
No help Mark, but just wanted to say that while down in KY for the KBF, the wife and I took a drive out in the country one day. We somehow miraculously ended up on Deatsville Road. :bigeyes: There was the old T. W. Samuels distillery. :cool: I knew where we were, but my wife didn't. Still haven't told her.:lol: Joe

chefmel
11-19-2008, 11:23
Hi everyone,

My sincere apologies for the long delay in replying - I've been down and out for a month and a half and recently had some minor surgery, but I'm back now. When I was in Bardstown in August, I stopped in to Toddy's and talked to both Guthrie and is niece about my search for information on T.W. Samuels. They told me of a lady in the Bardstown area who's father worked at the distillery and they graciously passed along my card to the lady who has since emailed me numerous times with info and pictures. She's been able to talk to people who worked there at one time or another as well as members of the family who purchased the distillery from my great uncle. What I did find out is that the distillery was bottling until at least 1975. Most of the history I've read stated the distillery closed up around 1952. I still have not been able to find out if they were actually doing any distilling between 1952 and 1975 but I'm still working on that. My uncle, Sam Westerman, sold the distillery to a Mr. Thompson (originally from Scotland) in October of 1974. It appears the distillery ceased production shortly after Mr. Thompson purchased the property. My friends father worked at the distillery from the early 1960's until around 1980, and she told me the last couple year of his employment were basically just upkeep of the grounds and machines. I have pictures of the bottling line operating in 1974 (compliments of Daisy Pugh) so I know it was still operating then. I don't know if they continued to distill after 1952 or if they were just bottling whiskey that was in there warehouses. For a relatively small distillery, they had a lot of warehouses. If you ever over towards bardstown, take a drive down Deatsville rd. and have a look. There must be 10 - 12 large warehouses out there.

I'm planning on going back to Bardstown this spring and will hopefully be able to talk in person the some of the people my friend has already talked to. I'm also hoping my friend can arrange of tour of the distillery grounds for me as she knows the owner of the property. If I found out any more info, I will post it here and if anyone out there has any info or contacts that I could talk to, please let me know.

Cheers!

Mark

chefmel
11-19-2008, 11:25
No help Mark, but just wanted to say that while down in KY for the KBF, the wife and I took a drive out in the country one day. We somehow miraculously ended up on Deatsville Road. :bigeyes: There was the old T. W. Samuels distillery. :cool: I knew where we were, but my wife didn't. Still haven't told her.:lol: Joe

Hey Joe,

If you drive a little farther out in the country down the road from TW, you'll come across some warehouses for 4 roses. That was a nice suprise for me when I was there!

Mark

fishnbowljoe
11-19-2008, 20:45
We did our route backwards. We went by Four Roses first, then went the back roads to Deatsville Road till we got to the old T.W. Samuels distillery. Joe

Jono
11-19-2008, 21:43
http://www.pre-pro.com/midacore/view_distillery.php?did=BDS11673

The Samuels Distillery
RD #145, 5 th District
Nelson County, KY

Chefmel...have you seen this site? Their history appears to end at 1953.

chefmel
11-20-2008, 14:03
http://www.pre-pro.com/midacore/view_distillery.php?did=BDS11673

The Samuels Distillery
RD #145, 5 th District
Nelson County, KY

Chefmel...have you seen this site? Their history appears to end at 1953.

Thanks Jono - I'll check it out!

Mark

chefmel
11-20-2008, 14:12
Jono,

Yes, I found this page when I originally started searching the internet. It appears to end when the samuels family got out of the distillery (1943). I know my Uncle first became involved in the distillery sometime in the 1940's, so at this point I'm assuming that must have been in 1943. Someone mentioned the Bill Samuels of Makers Mark may have some information about the old distillery. Does anyone know how I could contact him??

Thanks!

Mark

cowdery
11-21-2008, 09:20
Jono,

Yes, I found this page when I originally started searching the internet. It appears to end when the samuels family got out of the distillery (1943). I know my Uncle first became involved in the distillery sometime in the 1940's, so at this point I'm assuming that must have been in 1943. Someone mentioned the Bill Samuels of Makers Mark may have some information about the old distillery. Does anyone know how I could contact him??

Thanks!

Mark

Call the office in Louisville at (502) 459-7884. That's the best way to get a message to Bill.

chefmel
11-21-2008, 11:42
Thanks Chuck - I'll give them a call next week!

Mark

chefmel
12-15-2008, 18:30
Hi Everyone,

For anyone still watching this post, I have some new information I'll be sharing with you soon.

Mark

bonneamie
12-17-2008, 06:08
Still watching and waiting to hear more of the history!!

chefmel
12-29-2008, 16:59
Hi Everyone,

I was put in touch with a gentleman who purchased about 500 acres of land adjacent to the distillery back in the 1970's from my Great Uncle, Sam Westerman. I had a chance to talk to him on the phone recently had he seemed to have a very good knowledge of the history of the distillery. He's lived in the Deatsville area most if not all his life and was a friend of my uncle when he still owned the distillery. Much of what he told me has already been documented, some has not. He seemed very credible to me, but some of the information is different than what has been documented in the past. So here's what he told me:

After prohibition in 1933, Mr. Samuels was anxious to re-open the distillery, but didn't have the capital to do it. He was introduced to some investors from Cincinatti who were interested in getting into the distilling business and they decided to move forward with there plans. Mr. Samuels capital in the project was his knowledge of the distilling business and the investors put up the cash. They built a new distillery and warehouses in Deatsville just down the tracks from the original distillery. Everything apperently went well until about 1940 when the war in Europe started heating up. The investors from Cinci were convinced that Hitler was going to win the war and being Jewish, decided they needed to liquidate their assets in case the worse happened. Mr. Samuels didn't have the money to buy his investors out and eventually left the distillery and started Maker's Mark down in Lorreto. Anyway, my uncle and 3 other investor's from the Detroit area heard about the distillery being up for sale and decided to buy it. Again, everything went well for about 10 years until the well documented change in the distilling process that burnt the distillate and nearly put the distillery out of business. This was about 1952 and after this episode, my uncles partners were fed up with the business and wanted out. So, my uncle bought out his partners, dumped all the bad whiskey, and started from scratch. Although he never brought the brands back to the prominence they once enjoyed, he did make much better bourbon than what was made in the early 1950's. I was also told that they actually distilled until 1967 and bottled into the mid 1970's. Everything I have read says the distillery closed in 1952 which is incorrect. I have pictures of the bottling line from the mid 1970's. By the late 1960's, my uncle was getting up in years and apparently was losing some interest in keeping the distillery going. He sold the distillery proper in the mid 1970's to a Scottish gentleman and I know that eventually they made bottled water from the Springs on the property. The brands made their during this time that I can document were T.W. Samuels, Elijah Craig and Old Jordan. I also know that my uncle and a man named Stanhope Foster registered the distillery in Florida in 1969 but apparently never produced in that state. I will be going back to the Deatsville area this coming spring or summer and plan on talking to a few of the people that worked at the distillery back in the day. I also plan on doing some research at the Bardstown library and will update this thread with any new information that I find. Thanks for your interest!!

Mark

bobbyc
12-29-2008, 18:57
I was also told that they actually distilled until 1967 and bottled into the mid 1970's.

I'm glad finally to see this documented. I know I have a childhood memory of seeing smoke coming out of the stack at Deatsville. I was born in 1957, so unless I lived another life in this area immediately prior to this one....
My grandfathers brother worked the warehouses there until the mid or late 60s and I remember the bottling going to the mid 70s.

Thanks, Mark. This is interesting.

fishnbowljoe
12-29-2008, 21:09
MarK, My wife and I were down in Bardstown for the KBF last year. (2007) While on a tour of Maker's Mark we were joined about half way through our tour, by none other than the widow of Sam Cecil. If I remember correctly, her name was Jean. Maybe you could get in touch with Maker's Mark, and they could get in touch with her or other members of Sam Cecil's family and maybe they could be of assistance to you. Hope this helps you out a little. Joe

mozilla
12-30-2008, 08:47
Sam's son works on the bottling line at Barton. You could probably get in touch with him through the distillery switchboard.

cowdery
12-30-2008, 21:53
Thanks, Mark. That's great stuff.

Re-reading Sam's account in his book, it appears he left the company when Robert Block (that's the Cincinnati connection) sold it about 1943. He identifies the new owners as the Foster Trading Corporation of New York and that's about all he has to say about the new owners.

Mark (chefmel) hasn't given us any names, including his own, so I hope he can tie those pieces together for us. Does that name (Foster Trading) means anything to you?

It looks like 1943 is when Sam Cecil, Charlie DeSpain, and perhaps the Elijah Craig brand, all left Deatsville and made the trek to Heaven Hill. I suspect Sam's account of the post-1943 history is spotty because he wasn't there. Leslie Samuels, of course, was dead by then and Bill Sr. left in 1943 too. He was out of the business for ten years, then in 1953 bought what is now Maker's Mark.

One thing that is always left out of the Maker's Mark foundation myth is the fact that Bill Samuels Sr. was prohibitted from using the family name because they had sold it along with the distillery. Today, that too is owned by Heaven Hill.

I am particularly glad to get the information about Elijah Craig. I knew Heaven Hill didn't originate the brand, I even once saw who did, but I've never since been able to put my hands on that information. This doesn't necessarily prove Samuels started it either, they may have acquired it from someone, but this makes it seem likely that Heaven Hill acquired it from Samuel's in 1943, probably through the involvement of Charlie DeSpain, who was very important in Heaven Hill's history, although he was detested by many.

bourbonv
12-31-2008, 09:05
The 1966 Industry Red Book states that the T W Samuels Distillery in Deatsville has 16 active brands.

Mike Veach

cowdery
12-31-2008, 12:09
The 1966 Industry Red Book states that the T W Samuels Distillery in Deatsville has 16 active brands.

Mike Veach

Without listing them, I assume.

My very vague recollection is that the Elijah Craig and Evan Williams brands actually originated at a distillery in Franklin or maybe Scott County. I believe I saw this in a file at the Kentucky History Museum in Frankfort, but I didn't note it then and haven't been able to find it since. What say you about that, Mike?

I'm not quite sure when Heaven Hill started to market Evan Williams, but I know they didn't launch their Elijah Craig until the mid-seventies.

Is it possible T. W. Samuels had both of those brands in 1966?

It makes sense that Samuels, as a commodity producer, would shut down in the early 1970s as opposed to the 1950s. That's when the market tanked.

bourbonv
12-31-2008, 13:24
Chuck,
The book may list the brands but I would have to go back and look. I too, seem to remember the company that owned Elijah Craig before Heaven Hill but don't recall who it was. I have some reference books at home that might be where I saw that information. I will try to look it up sometime after New Year Day.

Mike Veach

chefmel
12-31-2008, 18:08
I'm glad finally to see this documented. I know I have a childhood memory of seeing smoke coming out of the stack at Deatsville. I was born in 1957, so unless I lived another life in this area immediately prior to this one....
My grandfathers brother worked the warehouses there until the mid or late 60s and I remember the bottling going to the mid 70s.

Thanks, Mark. This is interesting.
No problem - glad you're enjoying it! Hopefully will have more info next spring/summer.

Mark

chefmel
12-31-2008, 18:10
MarK, My wife and I were down in Bardstown for the KBF last year. (2007) While on a tour of Maker's Mark we were joined about half way through our tour, by none other than the widow of Sam Cecil. If I remember correctly, her name was Jean. Maybe you could get in touch with Maker's Mark, and they could get in touch with her or other members of Sam Cecil's family and maybe they could be of assistance to you. Hope this helps you out a little. Joe

Thanks Joe for the info!

chefmel
12-31-2008, 18:24
Thanks, Mark. That's great stuff.

Re-reading Sam's account in his book, it appears he left the company when Robert Block (that's the Cincinnati connection) sold it about 1943. He identifies the new owners as the Foster Trading Corporation of New York and that's about all he has to say about the new owners.

Mark (chefmel) hasn't given us any names, including his own, so I hope he can tie those pieces together for us. Does that name (Foster Trading) means anything to you?

It looks like 1943 is when Sam Cecil, Charlie DeSpain, and perhaps the Elijah Craig brand, all left Deatsville and made the trek to Heaven Hill. I suspect Sam's account of the post-1943 history is spotty because he wasn't there. Leslie Samuels, of course, was dead by then and Bill Sr. left in 1943 too. He was out of the business for ten years, then in 1953 bought what is now Maker's Mark.

One thing that is always left out of the Maker's Mark foundation myth is the fact that Bill Samuels Sr. was prohibitted from using the family name because they had sold it along with the distillery. Today, that too is owned by Heaven Hill.

I am particularly glad to get the information about Elijah Craig. I knew Heaven Hill didn't originate the brand, I even once saw who did, but I've never since been able to put my hands on that information. This doesn't necessarily prove Samuels started it either, they may have acquired it from someone, but this makes it seem likely that Heaven Hill acquired it from Samuel's in 1943, probably through the involvement of Charlie DeSpain, who was very important in Heaven Hill's history, although he was detested by many.

Hi Chuck!

Thanks for the added information! My full name is Mark Brooks, and one of my uncle's partner's was Stanhope Foster, so I'm assuming the name of the original partnership came from him. Sam Westerman was married to my Grandmother's sister way back when - married and divorced twice according to the family legend, so he wasn't my blood uncle. I believe the Elijah Craig label was still with my uncle in the mid 1950's as my first post metioned the the article (bluegrass & Belles?) that I received from the museum about 10 years ago. This listed the brands (at that time) as T.W. Samuels, Elijah Craig, and, I think, Jim Porter. I don't remember off hand where the info on the Old Jordan brand came from. After looking on line and talking to different people, the info starts to become cloudy. I should know better as I've done extensive research on the local brewing history in Frankenmuth, Mi. and I know how important it is to keep track of where each piece of information is coming from for future reference. Anyway, I've documented 4 brands bottled by the distillery and if anyone can find the listing of the 16 brands, I'd love to hear what else was bottled there!

Mark

chefmel
12-31-2008, 18:28
Is it possible T. W. Samuels had both of those brands in 1966?

It makes sense that Samuels, as a commodity producer, would shut down in the early 1970s as opposed to the 1950s. That's when the market tanked.

Chuck,

It's very possible that they had at least the Elijah Craig brand up until the time HH started marketing it in the mid 1970's which co-incides with the time my uncle sold the distillery.

Mark

chefmel
12-31-2008, 18:32
Mark (chefmel) hasn't given us any names, including his own, so I hope he can tie those pieces together for us. Does that name (Foster Trading) means anything to you? .

One other thing Chuck - Mr. Foster may have been from New York, but my uncle was from Detroit, and the gentleman I talked to from Deatsville said the 4 investors were all from Detroit. Maybe Foster had a company with a New York Address, or maybe they incorporated their company in New York, thus the NY connection. Ahh . . . more research for me when I have time!

Mark

chefmel
12-31-2008, 18:35
Chuck,
The book may list the brands but I would have to go back and look. I too, seem to remember the company that owned Elijah Craig before Heaven Hill but don't recall who it was. I have some reference books at home that might be where I saw that information. I will try to look it up sometime after New Year Day.

Mike Veach

Thanks Mike - Let us all know what you find out!

chefmel
12-31-2008, 18:37
Hey Everyone,

Thanks to all for the additional information provided! Keep it coming as you find it, and so will I. Chuck, I heard at the last Michigan get-together that I may have the pleasure of meeting you in the coming month. I look forward to meeting as many of you as possible. Happy New Year to all!!

Mark

cowdery
01-01-2009, 13:53
These things never fit together perfectly, but this is shaping up pretty well. Thanks, Mark, for adding so much to our understanding of this important distillery.

Josh
01-01-2009, 18:04
These things never fit together perfectly, but this is shaping up pretty well. Thanks, Mark, for adding so much to our understanding of this important distillery.

Ditto. You've done a bang-up job of tracking this stuff down, chef. It just serves as an example of how that relatively recent history can be just as hard to sort out as ancient history.:searching:

chefmel
02-17-2009, 16:59
Hi Everyone,

I'm planning on going back to Deatsville in April, so hopefully will have some updates then.

Mark

fishnbowljoe
02-18-2009, 22:09
Keep plugging away Mel, and keep us posted. Joe

chefmel
03-15-2009, 15:06
Hi Everyone,

Well, I have now documented the 5th label produced (or at least distilled) from T.W. Samuels. Four Decades Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, BIB, Distilled by T.W. Samuels, bottled and Distributed by Country Distillers Products (can't read the city). This was a mini bottle that just sold on ebay - unfortunately, not to me! According to the description, it was distilled in 1935 and bottled in 1943 which would make it 8yr. old Bourbon? I've heard the name Country Distillers Products, but don't remember if or how it ties in to the distillery. Anyway, it was exciting to see and I downloaded both pictures. If anyone knows how to put a picture in a post, let me know and I will include them.

One more month till Deatsville . . . :grin:

Mark

chefmel
04-30-2009, 20:55
Hi anyone and everyone,

Just returned from my trip to Deatsville and came away with a lot of new information. I don't know if anyone is still watching this post - if not, then this will be info someone can use in the future for research on KY. distilleries and T. W. Samuels in particular. It's going to take me at least a couple of weeks to sort through what I brought home and will post my findings at that time. I will say I've been able to document many brands that I didn't know existed. I'll be back with more info soon.

Mark

fishnbowljoe
04-30-2009, 21:05
Keep posting Mark. I'm interested about what you found on your trip. Joe

Bourbon Geek
05-01-2009, 10:04
Mark,

A little additional info ... I noted from earlier posts there was a discussion about how the distillery was re-financed for the post-prohibition rebuild. The info stated that ... "After prohibition in 1933, Mr. Samuels was anxious to re-open the distillery, but didn't have the capital to do it. He was introduced to some investors from Cincinatti who were interested in getting into the distilling business and they decided to move forward with there plans. Mr. Samuels capital in the project was his knowledge of the distilling business and the investors put up the cash." it goes on to say ... eventually ... "Mr. Samuels didn't have the money to buy his investors out and eventually left the distillery and started Maker's Mark down in Lorreto."

While this is true in substance, it is not completely correct. While Mr. Samuels could not finance the whole re-build himself, he did contribute substantially to the effort ... as did others ... including the investment guys from Cincy. Best as I can put together, it was essentially a private stock sale. As time went along, Mr. Samuels bought back some of the outlying shares, but the folks from Cincy bought more ... finally, they were the clear majority owners ... I'm pretty sure that the historical business records show that Mr. Samuels became the VP or his own namesake company.

Eventually, he completely sold out his interest in the company ... along with all of the brands associated with it ...(I am also fairly certain that Old Jordan was among the family brands)... and apparently the use of his family name in the bourbon business, too.

I'm sure that this capital is what he used to finance the purchase of the Burks Spring Distillery in Loretto ... and to pay for operations until sales started paying himn back. (I think the purchase price of the Burks Spring property was around $35,000 give or take.)

chefmel
05-09-2009, 18:50
Mark,

A little additional info ... I noted from earlier posts there was a discussion about how the distillery was re-financed for the post-prohibition rebuild. The info stated that ... "After prohibition in 1933, Mr. Samuels was anxious to re-open the distillery, but didn't have the capital to do it. He was introduced to some investors from Cincinatti who were interested in getting into the distilling business and they decided to move forward with there plans. Mr. Samuels capital in the project was his knowledge of the distilling business and the investors put up the cash." it goes on to say ... eventually ... "Mr. Samuels didn't have the money to buy his investors out and eventually left the distillery and started Maker's Mark down in Lorreto."

While this is true in substance, it is not completely correct. While Mr. Samuels could not finance the whole re-build himself, he did contribute substantially to the effort ... as did others ... including the investment guys from Cincy. Best as I can put together, it was essentially a private stock sale. As time went along, Mr. Samuels bought back some of the outlying shares, but the folks from Cincy bought more ... finally, they were the clear majority owners ... I'm pretty sure that the historical business records show that Mr. Samuels became the VP or his own namesake company.

Eventually, he completely sold out his interest in the company ... along with all of the brands associated with it ...(I am also fairly certain that Old Jordan was among the family brands)... and apparently the use of his family name in the bourbon business, too.

I'm sure that this capital is what he used to finance the purchase of the Burks Spring Distillery in Loretto ... and to pay for operations until sales started paying himn back. (I think the purchase price of the Burks Spring property was around $35,000 give or take.)

Thanks Dave - I'm sure you are correct. I believe my original info came from both some old timers I had talked to in KY., and possibly some info I read in Sam Cecils book - I'll have to go back and check it. The one thing I'm pretty sure about is that he really didn't want to give up the family name when he (and his investors) sold the distillery to the company my Uncle was associated with. I was told the main reason for that was Mr. Samuels didn't have the funds (at the time) to buy out his investors from Cinci. I'm sure he and his investors did well. I visited Maker's Mark and was told by the tour guide that the Samuels family were sued shortly after they started the distillery in Loretto because of the name they were going to use - I believe they were originally going to call it the Old Samuels Distillery or something like that. There is an old picture in the visitors center with the family standing in front of the office with the sign hanging on the outside of the building. I'm assuming it was my uncle's company that sued them, so I may have a hard time getting any information out of the current family members, but I'm going to try. They had some nice pictures of the old distillery in Deatsville that I would like copies of - we'll see if that happens. Thanks for the info!! :grin:

Mark

Bourbon Geek
05-10-2009, 07:29
Mark,

The oldest photos of the distillery after Mr. Samuels bought it, show the signage "Old Samuels Distillery". I have also seen a VERY old bottle of Maker's Mark that had a disclaimer on the label something to the order of ... we are not affiliated with the TW Samuels Distillery ... shortly thereafter, the signage came down. It all makes sense after reading your post.

The money end of the barrels for many years thereafter referred to it as the Star Hill Distillery ... this was only changed to Maker's Mark Distillery in the mid to late 1990's.

boone
05-10-2009, 17:51
:grin: My Uncle Elmo Beam was the first Master Distiller at Star Hill. He was the second person hired by Bill Samuels Sr. His name (Uncle Elmo's) is not on that very first bottle produced because he passed at Star Hill two years later...

Below is a picture that I posted in these forums several years ago. This is the very first day they produced at Star Hill. Note the name at the top of the picture Old Samuels Distillery. Uncle Elmo--first row 1st man on the left :grin:

I posted a story about Bill Samuels Sr. written for the U of L Alumni Magazine by Kevin Rayburn--> http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/showpost.php?p=18382&postcount=1

chefmel
05-11-2009, 18:43
Dave,

Thanks for the additional information. I didn't really expect to get any additional information on the Old T.W. Samuels distillery at Maker's Mark - shows you what I know! The guy was very friendly and very interested in the history of bourbon in general. Still waiting to hear back from him - he's going to try and put me in touch with Mr. Samuels for further information and maybe copies of the old distillery that were hanging on the wall in the visitor's center.

Bettye Jo,

Thanks for joining our discussion! I was told in an earlier post that you may have information for me about my Great Uncle and his distillery. Any more information that you can provide would be greatly appreciated. I'm especially looking for a picture of Mr. Westerman - if you know of anyone that may have one, please let me know.

I will begin posting tomorrow on the items and information that I found while in Kentucky a couple of weeks ago. One thing that's always impressed me about Kentucky is how friendly everyone I've met there has been to me! I love it down there because of that! :grin:

Mark

chefmel
05-11-2009, 18:46
:grin: My Uncle Elmo Beam was the first Master Distiller at Star Hill. He was the second person hired by Bill Samuels Sr. His name (Uncle Elmo's) is not on that very first bottle produced because he passed at Star Hill two years later...

Below is a picture that I posted in these forums several years ago. This is the very first day they produced at Star Hill. Note the name at the top of the picture Old Samuels Distillery. Uncle Elmo--first row 1st man on the left :grin:

I posted a story about Bill Samuels Sr. written for the U of L Alumni Magazine by Kevin Rayburn--> http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/showpost.php?p=18382&postcount=1

Bettye Jo,

Great picture and nice story on your family and the Samuels family. Are you still at Heaven Hill??

Mark

boone
05-12-2009, 00:53
Bettye Jo,

Great picture and nice story on your family and the Samuels family. Are you still at Heaven Hill??

Mark

Yes, 17 years total :grin:

Industrial Maintenance Technician/Journeyperson is the title I've held for the last 8 1/2 years :grin:

chefmel
05-16-2009, 18:35
Hi Everyone,

Well, its been 3 weeks since I returned from Bardstown/Deatsville and what a great trip I had! The lady I got connected with (her father worked at the distillery for a time) was fantastic and set me up with a couple of people who had worked with my uncle at the distillery. One was John Mayer, who had purchased a large tract of land from my Uncle many years ago and also new him personally. He was a treasure trove of personal info on my Uncle as well as lots of info about the distillery. I visited the old homestead just up the road from the distillery and to my suprise, the foundation, fireplace and part of the chimney are still standing of my Uncle's old house! On that same piece of property stands the old spring house still standing and you could still here the spring gurgling inside. This spring supplied the distillery about 1/4 mile away, and later the Samuels Springs water company which was the final production at the distillery. I also had an enjoyable visit with a one James Allen Wiggs who worked at the distillery for 15 years before retiring from Jim Beam. He told me that the distillery in it's hey day was one of the largest in the country. I spent 3 days in the geneology room at the Bardstown library going through microfilm of the local newspaper. I had forgotten how much time it takes to look through microfilm! I only got through 3 years of the 30 years my uncle was involved. I did find one interesting article:

From the Oct. 28th. 1942 newspaper, there was an article about the "Sale of Distillery in Deatsville - Capital stock of Country Distillers' Products bought by Foster & Company". It mentions that Foster & Co. was a partnership out of New York and was formed on July 30th. The officers of the company at that time were: President - Stanhope Foster of Great Neck, Long Island, NY, Vice Presidents - S.L. Westerman (my great uncle) of Detroit and Martin R. Doane of Joplin, Mo.; It mentions Mr. Doane will be replacing T. Williams Samuels who is no longer with the company as VP in charge of operations in Deatsville. The article goes on the mention that the personnel at the plant (nearly 800 employees) will remain intact and then it lists the department heads: Charles R. DeSpain - General Manager; Lee G. Brown - bottling; A.D. Campbell - warehouse; Gordon A. Graves - engineering; E.J. Snellen - maintenance; Ballard N. Coates - stock room; Jacob Wommer - labratory; Charles L. Spalding - personnel director and M.G. Keeling - head of the guards. It also mentions C.J. Rittman as being in charge of the office personnel and L.A. Rickert as the purchasing agent. It mentions that the distillery was one of the largest in the area producing grain alchohol for the war effort. An interesting note on this article - I found out reading the following weeks paper that the warehouse foreman, A.D. Campbell, passed away the following week! There was one other article of interest I found from around the end of 1943. The distillery was sued for 5 million dollars by the OPA for selling liquor at more than the ceiling price. It says that this was the first such suit in Kentucky since price controls were started.

I was very fortunate to be able to tour the old distillery in Deatsville thanks to wku88 (Todd) and his cousin Jim for arranging this for me. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to walk through many of the buidlings where my Uncle once walked! There still is a lot of original equipment in the buildings, especially in the bottlehouse and powerhouse - amazing that stuff is still there after so many years! I really can't thank those two gentleman enough for getting me inside the fence - it was fantastic! I have lots of pictures to remind me of my time there.

I managed to come away with a few items during my time there. I came across a couple of manilla folders with distillery paperwork that I haven't yet sorted through. I also came across a small box of T.W. Samuels labels which I was told were 1/2 pint labels and dated from the 1960's and 1970's. Here are the brands I've documented from those labels:

1. T.W. Samuels, no proof or age statement. The currentl label looks a lot like this one.

2. T.W. Samuels, back label to go with the above label, 86 proof, 4 years old, has a brief history on the distillery.

3. Samuels 1844, 86 proof, 4 years old

4. Kenbrook Deluxe Blended Whiskey, no proof or age.

5. Old Jordan, no proof, 6 years old, bottled by Old Jordan Distillery, Deatsville, Nelson County, Ky.

6. T.W. Samuels BIB, no age or proof, but I assume since it's BIB it would be 100 proof.

7. Samuels Ninety, no age or proof, but once again, I'm assuming it's probably 90 proof by looking at the name.

8. T.W. Samuels, 90 proof, no age, looks almost like the BIB label. Both this label and the BIB label are really nice looking.

Well, that's all for now. Soon, I will tell you about the special find I made and maybe I'll be able to sort through the papers I have by then and give you some additional info.

Mark

chefmel
05-16-2009, 18:40
Hey Bettye Jo,

Do you work primarily in the bottleshop or somewhere else? I worked in a brewery bottleshop for over 10 years and remember years ago when I visited the distillery, they took you into the bottleshop to watch the production. I also got to watch them bottling the EW23 for export to Japan (at that time) which was also great! It's to bad they don't offer that part of the tour anymore :(

Mark

cowdery
05-17-2009, 17:25
Mark,

Have you seen the Sanborn maps (http://kdl.kyvl.org/cgi/i/image/image-idx?rgn1=beasanic_id&op2=Or&rgn2=beasanic_id&op3=Or&rgn3=beasanic_id&op4=Or&rgn4=beasanic_id&op5=Or&rgn5=beasanic_id&c=beasanic&g=kdlmaps&back=back1242602519&chaperone=S-BEASANIC-X-BAD1886+BAD_1886_001&ox=0&oy=0&lastres=2&res=2&width=1559&height=1852&maxw=6236&maxh=7409&subview=getsid&view=entry&entryid=x-bad1886&cc=beasanic&quality=2&resnum=1&image.x=276&image.y=102&start=1&q1=bad1886&q2=bad1891&q3=bad1899&q4=bad1905&q5=bad1910&viewid=BAD_1886_005) of the Samuels' distilleries from 1886?

chefmel
06-09-2009, 16:02
Hi Chuck,

I have now, but didn't notice a Samuels distillery - I will have to look harder, and thanks for providing a link to these maps! Just returned from Bardstown again and will update shortly.

Mark

cowdery
06-09-2009, 19:09
The interesting part is that it shows two different Samuels distilleries, T. W. Samuels (#145) and W. B. Samuels (#241).

chefmel
06-17-2009, 18:19
Hi everyone,

Well, I just returned from another trip down south. Nephews graduation in southern Tn. then a visit to Berea KY. (I had my wife with me) and then on to Bardstown/Deatsville for a couple of days. Another walk through the old T.W. Samuels Distillery with my wife and a couple of suprises from Jim S. - thanks so much Jim! I have sorted through the paperwork I brought back with me in April and made an amazing discovery. Most of the paper work I received was assorted production logs and label inventory sheets. But one folder contained sample labels from 1938 until 1954! Sample labels were the labels distillery's (and breweries) had to submit to the government for approval before they could start producing the product. These labels included the original government form that had to be sent along with them - many of the labels were still attached to the back of the forms! That was the mother lode of finds for me. It gave me a chance to document a total of 22 labels that the distillery had produced and here they are;

1. T. W. Samuels
2. Old Jordan
3. Elijah Craig
4. Jim Porter
5. Old Frontier
6. Samuels 1844
7. Four Decades
8. Pebbelford
9. 295 Corn Whiskey
10. 295 Kentucky whiskey, colored and flavored with wood chips
11. Old Buck Brand Corn Whiskey
12. Continental Special Reserve
13. Colonel Tyson's
14. Samuels Bond
15. Supre-Macy
16. Morning Glory Corn Whiskey
17. Singing Hills Corn Whiskey
18. Old Cobweb Brand
19. Old Talbott Tavern
20. Kenbrook Blended Whiskey
21. Mr. Bourbon
22. A private label which would have the name of the person on the label.

I found out that my Uncle and his company purchased the distillery in 1943 (correction from previous post) and sold it in July of 1974. I was told that the man who bought it from Mr. Westerman, a one Mr. Thompson from Scotland, went around Bardstown telling anyone who'd listen that he was "Mr. Bourbon" which apparently angered some of the long time bourbon people in town. I was also told that my uncle was quite a "Ladies Man" in his younger days.

On my most recent visit, I recieved some Letterheads with Sam Westerman's name on them, some T. W. Samuels holiday boxes and some personal memo's from my great uncle, both in his own hand and also typewritten. He would send a written memo to his secretary and she would type it out and pass it on. He had really lousy handwriting! So those memo's were a real find for the family. I also found out from my cousin that Mr. Westerman possibly had a son and that his son may still be living in Michigan. His name is Michael Westerman, so there's another lead for me to follow up on. The real suprise items for me that I found will have to wait until I have all of them up here in Michigan. A couple of items are waiting for me to come back and get them so, another trip to Deatsville this summer is in order. My wife says I'm over the top!

I did get in contact with Bill Samuels from Maker's Mark and he sent me a nice letter. I don't know if I mentioned it in a previous post, but I went down to there distillery in April and talked to my tour guide Herb after the tour. He told me when the Samuels' family started up the distillery in Loretto, they were going to call it the Old Samuels Distilling Co. - in fact, he had a picture of the office with the sign attached. He said the family got sued for the name, and the only person I could think of that would complain about the name would have been my great uncle! So, I wasn't sure how I would be received by Bill when I contacted him. He was very gracious and welcoming and told me I needed to come to the family archives the next time I was in Louisville as there was a lot of items pertaining to the old distillery. He also told me he knew and remembered Mr. Westerman so I'm looking forward to talking to him someday in the near future.

That's all for now - will post more as it becomes available

Mark

cowdery
06-17-2009, 19:38
The reasons to be wary are mutual. Remember that it was Bill Samuels who mercilessly trashed your great uncle's distillery as part of the Maker's Mark foundation myth.

This solves something for me too, although it's a small thing. When I was first researching bourbon history, back in 1991, I distinctly remembered seeing something about another distillery making an Elijah Craig bourbon before Heaven Hill did, but I could never find the reference again. I now see it was T. W. Samuels.

I was working at Heaven's Hill's Louisville ad agency, FS&M, in the late 1970s when Heaven Hill's initial package designs for their Elijah Craig were being developed there, under the guidance of Max Shapira, so I had that piece of the puzzle from personal experience, but I could never pin down the brand's previous life.

chefmel
06-18-2009, 19:41
Hi Chuck,

Just to be clear about it, I haven't yet found an Elijah Craig Label. There is documentation of the distillery making this product from the "Bluegrass, Belles and Bourbon" article I recieved some years ago, and there is one reference to an E.C. in one of the bottling records I have which I'm assuming is Elijah Craig. Wasn't Charle DeSpain involved in the Heaven Hill distillery? That may explain how they ended up with the EC labels.

Mark

cowdery
06-18-2009, 19:59
Yes, Charlie DeSpain was a honcho at Heaven Hill, general manager or some such title. I never knew him but always heard he was a real son-of-a-bitch. He made a lot of enemies, in particular Harry Beam, who left HH because of their conflicts.

However HH got the Elijah Craig name, they completely rebooted the product.

chefmel
06-30-2009, 18:49
Hi all,

One more label that I documented that I forgot to mention was Lionstone Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whisky. There was what I thought was a tank placcard at the old distillery with the label attached to it. Most everything I see on this brand says Bardstown, Ky. Does anyone know anything about this brand and how and when it connects to T.W. Samuels distillery??

Thanks!

Mark

cowdery
07-01-2009, 10:11
Lionstone was a decanter manufacturer, located here in Illinois I think.

Bourbon Geek
07-01-2009, 13:33
In the glory days of the ceramic bourbon decanter, Lionstone was pitching right in there with the likes of Beam ... all though not quite as prolific ... I have seen collections of dozens of Lionstone decanters ...

chefmel
07-02-2009, 20:01
So . . . Lionstone would make the decanters and different distillery's would fill them with Bourbon or whiskey? I just purchased a Lionstone Bourbon mini off ebay with the city listed as Bardstown, Ky. I know that at some time towards the end of it's run, T.W. bottled this product as I saw a tank tag (or whatever they're called) for Lionstone Bourbon when I toured the old distillery. Someone please set me straight before I start going crazy buying up pre-1975 Lionstone decanters :)

Thanks!

Mark

cowdery
07-03-2009, 08:21
I remember Lionstone as making ceramics for everybody. I never knew they sold anything under their own name, but it doesn't surprise me that they did. Still, I think it's more appropriate to think of them as a supplier to the distilleries rather than a customer. Perhaps they had a special relationship with TWS, but I wouldn't assume that.

chefmel
12-04-2009, 18:15
Hi everyone (or anyone)

Recently returned from Deatsville and will be posting some more info soon.

Mark

Lost Pollito
12-04-2009, 20:34
Nice Chef. Looking forward to the info.

The Boozer
12-24-2009, 09:06
Mark,
I was having a little Xmas cheer with an attorney I do some work for. He pulls out an old bottle of Jim Porter whiskey and starts telling me the story of Sam Wasterman and the T.W. Samuels Distillery. Apparently, his partner was your uncle’s lawyer and is familiar with your uncle’s ownership of T.W. Samuels distillery. After your uncle died, they were cleaning out the basement of your uncle’s downtown Detroit office and came across 3-5 cases of I.W. Harper, Elijah Craig?, Sam’s own private label and Jim Porter brands. That was some 30-40 years ago (don’t know exact date when your uncle died) and all the juice is now gone. Except for this 2/3 full bottle of Jim Porter. Only had one glass but very good stuff. Either 86 or 80 proof.
TJ

chefmel
04-15-2010, 19:05
Wow! I can't believe it's been this long since I've visited this post. Sorry for the long delay! Boozer, thanks so much for the info! Can you put me in touch with the attorney?? I would love to talk to him and find out if there are any living relatives of Uncle Sam. I think he has a grandson living in the state, but there are a few Michael Westerman's and I haven't started contacting them yet to see if any of them are related. He died in the early 1980's I believe, so it's been nearly 30 years now. I would have loved to taste some of that Jim Porter. So far, I have no Jim Porter or Elijah Craig labels or bottles yet. Feel Free to PM me if you have contact info for the attorney.

Well, I was back in October and had the opportunity to take a former employee through the old distillery. He had a great time and so did I! I specifically asked him when they stopped distilling. He told me he left for Jim Beam in 1972 and that they had stopped distilling shortly before then, 1970 or 1971. So, this tends to disprove the standing history that the distillery ceased operations in 1952. I know they were bottling until at least 1974 if not later after my uncle had sold it. I've had such a wonderful time in Deatsville/Bardstown the past year and a half or so. I'm going back again next week for more research and to attend the KBF tasting on the 24th of April. Any of you going to be there?? I'm trying to contact a gentleman down there named Kenny who was the bottleshop super in the early 70's. I have quite a few memo's from my uncle to him and would love to sit down and talk to him. He's hard to get a hold of though! I've been invited to tour the Samuels family archives in Louisville when I'm down there and I'm really looking forward to seeing that and also to meet Bill. Should be a great experience. I will post any additional information after I returned. TJ - please contact me.

Mark

chefmel
04-15-2010, 19:17
One more note on the Lionstone Bourbon. I purchased a Lionstone Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey mini bottle off the internet awhile ago. Produced in Bardstown. Not sure if it was made by HH, Bartons, or produced in Deatsville for one of them. So I know they had their own bourbon as well as making decanters for it.

Mark

chefmel
04-15-2010, 19:33
Back again!

Looking over some of my previous posts, I failed to tell everyone some of the items I brought back last June and October. A couple of nice signs that hung in the distillery many years ago. I have to look at them again and write down what they say, then I'll be back to tell you about them.

Mark

fishnbowljoe
04-15-2010, 19:35
Mark, There will be some members from SB staying at the General Nelson for the sampler. Maybe you could stop by after the sampler and share a pour or two with us at the gazebo. Only rule of etiquette is to bring a bottle to share. Doesn't matter what it is. As another member put it, "It isn't the cost of the offering, but the generosity of the act itself." Hope to see you there. Joe

chefmel
04-18-2010, 19:11
Hi Joe,

Looking forward to meeting you and whoever else might be there. See you at the Gazebo!

Mark

P.S. My avatar contains one of the signs from the Distillery I recently aquired!

bonneamie
04-19-2010, 21:10
Mark, we met when Brad (Potbanger) had the get together in the abandoned warehouse in some west of Detroit suburb. Anyway, I will be at the sampler along with my husband (Pete) and Josh. I'm looking forward to meeting you again!

chefmel
04-21-2010, 18:42
Hi Amy,

I remember all of you, but may have problems recognizing you. I'll try and find you all! I'll bring some of my finds from T.W. to the afterglow at General Nelson in case anyone might be interested in seeing them.

Mark

bonneamie
04-22-2010, 05:37
We're staying at the GN so we will see you at the Gazebo!

chefmel
05-10-2010, 17:08
Hi Everyone,

Great to see and meet all of you at the general nelson a few weeks ago. Amy, great seeing you and your husband again. Joe, a pleasure to finally meet you and thank your friend (forgot his name) for bringing the Stagg! Had a great conversation with him also.

I met with Kenny Halgash, who was the bottling superintendent at the old T.W. Samuels back in the early 70's when my Great Uncle still had the business. He moved on to HH and still works there to this day. We had a great visit and he basically confirmed the information I had gotten earlier from James Alan Wiggs - The distillery was still distilling until about 1970. After that time, they just bottled what they had in storage. So I am confident that the past history about the distillery that I had read was incorrect - they both distilled and bottled long after 1952. I also had the chance to meet with Bill Samuels and look at some old pictures from the distillery including progress pictures as the different rick houses were built. I think my favorite was the picture of the fermenting room where the open top cypress tanks sat. Overall a very nice visit with Bill. He told me my uncle was on the Kentucky Distiller's Assn.? for quite a few years including being the president for a couple of years. He had a couple pictures of the board from the early 60's but my uncle apparently wasn't available for the picture as he wasn't in them.

Still waiting to get some contact info on my uncle's attorney down in Detroit - I'm sure he has information that would be valuable to my research. Thanks to all who have been following this thread and for all the contributions. If and when I get more info, I'll post it hear as long as it is still active.

Mark

mamayak
11-11-2010, 09:18
Mark,
I was having a little Xmas cheer with an attorney I do some work for. He pulls out an old bottle of Jim Porter whiskey and starts telling me the story of Sam Wasterman and the T.W. Samuels Distillery. Apparently, his partner was your uncle’s lawyer and is familiar with your uncle’s ownership of T.W. Samuels distillery. After your uncle died, they were cleaning out the basement of your uncle’s downtown Detroit office and came across 3-5 cases of I.W. Harper, Elijah Craig?, Sam’s own private label and Jim Porter brands. That was some 30-40 years ago (don’t know exact date when your uncle died) and all the juice is now gone. Except for this 2/3 full bottle of Jim Porter. Only had one glass but very good stuff. Either 86 or 80 proof.
TJ

Mark:
I am the attorney Boozer refers to in his message. One of my former partners was Sam Westerman's Michigan attorney & still has a photo of him in his office. He would be more than happy to speak with you & share his memories. I would prefer to give you his contact info off-line. Let me know how to contact you directly.

P.S. - I still have the 2/3 full bottle of Jim Porter & an (unfortunately)empty Old Jordan.

chefmel
11-14-2010, 10:59
Thanks mamayak! I will PM you today. Maybe we can get together sometime and try that Jim Porter!

Mark

chefmel
11-27-2010, 18:03
Well, I'm going to talk to Sam's lawyer on Mon. 11-29. I'll post any new information I get. Looking forward to meeting him - Thanks Mamayak for making this happen for me!

Mark

Josh
11-28-2010, 06:25
Well, I'm going to talk to Sam's lawyer on Mon. 11-29. I'll post any new information I get. Looking forward to meeting him - Thanks Mamayak for making this happen for me!

Mark

That's exciting, Mark! Thanks for keeping us all in the loop!

cowdery
11-28-2010, 22:32
Re-reading this thread just now, it's an interesting odyssey that began in the summer of 2008. A lot of people have contributed but most of the credit goes to Mark (chefmel) for sticking with it. Persistence pays off. Maybe I shouldn't have given up on stalking Morgan Fairchild after all.

Another thing that struck me is that Heaven Hill could be considered more the successor to T. W. Samuels than Maker's Mark is. Yes, the last remaining member of the Samuls family went on to found Maker's Mark, but it looks like Heaven Hill ultimately acquired what remained of the Samuels company's business along with several executives and several brand names. If that happened in the 1970s, Max Shapira would remember it, as would other current or (more likely) retired Heaven Hill executives.

My theory is that Charle DeSpain stayed close to the Samuels business even after he went to Heaven Hill in 1943, putting Heaven Hill in a position to acquire along the way any assets TW Samuels might wish to sell, perhaps also supplying them with whiskey and keeping them in business long after they stopped distilling. Sam Cecil worked at both Maker's Mark and Heaven Hill after leaving TW Samuels, but Sam was a production guy, not a business guy. He didn't pay attention to that sort of thing. DeSpain was a business guy. He's long since dead but there may be other people at or retired from HH who know about the final days of T. W. Samuels.

Josh
11-29-2010, 05:00
My theory is that Charle DeSpain stayed close to the Samuels business even after he went to Heaven Hill in 1943, putting Heaven Hill in a position to acquire along the way any assets TW Samuels might wish to sell, perhaps also supplying them with whiskey and keeping them in business long after they stopped distilling. Sam Cecil worked at both Maker's Mark and Heaven Hill after leaving TW Samuels, but Sam was a production guy, not a business guy. He didn't pay attention to that sort of thing. DeSpain was a business guy. He's long since dead but there may be other people at or retired from HH who know about the final days of T. W. Samuels.

I found this picture of Charlie DeSpain and the Shapira Bros. at the HH Website. That's Charlie in the interesting shirt.

11560

L to R: Ed (Max's father), Charlie DeSpain, David, Mose, George, Gary

chefmel
11-29-2010, 16:26
Hi all,

Glad to see Josh and Chuck are still following along! I met with Sam's former attorney today - great guy with lots of info. Also got to meet mamayak - thanks for the bottles, I'm sipping some 12yr Jim Porter as I write. Still great after all these years. I'm guessing this bottle was produced in the '60's and I would think there weren't too many distilleries making 12 year old juice back then. One of the most interesting things the lawyer told me today was that Sam sold the distillery to United Brands. Does that name wring a bell with anyone out there?? I was told by people down in Deatsville that a "Mr. Thompson" from Scotland had purchased the distillery - maybe he was affiliated with United Brands.

Chuck - thanks for your comments on my persistence! It's been a long strange trip that isn't over yet. I still feel that the juice was distilled on site until about 1970 from what I was able to find out from former employees. I think Chuck is right about HH as they do still produce some of the old labels made in Deatsville. I also found out that Sam had 2 grandsons so the search is on for them. His lawyer also told me that when Sam died, he had 7 safety deposit boxes - 5 in Detroit and 2 in Michigan. Between the 7 there was over $150,000 in cash, much of it stamped from the 1940's. He lived through the depression and was probably leery about investing in the stock markets or the banks which was probably why there was so much cash. That's a nice mad money stash!

Josh - PM me and tell me how to add pictures to these posts - I'll post some pictures of what I have found to date.

And the saga continues . . .

Mark

fishnbowljoe
11-29-2010, 16:38
Mark, Keep at it. It will be really interesting to see what else you can find out. By all means keep us updated. Hope to see you again soon. Joe

cowdery
11-29-2010, 17:41
"United Brands" is one of those very generic-sounding corporate names that can be hard to pin down.

Today it is the California-based manufacturer of JOOSE, one of those caffeinated malt liquors like FOUR Loko, that has been in the news lately. As a relatively new company, I doubt that United Brands has any connection to this story.

Between 1970 and 1985, United Brands Company was what is today Chiquita Brands International Inc., which was originally the United Fruit Company, established in 1871. It became United Brands in 1970 when Eli Black bought a controlling interest and merged it with another company he owned that was in unrelated businesses, as was the style of that era. Might such a diversified conglomerate have also owned a distilled spirits company at some point? Not unlikely.

The fact that there is a Cincinnati connection also suggests that possibility. After Black's death in 1975, United Brands was acquired by Carl Lindner's American Financial Group (AFG), based in Cincinnati. Lindner is crazy rich and AFG has bought and sold dozens if not hundreds of different companies over the years. One of them, now largely forgotten, could have been a little distilled spirits company in Deatsville, Kentucky.

In 1985 United Brands changed its name to Chiquita Brands International, but the company continued to be based in Cincinnati and still is to this day.

I can't find any evidence that United Brands had any distilled spirits interests but many diversified conglomerates of that period did. In addition to Chiquita Bananas the United Brands portfolio included John Morrell Meats and Foster Grant Sunglasses.

I was going to suggest that "United Brands" may have gotten confused with "United Distillers,' except United Distillers (UD) wasn't formed until 1987.

Black is perhaps best known for having committed suicide in dramatic fashion when it all went bust in 1975. The time frame -- early 70s -- is certainly right, although it seems more likely that the acquisition was made post-Black, after the company moved to Cincinnati.

I have previously characterized T. W. Samuels as primarily a commodity producer and based on all of the above that may not be right. They may have been more like Medley Brothers, a small, regional, marginally successful branded distilled spirits producer.

Finally, "Mr. Thompson" (although Thompson is a very common name) suggests Glenmore Distillers, which was based in Louisville, and owned and operated by the Thompson family until 1991 when it was bought by -- wait for it -- United Distillers.

The Boozer
11-30-2010, 08:26
Mark, Glad to hear you got hooked up with Jim & mamayak, along with that 12 year old Jim Porter bottle. Had some of that last year, good stuff.
I guess when they cleaned out the offices down in Detroit after Sam died, they found several cases of bourbon in the basement storage room. That may have been better than the cash! :grin: I believe that Jm Porter bottle is the last of the stash.
Hope to see you soon.
Tim

cowdery
11-30-2010, 11:57
Jim Porter (http://sheilabarrett.wordpress.com/2007/12/12/the-kentucky-giant/), by the way, is a legendary character from Kentucky's earliest history, a real-life Paul Bunyan, called "The Kentucky Giant." His grave marker says, "he was 7 feet, 8 Inches tall- an inch shorter than he claimed."

Jim Porter was a tavern keeper and there is still a bar in Louisville that bears his name, though it's not in the same part of town as his.

chefmel
07-17-2011, 16:11
"United Brands" is one of those very generic-sounding corporate names that can be hard to pin down.

Today it is the California-based manufacturer of JOOSE, one of those caffeinated malt liquors like FOUR Loko, that has been in the news lately. As a relatively new company, I doubt that United Brands has any connection to this story.

Between 1970 and 1985, United Brands Company was what is today Chiquita Brands International Inc., which was originally the United Fruit Company, established in 1871. It became United Brands in 1970 when Eli Black bought a controlling interest and merged it with another company he owned that was in unrelated businesses, as was the style of that era. Might such a diversified conglomerate have also owned a distilled spirits company at some point? Not unlikely.

The fact that there is a Cincinnati connection also suggests that possibility. After Black's death in 1975, United Brands was acquired by Carl Lindner's American Financial Group (AFG), based in Cincinnati. Lindner is crazy rich and AFG has bought and sold dozens if not hundreds of different companies over the years. One of them, now largely forgotten, could have been a little distilled spirits company in Deatsville, Kentucky.

In 1985 United Brands changed its name to Chiquita Brands International, but the company continued to be based in Cincinnati and still is to this day.

I can't find any evidence that United Brands had any distilled spirits interests but many diversified conglomerates of that period did. In addition to Chiquita Bananas the United Brands portfolio included John Morrell Meats and Foster Grant Sunglasses.

I was going to suggest that "United Brands" may have gotten confused with "United Distillers,' except United Distillers (UD) wasn't formed until 1987.

Black is perhaps best known for having committed suicide in dramatic fashion when it all went bust in 1975. The time frame -- early 70s -- is certainly right, although it seems more likely that the acquisition was made post-Black, after the company moved to Cincinnati.

I have previously characterized T. W. Samuels as primarily a commodity producer and based on all of the above that may not be right. They may have been more like Medley Brothers, a small, regional, marginally successful branded distilled spirits producer.

Finally, "Mr. Thompson" (although Thompson is a very common name) suggests Glenmore Distillers, which was based in Louisville, and owned and operated by the Thompson family until 1991 when it was bought by -- wait for it -- United Distillers.

Hi all,

I wonder if he meant United distillers??

I've been down to Bardstown/Deatsville twice in the past two months but no luck so far in figuring out what company purchased the distillery. I met a lady in the geneology department at the Nelson County Library who suggeste I go to the courthouse and try to find the property transfer records, so I'll be back in Bardstown this week and hope to find more answers then. Thanks for all your help and encouragement the past 3 years and the saga continues . . . .

Mark

cowdery
07-18-2011, 08:22
As I said, it couldn't have been United Distillers unless he had a time machine, since United Distillers didn't exist until 1987.

Sam Cecil's book isn't perfect but he's good on the Samuels history, since he worked there for many years and had that particular interest. He says it was sold in 1943 to Foster Trading of New York, which renamed it Country Distillers.

Property transfer records will tell you who owned the property, which may give you some clues but won't necessarily tell you who owned the business. We know, for example, that at some point Heaven Hill bought about half of the warehouses and Maker's Mark bought the rest. The distillery certainly did not operate after all the warehouses were sold.

chefmel
07-18-2011, 11:42
As I said, it couldn't have been United Distillers unless he had a time machine, since United Distillers didn't exist until 1987.

Sam Cecil's book isn't perfect but he's good on the Samuels history, since he worked there for many years and had that particular interest. He says it was sold in 1943 to Foster Trading of New York, which renamed it Country Distillers.

Property transfer records will tell you who owned the property, which may give you some clues but won't necessarily tell you who owned the business. We know, for example, that at some point Heaven Hill bought about half of the warehouses and Maker's Mark bought the rest. The distillery certainly did not operate after all the warehouses were sold.

The warehouses were apparently sold after Sam sold the business. You are correct on the property records. The main reason I'm going to look there is to see when the property was transferred so I can narrow down my search through the old newspapers and hopefully find out who was running the business. I'll have to check the 1943 newspaper article again on the country distiller's name and when it was known as that.

Mark

chefmel
07-18-2011, 11:47
It looks like the name "Country Distillers" was started by Mr. Samuels and his partners before my uncle and his partners purchased it as the article stated that Country Distillers sold the property to Foster's Trading Co. in 1943. Either the reporting in the paper was wrong, or Mr. Cecil was confused on the names when it was transfered. Not sure which it is but will find out if possible.

Mark

cowdery
07-18-2011, 12:03
It looks like the name "Country Distillers" was started by Mr. Samuels and his partners before my uncle and his partners purchased it as the article stated that Country Distillers sold the property to Foster's Trading Co. in 1943. Either the reporting in the paper was wrong, or Mr. Cecil was confused on the names when it was transfered. Not sure which it is but will find out if possible.

Mark

To what article are you referring?

bartsnider
10-24-2011, 10:43
Mark,

I just discovered this site and may be able to fill in some blanks for you.

My dad, Hubert D. Snider, was general manager of TW Samuels from about 1946 until 1952. He was hired by and worked for Samuel Westerman, the man I came to know as "Uncle Sam." Dad graduated from Western State Teachers College in about 1934 went to work for the government in the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Unit in Louisville. He was a storekeeper gauger. He went to night school and received his law degree from University of Louisville in 1940. He was then made chief prosecutor for the Unit in Kentucky. I think it was in 1943 that he was transferred to Washington, DC. After the war we returned to Louisville as Mr. Westerman had hired him to run the distillery.

Dad told me the story of how Westerman got the distillery, but I don't recall now exactly how it worked. I remember that Westerman was working for a Canadian Distiller as a whiskey broker, as I recall. He somehow or other worked a deal where he (and perhaps some partners) bought TW Samuels distillery for a very small price per barrel.

We lived in Louisville and my dad drove to the distillery every day and then on many Saturdays met with Uncle Sam in downtown Louisville to discuss business operations. Uncle Sam lived in a downtown hotel, it was either the Brown Hotel or the Seelbach (sp?), I don't remember which. Uncle Sam sent me a beautiful Christmas present every year. In, fact I was still receiving Christmas presents from him after I graduated from college. He had a woman who was his personal secretary and I think he forgot to tell her that I had grown up, because the last present I got from him was a chemistry set!

I recall that Dad was upset with Uncle Sam because Dad didn't think the business resumed operations soon enough after WWII. The distillery has two brands that were very important before the war (T.W. Samuels and Old Jordan) and Dad thought they waited too long to re-enter the market and lost the share they had before the war.

There was a major fire at the distillery the night of September 15, 1949. It was also the night that my sister was born. One of the warehouses was totally destroyed and I have pictures taken during the fire and the next day. As I remember, it was a 50,000-barrel warehouse that they thought was started by an elevator motor. I remember that my Dad later brought home a big check that he had received from the insurance company.

Another thing I recall about the distillery is that during WWII when the government controlled all the distilleries, they completely refitted the plumbing from copper to stainless steel. Dad said it was a major investment.

I remember that Dad kept cattle on the property and fed them the mash from the distilling process. It was supposed to be really good for fattening cattle. There was also a great bar and lounge in the basement of the office. Several times my Dad let me use it for parities with my high school friends (chaperoned, of course.)

As I remember, Dad left the distillery in 1952 and in 1953 was hired by the Distilled Spirits Institute in Washington. He headed up a project to rewrite the federal laws controlling the manufacture and taxation of distilled spirits. The law that went through the legislative process was called the Snider Law, or at least so I was told. After it passed and my Dad was made head of the DSI's legal department. He remained with the DSI until he died in 1970.

My Dad also knew Bill Samuels, but I think they had more contact when Dad was with the DSI. I also remember the name Foster Trading Company, but I don't remember in what connection.

I'll keep trying to recall information about the distillery and will let you know more as I do.

Bart Snider

bartsnider
10-24-2011, 13:22
This is a followup to my earlier post to include some pictures of the 1949 warehouse fire. It started in the afternoon of September 15 and burned through the night. My Dad told me that there was a river of burning whiskey running down to the pond. There are also several pictures the day after. All that was left was the metal siding and a bunch of barrel hoops. The man in one of the day after pictures might be Samuel Westerman, but I'm not sure.

chefmel
04-22-2012, 13:57
To what article are you referring?

Hi all,

Been a long time! I had a lot of problems earlier in the year as far as logging in and posting. Hopefully, those problems are over.

Chuck, the article I was refering to was an article out of the Kentucky standard from 1943 announcing the sale of the distillery.

Mark

chefmel
04-22-2012, 14:23
Thanks Bart for filling in some of the details about your dad's time at the distillery and for the great photo's of the fire. I've heard all about it including the fact that the locals headed down to the pond with buckets to try and scoop up some of the whiskey! I've only seen one "day after" picture of the fire so these photo's will help me greatly.

On my last visit to Bardstown, I headed over to the property records room downtown and found some interesting information. My uncle filed a quick claim deed for the distillery on December 3rd, 1974 transferring ownership of the distillery to Commonwealth Distillers, Inc. from Louisville. The property was held in escrow for 6 months and transferred to the new owners at that time. The company representative that signed it was Douglas Scott or Scois - I can't read the signature all that well. So now I know when he sold the property. Now, I need to find the deed from when the Samuels family sold the distillery to my Uncle and his partners so I can double check the names of the company's at the time.

I'm working on tracing some history on the Old Jordan label also as I don't think it originated with the Samuels family. Is anyone going to be in Bardstown for the Bourbon sampler next weekend??

Mark

Josh
04-22-2012, 16:34
I'm working on tracing some history on the Old Jordan label also as I don't think it originated with the Samuels family. Is anyone going to be in Bardstown for the Bourbon sampler next weekend??

Mark

I will but I don't know how much help I'll be.

Anyway, glad to see you posting again, Mark! I love reading your posts on this topic. Have you ever thought of putting it all together in narrative form?

chefmel
04-24-2012, 21:01
Hi Josh! Haven't talked to you in a while! Thanks for the comments. No need to help with my research - just looking for someonne to drink some bourbon with this weekend! Someday soon (I hope) I'll put all the information together where it hopefully makes some kind of sense, though my research isn't over with yet. I'm bringing some items with me this weekend from the distillery - Look me up on Friday or Sat. if you'd like to look through them. I'll be at the GN on Saturday, Bardstown Inn on Weds. - Friday. Looking forward to seeing you again!

Mark

MauiSon
02-26-2013, 14:44
Just wanted to say thanks for this thread - the 12,000+ views prove I'm not alone in appreciating it.

fishnbowljoe
04-28-2013, 22:20
Saw Mark at the Sampler this last week. Had a nice chat with him. I also took the time to take yet another person out to see the old distillery.

chefmel
09-29-2013, 16:10
Saw Mark at the Sampler this last week. Had a nice chat with him. I also took the time to take yet another person out to see the old distillery.

Nice seeing you also Joe last spring. Had a great time with everyone. Found out a couple of interesting things while I was down there. First. going through the distillery again, I found some old warehouse records from the '50's and '60's. Apparently, my Uncle was leasing some warehouse space to Willet as some of there barrels were listed in the log. Also, I met the gentleman who owns strong spirits company. He told me he had just signed a lease agreement to barrel and age his bourbon in the old guaging building out in Deatsville. Nice to see some of the old buildings being used again to make bourbon! :cool:

Mark

chefmel
09-29-2013, 16:13
Saw Mark at the Sampler this last week. Had a nice chat with him. I also took the time to take yet another person out to see the old distillery.

Also, thanks to Mauison for the nice comments. Nice to know there's that much interest in the old distillery!

Mark

cowdery
10-11-2013, 17:07
As you probably know, Heaven Hill uses about half of the warehouses there and Maker's Mark uses the rest. For the new Parker's Heritage Collection "Promise of Hope" bourbon, Parker selected 100 barrels from his favorite rackhouse, which is EE at Deatsville. Interesting that his favorite is there and not on the Heaven Hill campus.