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  1. #41
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    Re: Wheated bourbons

    I have checked my sources and can report the following. Bill Sr. did NOT work for the Stitzel-Weller Distillery. He did, however, obtain financial support from Brown-Forman and Pappy to purchase the distillery at Star Hill. The recipe did come from Pappy. His earlier attempt at running the family owned T. W. Samuel's Distillery ended when business was not going well and he found himself in a situation where it was prudent to sell out.
    I will make sure I have my ducks in a row before going public again. With that being said, I will now remove my foot from my mouth!

    Ken


  2. #42
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Re: Wheated bourbons

    I believe Sam Cecil has also confirmed to me that Bill Sr. was unhappy with the quality of the product produced at T.W. Samuels.

    --Chuck Cowdery

  3. #43
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Re: Wheated bourbons

    Bill (Jr.) has told me that his father was pretty well fixed financially when he bought Star Hill, at least personally. (In other words, I have no doubt he prudently spread the risk as much as possible by obtaining other investors.) "He didn't need it," was how Bill put it, but he wanted to do it to leave a legacy.

    In the evolution of the Maker's Mark recipe, it should be noted that the first Master Distiller there was Elmo Beam, who had worked for Bill Sr. at T.W. Samuels. After Elmo's death, he was suceeded by Sam Cecil, who also worked at T.W. Samuels. The Samuels, at least in the two most recent generations, have never been "hands on" distillers. They have been businessmen who always hired professionals to actually make the whiskey.

    As for their advertising, although it always appears under Bill's signature, he doesn't write it and has very little direct involvement with the advertising strategy or creative execution.

    --Chuck Cowdery

  4. #44
    **DONOTDELETE**
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    Re: Wheated bourbons

    Ken said, "I will make sure I have my ducks in a row before going public again. With that being said, I will now remove my foot from my mouth!"

    Now don't you worry about that, Ken. Just about everyone here has enjoyed a fine foot supper from time to time (with maybe a little Old Crow to wash it down). That's why we come here! Besides, much of the "official" history of the bourbon world is often at odds with the actual events, and reconciling that is part of the fun of being a bourbon hobbyist.

    Comprehensive knowledge of the product, beyond the company line, isn't really a requirement for a brand manager, so the mere fact that you sought out this site shows you have an admirable quality of real interest. That counts a lot here, and it will certainly help to make you one of the best-informed brand managers out there. Your quickness to take questions right to the people with the answers makes it work for you. We benefit from what you come back with, and you benefit by the fact that you'll learn not only a lot about Buffalo Trace but also more about your competitors than their own brand managers know!

    Thanks for joining us; now get that foot out of your mouth and get back to work!

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

  5. #45
    Bourbonian of the Year 2004 and Guru
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    Re: Wheated bourbons

    Thank you Chuck!

    I knew that my great Uncle Elmo worked there but I didn't know the time line. Thanks for the information for my family documents. You know a lot about my family but others out there don't. If ya drink some of the local bourbons around here my folks had a hand in making it probably a time or two in their lifetime. Ya see we are starting to be the almost "not" forgotten Beams.

    What a absolute dissapointment that Bill Samuels does not write the great ads that are in the newspapers and magazines. When I read them I could almost picture him sitting there writing every word!!! What a great dissapointment!

    I have spoken,(twice) Hi, John, Linn, and Greg!!!!!!

    Great-Grandaughter of Joseph L. Beam
    one of Kentucky's great Master Distillers

    boone



  6. #46
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Re: Wheated bourbons

    Elmo Beam was responsbile for the first two distilling seasons at Maker's Mark, until his death.

    Your branch of the Beam family should be a little less forgotten after the next issue of the Malt Advocate appears containing my story about them (plug, plug). Should be any day now. (Okay, probably January 1 or thereabouts.)

    --Chuck Cowdery

  7. #47
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    Re: Wheated bourbons

    I am going to kind of tip-toe around an issue here (I don't want to step on anyone's toes). While working for a spirits company in Louisville, I was approached about working for an advertising agency (Doe Anderson), specifically on one liquor account. It seems that the gentleman who handled the Maker's account was ready to retire and they were contemplating bringing someone on-board with spirits experience, as well as a certain disposition that bordered on that of a diplomat. They were concerned because a certain individual at Maker's liked to get very involved in the creative process and they needed someone who could work with eccentric individuals without killing them. I did not persue the position, nor do I know from first-hand experience, but I can say that people close to the horse's mouth have told me that Bill played an active role in the development of company advertising. When I think about it, I have seen him in some very unusual advertising campaigns, such as the picture of him dressed in drag, among others. Surely he had to come up with the idea, because no ad man in his right mind would suggest such a thing to someone in his position. But, you never know.

    Ken


  8. #48
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Re: Wheated bourbons

    When I lived in Louisville (admitedly, more than 13 years ago), I knew some of the Doe Anderson people who worked on the MM account. No one ever suggested that Bill was not involved, even very involved, but they told me he did not write the ads and was not the principal "creator" of the campaign. I have worked with Bill although not per se as a client. He is very...let's say...self-confident, and he has tremendous energy. I think the hardest part about having him as a client is that he would just plain wear you out.

    --Chuck Cowdery

  9. #49
    Bourbonian of the Year 2004 and Guru
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    Re: Wheated bourbons

    This story was on the front page of my local newspaper;

    Spirited History

    Autobiography chronicles the rise of Maker's Mark, By Jim Brooks, The KENTUCKY STANDARD

    LORETTO--Bardstown is known as The Bourbon Capitol of the World but people may not realize the town's importance to a bourbon produced in Marion County.

    Bardstown is where Bill Samuwls Sr.--the creator of now famous Maker's Mark bourbon whiskey-developed the vision of what new whiskey was to become.

    The story is chronicled in Bill Samuels Jr.'s new book "Maker's Mark--My Autobiography."

    Samuels tells how his father burned the family's 170 year old bourbon recipe and started with an ambitious idea--reinventing bourbon.

    The discussions about this new bourbon actually began around the end of World War I, Samuels said.

    Bill Samuels Sr. started with the grains that are used to make a smoother-tasting bourbon.

    He decided to replace the rye with red winter wheat, and tested his theory in the kitchen-baking bread to help determine what the new grain formula might be like.

    "Unlike Thomas Edison, who experimented through trial and error, when your're making bourbon you can't experiment because it takes six years to do it,"Samuels said.

    And his father's drive to create a new bourbon became a natural addition to the family, Samuels said.

    "This book is really a look at the product from the perspective of what it was like growing up with the little brother I never had,"Samuels said.

    His father's work to create Maker's Mark "chewed up a lot of resources," Samuels said. "Which meant there were less for the rest of us-my sisters and myself.

    It took up and enourmous amout of time, and it wasn't just my father. Mom was as engaged in this as he was.

    His mother's contribution included designing the distinctive packaging, but went beyond that, "Samuels said.

    "She had a pretty good palate, too. She helped him with all he did."

    Samuels said his father had a habit of saving everything connected with the early days of creating Maker's Mark, an that gave him ample material for the book.

    "I knew I had to eventually put (the history of Maker's Mark) in some format-not just to sell it but just to have it.

    The book includes a photo of the first bottle of Maker's Mark produced, signed by all the employee's.

    Bardstown is a vital part of what made that first bottle possible, Samuels said

    "The real formative years, before Dad jumped off the cliff and bought this little place, all those years were in Bardstown, "Samuels said.

    He joined his father's company in 1967 and went into marketing.

    "Dad was scared to death of me, Samuels said. "He knew I was going to come over here and screw it up in a heartbeat.

    "My Charge was to go find customers," he said. "And that's kind of what I'm still doing."

    One of his biggest tasks was finding out how to promote the brand in a way that his father would approve.

    "My father didn't like the concept of trying to sell sombody somethig they didn't want to buy," Samuels said. "He felt that wasn't a very gentlemanly thing to do.

    A real breakthrough for the company was a 1980 front-page story in the Wall Street Journal.

    "That's when the light bulb went off," Samuels said.

    "With that article we realized we could get people to talk to us-which allowed me the chance to talk back- without offending my father,"Samuels said.

    Friends talk to friends on a different level, Samuels said, and the company's marketing efforts took on the some of a conversation amoung friends.

    "It took eight seconds to say that but it took us 13 years, he said. "If it wouldnt's have been for Kentuckians drinking all our whiskey, we would have died.

    His father never showed an interest in the advertising for the product.

    "To my knowledge, he never granted an interview in the entire history of the company,"Samuels said.

    But the younger Samuels has been active in advertising an promotion by his own admission.

    "I realized if we could make this a little more fun and a little less serious, everybody would enjoy it more," he said.

    Thus began his appearances in costume over the years, many of which are showcased in the book.

    The company's distinctive advertising-including those that didn't work-are also included in a section titled, "Our History of 'Bad' Ads."

    "I guess if we created a style or an approach to marketing, it's because Dad wouldn't let me talk to anyone that wasn't already a friend," he said.

    Maker's Mark advertisements get a lot of criticism from advertising professionals for a simple reason, Samuels said.

    "They didn't make any sense to them," he said. "But they made a lot of sense to our customers."

    Like the company's advertisings the book is very visual, Samuels said.

    "The book is a collection of all the stuff that I thought was fun, and the stories of Mom and Dad hanging around, trying to get something started," he said. "And I promise not to write another one."

    It's an amazing story that Samuels credits to his father's initial vision of what Maker's Mark should be.

    "Here you have what started out as a hobby, more than 50 years ago- and that includes the 'getting ready' time-and I don't think any of us in our wildest dreams imagined that in the year 2000 we would have an American icon.

    "Sometimes as we go down the road we forget where it all starts," he said. "And it all started in Bardstown.

    boone



 

 

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