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  1. #21
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    Re: Wheated bourbons

    I remember seeing a magazine ad or article about the yeast strain being used by Maker's. Bill Jr. says that he remembers his father baking bread with several different yeast strains until he hit upon the one he know employs in the making of his bourbon. From my background in the ad/marketing business, this has my radar tingling! But, who knows.
    Ken


  2. #22
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Re: Wheated bourbons

    It is a point of pride among distillers to make their own yeast, i.e., to capture and propigate a particularly suitable wild yeast strain. Jim Beam still uses the yeast Jim Beam himself propigated on the back porch of his Bardstown home in 1933.

    I was told the story about Bill Samuels Sr. and Pappy Van Winkle this way by a former employee of Old Fitzgerald. Supposedly, Bill and Pappy were great friends. Bill told Pappy he was thinking about buying a small distillery and getting back into the whiskey business. He asked what course Pappy would recommend. Pappy said, "take my Old Fitzgerald recipe...I'll give it to you...put it in a fancy bottle and charge an arm and a leg for it. You won't be competing with me because that's not my business, and you'll make a fortune."

    Fitz and Weller are the same recipe. Nothing was said in this telling about yeast. I can't prove whether or not this exchange happened, but I pass it along for what it's worth.

    --Chuck Cowdery

  3. #23
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    Re: Wheated bourbons

    I read in Regan's The Book of Bourbon, that the Maker's Mark yeast strain was pre-repeal of prohibition. "When T. William Samuels reentered the business, he brought with him the strain of yeast he had used back at the old distillery..."

    John A. Dube

  4. #24
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    Re: Wheated bourbons

    According to oral history tapes of Roy Hawes at the University of Louisville the yeast came from Stitzel-Weller and after it died out on them the first year, Pappy had to give them another starter. (Roy Hawes was Master Distiller at Stitzel-Weller at the time of Maker's Mark founding and experienced the events first hand).

    Mike Veach


  5. #25
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    Re: Wheated bourbons

    John, much as I enjoy reading Gary and Mardee's books, I'm afraid there's just too much misinformation in them to accept anything they say unless you see it backed up somewhere else.

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

  6. #26
    **DONOTDELETE**
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    Re: Wheated bourbons

    Proof once again that you just can't "Stump The Veach"! :-))

    Linn Spencer

    Have Shotglass. Will Travel.

  7. #27
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    Re: Wheated bourbons

    Having believed Bill Jr.'s story about his dad baking bread with different yeast strains to settle upon the best strain for his bourbons, has left me somewhat dejected to find it ain't so. You would think that after spending the last 15 years in marketing I would not be so naive. Well, live and learn.

    Ken


  8. #28
    **DONOTDELETE**
    Guest

    Re: Wheated bourbons

    Ken, Bill baking bread is the official story line they tell during the tour. I know Mike Veach to be a deep well of bourbon knowledge and scrupulously honest.

    Linn Spencer

    Have Shotglass. Will Travel.

  9. #29
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Re: Wheated bourbons

    I have never heard the bread story told in reference to yeast, but only in reference to the choice of flavor grain, e.g., rye v. wheat. When you think about it, that makes more sense. Distiller's yeast is more like sourdough starter than it is like the dry yeast most people use for baking. Have you ever heard of a baker experimenting with yeast strains? Probably not, but I guess if one did, it would be a distiller.

    I doubt Bill Sr. used a yeast from the old T.W. Samuels plant for one reason. Even Bill Jr. will tell you that his father quit distilling originally because he was disgusted by the product they were making there.

    --Chuck Cowdery

  10. #30
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    Re: Wheated bourbons

    I had heard that Bill Sr.'s first attempt at running a distillery ended in bankruptcy. He then went to work for Pappy, before striking out on his own in Loretto. Is this true or am I just spreading gossip?

    Ken


 

 

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