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  1. #1
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    Wathen's Source?

    I like Wathen's Bourbon quite a bit and have been following its twisty tale for the last couple of years, especially the provenance of the whiskey in the bottles.

    There has, of course, been speculation that it was Glenmore stock purchased by Charles Medley at the time of the sale of Glenmore to United Distillers (John Lipman mistakenly says National) and then to Barton:
    here:
    Yes, he's the same Charles Wathen Medley who used to be the master distiller at Glenmore. According to what he told us, it's a classic case of follow-the-twisty-trail-of-who-owns-what in the bourbon business. [United] Distillers bought out Glenmore. Then Barton Brands bought the distillery property and the brands from [United]. But they didn't buy the existing stock. Well, National didn't want the existing stock, either, so Charlie bought it and moved it across town (Owensboro) to one of the warehouses at his family's old abandoned distillery. So now the Charles W. Medley Distilling Company, which doesn't actually do any distilling, and probably doesn't have the yeast or the rights to the formula either, owns a warehouse full of barrels of fine whiskey which Charles Medley actually made. Pretty cool, huh?
    There was also a refutation of that sourcing by Sam Medley here:
    "Tim -
    Wathen's Kentucky Bourbon is not, nor has been, from Yellowstone/Glenmore distilleries. I do not know of any brand to direct you to if you are seeking product from that distillery.
    So, how does one make sense of these conflicting statements?

    Out of pure speculation, I wonder if the Ben Medley Distillery, in the vicinity of Owensboro, discussed herecould have been the source. I imagine that the "warehouses at (Charles Medley's) family's old abandoned distillery" that Lipman speaks of could refer to the Ben Medley Distillery. Chuck Cowdery references Ben Medley Distillery being in production at least as late as 1992 in this quote I am referencing from Doug's post (I don't know the original attribution)
    The Ben Medley Distillery Co. is still on record as having 51 barrels of aging bourbon, made in 1992, in its warehouse in Stanley, KY... - chuck
    (Note: the distillery contained 1992 product, but the site of distillation is not explicitly called out).

    BourbonJoe, in this post implies he has talked with the Medley's in the early 2000's and was told the stock was 10 years old:
    Tim,
    There is no age statement on the bottle, but if you contact the distillery they will tell you that it is 10 years old.
    Joe
    Since 2002 is 10 years after the 1992 date that Chuck tells us the Ben Medley Distillery product had in it, I posit that production from Ben Medley Distillery _could possibly_ be the source of Wathen's. The 1992 whiskey could also be stock brought from Glenmore at the sale...

    Can anyone shed more light on this? All I have is conjecture.

    Roger
    Last edited by Rughi; 12-09-2006 at 16:26.

  2. #2
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    Re: Wathen's Source?

    Wathens has recently re-surfaced here locally in a 2006 bottling. I agree that it is a delightful pour, whatever its heritage.
    John B

    "Drinking when we are not thirsty and making love at all seasons… that is all there is to distinguish us from other animals."

  3. #3
    Bourbonian of the Year 2009 and Virtuoso
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    Re: Wathen's Source?

    I have also posted on many occasions that I like the early bottlings of Wathen's. My bottles were bottled between 1998 and 2001 as I recall. I currently have a 2001 open. Taste wise, it has a unique profile to me which I have described as a "buttery bisquit" ness to me....slightly oily and a cake/bisquit flavor. On occasion I get a slight mintiness but not at the level you find in many HH products. The conflicting statements you have referenced make it difficult to determine its source.....but my guess would be that it is from a shuttered distillery or specially selected barrels from HH (unlikely except that we know HH sells a lot of excess whiskey).

    I have not had the new iteration. I wonder if they tanked the whiskey while searching for a new bottler (they stopped bottling a few years ago while finding a new bottler)? Its actually a two part question Roger....where were the older bottles from and are the new ones different?

    Randy

  4. #4
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    Re: Wathen's Source?

    Good questions Randy,
    I have a bottle of Wathen's that I have not opened yet.
    On the nesk, close to the top it has written in that it is from Barrel Number 76, Hand Bottled 8-17-99.
    With the signature of Charles Medley under these statements.

    The back label states;
    Bottled By
    Charles Medley Distillery
    St. Louis, MO.
    Distilled In Kentucky

    So would this be distilled by Medley in Owensboro?
    Or by HH?

  5. #5
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    Re: Wathen's Source?

    Note also a posting made by Mark/Nebraska in October, where Charles Medley tells Mark that both his Wathen´s bottles were distilled by him.

    Thread here : http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbth...?t=3878&page=5

    If he identifies Wathen´s as distilled by himself then surely he must have been deeply involved with the Ben Medley distillery? Which, of course, is not an impossibility.

    I still wonder, though, what fate befell all those Glenmore barrels. Were they deemed undrinkable?
    Delighted to see you if you can find me!

  6. #6
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    Re: Wathen's Source?

    Quote Originally Posted by doubleblank View Post
    where were the older bottles from and are the new ones different?
    Randy
    One tantalizing clue is John Lipman's photo of the Medley rickhouse here, about halfway down the page. The only city on the barrel heads I can read say Owensboro, and the product names are all unfamiliar to me: I seem to read "Jordan Constance" and "Buddy Lazaar," but those names seem...obscure.

  7. #7
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Re: Wathen's Source?

    As recently as the late 90s, the annual consolidation report on Kentucky aging whiskey stock showed the Ben Medley Distillery and the Commonwealth Distillery as each having several dozen barrels of aging whiskey, fewer than 100 each. Neither distillery shows up on more recent reports.

    According to Cecil, the Medley family sold RD #49 in 1959 but several family members, including Charles Medley's father, stayed on with this and successive owners. Glenmore acquired the company, including the distillery, in 1988, and Charles Medley remained as master distiller. What whiskey-making Glenmore did from that point forward (more or less) they did at the Medley Distillery. They offered tours of the place under the Ezra Brooks name.

    Subsequently, Glenmore was absorbed by the company that became Diageo. They opened a new distillery in Louisville (Bernheim, now Heaven Hill) and closed the one in Owensboro. Charles Medley bought it back, along with a small amount of "his" whiskey. That was in 1992 or thereabouts.

    That whiskey is no longer in barrels. It may be in tanks, or it may all be sold. I tend to believe it has all been sold. He may subsequently have been able to acquire other whiskey made there that had been retained by Diageo. I don't know that, I'm just speculating. More likely is that he managed to acquire some suitable whiskey from one or more of the usual suspects, but not anything he made.

    The Medley Distillery, which now uses RD #10, should not be confused with the Old Stanley Distillery, RD #76, which Ben and Tom Medley established in 1960 and operated until the late 1970s. The Medley family was associated with several other Daviess County distilleries as well. However, I believe the names Medley Distilling Co., Medley Brothers and Ben Medley all refer to the same place, formerly RD #49, now RD#10.

    This is mostly from Cecil. I admit I don't know my Daviess County distilleries like I should.

  8. #8
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    Question Re: Wathen's Source?

    Today, I ran across a couple of these bottles. One was from barrel #40 bottled on 8-17-99 and the other from barrel #128 bottled on 3-18-02 with a price of $33.99. Both bottles looked about the same as far as color goes with the older bottle just being a lot more dusty. While trying to decide between the 2, I noticed on the same top shelf, a few rows to the left, 2 bottles of Ezra B 15YO SB - both bottled 01-02 from the same barrel and priced $31.99.

    Now a real dilemma reared its ugly head! With limited funds, which bottle to take home? Unable to decide, I left with neither deciding to take the question here to the authorities on all things bourbon.

    To complicate things further, I noticed also this store had a bottle of ER SB10 in the slot where the old ER101 used to be with the same price on it of $19.99. That might be the best deal of the three.....but, left it there as well. It is bad this time of year when you go into a store and find multiple (and sometimes hard to find) bottles but with enough money for only one.

  9. #9
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    Re: Wathen's Source?

    Quote Originally Posted by Old Lamplighter View Post
    Today, I ran across a couple of these bottles. One was from barrel #40 bottled on 8-17-99 and the other from barrel #128 bottled on 3-18-02 with a price of $33.99. Both bottles looked about the same as far as color goes with the older bottle just being a lot more dusty. While trying to decide between the 2, I noticed on the same top shelf, a few rows to the left, 2 bottles of Ezra B 15YO SB - both bottled 01-02 from the same barrel and priced $31.99.

    Now a real dilemma reared its ugly head! With limited funds, which bottle to take home? Unable to decide, I left with neither deciding to take the question here to the authorities on all things bourbon.

    To complicate things further, I noticed also this store had a bottle of ER SB10 in the slot where the old ER101 used to be with the same price on it of $19.99. That might be the best deal of the three.....but, left it there as well. It is bad this time of year when you go into a store and find multiple (and sometimes hard to find) bottles but with enough money for only one.
    I might forgoe the ERSB, and flip a quarter on the other two.

  10. #10
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Re: Wathen's Source?

    The Eagle Rare single barrel 10-yr usually costs about $20. It's the 17-yr that's more.

    As for the other two, I'm a big fan of the Ezra 15 and would jump on that, personally, but it's very woody and not to everyone's taste. Unless you already know you like it, or know you like comparable very-olds, such as Elijah Craig 18-yr, the Wathen might be a safer bet.

    Of the two Wathens, I would pick the 1999 bottling, which has a better chance of being Medley whiskey, i.e., whiskey Charlie Medley actually made, as opposed to whiskey he bought.

 

 

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