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  1. #1
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    Angostura bourbon?

    From today's Cincinnati Enquirer:
    http://news.enquirer.com/apps/pbcs.d...IZ01/709120326

    Angostura, the Caribbean rum producer that acquired the Lawrenceburg distillery in June, on Tuesday purchased the closed Charles W. Medley distillery down river in Owensboro, Ky."

    "One of the gaps in our portfolio has been Kentucky bourbon," said Duprey, who said his company paid more than $3 million for the distillery.

    ...Patel said Angostura wants to produce about 5 million gallons of bourbon annually from the Medley distillery.
    Very interesting. Anyone know much about the history of the Medley distillery? When did it close, and what brands did it produce? I wonder if the still were intact, or if they have built new ones.

    I also wonder if Angostura aquired the rights to those brand names, and if they'll market those same brand names or come up with something new?

    How does 5 million gallons per year compare to some of the others?

  2. #2
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    Re: Angostura bourbon?

    Just doing a Google search for the Medley distillery revealed something interesting; apparently they used to make Wathens brand.

  3. #3
    Bourbonian of the Year 2010 and Guru
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    Re: Angostura bourbon?

    Charles Wathen Medley was the previous owner and Master Distiller...I hope they will keep him on as MD, it would be good to see his knowledge returned to use in that capacity, while passing it on the the next generation of distillers.

    5 million gallons is about a million barrels every 10 years BT produced its 4 millionth in 1971 and its 5th millionth in 1981...seems like very healthy numbers
    2010 Bourbonian of the Year

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  4. #4
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    Re: Angostura bourbon?

    Fascinating, thanks for the info barturtle. I too would love to see Charles Wathen Medley as MD, even tough I've never tried (and to be honest, never even heard of until a few minutes ago) Wathen's brand, just for continuity's sake if nothing else.

    I don't know for sure if Angostura aquired the Wathen's brand name though. Wathen's has a web page up, and I was just reading this article which indicates that he is still doing some limited bottlings with what I gather is old stock.

  5. #5
    Bourbonian of the Year 2009 and Virtuoso
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    Re: Angostura bourbon?

    If you want to know if an idled facility is getting restarted, look for air and water discharge permitting activity. I had heard a rumor the Medley distillery was being restarted, so for kicks I did a quick search for permits at the Medley distillery several months ago. I recall seeing at least two items. One was for an air permit to restart the boiler and another was for water discharge into the nearby river. So the Medley's were at least getting their ducks in a row for someone to resume operations there. Unfortunately, it won't be them (as owners, anyway).

    Randy

  6. #6
    Disciple
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    Re: Angostura bourbon?

    Wow, I just talked to Charles the other day....he seemed very proud of his and HH's family owned businesses. Hard to believe that he was on the verge of selling. Are we sure that it is DSP 10? Maybe they picked up one of the other Owensboro distilleries?
    ______________________________

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  7. #7
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    Re: Angostura bourbon?

    What good news!

    To me it really doesn´t matter which distillery it is. The very fact that a "new" distillery might be up and running is enough case for celebration, methinks.
    Delighted to see you if you can find me!

  8. #8
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    Re: Angostura bourbon?

    From what I understand, Charles has been making bourbon there. So, it would not be a completely new facility. ie. Wathen's
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    Jeff Mo.

  9. #9
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Re: Angostura bourbon?

    There used to be a thriving whiskey-making industry in Owensboro and the Medley family was a big part of it.

    Here's the history of the distillery Angostura just bought. Most of this comes from Sam Cecil's book, with some gaps filled in by other sources.

    It was built originally, pre-Prohibition. by Richard and Will Monarch, who also built the Monarch Distillery that eventually became Glenmore's main Owensboro plant. (All that's left of that distillery is a bottling plant, now owned by Barton.

    I'm not familiar with the layout, but apparently the two distilleries are close to each other. The distillery Angostura bought was originally RD#12, the Sour Mash Distilling Co.

    After Prohibition, it was rebuilt and, in 1940, sold to the Medley Brothers, Wathen and John. It became Medley Bros. Distilling Co., RD#49. They eventually sold it but stayed on to run it. It changed hands several times until ultimately passing to Glenmore, in 1988. When Chris Morris was at Glenmore, running their Ezra Brooks brand, the distillery they invited you to visit as the Ezra Brooks Distillery was, in fact, this Medley distillery. Charles Medley, son of Wathen, was the distiller, from 1967 on.

    What is now Diageo (then United Distillers) bought Glenmore in 1991. After they rebuilt Bernheim they shut down all of their other Kentucky distilleries, including Medley, which stopped producing in about 1994.

    When UD closed the Owensboro distillery and put Ed Foote, who had been at Stitzel-Weller (which UD also owned), in charge of the new Bernheim plant, Charles was out of a job. He bought the distillery back, along with a stock of whiskey made there. He created the Wathen's brand and sold the whiskey that way, but never restarted the distillery. He sold the cypress fermenters to Maker's Mark. They used the wood to repair their aging fermenters.

    Otherwise, Charlie and Sam (his son) kept the place in good shape, but it's not a big distillery. Angostura isn't going to produce five million gallons there without a lot of expansion. Just to put it in context, the entire Kentucky industry produces about 50 million gallons a year.

    Angostura, which most of us know only from the bitters, is actually part of a big insurance and financial services company with reserves of something like $13 billion dollars, so they have the money if they want to invest it in bourbon production.

    As for brands, they are not acquiring any brands unless Charlie sold them Wathen's, which is the only brand he owns. No one seems to know if Charlie is going to work for them or not, but most people think it unlikely. Angustora is most likely intending to supply the now very tightly stretched bulk whiskey market, primarily in Asia.
    Last edited by cowdery; 09-17-2007 at 11:04.

  10. #10
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    Re: Angostura bourbon?

    Thanks for the info. I'm still a little unclear on where the bourbon going into Wathen's comes from. Is it in their warehouses? Was it distilled there or at Glenmore? Is he still hand bottling there, or is he bottling somewhere else?

    I had never heard of it, either, but a friend of mine is a distributor in Atlanta and is carrying it, so I did some googling.

 

 

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