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  1. #1
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    Michter's pot stills, where are they now?

    This is a question for Chuck, Bettye Jo, or others in the know or simply in Kentucky.

    In Chuck Cowdery's book Bourbon, Straight he mentions the still that used to run at Michter's in Pennsylvania were now in the possession of members of the Beam family. Supposedly for use in a micro-distillery operation.

    What ever came of that?
    "It hasn't cured my broken heart, but it sure helps a lot."
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  2. #2
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Re: Michter's pot stills, where are they now?

    As far as I know, it's still sitting in a couple of small buildings next to the My Old Kentucky Home Motel in Bardstown, across the street from the General Nelson. David Beam used to own the motel and one of his sons ran it. They sold it a couple of years ago but still own an adjacent piece of property. There's a building with a couple of apartments in it and, next to that, the distillery equipment.

    It's set up as a display. It never has been "hooked up" since it came to Kentucky and probably never will be.

    For the benefit of those who don't know the story, this is a small, one-barrel-a-day pot still distillery that Michter's installed in 1976, in conjunction with the U.S. bicentennial. The whiskey made in it was sold, un-aged, as a novelty. This is not the whiskey that was sold as A. H. Hirsch, which was not actually pot distilled, despite claims to the contrary.

    David Beam bought it and moved it to Kentucky several years after Michter's closed and after David retired from Jim Beam. That was about ten years ago. It consists of two stills, a cooker, several fermenters and various holding tanks.

  3. #3
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    Re: Michter's pot stills, where are they now?

    Quote Originally Posted by cowdery View Post
    As far as I know, it's still sitting in a couple of small buildings next to the My Old Kentucky Home Motel in Bardstown, across the street from the General Nelson. David Beam used to own the motel and one of his sons ran it. They sold it a couple of years ago but still own an adjacent piece of property. There's a building with a couple of apartments in it and, next to that, the distillery equipment.

    It's set up as a display. It never has been "hooked up" since it came to Kentucky and probably never will be.

    ^ Thanks Chuck, I love these extra little tid-bits of information.

  4. #4
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    Re: Michter's pot stills, where are they now?

    Yes, thank you Chuck. I wasn't aware the still was not part of Michter's commercial production.
    "It hasn't cured my broken heart, but it sure helps a lot."
    -Ernest Tubb

  5. #5
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    Re: Michter's pot stills, where are they now?

    There are pics here at SB of the still. A group of SB'ers went over and looked at it one evening while hanging out at the Gazebo. Someone took pics of us standing by it and posted them here. Probably three years ago at either the Sampler or the Fest.

    Randy

  6. #6
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    Re: Michter's pot stills, where are they now?

    Randy pointed out there are pictures of the stills on a Sampler thread. Turns out it was 2004.

    http://www.straightbourbon.com/forum...?t=2553&page=2
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  7. #7
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Re: Michter's pot stills, where are they now?

    John Ed Beam, David's son who participates here from time to time, was with us, as was Craig Beam. I remember that Craig's wife and some of her girlfriends arrived and busted him.

  8. #8
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    Re: Michter's pot stills, where are they now?

    I'm curious...and likely there may not be a solid answer....

    Chuck had mentioned that Michters "pot still" whiskey actually used a column still with a pot still doubler. That is certainly validated by the links to press articles and pictures.

    From the pictures it looks quite big, so the initial intent must've been to use it in production, don't you think?

    What stumps me is why in the heck would they purchase a commercial grade pot still and then not use it? Doesn't seem they would just have it around for looks or to be part of the Michter's tour.

    Did Michter's ever make true pot still whiskey?

    Is so, why did they stop?

    If not why?




    Greg
    "That rug really tied the room together" -- Jeffery Lebowski

  9. #9
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Re: Michter's pot stills, where are they now?

    Michter's, which for most of its history was called Bombergers, was a conventional whiskey distillery. It had a continuous, column-type beer still and a conventional doubler, which is a type of pot still. The first distillation was done in the column then a second distillation was done in the doubler. This is exactly like every other whiskey distillery in Kentucky and Tennessee except Woodford Reserve, which uses alembics.

    As far as I know, since they have little resale value, both the column and the doubler are still there.

    But even though the whiskey Michter's sold as "pot still" whiskey wasn't, they did make pot still whiskey.

    Michter's, especially after the American whiskey business started to tank in the late 1960s, struggled to stay in business. In imitation of Jack Daniel's it made a big effort to promote tourism. In 1976, as part of the U.S. bicentennial, they had Vendome make for them a complete one-barrel-a-day distillery, which included two alembic stills, a larger beer still and a smaller spirit still. It also had its own fermenters, cooker and everything else. It was a complete, self-contained, small scale distillery. They thought this would enhance their tourism appeal. They operated it, but since it only produced a barrel a day, they didn't get much out of it to sell. What they did get they sold as white dog, consistent with the historical nature of it, since whiskey in 1776 would not have been aged.

    Today, that distillery sits across the street from the General Nelson in Bardstown. It is owned by David Beam, retired Jim Beam distiller and son of Carl Beam, who was the son of Park Beam, Jim Beam's younger brother.
    Last edited by cowdery; 08-28-2008 at 12:22.

  10. #10
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    Re: Michter's pot stills, where are they now?

    Thanks for the knowledge Chuck!

    ahh, so basically the only true pot still whiskey Michter's made was through this small one barrel per day tourist distillery and none of it was ever aged and the pot still and equip David Beam has is from the small tourist distillery?

    Also all of the retail aged "pot still" whiskey and bourbon (bottles, figurines) went through the conventional still process and Michter's never really made a true retail pot still whiskey for distribution?
    "That rug really tied the room together" -- Jeffery Lebowski

 

 

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