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  1. #81
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    Re: I Need Help with T.W. Samuels Post Pro History.

    Re-reading this thread just now, it's an interesting odyssey that began in the summer of 2008. A lot of people have contributed but most of the credit goes to Mark (chefmel) for sticking with it. Persistence pays off. Maybe I shouldn't have given up on stalking Morgan Fairchild after all.

    Another thing that struck me is that Heaven Hill could be considered more the successor to T. W. Samuels than Maker's Mark is. Yes, the last remaining member of the Samuls family went on to found Maker's Mark, but it looks like Heaven Hill ultimately acquired what remained of the Samuels company's business along with several executives and several brand names. If that happened in the 1970s, Max Shapira would remember it, as would other current or (more likely) retired Heaven Hill executives.

    My theory is that Charle DeSpain stayed close to the Samuels business even after he went to Heaven Hill in 1943, putting Heaven Hill in a position to acquire along the way any assets TW Samuels might wish to sell, perhaps also supplying them with whiskey and keeping them in business long after they stopped distilling. Sam Cecil worked at both Maker's Mark and Heaven Hill after leaving TW Samuels, but Sam was a production guy, not a business guy. He didn't pay attention to that sort of thing. DeSpain was a business guy. He's long since dead but there may be other people at or retired from HH who know about the final days of T. W. Samuels.
    Last edited by cowdery; 11-28-2010 at 21:51.

  2. #82
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    Re: I Need Help with T.W. Samuels Post Pro History.

    Quote Originally Posted by cowdery View Post
    My theory is that Charle DeSpain stayed close to the Samuels business even after he went to Heaven Hill in 1943, putting Heaven Hill in a position to acquire along the way any assets TW Samuels might wish to sell, perhaps also supplying them with whiskey and keeping them in business long after they stopped distilling. Sam Cecil worked at both Maker's Mark and Heaven Hill after leaving TW Samuels, but Sam was a production guy, not a business guy. He didn't pay attention to that sort of thing. DeSpain was a business guy. He's long since dead but there may be other people at or retired from HH who know about the final days of T. W. Samuels.
    I found this picture of Charlie DeSpain and the Shapira Bros. at the HH Website. That's Charlie in the interesting shirt.

    pic-shapirobros.jpg

    L to R: Ed (Max's father), Charlie DeSpain, David, Mose, George, Gary
    Last edited by Josh; 11-29-2010 at 04:18.
    bibamus, moriendum est
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  3. #83
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    Re: I Need Help with T.W. Samuels Post Pro History.

    Hi all,

    Glad to see Josh and Chuck are still following along! I met with Sam's former attorney today - great guy with lots of info. Also got to meet mamayak - thanks for the bottles, I'm sipping some 12yr Jim Porter as I write. Still great after all these years. I'm guessing this bottle was produced in the '60's and I would think there weren't too many distilleries making 12 year old juice back then. One of the most interesting things the lawyer told me today was that Sam sold the distillery to United Brands. Does that name wring a bell with anyone out there?? I was told by people down in Deatsville that a "Mr. Thompson" from Scotland had purchased the distillery - maybe he was affiliated with United Brands.

    Chuck - thanks for your comments on my persistence! It's been a long strange trip that isn't over yet. I still feel that the juice was distilled on site until about 1970 from what I was able to find out from former employees. I think Chuck is right about HH as they do still produce some of the old labels made in Deatsville. I also found out that Sam had 2 grandsons so the search is on for them. His lawyer also told me that when Sam died, he had 7 safety deposit boxes - 5 in Detroit and 2 in Michigan. Between the 7 there was over $150,000 in cash, much of it stamped from the 1940's. He lived through the depression and was probably leery about investing in the stock markets or the banks which was probably why there was so much cash. That's a nice mad money stash!

    Josh - PM me and tell me how to add pictures to these posts - I'll post some pictures of what I have found to date.

    And the saga continues . . .

    Mark

  4. #84
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    Re: I Need Help with T.W. Samuels Post Pro History.

    Mark, Keep at it. It will be really interesting to see what else you can find out. By all means keep us updated. Hope to see you again soon. Joe
    " I never met a Weller I didn't like"

  5. #85
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    Re: I Need Help with T.W. Samuels Post Pro History.

    "United Brands" is one of those very generic-sounding corporate names that can be hard to pin down.

    Today it is the California-based manufacturer of JOOSE, one of those caffeinated malt liquors like FOUR Loko, that has been in the news lately. As a relatively new company, I doubt that United Brands has any connection to this story.

    Between 1970 and 1985, United Brands Company was what is today Chiquita Brands International Inc., which was originally the United Fruit Company, established in 1871. It became United Brands in 1970 when Eli Black bought a controlling interest and merged it with another company he owned that was in unrelated businesses, as was the style of that era. Might such a diversified conglomerate have also owned a distilled spirits company at some point? Not unlikely.

    The fact that there is a Cincinnati connection also suggests that possibility. After Black's death in 1975, United Brands was acquired by Carl Lindner's American Financial Group (AFG), based in Cincinnati. Lindner is crazy rich and AFG has bought and sold dozens if not hundreds of different companies over the years. One of them, now largely forgotten, could have been a little distilled spirits company in Deatsville, Kentucky.

    In 1985 United Brands changed its name to Chiquita Brands International, but the company continued to be based in Cincinnati and still is to this day.

    I can't find any evidence that United Brands had any distilled spirits interests but many diversified conglomerates of that period did. In addition to Chiquita Bananas the United Brands portfolio included John Morrell Meats and Foster Grant Sunglasses.

    I was going to suggest that "United Brands" may have gotten confused with "United Distillers,' except United Distillers (UD) wasn't formed until 1987.

    Black is perhaps best known for having committed suicide in dramatic fashion when it all went bust in 1975. The time frame -- early 70s -- is certainly right, although it seems more likely that the acquisition was made post-Black, after the company moved to Cincinnati.

    I have previously characterized T. W. Samuels as primarily a commodity producer and based on all of the above that may not be right. They may have been more like Medley Brothers, a small, regional, marginally successful branded distilled spirits producer.

    Finally, "Mr. Thompson" (although Thompson is a very common name) suggests Glenmore Distillers, which was based in Louisville, and owned and operated by the Thompson family until 1991 when it was bought by -- wait for it -- United Distillers.
    Last edited by cowdery; 11-29-2010 at 17:04.

  6. #86
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    Re: I Need Help with T.W. Samuels Post Pro History.

    Mark, Glad to hear you got hooked up with Jim & mamayak, along with that 12 year old Jim Porter bottle. Had some of that last year, good stuff.
    I guess when they cleaned out the offices down in Detroit after Sam died, they found several cases of bourbon in the basement storage room. That may have been better than the cash! I believe that Jm Porter bottle is the last of the stash.
    Hope to see you soon.
    Tim

  7. #87
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    Re: I Need Help with T.W. Samuels Post Pro History.

    Jim Porter, by the way, is a legendary character from Kentucky's earliest history, a real-life Paul Bunyan, called "The Kentucky Giant." His grave marker says, "he was 7 feet, 8 Inches tall- an inch shorter than he claimed."

    Jim Porter was a tavern keeper and there is still a bar in Louisville that bears his name, though it's not in the same part of town as his.

  8. #88
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    Re: I Need Help with T.W. Samuels Post Pro History.

    Quote Originally Posted by cowdery View Post
    "United Brands" is one of those very generic-sounding corporate names that can be hard to pin down.

    Today it is the California-based manufacturer of JOOSE, one of those caffeinated malt liquors like FOUR Loko, that has been in the news lately. As a relatively new company, I doubt that United Brands has any connection to this story.

    Between 1970 and 1985, United Brands Company was what is today Chiquita Brands International Inc., which was originally the United Fruit Company, established in 1871. It became United Brands in 1970 when Eli Black bought a controlling interest and merged it with another company he owned that was in unrelated businesses, as was the style of that era. Might such a diversified conglomerate have also owned a distilled spirits company at some point? Not unlikely.

    The fact that there is a Cincinnati connection also suggests that possibility. After Black's death in 1975, United Brands was acquired by Carl Lindner's American Financial Group (AFG), based in Cincinnati. Lindner is crazy rich and AFG has bought and sold dozens if not hundreds of different companies over the years. One of them, now largely forgotten, could have been a little distilled spirits company in Deatsville, Kentucky.

    In 1985 United Brands changed its name to Chiquita Brands International, but the company continued to be based in Cincinnati and still is to this day.

    I can't find any evidence that United Brands had any distilled spirits interests but many diversified conglomerates of that period did. In addition to Chiquita Bananas the United Brands portfolio included John Morrell Meats and Foster Grant Sunglasses.

    I was going to suggest that "United Brands" may have gotten confused with "United Distillers,' except United Distillers (UD) wasn't formed until 1987.

    Black is perhaps best known for having committed suicide in dramatic fashion when it all went bust in 1975. The time frame -- early 70s -- is certainly right, although it seems more likely that the acquisition was made post-Black, after the company moved to Cincinnati.

    I have previously characterized T. W. Samuels as primarily a commodity producer and based on all of the above that may not be right. They may have been more like Medley Brothers, a small, regional, marginally successful branded distilled spirits producer.

    Finally, "Mr. Thompson" (although Thompson is a very common name) suggests Glenmore Distillers, which was based in Louisville, and owned and operated by the Thompson family until 1991 when it was bought by -- wait for it -- United Distillers.
    Hi all,

    I wonder if he meant United distillers??

    I've been down to Bardstown/Deatsville twice in the past two months but no luck so far in figuring out what company purchased the distillery. I met a lady in the geneology department at the Nelson County Library who suggeste I go to the courthouse and try to find the property transfer records, so I'll be back in Bardstown this week and hope to find more answers then. Thanks for all your help and encouragement the past 3 years and the saga continues . . . .

    Mark

  9. #89
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    Re: I Need Help with T.W. Samuels Post Pro History.

    As I said, it couldn't have been United Distillers unless he had a time machine, since United Distillers didn't exist until 1987.

    Sam Cecil's book isn't perfect but he's good on the Samuels history, since he worked there for many years and had that particular interest. He says it was sold in 1943 to Foster Trading of New York, which renamed it Country Distillers.

    Property transfer records will tell you who owned the property, which may give you some clues but won't necessarily tell you who owned the business. We know, for example, that at some point Heaven Hill bought about half of the warehouses and Maker's Mark bought the rest. The distillery certainly did not operate after all the warehouses were sold.

  10. #90
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    Re: I Need Help with T.W. Samuels Post Pro History.

    Quote Originally Posted by cowdery View Post
    As I said, it couldn't have been United Distillers unless he had a time machine, since United Distillers didn't exist until 1987.

    Sam Cecil's book isn't perfect but he's good on the Samuels history, since he worked there for many years and had that particular interest. He says it was sold in 1943 to Foster Trading of New York, which renamed it Country Distillers.

    Property transfer records will tell you who owned the property, which may give you some clues but won't necessarily tell you who owned the business. We know, for example, that at some point Heaven Hill bought about half of the warehouses and Maker's Mark bought the rest. The distillery certainly did not operate after all the warehouses were sold.
    The warehouses were apparently sold after Sam sold the business. You are correct on the property records. The main reason I'm going to look there is to see when the property was transferred so I can narrow down my search through the old newspapers and hopefully find out who was running the business. I'll have to check the 1943 newspaper article again on the country distiller's name and when it was known as that.

    Mark

 

 

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