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ethangsmith

Michter's Distillery- Schaefferstown, PA. DSP-PA-17. Your questions answered!

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ethangsmith

I'm going to start this thread in hopes to answer your burning questions about the little distillery in Lebanon County. Hopefully I can dispel some rumors, add some new information, and answer most of your questions.

Let's just get these 2 out of the way now:

1. Michter's closed on Valentine's Day 1990 after Master Distiller Dick Stoll received a call from the bank (They were in bankruptcy) to shut everything down and not come back until further notice.

2. A.H. Hirsch was distilled at Bomberger's Distillery (The OFFICIAL name of the distillery) before it was called Michter's. It was distilled by Pennco in 1974 and is not the same whiskey as the Michter's Pot Still whiskey. It is a true bourbon, whereas the Michter's is just 'whiskey'.

 

Ask away! It may be a few days at times until I can get an answer (I have to go through my documents sometimes), but I hope to be able to give you a good answer!

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flahute

What was the most regular and highly regarded bourbons that came out of the distillery? (not referring to the AH Hirsch's).

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ethangsmith

That's a good question. Outside A.H. Hirsch, there isn't very good documentation. I have some aging records from the early 80's, and if I remember correctly, the only large quantity of bourbon aging on the property by that time was the Hirsch. By the 80's, any other bourbon that was distilled or aging at Michter's was for bulk sale and we can only guess where that went. Going back to the Pennco era, it gets messy. Pennco distilled bourbon, but they also brought it in from Indiana and Continental in Philadelphia at times. Pennco did market some of their bourbon under the Penn Esquire or Pennco 86 brands. The rest went into blends or was sold under all sorts of private labels. Robert Morris and Old Vandegrift were both quite popular bourbons from them as well, but distribution was very small. Rye whiskey was handled very similiarly- small distribution and lots of private labels and blends. A good portion was also sold as bulk.

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Ruffin51

What is the history of Michter's since the closure in 1990?

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ethangsmith

Hi Ruffin,

 

After 1990, the site sat disused for quite a few years. It quickly fell victim to looters as there was still thousands of gallons of aging whiskey on the property- along with bottles and everything else. After not finding an owner (Turns out the man that was running the place at the end had set up all sorts of fake names and addresses), the government came in and removed all the whiskey. This involved draining the barrels and equipment into tanker trucks and having the alcohol destroyed. The bond had not been paid, so it was not sellable. That was in 1992 or 93. It sat for a few more years until about 1995 when the property was purchased from the bank. A public sale happened and some equipment and lots of other items were sold off. Much more items, including many historical artifacts were burned in a bonfire by some men the owner had hired. This was also the time when the barrel-a-day pot still was removed and sent to Bardstown (It's now at the current-day Michter's Distillery!). Shortly after, it was discovered it was no longer feasible to distill in large quantity on the property and the site was sold to Dwight Hostetter. He had plans to move his woodworking and cabinetry business into some of the buildings and rent out the rest of the space. But he fell ill and the property fell into disrepair and suffered further vandalism. After years of having to pay medical bills, he lost the property to a tax sale- this was in 2011. The current owners, the Barry family (Owners of Lebanon Farms Disposal), have made some major changes to the site. The buildings that had major structural issues were removed. The collapsed warehouses were removed, but the remaining buildings were given some much needed attention. The still house, gauging house, pump houses, and Warehouse A/Bottling House are still standing and look very nice. A major exterior restoration of the still house brought it back to it's 1976 look- hex signs and all.


As for the brand- It's pretty simple. When Michter's closed on Valentine's Day in 1990, the workers expected to be back to work soon. But it never happened. The owners disappeared. So the brand and trademark quickly went idle. Some folks in the wholesale distribution business (Chatham Imports) saw value in the name and began to resurrect the brand. Bottles of Michter's started appearing on the shelves in the early 2000's. Michter's is entirely contract-distilled whiskey currently. But recently, they've begun to distill their own whiskey, so they should have completely in-house product ready for bottling within the next few years.

Edited by ethangsmith

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Clueby

I visited there sometime in the mid 80's when it was still open. I bought a Michter's branded bottle of whiskey at the gift shop (even though I was currently underage!) and subsequently drank it.  I kept the empty bottle for many years but eventually threw it out.  I have a tourist brochure from my visit.  One of the things I remember is they were making their own charcoal for filtering purposes.

 

I'll have to dig thru a box of mementos but if I find the brochure I will scan it in and share it.

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ethangsmith

Cool! Michter's did a lot of making their own stuff. Since they were the sole survivor in PA, they often had to be creative to keep going.

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flahute

At the Sampler last weekend, Paul (The Black Tot), had a bottle of original Pennsylvania distilled Michter's. It was good! Not the best whiskey you ever tasted but still good.

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ethangsmith

Glad to hear you were able to find some of the original stuff. It is quite good considering it was never made to be top shelf stuff.

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flahute
18 hours ago, ethangsmith said:

Glad to hear you were able to find some of the original stuff. It is quite good considering it was never made to be top shelf stuff.

Agreed!

If I came across a case of it I would gladly drink it slowly over time. Fortunate to have tasted that history.

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boone

The man on the left is my great Uncle Everett Beam,  Master Distiller.

post-20-14489811039557.jpg

  • I like it 1

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ethangsmith

Great picture! Looks like they just barrelled #50000.

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Richnimrod

Thanx for that pic, Bettye Jo!    Cool to see the smiles on those faces from so long ago.

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