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BSS

Another possible Distillery Question.

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BSS

While driving back from a meeting in the Bowling Green area Thursday, I drove past a building that appeared to be some type of distilling operation. The building is on the side of US-31 just North of Knob Creek(Lincoln's Boyhood home) and just south of the Nelson County line in Larue County. Going South it's on the right side of the road, very close to the road. It's mainly brick with a smokestack beside it. When I drove past it, there was a truck backed up to it and a couple of guys were rolling barrels on to it. The barrels looked pretty new. Betty Jo, this is right down the road from Bardstown, do you know what this place is?

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bobbyc

Not BettyeJo but here goes...

That is the Atherton distillery. Was part of Seagrams. I thought it closed in the 70s but I think it was quite a bit later actually. Barrels are being made there now.

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BSS

That explains the newness of the barrels.

Thanks

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boone

Yeah, it was Seagrams. It caught fire and never re-opened. I have some pictures and the news article all about it. I will look it up and post it here this weekend grin.gif

A distillery has been on those grounds for many, many years. Abe Lincoln's daddy (Thomas) worked there. It was called the Boone Brother's Distillery in those days. Tale has it that young Abe would take his father his lunch there quite often. You passed by his boyhood home just a skip down the road from there. That creek running beside the cabin is called Knob Creek. I assume that's where Beam's got the name for it's (9) year old Knob Creek, Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey grin.gif

As Bobby said they make barrels there now. I asked them, where are the barrels going? The response surpised me...Jim Beam, Heaven Hill, and Maker's Mark. I thought that, Independent Stave made "all" of Heaven Hill's barrels.

I asked him could I visit and take a few pictures? He said, I could.

Lately, time restrictions and a busy lifestyle have prevented me from doing it. I will grin.gif in due time grin.gif I would bet that a lot of folks on this forum have never been inside to see a barrel being made. I think it will be interesting.

I have been to ISC, in Lebanon, many, many times. It's a tough job. You can see why those barrels cost over a hundred dollars each.

grin.gifgrin.gif Bettye Jo grin.gifgrin.gif

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boone

As promised...the story about the Seagram's Athertonville Distillery fire.

This was published in the Kentucky Standard, Bardstown, Ky on February 24, 1972.

A disastrous fire at Seagrams Athertonville Distillery, a few miles south of New Haven, early Saturday morning destroyed the distillery plant and put most of the 56 empoloyees out of work.

Eleven men were working in the still house when the fire broke out about 3:40 a.m. and fortunately none were hurt, said Plat manager James Waldorf, who lives at Bardstown.

The LaRue County and Bardstown-Nelson County fire departments fought the blaze for four hours and did a tremdous job, said Waldorf. The fire was contained within the brick walls. The power house, fermenting room and evaporator escaped damage and did not spread to the three warehouses where whiskey is stored. In addition to the fire, wind blown sparks to other buildings created another hazard. Firemen kept buildings wet until the huge blaze had died down.

Seagrams vice president in charge of production was at the plant yesterday assessing the damage. A decision on whether to rebuild will be made the New York office of the company, perhaps this week, said Waldorf.

Ruined grain was still smoldering early this week.

P.D. Johnson, maintenance superintendent, said he believes the fire started from a spark in the milling system falling into dust from the grinding of rye. It's possible that a piece stell went through the mill, he declared.

While the distillery was engaged in production of rye malt whiskey at the time, 90 percent of it's annual production was bourbon whiskey. The barrels were being warehoused either at Lotus in Bullitt County, or at the Seagram plant in Louisville.

The company's plan was to shut down the Athertonville plant this comming July and resume production about Oct. 15. A 9 1/2-months operation was planed for next year, said Waldorf.

It is near impossible to estimate the loss, said the manger, determining what the plant was worth and what it would cost to rebuild.

Hopefully, we can do some of the cleaning up ourselves, he declared.

Athertonville has been a distillery site for more than a century. Abraham Lincoln's father is said to have worked there. Before Seagram purchased this plant, the name was the Cummins-Collins Distillery, independently owned.

Besides the large Louisville Distillery, Seagram also has distilleries at Farifield in Nelson County, know as the McKenna plant, and at Lawrenceburg and Cynthiana, Ky. and large warehouses at Lotus.

Waldorf said, the company owns a real debt of grattitude to the LaRue County and Bardstown fire departments for thier service and the magnificient job that they did. They showed they really know thier business, he declared.

He also expresses appreciation to the many people of the surrounding localities for thier offers of equipment to clean up the destruction, and others who have offered to help us in any way.

End of Story

I ride my bicycle past this place a least once a week (during the summer). We ride from my home in New Haven, to the Lincoln Boyhood Home and back...It's a beautiful ride grin.gif Just a tad scarry when we ride by the old distillery...Full of Mexican workers...we petal as fast as we can...cat calls abound and lots of spanish being spoken. I don't speak a word of spanish but my daughter does...she'll say to me, "Mom just keep going" blush.gifgrin.gif

grin.gifgrin.gif Bettye Jo grin.gifgrin.gif

post-20-14489811392597_thumb.jpg

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BSS

Thanks, you answered my question about as well as it could be answered. Where are the three warehouses mentioned in the article? I didn't notice any around. Did they tear down parts of the distillery after the fire? It doesn't look big enough to house an entire distillery.

Here's a question way off the subject....Whats the deal with that REALLY old steam powered tractor(or whatever it is) that sits under that shelter....I think just South of New Haven?

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boone

Those warehouses were torn down. I assume, they sold the lumber for salvage...Lots of folks built their homes from distillery warehouse lumber. Poplar, hardly a knot in it...My home is built from warehouse lumber grin.gif Lots of stuff written on the boards about things that went on at the distillery. Some of the messages you don't want to know and others relate to the weather, how many inches of snow or rain, or flooding etc.

They cleaned up and tore down the damaged part of the distillery. What's there, is what they left behind. It has been used as a saw mill for years and years. They started out just making the staves for the barrel maker's. Then...one day, I noticed smoke coming outta that stack. I knew they were doing something in there but didn't know what confused.gif We slipped right in there blush.gifblush.gifblush.gifshocked.gifblush.gifblush.gifblush.gif...low and behold...I saw they were making barrels grin.gif

The "tractor" you saw belongs to the Greenwell's. Mr. Greenwell collects old farm stuff...I could only imagine what it cost to have that old tractor put there. It used to sit out in the rain, then he built that cover for it. If you had looked on the hill, directly across from where that tractor sits, that's where he lives. He owns a small factory on top of that hill, (his home is on the left)...Lining the driveway to the Aluminum Company (window and siding) you would have seen a "Old covered wagon" he has a sign that refects his opinion of events of today etc. I remember right after 9-11 he put two American flags on each side of that wagon and the sign said, "God Bless America"...

The rest is very old farm stuff and Coke stuff, big ole signs, coke machines etc. Just stuff that he shares with tourist that happen to be driving by. I see lots of folks stopped in front of that tractor to take pictures...

grin.gifgrin.gif Bettye Jo grin.gifgrin.gif

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pepcycle

Bettye Jo,

That Greenwell feller. Has he got a son that's a doctor in Louisville? I played disc golf with a guy named Greenwell and ends up he's a multi-time World Champion in the senior and Masters divisions. Kicked my butt all over Bowling Green.

blush.gif

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boone

Mr. Ed,

All of Billy's boys work at the company, on the hill. Shoot far, that doctor is probably one of his kin. The Greenwell name is quite common in this area. The Greenwell's have big families. I thought my family was big with 10, but there are several (Greenwell families) that make my family seem small.

One set of Greenwell's has 20 and another has 17.

grin.gif Instant Baseball team grin.gif

grin.gifgrin.gif Bettye Jo grin.gifgrin.gif

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boone

Today is a beautiful day. Too pretty, to stay inside...I grabbed my camera, one daughter and off we went. Stopped by the local "Cream Station" for a ice cream cone and went "Ridin' the Country Roads" grin.gif

The first place we drove by, was this Distillery...The old Seagrams in Athertonville. I stopped the car, turned around, pulled off to the side of the road and took these pictures for you and the folks here at SB.com grin.gif

This is on 31E looking South. As most of ya know by now, they don't make bourbon there anymore they make barrels.

grin.gifgrin.gif Bettye Jo grin.gifgrin.gif

post-20-14489811430248_thumb.jpg

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boone

This is the opposite side looking North.

grin.gifgrin.gif Bettye Jo grin.gifgrin.gif

post-20-14489811430497_thumb.jpg

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boone

The next building...

post-20-14489811430728_thumb.jpg

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boone

The other side...

post-20-14489811430996_thumb.jpg

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boone

Next...The stock piles...Seasoning the oak before turing it into staves...

The "good stuff" is stored here. Across the road there are mountains and mountains of scrap pieces of oak. I don't know what went wrong but something sure did.

It's common to see people, in there, loading up the back of their pick up trucks. Gatherin' wood to heat thier homes. Makes me thankful for what I have.

grin.gifgrin.gif Bettye Jo grin.gifgrin.gif

post-20-14489811431232_thumb.jpg

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boone

Across the road.

There is a "for sale" sign in the front of this building. To the left of this building rests, the mountains of staves that I mentioned earlier.

grin.gifgrin.gif Bettye Jo grin.gifgrin.gif

post-20-14489811431467_thumb.jpg

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cowdery

Are they making barrels there or breaking down used barrels for shipment overseas? If they're making barrels, who are they and who are they making barrels for? I just recently heard there are a couple of new players trying to upset the Independent Stave/Bluegrass Cooperage duopoly. I'm sure someone at HH will know the answer.

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bobbyc

At the time of Sam Cecils book, Leonard Kennedy and Bert Zimlick were running a stave mill there and furnishing Bluegrass Stave. One wonders though that this has changed, because they are now actually making the whole barrels there and not just milling wood.

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boone

Chuck,

I have been inside and yes they are making the "entire barrel" there. Milling the lumber, to charring the barrels. I made a post somewhere in these forums about me and Therese stopping and venturing inside to see what they were doing.

It's ZAK Ltd. they used to be just a sawmill supplying staves. One day we rode by and saw smoke coming out of the stack. That's when we got a little nosy and ventured in there.

I talked to the guy who works there. I asked him, who buys barrels from them? He told me that Maker's Mark, Beams and Heaven Hill. There was a Evan Williams truck pulling up as we talked. He said that they were small but trying hard to produce more. I can't remember the exact number of barrels they could produce a day but it's a far shot from the 2000 (a day) that ISC can do...

grin.gifgrin.gif Bettye Jo grin.gifgrin.gif

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Gillman

This might be a good place to post some notes on Black Gold, a bourbon marketed in a corner of Kentucky about 25 years ago that Jeff gave me recently. The label says it is from Old Cummins Distillery. Last year on the board there was discussion where the bottles might have come from. Putting together a number of things I read from those exchanges and on the Internet more recently, I believe the following is generally correct: a Cummins immigrated to Kentucky from Ireland in the 1800's. He entered various distilling projects including one with a man called Collins. This was around Bardstown including apparently Atherton (or Athertonville?). Prohibition closed the last venture but after WW 2 a distillery was built or rebuilt at Atherton, I think by descendants of the original Cummins or Collins. It produced bourbon (possibly the Black Gold brand). Later Seagrams bought the plant. Finally, Barton Brands (Constellation Brands is the parent company) ended up with the label Old Cummins Distillery. Today the Atherton site (pictured below in the thread) is used for a cooperage operation.

The Black Gold bourbon is interesting. It is dark in color as the name suggests, almost like a dark rum. Also, it tastes a lot like a rum too! It is without a doubt bourbon whiskey though. I think it has congeneric notes that are similar (for whatever reason) to those found in some rums. It tastes a bit like HH's 1783, or if you mixed 1783 with Captain Morgan's dark rum; that is the best way I can describe it. The bottle has few details and since it is not bonded one can't tell where it was made. The label states "Old Cummins Distillery, Bardstown" but indicates in was bottled in "Black Gold Country". Jeff told me the bottle was purchased in Eastern Kentucky, no doubt in an area of former mining activity and therefore the name Black Gold was probably a kind of private or dedicated label. I don't know when Barton bought the label from Seagram's or when the Atherton's place finally stopped distilling. The whiskey doesn't taste like Barton's but I can see more resemblance to Benchmark of the 1970's. Maybe this was made by Seagram in Louisville and did not meet the QC standard for Benchmark and was sold to the bottler from the Atherton plant. Maybe it was actually made at Atherton's just before it closed. It might have been made at Barton but I don't think so, it has none of the "Barton's" markers for me. It is an interesting whiskey and I mention it out of general interest and in case anyone in Kentucky who sees one on a dusty shelf wants to pick one up. It is a "regional" taste and not for everyone.

Gary

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jeff

Gary, I'm not sure if I mentioned this to you or not, but that Black Gold bourbon was a private bottling for a liquor store in Hazard, KY which, 20 years ago, went by the name "Black Gold Liquors." I spoke with a lady who had worked for that store for over 20 years and she remembered the last of that being bottled in the early 1980's, which might explain the lack of a saftey seal, UPC code, or Surgeon General's warning. She said that the brand was at one time their best selling bourbon, beating out Jim Beam and Jack Daniels. Apparently those bottles have been sitting around for almost 25 years.

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Gillman

Thanks Jeff, you did mention most of those details but thanks for mentioning them here and I didn't recall the part about the liquor store's name, so that confirms it is a private or house bottling. Hazard is I believe in part of that old mining country. (Now I'm thinking, is that where the famous tv show got the inspiration for its name??).

Gary

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