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kentucky distillerys

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SWINGING

Can anyone tell me of the best way to gather information on distillerys in Kentucky that have closed or been takenover in the last75years .Is there a website that you can advise,?

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cowdery

Your best single source for that type of information would have to be Sam Cecil's book. Unfortunately for you, that sort of information is nowhere centralized and organized in a simple and comprehensive way. There were a lot of distilleries and they changed hands frequently. Maybe you are just the person to create such a database.

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drew_kulsveen

Mr. Cecil's book has a lot of information about the history of kentucky distilleries, but some of the information is limited. If there is a specific area that you would like to research you can always go to the deed room.

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brendaj

you can always go to the deed room

That would be cool.

Where would this 'deed room' be?

Bj

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Hedmans Brorsa

Has there been any bourbon distilleries established after World war II that has subsequently been closed down?

Thanks,

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cowdery

I don't know about post-WWII, but there were many established in 1933-35, right after Prohibition, that subsequently closed down.

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cowdery

Deeds can tell you who owned and transferred property but they don't record improvements, such as building a distillery. Sanborn maps and other insurance records used to be a good source for that information. You're right about Cecil's book. The material he developed himself is pretty reliable, but some of the material he got from Coyte isn't so good.

The tax records don't tell you when distilleries opened and closed, but in any given year they tell you who made whiskey and who had whiskey in storage. Liberty Bank in Louisville compiled them for many years. Now I think the Kentucky Distillers Association does it. These fall into my hands from time to time but, for some reason, they aren't easy to get.

If the Getz were a real museum this is the kind of thing they would have on file.

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Hedmans Brorsa

Thanks for the reply.

If we do not count distilleries established to replace defunct ones (Bernheim, Virginia Gentleman) or distilleries built to augment an already existing production (Jim Beam Boston), is it, then, Barton (1946?) which is the youngest working bourbon distillery? Or is it Maker´s Mark?

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brendaj

Maker's is younger than Barton. Maker's just turned 50.

However, Maker's actually rebuilt the old, defunct Burks Springs Distillery. They did Happy Hollow Sour Mash, Burks' Springs Pure Rye, Belle of Loretto Rye and Burks' Spring Sweet Mash.

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cowdery

Modest Brenda doesn't want to mention that the Burks were kin of hers.

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Gillman

I found it interesting that fully one-half the portfolio of this Kentucky distillery (okay, in brands available) was rye whiskey, and second, that it made a sweet mash bourbon. I have always wanted to taste an example of the latter. The name is irresistible, of course.

Gary

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cowdery

Before Prohibition, many Kentucky distilleries made as much rye as they did bourbon, depending on where their customers were. If their customers were mostly west and south, they made mostly bourbon. If they also had customers in the east, they would have needed to make rye.

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notamormon

Chuck,

were there any distilleries out West in the Rockies serving cowboys and miners? I know there were small ones but were there commercial ones? drink.gif

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Peter_Pogue

Good point, Chuck. The old warehouse receipts I have from the H.E. Pogue Distillery in the late 1800s and early 1900s reflect as much Rye Whiskey (Old Maysville Club) being sold as Bourbon. Peter Pogue

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cowdery

were there any distilleries out West in the Rockies serving cowboys and miners?

I don't know of any. I do know that whiskey was among the finished goods shipped from the east for the westerners on the newly-completed railroads.

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Hedmans Brorsa

Can we then, at least conclude that it is around 50 years since a new bourbon distillery saw the light of day. What I was getting at with my questions was the, to me at least, comparative dearth of distilleries. If we are truly witnessing a genuine revival, as was implied in another topic, then surely we should have seen at least one brand new bourbon-producing distillery cropping up in the last ten years or so?

Granted, economic realities have to be taken into account but this certainly hasn´t deterred a couple of independent US distilleries from venturing into the single malt business. This, despite the somewhat daunting prospect of having to compete with one hundred or so distilleries in Scotland producing "the real thing".

Where are the new bourbon distillers?

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tdelling

> were there any distilleries out West in the Rockies serving cowboys and

> miners? I know there were small ones but were there commercial ones?

I haven't spent a great deal of time digging up the facts, but one of the "lost

traditions" of American whiskey is known as Taos Wheat Whiskey,

a.k.a. "Towse Lightning". My recollection is that it's heyday was really the

1830s - 1850s, so it was mostly for miners, trappers, etc., and not really

the post-Civil War cowboy era depicted in popular fiction. It was fairly well

known throughout the southwest and up into Colorado, etc.

Typical of the whiskey of the times, it tended to be adulterated with hot

peppers, tobacco, etc.

Towse Lightnin' production, from what I gather, was like most other whiskey

production of the time. The large, "modern" distillery with column stills

and industrialized production methods didn't really come about until ~1880s.

So when you ask about "small ones" vs. "commercial ones"... well, they

were all "small" until the 1880s! The line between small and commercial

was a bit of a fuzzy one... sure there were people who disitlled solely for

their own consumption, but those distilleries were hardly very different from

people who distilled solely to make money off of selling it. There were

no big sprawling grandiose clusters of large buildings with banks of vast

fermentation tanks, etc., making a pajillion gallons per day, with huge aging

warehouses. That sort of thing just didn't exist, anywhere in the USA.

As to distilleries out west at any time, ever:

I've never heard of any large, well-capitalized, "modern" whiskey distilleries

out west, at least until very recently... and the ones popping up these days

are microdistilleries. There are rumors of business plans for larger ones, but

nothing has materialized on the shelf. There is a large vodka disitillery

in Idaho ("Silver Creek") which is large and impressive, and manages to

make many diffferent sytles of vodka (to the extent that such things are

possible).

Tim Dellinger

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tdelling

> What I was getting at with my questions was the, to me at least, comparative

> dearth of distilleries. If we are truly witnessing a genuine revival, as was

> implied in another topic, then surely we should have seen at least one brand

> new bourbon-producing distillery cropping up in the last ten years or so?

>

> Granted, economic realities have to be taken into account but this certainly

> hasn´t deterred a couple of independent US distilleries from venturing into

> the single malt business.

As I mentioned in my post in the "revival" thread, the bourbon revival owes

a lot to the revival of other allied beverages... including microbrewed beer.

Most of the excitement in new american distilleries follows the microbrew

model(*): start small, try your hand at a bunch of different styles, and

then once you've developed some expertise and a bit of market, then it's time

to grow. So, just as there are no new India Pale Ale Breweries that make

nothing but India Pale Ale, there are no new bourbon distilleries that make

nothing but bourbon.

Most folks have the good sense to start with things like rum, vodka, and

eau de vie that can be sold right away, generating cash flow. This is the way

that the scotch-clones started (Clear Creek, St. James, St. George).

Are people tinkering with the bourbon recipe and production methods, making

new and exciting things? Certainly, yes. Are they sinking boatloads of

money into lange, industrialized production centers that are specialized to

produce nothing but bourbon, and to compete with Jim Beam? No way! They've

got better business sense than that!

There are about two dozen "new" distilleries in the US, and about a dozen

of them make and sell whiskey. Are they "bourbon distilleries"? Well, no.

They're "artisan disilleries". Are they part of the Bourbon Revival? Well,

yes and no. They're definitely part of the American Whiskey Revival, and

that will ultimately have an effect on bourbon... but not directly and not

immediately.

Tim Dellinger

(*) Footnote: there is an alternate microbrew model: rent or contract with

large breweries to make your stuff for you. Note that this model has found

it's way into American whiskey: Conecuh Ridge is made under contract.

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Hedmans Brorsa

Are they sinking boatloads of

money into lange, industrialized production centers that are specialized to

produce nothing but bourbon, and to compete with Jim Beam? No way! They've

got better business sense than that!

Thanks for your extensive reply. I wasn´t really wishing for companies with a bourbon-only production, though. I´d be happy to see a new bourbon venture regardless of whether they would produce other beverages or not.

To me, a true revival would have to include at least some grassroots activities. With more and more brands concentrated on fewer hands the risk of stagnation is imminent. The old guard need, from time to time, a kick up their bottoms! grin.gif

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Gillman

This is true and it happened famously in the beer business in the U.S., U.K. and then parts of Europe. I think it is only a question of time before some of the dozen or so micro-distilling operations (mostly on the west coast) start to make bourbon and rye whiskey. I think Fritz Maytag (owner of Anchor Brewery in San Francisco) who kickstarted much of the microbrewing revolution through his influential Anchor Steam Beer and revivalist Liberty Ale and Anchor Porter might have done something similar for small scale distilling had he aged his rye whiskey in new charred wood and sold it at 6-8 years old - or if he had made a bourbon, of course.

Gary

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cowdery

Bill Owens, whose American Brewer has been very influential with both home brewers and micro-brewers, has set his sights on micro-distilling. The next conference of his American Distilling Institute will be in the Louisville area and the focus will be on whiskey. I agree that such a movement would be good for American whiskey and probably is a pre-condition for someone new getting in on a larger scale. The only negative I see is that Bill and his cohort seem to be obsessed with pot stills, which isn't really the American whiskey heritage. I don't believe the column still is necessarily incompatible with a craft product.

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notamormon

Tim,

Re: a whiskey made "under contract", isn't Coneca Ridge just buying finished product like many others do (Jefferson Reserve, Van Winkle, etc.)? Are they buying the white dog and then aging themselves? Is there stuff any good, or better yet, any different than what you can already buy? I read that its $37 a fifth. Just curious.

David

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tdelling

> With more and more brands concentrated on fewer hands the risk of stagnation

> is imminent. The old guard need, from time to time, a kick up their bottoms!

This is certainly true! I know that Buffalo Trace has "seen the light", and

they've got all kinds of crazy experimentation going on with regards to

bourbon.

Tim Dellinger

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tdelling

Information on who gets their whiskey from where and how the deal goes

down is really pretty scarce. And *reliable* information is even more

scarce!

I know that Jefferson's Reserve is aged in barrels that have a very

low amount of charring... so my guess is that the raw spirit was

purchased and aged (under contract) explicitly for use as Jefferson's

Reserve, since it's unlikely that a distillery would have a bunch of

low-char-barrels sitting around for extended periods of time.

The aging of Conecuh Ridge is surrounded by a bit of mystery. Some

people say that they put dried apples in the barrels. Some people say

it's aged in Alabama. Who knows!

In other words, there is more going on that just having "independent bottlers"

come in and cherry pick and the warehouse of existing stock. Although that

certainly happens, too.

Tim Dellinger

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tdelling

> Is there stuff any good, or better yet, any different than what you can

> already buy? I read that its $37 a fifth. Just curious.

It's definitely VERY different. It's not bourbon at all. Thus people who

are expecting bourbon are disappointed, and hate it. But I love it. I

think it's the best thing to happen in American whiskey in the last few years.

Tasting notes and discussion at:

http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/showthreaded.php?Cat=&Number=14806

Tim Dellinger

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