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Wathen's Bourbon


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I received a bottle of "Wathen's Bourbon" as a gift recently. I don't see Wathen's listed anywhere on straightbourbon.com. Can anyone tell me

anything about it? It says that it is a single barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. It is bottled by Charles Medley distillery in St. Louis, MO,

but it says that it is distilled in KY. It is 94 proof.

-Bill

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The Wathens and Medleys are both distinguished Kentucky distilling families. They have inter-married, hence Charlie Medley's tribute to the Wathens. I'm not positive, but I think Charlie's mother was a Wathen, or maybe it was his grandmother. Anyway, the Wathens are from the Nelson County area and the Medleys are from around Owensboro. Various members of the Medley family have operated distilleries under the family name at various times. A Charlie Medley was master distiller at Glenmore before it was bought by United (Guinness), but I'm not sure this is the same Charlie. There is a report issued annually of who in Kentucky has whiskey aging in warehouses and how much each company has. For many years there was a Medley on the list with a small number of barrels (maybe a few thousand) in storage, and no new ones being added. I haven't seen that list in several years, so I can't say for sure what the origins of this particular whiskey are. The St. Louis connection suggests that David Sherman may be the distributor. He owns the Ezra Brooks brand, among others. He doesn't distill, but he does bottle and market several Kentucky bourbons.

- chuck

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Chuck--

Who puts out that list, and where would one find it? That sounds like a very good thing to have. Thanks for the explanation of the Wathen-Medley connection, too.

Lew Bryson

Hirsch Reserve 16 YO: Real Pennsylvania Bourbon

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The last time I had a copy of it, which was 5 or 6 years ago at least, it was compiled and published by Liberty National Bank of Louisville, which is now part of Bank One. (Who isn't?) On one occasion I got it directly from the bank. On another, I got one of the distillers to make me a copy of it. I imagine all of the contributors receive it automatically. I'm sure it's produced to meet some legal requirement, but I'm not sure quite what. It does contain a lot of fascinating information. It lists every company that owns licensed warehouses and how many barrels they have in storage, by year of production. It's pretty cool. I should be more diligent about tracking it down each year, but I don't really need it for anything.

BTW, it only covers Kentucky. Presumably, some bank in Tennessee does one too.

- chuck

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Thanks, Chuck. I'd like to get hold of one of these just to get an idea of what's where.

Lew Bryson

Hirsch Reserve 16 YO: Real Pennsylvania Bourbon

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  • 4 weeks later...
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I'd also be interested in a review of this bourbon.

I remember seeing it in the liquor store for about $20. Is this the one you mean, or is there a newer bottling?

I am a novice taster, and serious reviews really aid my knowledge.

Thanks!

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Hey, Kim, glad to see you made it here!

Folks, please welcome Kim: she is one of the few librarians around that has a copy of my book... so she's my hero!

Lew Bryson

Hirsch Reserve 16 YO: Real Pennsylvania Bourbon

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  • 2 months later...
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My wife Linda and I had the pleasure of visiting with Charlie last February. He's a fascinating guy, and a real character.

Yes, he's the same Charles Wathen Medley who used to be the master distiller at Glenmore. According to what he told us, it's a classic case of follow-the-twisty-trail-of-who-owns-what in the bourbon business. National Distillers bought out Glenmore. Then Barton Brands bought the distillery property and the brands from National. But they didn't buy the existing stock. Well, National didn't want the existing stock, either, so Charlie bought it and moved it across town (Owensboro) to one of the warehouses at his family's old abandoned distillery. So now the Charles W. Medley Distilling Company, which doesn't actually do any distilling, and probably doesn't have the yeast or the rights to the formula either, owns a warehouse full of barrels of fine whiskey which Charles Medley actually made. Pretty cool, huh?

Up until last summer, Charlie, his son, and couple of other partners hand-bottled the product at the distillery on a tiny bottling line he had made up just for the purpose (the stainless steel holding tanks hold 58 gallons or about a single barrel's worth). We have a bottle from barrel number 4. But at the time we were there he was finalizing negotiations to have David Sherman take over distribution. As you probably know, the relationship with David Sherman goes back to the Glenmore days. Wathen's is really good bourbon. Charlie wouldn't tell me the age, but you figure, if it's been sitting in barrels since Charlie was making it for Glenmore....

Please check out our web site for photos and lots more information about Wathens.

-John Lipman-

http://w3.one.net/~jeffelle/whiskey

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This reminds me of something sort of related, since it involves the fact that Charlie makes damn good whiskey. Back now about 15 years ago, maybe more, during bourbon's darkest hours, a friend of mine--recently departed from Glenmore--tipped me to the fact that their Kentucky Tavern, a bourbon but not a great one generally, was actually 10 year old or older whiskey. Glenmore simply had so much of the stuff they were putting 10 year old whiskey in bottles with no age statement on them. They didn't reveal the age on the label because they didn't intend to keep doing this and didn't want to go through all the registration hassles of changing the age statement on the label. They were just trying to use down their stash of old whiskey. Following his tip, I started to buy Kentucky Tavern and, sure enough, it was great. This went on for a couple of years. When I heard Old Man Thompson had fired up the stills again, I knew the good times were over.

I intend to pick up a bottle of Charlie's whiskey at my next opportunity. When his son was in college and they were contemplating this brand he had a small web site. Does anyone know if it's still out there?

- chuck

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