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chefmel

I Need Help with T.W. Samuels Post Pro History.

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chefmel

Hi Everyone,

I need help on filling in the blanks on T.W. Samuels distillery and brands after Prohibition. According to family history (or legend), my great uncle, Samuel Westerman, owned the distillery for a number of years after the Samuels family had it. He supposedly had it until the mid 1970's when he either sold the plant and labels or maybe just sold his share of it. Here's what I've been able to find out so far:

1. According to Sam Cecils Book, THE EVOLUTION OF THE BOURBON WHISKEY INDUSTRY IN KENTUCKY , page 120, Sam Westerman is listed as the "Manager" of the distillery in 1949.

2. When I was in Bardstown about 10 years ago, I stopped at the Museum and one of the volunteers there graciously coppied a couple of pages from a book or magazine talking about the distillery and my uncle. I don't know which book or magazine it was but the reporter met with Charles Ritman who was the comptroller in charge of sales. It talks about the T.W. Samuels label being out of production from 1943 to 1951, so this interview happened in 1952 or later. He talks about the "moats" around the warehouses (which I don't remember seeing when I was there) and also says they were producing Elijah Craig and Jim Porter bourbons at this time.

3. I found a web page listing the T.W. Samuels Distillery as being Incorporated by Stanhope Foster and Samuel Westerman. It also mentions that they incorporated the name in Florida on August 29th, 1969. Samuel Westerman was listed as the President, Treasurer and director of the company. The address is listed as being on Lenore Rd. in Deatsville. This information was from 1969 or later.

Most of the history on the distillery that I've read says the distillery ceased operations in 1952. So, I'm trying to piece together where my great uncle fits into the picture. Were they still distilling and bottling in Deatsville after 1952? Or, did he just have his office there and either purchased whiskey from other distillers or actually had them produce and bottle his labels for him? My mother also mentioned years ago that he had in interest in either National Distillers or American Distillers based out of Detroit. I believe this company was his distribution arm. I never took the time to meet my great uncle when he was still alive as he and my great aunt had divorced a number of year before. I still received a christmas gift and birthday card every year from him. If my memory serves me right, some of those items were postmarked from Louisville, Ky. Anyway, if anyone has any info that will help me, it would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!

Mark

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mozilla

Mark,

IIRC, there are some old threads about that plant somewhere in here. There were also some pics.

Account #2 sounds like some writing from Bluegrass Belles and Bourbon.

I wish I knew more to help you, maybe one of the locals will see your post. Bettye Jo lives in Bardstown and knows the history very well.

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mozilla

Yeah, do a search on Deatsville.....

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cowdery

I've never found anything on that subject more comprehensive that Sam Cecil's book. I can confirm that Samuels didn't distill again after whatever date Sam says, I guess it was 1952, but I don't believe they immediately cleared out the warehouses, so they would have continued to run that part of the operation until all of the whiskey had been sold, which may well have been several more years. There was a bottled water operation running out of there fairly recently, like in the last 20 years.

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chefmel
Yeah, do a search on Deatsville.....

Thanks Jeff - Great idea I hadn't thought of!

Mark

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chefmel
Mark,

IIRC, there are some old threads about that plant somewhere in here. There were also some pics.

Account #2 sounds like some writing from Bluegrass Belles and Bourbon.

I wish I knew more to help you, maybe one of the locals will see your post. Bettye Jo lives in Bardstown and knows the history very well.

I found some of those old threads a few weeks ago - in fact, that's how I found out about SB. There was someone who's uncle owned the property and I sent him a PM about it but haven't heard back from him yet. Is Bettye Jo a member of our fine group here? I'd love to talk to her!

Mark

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mozilla

Yes, Bettye Jo is Boone. She knows lots of families and is part of the Beam family as well. If HH is not working overtime right now, she would be a wonderful source.

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chefmel

Hi Everyone,

I found a daughter of a former worker through Toddy's and she's finding a decent amount of information for me. Apparently, the distillery did continue production for quite awhile after 1952. I have other - info if anyone is still watching this post I'll get into more detail.

Mark

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cowdery

I'm watching. Tell me more.

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chefmel

Sorry Chuck for such a long wait! Things have been crazy around my place the past month. I'll gather the info I got from my contact and share it with you in a couple of days.

Mark

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fishnbowljoe

No help Mark, but just wanted to say that while down in KY for the KBF, the wife and I took a drive out in the country one day. We somehow miraculously ended up on Deatsville Road. :bigeyes: There was the old T. W. Samuels distillery. :cool: I knew where we were, but my wife didn't. Still haven't told her.:lol: Joe

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chefmel

Hi everyone,

My sincere apologies for the long delay in replying - I've been down and out for a month and a half and recently had some minor surgery, but I'm back now. When I was in Bardstown in August, I stopped in to Toddy's and talked to both Guthrie and is niece about my search for information on T.W. Samuels. They told me of a lady in the Bardstown area who's father worked at the distillery and they graciously passed along my card to the lady who has since emailed me numerous times with info and pictures. She's been able to talk to people who worked there at one time or another as well as members of the family who purchased the distillery from my great uncle. What I did find out is that the distillery was bottling until at least 1975. Most of the history I've read stated the distillery closed up around 1952. I still have not been able to find out if they were actually doing any distilling between 1952 and 1975 but I'm still working on that. My uncle, Sam Westerman, sold the distillery to a Mr. Thompson (originally from Scotland) in October of 1974. It appears the distillery ceased production shortly after Mr. Thompson purchased the property. My friends father worked at the distillery from the early 1960's until around 1980, and she told me the last couple year of his employment were basically just upkeep of the grounds and machines. I have pictures of the bottling line operating in 1974 (compliments of Daisy Pugh) so I know it was still operating then. I don't know if they continued to distill after 1952 or if they were just bottling whiskey that was in there warehouses. For a relatively small distillery, they had a lot of warehouses. If you ever over towards bardstown, take a drive down Deatsville rd. and have a look. There must be 10 - 12 large warehouses out there.

I'm planning on going back to Bardstown this spring and will hopefully be able to talk in person the some of the people my friend has already talked to. I'm also hoping my friend can arrange of tour of the distillery grounds for me as she knows the owner of the property. If I found out any more info, I will post it here and if anyone out there has any info or contacts that I could talk to, please let me know.

Cheers!

Mark

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chefmel
No help Mark, but just wanted to say that while down in KY for the KBF, the wife and I took a drive out in the country one day. We somehow miraculously ended up on Deatsville Road. :bigeyes: There was the old T. W. Samuels distillery. :cool: I knew where we were, but my wife didn't. Still haven't told her.:lol: Joe

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fishnbowljoe

We did our route backwards. We went by Four Roses first, then went the back roads to Deatsville Road till we got to the old T.W. Samuels distillery. Joe

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chefmel

Jono,

Yes, I found this page when I originally started searching the internet. It appears to end when the samuels family got out of the distillery (1943). I know my Uncle first became involved in the distillery sometime in the 1940's, so at this point I'm assuming that must have been in 1943. Someone mentioned the Bill Samuels of Makers Mark may have some information about the old distillery. Does anyone know how I could contact him??

Thanks!

Mark

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cowdery
Jono,

Yes, I found this page when I originally started searching the internet. It appears to end when the samuels family got out of the distillery (1943). I know my Uncle first became involved in the distillery sometime in the 1940's, so at this point I'm assuming that must have been in 1943. Someone mentioned the Bill Samuels of Makers Mark may have some information about the old distillery. Does anyone know how I could contact him??

Thanks!

Mark

Call the office in Louisville at (502) 459-7884. That's the best way to get a message to Bill.

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chefmel

Thanks Chuck - I'll give them a call next week!

Mark

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chefmel

Hi Everyone,

For anyone still watching this post, I have some new information I'll be sharing with you soon.

Mark

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bonneamie

Still watching and waiting to hear more of the history!!

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chefmel

Hi Everyone,

I was put in touch with a gentleman who purchased about 500 acres of land adjacent to the distillery back in the 1970's from my Great Uncle, Sam Westerman. I had a chance to talk to him on the phone recently had he seemed to have a very good knowledge of the history of the distillery. He's lived in the Deatsville area most if not all his life and was a friend of my uncle when he still owned the distillery. Much of what he told me has already been documented, some has not. He seemed very credible to me, but some of the information is different than what has been documented in the past. So here's what he told me:

After prohibition in 1933, Mr. Samuels was anxious to re-open the distillery, but didn't have the capital to do it. He was introduced to some investors from Cincinatti who were interested in getting into the distilling business and they decided to move forward with there plans. Mr. Samuels capital in the project was his knowledge of the distilling business and the investors put up the cash. They built a new distillery and warehouses in Deatsville just down the tracks from the original distillery. Everything apperently went well until about 1940 when the war in Europe started heating up. The investors from Cinci were convinced that Hitler was going to win the war and being Jewish, decided they needed to liquidate their assets in case the worse happened. Mr. Samuels didn't have the money to buy his investors out and eventually left the distillery and started Maker's Mark down in Lorreto. Anyway, my uncle and 3 other investor's from the Detroit area heard about the distillery being up for sale and decided to buy it. Again, everything went well for about 10 years until the well documented change in the distilling process that burnt the distillate and nearly put the distillery out of business. This was about 1952 and after this episode, my uncles partners were fed up with the business and wanted out. So, my uncle bought out his partners, dumped all the bad whiskey, and started from scratch. Although he never brought the brands back to the prominence they once enjoyed, he did make much better bourbon than what was made in the early 1950's. I was also told that they actually distilled until 1967 and bottled into the mid 1970's. Everything I have read says the distillery closed in 1952 which is incorrect. I have pictures of the bottling line from the mid 1970's. By the late 1960's, my uncle was getting up in years and apparently was losing some interest in keeping the distillery going. He sold the distillery proper in the mid 1970's to a Scottish gentleman and I know that eventually they made bottled water from the Springs on the property. The brands made their during this time that I can document were T.W. Samuels, Elijah Craig and Old Jordan. I also know that my uncle and a man named Stanhope Foster registered the distillery in Florida in 1969 but apparently never produced in that state. I will be going back to the Deatsville area this coming spring or summer and plan on talking to a few of the people that worked at the distillery back in the day. I also plan on doing some research at the Bardstown library and will update this thread with any new information that I find. Thanks for your interest!!

Mark

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bobbyc
I was also told that they actually distilled until 1967 and bottled into the mid 1970's.

I'm glad finally to see this documented. I know I have a childhood memory of seeing smoke coming out of the stack at Deatsville. I was born in 1957, so unless I lived another life in this area immediately prior to this one....

My grandfathers brother worked the warehouses there until the mid or late 60s and I remember the bottling going to the mid 70s.

Thanks, Mark. This is interesting.

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fishnbowljoe

MarK, My wife and I were down in Bardstown for the KBF last year. (2007) While on a tour of Maker's Mark we were joined about half way through our tour, by none other than the widow of Sam Cecil. If I remember correctly, her name was Jean. Maybe you could get in touch with Maker's Mark, and they could get in touch with her or other members of Sam Cecil's family and maybe they could be of assistance to you. Hope this helps you out a little. Joe

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mozilla

Sam's son works on the bottling line at Barton. You could probably get in touch with him through the distillery switchboard.

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