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chefmel

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

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chefmel

Hi Everyone,

Well, its been 3 weeks since I returned from Bardstown/Deatsville and what a great trip I had! The lady I got connected with (her father worked at the distillery for a time) was fantastic and set me up with a couple of people who had worked with my uncle at the distillery. One was John Mayer, who had purchased a large tract of land from my Uncle many years ago and also new him personally. He was a treasure trove of personal info on my Uncle as well as lots of info about the distillery. I visited the old homestead just up the road from the distillery and to my suprise, the foundation, fireplace and part of the chimney are still standing of my Uncle's old house! On that same piece of property stands the old spring house still standing and you could still here the spring gurgling inside. This spring supplied the distillery about 1/4 mile away, and later the Samuels Springs water company which was the final production at the distillery. I also had an enjoyable visit with a one James Allen Wiggs who worked at the distillery for 15 years before retiring from Jim Beam. He told me that the distillery in it's hey day was one of the largest in the country. I spent 3 days in the geneology room at the Bardstown library going through microfilm of the local newspaper. I had forgotten how much time it takes to look through microfilm! I only got through 3 years of the 30 years my uncle was involved. I did find one interesting article:

From the Oct. 28th. 1942 newspaper, there was an article about the "Sale of Distillery in Deatsville - Capital stock of Country Distillers' Products bought by Foster & Company". It mentions that Foster & Co. was a partnership out of New York and was formed on July 30th. The officers of the company at that time were: President - Stanhope Foster of Great Neck, Long Island, NY, Vice Presidents - S.L. Westerman (my great uncle) of Detroit and Martin R. Doane of Joplin, Mo.; It mentions Mr. Doane will be replacing T. Williams Samuels who is no longer with the company as VP in charge of operations in Deatsville. The article goes on the mention that the personnel at the plant (nearly 800 employees) will remain intact and then it lists the department heads: Charles R. DeSpain - General Manager; Lee G. Brown - bottling; A.D. Campbell - warehouse; Gordon A. Graves - engineering; E.J. Snellen - maintenance; Ballard N. Coates - stock room; Jacob Wommer - labratory; Charles L. Spalding - personnel director and M.G. Keeling - head of the guards. It also mentions C.J. Rittman as being in charge of the office personnel and L.A. Rickert as the purchasing agent. It mentions that the distillery was one of the largest in the area producing grain alchohol for the war effort. An interesting note on this article - I found out reading the following weeks paper that the warehouse foreman, A.D. Campbell, passed away the following week! There was one other article of interest I found from around the end of 1943. The distillery was sued for 5 million dollars by the OPA for selling liquor at more than the ceiling price. It says that this was the first such suit in Kentucky since price controls were started.

I was very fortunate to be able to tour the old distillery in Deatsville thanks to wku88 (Todd) and his cousin Jim for arranging this for me. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to walk through many of the buidlings where my Uncle once walked! There still is a lot of original equipment in the buildings, especially in the bottlehouse and powerhouse - amazing that stuff is still there after so many years! I really can't thank those two gentleman enough for getting me inside the fence - it was fantastic! I have lots of pictures to remind me of my time there.

I managed to come away with a few items during my time there. I came across a couple of manilla folders with distillery paperwork that I haven't yet sorted through. I also came across a small box of T.W. Samuels labels which I was told were 1/2 pint labels and dated from the 1960's and 1970's. Here are the brands I've documented from those labels:

1. T.W. Samuels, no proof or age statement. The currentl label looks a lot like this one.

2. T.W. Samuels, back label to go with the above label, 86 proof, 4 years old, has a brief history on the distillery.

3. Samuels 1844, 86 proof, 4 years old

4. Kenbrook Deluxe Blended Whiskey, no proof or age.

5. Old Jordan, no proof, 6 years old, bottled by Old Jordan Distillery, Deatsville, Nelson County, Ky.

6. T.W. Samuels BIB, no age or proof, but I assume since it's BIB it would be 100 proof.

7. Samuels Ninety, no age or proof, but once again, I'm assuming it's probably 90 proof by looking at the name.

8. T.W. Samuels, 90 proof, no age, looks almost like the BIB label. Both this label and the BIB label are really nice looking.

Well, that's all for now. Soon, I will tell you about the special find I made and maybe I'll be able to sort through the papers I have by then and give you some additional info.

Mark

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chefmel

Hey Bettye Jo,

Do you work primarily in the bottleshop or somewhere else? I worked in a brewery bottleshop for over 10 years and remember years ago when I visited the distillery, they took you into the bottleshop to watch the production. I also got to watch them bottling the EW23 for export to Japan (at that time) which was also great! It's to bad they don't offer that part of the tour anymore :(

Mark

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cowdery

Mark,

Have you seen the Sanborn maps of the Samuels' distilleries from 1886?

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chefmel

Hi Chuck,

I have now, but didn't notice a Samuels distillery - I will have to look harder, and thanks for providing a link to these maps! Just returned from Bardstown again and will update shortly.

Mark

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cowdery

The interesting part is that it shows two different Samuels distilleries, T. W. Samuels (#145) and W. B. Samuels (#241).

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chefmel

Hi everyone,

Well, I just returned from another trip down south. Nephews graduation in southern Tn. then a visit to Berea KY. (I had my wife with me) and then on to Bardstown/Deatsville for a couple of days. Another walk through the old T.W. Samuels Distillery with my wife and a couple of suprises from Jim S. - thanks so much Jim! I have sorted through the paperwork I brought back with me in April and made an amazing discovery. Most of the paper work I received was assorted production logs and label inventory sheets. But one folder contained sample labels from 1938 until 1954! Sample labels were the labels distillery's (and breweries) had to submit to the government for approval before they could start producing the product. These labels included the original government form that had to be sent along with them - many of the labels were still attached to the back of the forms! That was the mother lode of finds for me. It gave me a chance to document a total of 22 labels that the distillery had produced and here they are;

1. T. W. Samuels

2. Old Jordan

3. Elijah Craig

4. Jim Porter

5. Old Frontier

6. Samuels 1844

7. Four Decades

8. Pebbelford

9. 295 Corn Whiskey

10. 295 Kentucky whiskey, colored and flavored with wood chips

11. Old Buck Brand Corn Whiskey

12. Continental Special Reserve

13. Colonel Tyson's

14. Samuels Bond

15. Supre-Macy

16. Morning Glory Corn Whiskey

17. Singing Hills Corn Whiskey

18. Old Cobweb Brand

19. Old Talbott Tavern

20. Kenbrook Blended Whiskey

21. Mr. Bourbon

22. A private label which would have the name of the person on the label.

I found out that my Uncle and his company purchased the distillery in 1943 (correction from previous post) and sold it in July of 1974. I was told that the man who bought it from Mr. Westerman, a one Mr. Thompson from Scotland, went around Bardstown telling anyone who'd listen that he was "Mr. Bourbon" which apparently angered some of the long time bourbon people in town. I was also told that my uncle was quite a "Ladies Man" in his younger days.

On my most recent visit, I recieved some Letterheads with Sam Westerman's name on them, some T. W. Samuels holiday boxes and some personal memo's from my great uncle, both in his own hand and also typewritten. He would send a written memo to his secretary and she would type it out and pass it on. He had really lousy handwriting! So those memo's were a real find for the family. I also found out from my cousin that Mr. Westerman possibly had a son and that his son may still be living in Michigan. His name is Michael Westerman, so there's another lead for me to follow up on. The real suprise items for me that I found will have to wait until I have all of them up here in Michigan. A couple of items are waiting for me to come back and get them so, another trip to Deatsville this summer is in order. My wife says I'm over the top!

I did get in contact with Bill Samuels from Maker's Mark and he sent me a nice letter. I don't know if I mentioned it in a previous post, but I went down to there distillery in April and talked to my tour guide Herb after the tour. He told me when the Samuels' family started up the distillery in Loretto, they were going to call it the Old Samuels Distilling Co. - in fact, he had a picture of the office with the sign attached. He said the family got sued for the name, and the only person I could think of that would complain about the name would have been my great uncle! So, I wasn't sure how I would be received by Bill when I contacted him. He was very gracious and welcoming and told me I needed to come to the family archives the next time I was in Louisville as there was a lot of items pertaining to the old distillery. He also told me he knew and remembered Mr. Westerman so I'm looking forward to talking to him someday in the near future.

That's all for now - will post more as it becomes available

Mark

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cowdery

The reasons to be wary are mutual. Remember that it was Bill Samuels who mercilessly trashed your great uncle's distillery as part of the Maker's Mark foundation myth.

This solves something for me too, although it's a small thing. When I was first researching bourbon history, back in 1991, I distinctly remembered seeing something about another distillery making an Elijah Craig bourbon before Heaven Hill did, but I could never find the reference again. I now see it was T. W. Samuels.

I was working at Heaven's Hill's Louisville ad agency, FS&M, in the late 1970s when Heaven Hill's initial package designs for their Elijah Craig were being developed there, under the guidance of Max Shapira, so I had that piece of the puzzle from personal experience, but I could never pin down the brand's previous life.

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chefmel

Hi Chuck,

Just to be clear about it, I haven't yet found an Elijah Craig Label. There is documentation of the distillery making this product from the "Bluegrass, Belles and Bourbon" article I recieved some years ago, and there is one reference to an E.C. in one of the bottling records I have which I'm assuming is Elijah Craig. Wasn't Charle DeSpain involved in the Heaven Hill distillery? That may explain how they ended up with the EC labels.

Mark

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cowdery

Yes, Charlie DeSpain was a honcho at Heaven Hill, general manager or some such title. I never knew him but always heard he was a real son-of-a-bitch. He made a lot of enemies, in particular Harry Beam, who left HH because of their conflicts.

However HH got the Elijah Craig name, they completely rebooted the product.

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chefmel

Hi all,

One more label that I documented that I forgot to mention was Lionstone Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whisky. There was what I thought was a tank placcard at the old distillery with the label attached to it. Most everything I see on this brand says Bardstown, Ky. Does anyone know anything about this brand and how and when it connects to T.W. Samuels distillery??

Thanks!

Mark

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cowdery

Lionstone was a decanter manufacturer, located here in Illinois I think.

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Bourbon Geek

In the glory days of the ceramic bourbon decanter, Lionstone was pitching right in there with the likes of Beam ... all though not quite as prolific ... I have seen collections of dozens of Lionstone decanters ...

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chefmel

So . . . Lionstone would make the decanters and different distillery's would fill them with Bourbon or whiskey? I just purchased a Lionstone Bourbon mini off ebay with the city listed as Bardstown, Ky. I know that at some time towards the end of it's run, T.W. bottled this product as I saw a tank tag (or whatever they're called) for Lionstone Bourbon when I toured the old distillery. Someone please set me straight before I start going crazy buying up pre-1975 Lionstone decanters :)

Thanks!

Mark

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cowdery

I remember Lionstone as making ceramics for everybody. I never knew they sold anything under their own name, but it doesn't surprise me that they did. Still, I think it's more appropriate to think of them as a supplier to the distilleries rather than a customer. Perhaps they had a special relationship with TWS, but I wouldn't assume that.

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chefmel

Hi everyone (or anyone)

Recently returned from Deatsville and will be posting some more info soon.

Mark

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Lost Pollito

Nice Chef. Looking forward to the info.

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The Boozer

Mark,

I was having a little Xmas cheer with an attorney I do some work for. He pulls out an old bottle of Jim Porter whiskey and starts telling me the story of Sam Wasterman and the T.W. Samuels Distillery. Apparently, his partner was your uncle’s lawyer and is familiar with your uncle’s ownership of T.W. Samuels distillery. After your uncle died, they were cleaning out the basement of your uncle’s downtown Detroit office and came across 3-5 cases of I.W. Harper, Elijah Craig?, Sam’s own private label and Jim Porter brands. That was some 30-40 years ago (don’t know exact date when your uncle died) and all the juice is now gone. Except for this 2/3 full bottle of Jim Porter. Only had one glass but very good stuff. Either 86 or 80 proof.

TJ

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chefmel

Wow! I can't believe it's been this long since I've visited this post. Sorry for the long delay! Boozer, thanks so much for the info! Can you put me in touch with the attorney?? I would love to talk to him and find out if there are any living relatives of Uncle Sam. I think he has a grandson living in the state, but there are a few Michael Westerman's and I haven't started contacting them yet to see if any of them are related. He died in the early 1980's I believe, so it's been nearly 30 years now. I would have loved to taste some of that Jim Porter. So far, I have no Jim Porter or Elijah Craig labels or bottles yet. Feel Free to PM me if you have contact info for the attorney.

Well, I was back in October and had the opportunity to take a former employee through the old distillery. He had a great time and so did I! I specifically asked him when they stopped distilling. He told me he left for Jim Beam in 1972 and that they had stopped distilling shortly before then, 1970 or 1971. So, this tends to disprove the standing history that the distillery ceased operations in 1952. I know they were bottling until at least 1974 if not later after my uncle had sold it. I've had such a wonderful time in Deatsville/Bardstown the past year and a half or so. I'm going back again next week for more research and to attend the KBF tasting on the 24th of April. Any of you going to be there?? I'm trying to contact a gentleman down there named Kenny who was the bottleshop super in the early 70's. I have quite a few memo's from my uncle to him and would love to sit down and talk to him. He's hard to get a hold of though! I've been invited to tour the Samuels family archives in Louisville when I'm down there and I'm really looking forward to seeing that and also to meet Bill. Should be a great experience. I will post any additional information after I returned. TJ - please contact me.

Mark

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chefmel

One more note on the Lionstone Bourbon. I purchased a Lionstone Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey mini bottle off the internet awhile ago. Produced in Bardstown. Not sure if it was made by HH, Bartons, or produced in Deatsville for one of them. So I know they had their own bourbon as well as making decanters for it.

Mark

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chefmel

Back again!

Looking over some of my previous posts, I failed to tell everyone some of the items I brought back last June and October. A couple of nice signs that hung in the distillery many years ago. I have to look at them again and write down what they say, then I'll be back to tell you about them.

Mark

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fishnbowljoe

Mark, There will be some members from SB staying at the General Nelson for the sampler. Maybe you could stop by after the sampler and share a pour or two with us at the gazebo. Only rule of etiquette is to bring a bottle to share. Doesn't matter what it is. As another member put it, "It isn't the cost of the offering, but the generosity of the act itself." Hope to see you there. Joe

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chefmel

Hi Joe,

Looking forward to meeting you and whoever else might be there. See you at the Gazebo!

Mark

P.S. My avatar contains one of the signs from the Distillery I recently aquired!

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bonneamie

Mark, we met when Brad (Potbanger) had the get together in the abandoned warehouse in some west of Detroit suburb. Anyway, I will be at the sampler along with my husband (Pete) and Josh. I'm looking forward to meeting you again!

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chefmel

Hi Amy,

I remember all of you, but may have problems recognizing you. I'll try and find you all! I'll bring some of my finds from T.W. to the afterglow at General Nelson in case anyone might be interested in seeing them.

Mark

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bonneamie

We're staying at the GN so we will see you at the Gazebo!

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