Stitzel-Weller Time Line

There's a lot of history and 'lore' behind bourbon so discuss both here.

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Re: Stitzel-Weller Time Line

Unread postby EllenJ » Mon Dec 07, 2009 4:16 pm

I know I'm a little late to the party, but I was looking at Linn's great photos and thought I ought to add a couple cents worth.

The Stitzel-Weller-produced brands should also include David Nicholson, sold in Missouri. Unlike most contract bottlings, there was no attempt to make it seem as though it was made in St. Louis. In fact, the label clearly states not only that it was Kentucky bourbon distilled at DSP-KY-16, but that it was the Old Fitzgerald Distillery. The label does, of course, also state that it was bottled by David Nicholson Distillery Co. DSP-MO-16. Earlier examples (1960s) indicate the distillery as Peter Hauptmann, also in St. Louis, but without a DSP#.

So, is the DSP# a coincidence? I know that name-only "distilleries" have long been the case for bottling non-bonded bourbon, which doesn't require identification of a DSP#, but the ones I'm familiar with were not out-of-state. Mrs. Boone, over at Heaven Hill, told us of how they would scribble the name of the distillery du jour on a piece of cardboard and hang it over the bottling line. For that day (or portion thereof), that WAS the name of the distillery, at least as far as meeting the requirements of the code was concerned. But could "DSP-MO-16", registered in Missouri, actually be located in Shively, Kentucky? Or was the bourbon tanked and shipped out to a bottling plant in St. Louis. For that matter, if it was shipped there for bottling, might that have been the same facility that David Sherman (now Luxco) uses?

Also, Mike, I'm pretty sure that David Nicholson still exists. Do you know whether that contract went to Heaven Hill with Old Fitzgerald or to Buffalo Trace with Weller? Or did Luxor take it along with Rebel Yell (which would suggest HH)?

And for the folks tuning in who are just beginning to try to understand where all these fabled brands originated, imagine how much fun just this one little ownership scramble (i.e. Diageo's Stitzel-Weller brands) will make tracing their origins fifty or so years from now. Now then, what was that you wanted to know about Old Mister Boston? :lol:

On another topic, which Chuck brought up, I thought the distilleries licensed to distill medicinal whiskey were doing so all through Prohibition; they didn't need to obtain special permission to start up. I believe A.Ph.Stitzel was among them. There were also licenses issued to distribute distilled spirits (to doctors, pharmacists, and bakers), and Weller & Sons possessed one of those. Where Weller differed from most other distributors, though, was that instead of purchasing existing product (the dreaded "medicinal whiskey" of legend, some of which had been rotting in barrels since before the World War) they bought their whiskey directly from a current distiller, Stitzel, as Chuck pointed out. I'm not sure if they bought new whiskey and aged it themselves or simply had access to good 4-year-old whiskey that Stitzel aged in their own warehouses. Either way, it made for a higher-quality product. Perhaps Mike knows if W.L. Weller & Sons already owned bonded warehouses in Shively before the merger and whether that influenced the choice of where to build the new Old Fitzgerald distillery?
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Re: Stitzel-Weller Time Line

Unread postby cowdery » Mon Dec 07, 2009 8:22 pm

The medicinal whiskey licenses were licenses to sell, not make. Mike will likely have the dates handy, but the feds didn't grant the licensees permission to distill until well into prohibition, when stocks began to dwindle. They were allowed to make so much per year every year thereafter. Stitzel happened to be the first to fire up its stills and because it had everything working, I believe it made the allotment for some of the other license holders. All of the license holders were consolidation warehouses in urban centers, which made their supervision easier.
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