Stitzel-Weller Time Line

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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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Re:

Unread postby shoshani » Tue May 26, 2015 11:08 pm

cowdery wrote:Mike is correct that the conclusion that Fitzgerald was the "government man" at Old Judge is mine. He may have been at a bonded warehouse at another location, but why would Herbst have a bonded warehouse at a location other than at his sole Kentucky distillery? However, Sam Cecil's statement (undoubtedly from Whit Coyte) that Fitzgerald went on to be the "superintendent" of a distillery in Hammond, Indiana, which is in my neck of the woods (i.e., Chicago), puts him nearer to Milwaukee (where Herbst was based) than to Frankfort, Kentucky. So maybe he wasn't at Old Judge.


And now, so many years after this post was made. I discovered something.

We're all chasing John E. Fitzgerald the Internal Revenue gauger, who was indicted with two other gaugers, a government storekeeper, and four rectifiers on conspiracy to defraud the government in January, 1876 in Milwaukee.

But then there's John E. Fitzgerald the distiller, superintendent of the Hammond Distilling Company in Chicago for a good many years.

They aren't the same John E. Fitzgerald; the latter was born in 1865, making him ten years old at the time the former was engaged in larceny (but not involving spirits themselves, only receipts.)

Reference for the newfound distiller Fitzgerald: https://books.google.com/books?id=8BIUA ... &q&f=false

Edit: the above link is to a 1917 publication; Fitzgerald had been involved with the distillery since it opened in 1901, and was the son-in-law of the distillery's owner. A Brooklyn Daily Eagle article from Dec 15, 1901 mentions that Fitzgerald had been involved in distilling for some 20 years (putting him at about 15-16, not an unusual age for labor back then. I don't have a link for that, though, only an OCR dump.

I'm sure there is more clarity to be gained slowly. I just thought I'd break this latest on the board here.
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Re: Stitzel-Weller Time Line

Unread postby shoshani » Thu Jun 04, 2015 7:18 pm

Small further update, unfortunately no links on this because a) I'm still sifting through a bunch of material I found today, and b) it was all on a different computer in a different location, and I haven't had a chance to move files.

I went through the Library of Congress archive of the weekly newspaper The Frankfort Roundabout. In 1890 a note is made that one M. T. Mitchell was in the process of relocating his Old Judge distillery from Burgin, Mercer County, to the Frankfort area. In the November 28, 1891 issue, the following short item is reported:

Old Judge Distilling Co.
---------------------------
Messrs. Manlius T. Mitchell, Chas. W. and Henry Fincel have formed themselves into a company under the above title and have been incorporated under the Statutes for the purpose of operating a distillery and manufacturing whisky of the "Old Judge" brand. They will shortly begin the erection of a distillery near Collins water Station on Benson.


One week later, and for several weeks thereafter, a legal notice was posted in the Roundabout that contained the Articles of Incorporation of the Old Judge Distilling Co. Then, the issue of July 16, 1892, contained this item:

Land for a Distillery.
-------------------------
The Old Judge Distillery Co. purchased on Wednesday from Mr. A. W. Cromwell two and a half acres off of his farm lying on Benson, two miles west of this city, and will shortly begin the erection of a distillery upon it, for the manufacture of "Old Judge" whisky.


There are various ups and downs, and on July 22, 1899 the Roundabout noted "Messrs Ferdinand Westhelmer Sons, of St Joseph, Mo and Clnclnnati, Ohio, have purchased the Old Judge Distillery No 11 near this city, and will enlarge the capacity very considerably before the next season commences."

No other change of ownership is noted that I could tell, but from 1900 through 1904 or so, RD 11 is referred to as Old Judge, Laval & Mayse, S. C. Herbst, and Old FItzgerald almost interchangeably in the Revenue Assignments column. The Roundabout regularly published a list of which U S Treasury storekeepers and gaugers were assigned to which distilleries, warehouses, and rectifiers. (By the way? No John E. Fitzgeralds.)

I'm still looking at my three suspects as to who John E. Fitzgerald is. I've dismissed the gauger who was indicted in 1876 because a) he was involved in falsification of paperwork and possibly shaking down distillers for money, but was not accused of theft of product, b) he was a gauger and gaugers only carried keys to the receiving/cistern room where the new make was piped. Warehouse keys were carried by the storekeeper, which JEF was not.

There is also the possibility of John E. Fitzgerald the distiller, who began his career at the age of 17 at the Henry Shufeldt plant, and who built the Hammond Distilling Company in 1901. He lived and worked in the Chicago area for nearly all his life, and Herbst had a Chicago office. He was also active in distilling at the exact time Herbst was getting his Jno. E. Fitzgerald whiskey off the ground.

But there's a third John Fitzgerald, in Milwaukee, whose middle initial I don't know but considering that the names Edmond and Edmund run in his family, there might be a connection. This John Fitzgerald died in 1896 at the age of 63; he had been a ship captain and a ship builder, as were his five older brothers, for his entire life. His only careers were nautical, and in his old age he established a dry dock that was run by his son William E. Fitzgerald until his accidental death in 1901. As an aside, William E. Fitzgerald had a son who did not follow him into the shipbuilding world, but the family firm built and named a ship for him anyway: Edmund Fitzgerald. But the reason I'm leaning toward this John Fitzgerald, who had no connection with whiskey or distilling at all, is because Solomon Charles Herbst of Milwaukee was active in yachting. He established The S. C. Herbst Trophy, awarded at an annual yacht race between Milwaukee and Chicago. This affinity for yachting is a very close parallel with the activity of a man whose life's work was construction and operation of sailing vessels.

We know that Herbst registered Jno. E. Fitzgerald as a whiskey trademark in 1884 and again in 1905, and there is evidence that Herbst had the Taylor distillery produce Old Fitzgerald for him when they opened shop in 1887 or so. But the whiskey...where was it sold? Exclusive ships and railroads? Not entirely.

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This 1901 advertisement for Chancellor Club Cocktails asserts that Chancellor Club Cocktails (in big letters) and the genuine John E. Fitzgerald 15 year old rye and bourbon whiskey (in small text, almost like an afterthought) "are served in individual bottles in the dining and buffet cars of the best railroads in the United States" - but not exclusively, and in fact the advertisement goes on to offer the reader four quarts of the cocktails or the rye or bourbon whiskey for five dollars. A 15 year old whiskey being offered for sale in 1901 would have been distilled in 1886, which technically makes this Taylor juice - although by October 1901, when this ad ran, Herbst owned the Old Judge distillery where his Old Fitzgerald would be produced. (It also seems that he just warehoused everything until he knew he had a steady source of supply.)

So that's where my own research is up to, at this point. The exact answer may never be known (and I tend to believe now that the whiskey-stealing Fitzgerald is conflated with the story that a treasury agent and security guard were caught pilfering whiskey at a consolidation warehouse where Herbst whiskey was being stored during Prohibition, thus forcing his sale of stocks and brand, which is the "how Pappy got Fitz" story told in "But Always Fine Bourbon".)
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Re: Stitzel-Weller Time Line

Unread postby Bourbon Joe » Mon Jun 08, 2015 10:37 pm

Most interesting.
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