I Attend the CMDK Coming-Out Party.

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I Attend the CMDK Coming-Out Party.

Unread postby cowdery » Tue Feb 17, 2009 2:32 am

Saturday, I got a peak at what we now know is called Charles Medley Distillers Kentucky (CMDK), the restoration of the old Medley Brothers Distillery in Owensboro by Angostura. More about my trip is here and here.

I spent some time with the plant manager, Derek Schneider, who is overseeing the refurbishment now and will run the place when it opens. He said it has been slow going and they hope to be fixing up the still house in earnest by fall. Roof repair has taken a lot of attention, as almost every building sustained roof damage in Hurricane Ike last fall. They've been doing a lot of that sort of thing. To rebuild the interiors of the warehouses, they are getting ricks from the Lawrenceburg, Indiana, distillery Angostura also owns. They have two steel clads that are getting new skin.

About half of what they need to get the distilling part itself going is there, the rest will be new. They need new milling and grain handling, many new fermenters (Charles sold all of the cypress ones to Maker's Mark years ago), new boilers and a new beer well. The old cookers are still good, as are the beer still and doubler. They need all new modern process controls.

It would appear that they are planning to get tourism going about the same time they get distilling going. They aren't going to wait until they have some product to sell.

I'll post some more as I look at my notes.
Attachments
CMDKnewsign.jpg
The spiffy new sign.
CMDKnewsign.jpg (109.84 KiB) Viewed 3525 times
CMDKwindow.jpg
That's one of the two mash cookers behind this window.
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giftshop.jpg
CMDK caps and t-shirts displayed in used barrel halves, for that just-dumped aroma.
giftshop.jpg (103.11 KiB) Viewed 3525 times
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Re: I Attend the CMDK Coming-Out Party.

Unread postby gillmang » Tue Feb 17, 2009 12:11 pm

Good stuff, Chuck, at least some progress is being made and whiskey will soon be in the barrel if not in the jar (unless very young).

Any indication of the product attributes they are looking at (Mashbill type and so forth)? Are they likely to stick with a traditional bourbon formulation? Any talk about a rye whiskey?

Gary
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Re: I Attend the CMDK Coming-Out Party.

Unread postby cowdery » Tue Feb 17, 2009 2:15 pm

At this point they are just talking about bourbon and I suspect they will make a pretty generic spirit. Remember that their business plan is to sell in bulk to bottlers outside the USA, so I think they'll be going for a solid bourbon. They won't be looking to do something different. They aren't really talking about any of that yet. They'll do a rye if their customers want it.

They have an experienced distiller at Lawrenceburg and he most likely will be their "master," at least initially. They intend to run those two plants very closely, to the point where operators at both plants will have access to each others process controls via the internet. Buffalo Trace does something like that now so Harlen can keep things under his direct control, even when he is traveling.
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Re: I Attend the CMDK Coming-Out Party.

Unread postby bourbonv » Wed Jul 08, 2009 10:39 am

Iwas there on June 27 to do a bourbon tasting that was auctioned off to raise money for Girls, Inc. - a program that mentors high school girls in Owensboro. Derek, the plant manager offered to host the tasting in the distillery and the winner accepted his offer. The group received not only the bourbon tasting, but also a tour of the distillery.

The CMDK is coming along, but have had several set backs due to the weather. Hurricane Ike took the the roof off of every building in the complex and the Ice storm hit before they had finished all of the roofing so one warehouse was heavily damaged by the ice. Despite all of this, Derek hopes to have the refurbished distillery up and going by October 2010. I was impressed with how much has been done, but I am sure Angastura wants the insurance company to pay for some of the damage repairs that are needed to complete the job. That is bound to slow things down some.

Derak was saying that they tried to get the Green River Brand, but it had been purchased by a member of the McCulloch family after Diageo let it lapse in 2005. The family member had some very unrealistic views as to its worth, so they are looking for another brand. Of course the Medley brands all went to Barton in the 1996 sale from Diageo and are now part of Buffalo Trace. I suggested an Owensboro brand that I always thought was a cool brand - M V Monarch's "Kentucky Cyclone". I guess we will see what happens next year.
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Re: I Attend the CMDK Coming-Out Party.

Unread postby mozilla » Wed Jul 08, 2009 10:45 am

Thanks Mike.

That is bad to hear about the storm damage. I hope it works out in their favor in the long run...with the new roofs and fully repaired facility.

How does one go about securing the rights to a label?
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Re: I Attend the CMDK Coming-Out Party.

Unread postby bourbonv » Wed Jul 08, 2009 10:59 am

It is just like any other trademark. If you want to revive an old label you must either find out who owns the trademark and purchase the rights from them, or you must verify that it has lapsed and re-apply for the trademark to make sure it does not conflict with a regestered trademark. For example, even though United Distillers still owned the James E Pepper trademark in the 1990's, they still had to get an agreement with Dr. Pepper to re-release the brand in Europe.
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Re: I Attend the CMDK Coming-Out Party.

Unread postby cowdery » Wed Jul 08, 2009 8:10 pm

October, 2010, is almost a year beyond the estimates Derek was making in February. In addition to the weather-related issues, I think Angostura has gotten tight with the money, as their parent has been in trouble since the recession started. I don't think Angostura is in any hurry at this point, with the economy the way it is. You would hate to forge ahead, get maybe six months of production put down, then have to pull the plug. This way they are doing things that need to be done anyway, just to protect the value of the asset, but not spending a ton of dough. The real expense comes when they put in the new boiler and other new equipment and start the production cycle. Assuming the infrastructure stuff is finished, they can probably do everything else and start producing in six months or less if they want to.

We have heard that they have ordered some equipment from Vendome. I don't know Vendome's terms, but my guess would be some money up front and the rest on delivery, the date of which might be somewhat flexible. Point is, that is money that is at least partially spent already too. They're going forward, but they're slowing the burn rate, maybe because they have to, maybe because the economy has pushed back their estimates of when the industry can absorb their output. But my sense is that it is all still real and moving forward, though the timetable keeps being adjusted.
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