An interesting haul

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An interesting haul

Unread postby bourbonv » Wed Mar 02, 2005 5:01 pm

Just got back from Frankfort, Ky. where a relative of E H Taylor is donating about 50 cubic feet of family papers and ledger. Some of the ledgers I am looking forward to checking include the records from the 1870's of the Jame E Pepper distillery and the OFC distillery. Also found letter books and an bundles of letter from the 1800's. This will be a fun job to catalog for the Filson.

Mike Veach
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Unread postby bunghole » Thu Mar 03, 2005 9:36 am

Mike, it sounds like you'll be uncovering some interesting facts!

Happy Hunting!

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Unread postby Blue » Thu Mar 03, 2005 11:17 am

I had a similiar experience with the personal papers from William Scranton a few years back. It was a blast, although arduous at times.
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Unread postby bourbonv » Tue Mar 08, 2005 1:04 pm

I have started to presort the material - trying to put some order to the chaos so to speak. I did find an interesting reprint from a Bonafort's article 10 August 1914. It is about E H Taylor, Jr. and discusses how he was the first to take a "moving picture" of his distillery to show how his whiskey was being made. Now that is a film I would like to see. Evidently I am not alone in that because it discusses how people in New York Society were having viewings of the film in their homes.

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Unread postby bourbonv » Wed Jun 01, 2005 6:54 pm

I have presorted about 50% of the collection so far. I thought I would point out some of the more interesting items I have found so far. I have been reading letter press books while monitoring the reading room. I have gone through about 41/2 of about 20 such books. I have found letters dealing with Taylor building a warehouse at the OFC distillery in 1874. I have read the letter press book of the assignee to his bankruptcy case of 1877 dealing with the auction of the OFC and the OOP (Old Oscar Pepper) distilleries - auctioned on the same date in early 1878 and giving the terms in which they are to auctioned. In a book that has letters from 1918 - 1922 Taylor focuses on his Hereford Cattle breeding Farm, but mentions the enfluenza epidemic of 1918 killing many of his workers at the Farm and the distillery, including his book keeper. He sends some cases of bourbon to some friends in late 1919 to "serve them in the dry times ahead". In 1921 he writes a letter to his brother in Missouri discussing his belief that the anti-saloon league is controlling Washington and the failure of his efforts in court to continue distilling.

Items that I have sorted but not read in detail include a large amount of letters from Gregory and Stagg dealing Taylor that might explain how Stagg ended up with the OFC distillery. (Anybody in St. Louis want to look in the 1870's city directory to see if they can find out more information about Gregory and Stagg? James Gregory and George T Stagg.) There are many post cards of the pre-prohibition distillery and a there are also some photographs.

The Hay family was involved with the horse racing industry for the most part, but E H Taylor Hay also was involved with the K Taylor distillery that operated for a short time after prohibition. They were also friends with Creel Brown and there are some letters discussing him and his family.

I will continue to report from time to time let you know about this great collection.

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Unread postby bunghole » Fri Jun 03, 2005 1:10 pm

Thanks for the update, Mike. Carry On!

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Unread postby bourbonv » Sun Jun 26, 2005 9:00 am

Going through the 1872-73 letterbook for Taylor has brought up an interesting point - He only uses white corn to make his OFC. No modern distillery uses white corn. He also claims that Crow had only about 25% the production he has and he is making about 5,000 barrels per year.

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Unread postby bunghole » Sun Jun 26, 2005 9:12 am

bourbonv wrote:Going through the 1872-73 letterbook for Taylor has brought up an interesting point - He only uses white corn to make his OFC. No modern distillery uses white corn. He also claims that Crow had only about 25% the production he has and he is making about 5,000 barrels per year.

Mike Veach


So Mike, Taylor was using a sweet hybird white corn rather than yellow feed corn. Very interesting indeed.
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Unread postby bourbonv » Sun Jun 26, 2005 4:00 pm

Actually Linn, White corn of the time was not a hybrid corn. Hybrid corn did not come on the market until the 1930's. He was probably using what my grandfather always raised - Hickory Cane white corn. This is not a sweet corn by modern standards at all but it is sweet than the flint or dent yellow corns of the time.

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Unread postby gillmang » Sun Jun 26, 2005 6:15 pm

Mike, my understanding is that flint and soft corns can come in different hues and flavor is not affected by the coloration. Probably this was a white, flint corn (with a hard shell that would preclude it being an eating corn) but e.g. there are yellow flint corns also.

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Unread postby bourbonv » Fri Jul 01, 2005 7:14 pm

Gary,
I may be wrong but my Grandfather raised Hickory Cane white corn and always said it was different from Flint or Dent. He did not like yellow corn at all. Hickory Cane could be a white corn variety of Dent I suppose, but I have never heard that before.

Old time distillers hardy ever used Flint because it was more fiber and less starch, leading to smaller yields. Flint was feed corn.

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Unread postby bourbonv » Thu Jul 07, 2005 6:42 pm

In 1873 Taylor is expanding his distillery and is corresponding with his coppersmith. He wants the smith to go to the firm of Weller in Louisville to look at the copperwork on the Dona because it is the superior work he wants for Taylors new distillery equipment.

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Unread postby bourbonv » Thu Jul 21, 2005 6:41 pm

This is from a letter press book for OFC distillery, 25 April 1873. The quote is too good not to pass on. He is replying to a letter from a customer in Boston who wants to know if Taylor would like to buy some rum or gin. "Our people live almost exclusively on whiskey"

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Unread postby bourbonv » Mon Aug 08, 2005 9:25 am

An interesting letter to Taylor's cooper describes his barrels. He uses brass hoops with the chime being 2" wide and the other six being 1 3/4" wide. The heads have to be three pieces and the heads as well as the staves are to be charred thoroughly - whatever that means, maybe a deep char. The staves and heads had to be sanded smooth - the head which will receive the brand especially. This was for Taylor, the perfect packaging.

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"Our people live almost exclusively on whiskey" - E H Taylor, Jr. 25 April 1873
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Unread postby bunghole » Mon Aug 08, 2005 12:14 pm

Proof that pretty packaging sells! Mike I'm going to guess that at this time Taylor is selling almost exclusively by the barrel.

After Garvin Brown started using sealed glass bottles, how long did it take the rest of the bourbon industry to shift to all bottles vs. all barrels.

It amuses me to think what a bourbon enthusiast of the 1870's might have in the old bourbo-barn. All single barrels save a few bottles of Old Forrester. Instead of shelves of bottles there'd be a rack of barrels! How cool would that be?!

I don't think any of us would ever go to work again!

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