Book Review: But Always Fine Bourbon

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Book Review: But Always Fine Bourbon

Unread postby bourbonv » Thu Oct 21, 2004 6:45 pm

But Always Fine Bourbon: Pappy Van Winkle and the Story of Old Fitzgerald, by Sally Van Winkle Campbell. Louisville: Limestone Lane Press, 1999. Contents, Preface, Illustrations. Pp.211.

Julian "Pappy" Van Winkle played an important part in the history of 20th century distilling. He entered the business in the late 19th century as a salesman for W.L. Weller and Sons stayed in the industry until his death on 16 February 1965. Early in the 20th century he and Alex Farnsley gained control of W.L. Weller and Sons and by prohibition they had formed a close business relationship with the A. Ph. Stitzel Distillery. During prohibition they continued to sell whiskey for "medicinal use" to the nation. After prohibition they formally joined to form the Stitzel-Weller Distillery, Inc.

The legendary status of "Pappy" Van Winkle really takes off in the 1950's. His two partners had died and he controlled the reins of the company. He used that control to introduce extra aged versions of Old Fitzgerald and the first post prohibition barrel proof bourbon. He gave tours of the distillery and had many signs placed around the campus such as "No Chemist Allowed" and at the entrance "We Make Fine Bourbon, At A Profit If We Can, At A Loss If We Must, But Always Fine Bourbon".

Sally Campbell is the grandaughter of Pappy Van Winkle. This book is her attempt to make the rest of the world know her grandfather as a person and a businessman. She starts the book with a speech given by Pappy on his 75th birthday and then goes on to tell of his early years as a salesman for W.L. Weller and Sons. This is followed by the story of how Julian Van Winkle met Katie Smith and married. The great accomplishment of this book is the combination of this business and personal history. The book is filled with great stories about Pappy and his business practices such as why there were "No Chemist Allowed" at Stitzel-Weller, but also personal stories such as why her grandmother received the winning roses from the 1938 Kentucky Derby. It is of great interest to historians, but also a good read for those who are not that interested in history.

The book also looks nice. It is very well designed with a great layout and quality illustrations. Photographs of the family and the distillery contribute to the contents with a nice splash of color being added by label and bottle shots. This is a book that is worthy of anybody's library and the best news is she is working on a second edition that will add a chapter about her brother, Julian Van Winkle III and his continuation in the family business.

Mike Veach
Last edited by bourbonv on Fri Oct 22, 2004 6:47 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Unread postby dgonano » Thu Oct 21, 2004 8:40 pm

Mike, your on a roll. Keep up the good work. Actually I have read and thoroughly enjoyed this book. You hit the nail on the head as the story is of bourbon and family and the struggles of accepting Prohibition and of making the decision to sell the family business.
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Unread postby tlsmothers » Thu Oct 21, 2004 10:57 pm

Last year I called up Sally when I opened the store and asked for a few copies of the book. She was very kind to send me a few and signed them for me. I read the book like a kid eating up a good bedtime story. I thought that she really made you feel a part of the family as you read along. I loved the stories of Pappy and mourn the loss of the type of sales teams that he must have put together that no one has these days. A really touching story, especially how Pappy's son Julian made some very tough decisions to keep the family peace in a turbulent time of sales and mergers. My favorite pic is our current Julian in short pants!

I am greatly looking forward to the next edition.
"Drinking just to get drunk is like having sex just to get pregnant." --Robert Hess
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Unread postby bourbonv » Fri Oct 22, 2004 10:57 am

I just talked with Sally and she hopes to have the new edition out by the beginning of the year.
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Unread postby bunghole » Fri Oct 22, 2004 12:19 pm

ima :heart: Sally!

:male: :love4: :female:

She Make Me Want To

SHOUT!

PANTS AWAY!

YEAH!

SHOUT!

PANTS AWAY!

HEY!

SHOUT!

PANTS AWAY!

EVERY DAY!

HEY! HEY!

HEY! HEY!


ima- :angel7: - an' I want my share! heh!heh!heh! :sunny:
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Unread postby tlsmothers » Fri Oct 22, 2004 4:11 pm

You are a bone fide nut! :partyman: I can't wait to meet you someday.
"Drinking just to get drunk is like having sex just to get pregnant." --Robert Hess
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Unread postby bunghole » Fri Oct 22, 2004 4:39 pm

tlsmothers wrote:You are a bone fide nut! :partyman: I can't wait to meet you someday.


ima bona fide nut-case?!


Why Hell Yeah!

To Know Me Is To Love Me!

ima - sexmachine! :idea:
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Unread postby cowdery » Sat Oct 23, 2004 12:55 am

tlsmothers wrote:You are a bone fide nut! :partyman: I can't wait to meet you someday.


Boy, if ever there were a case of "be careful what you wish for, it might come true" this is it. :P
- Chuck Cowdery

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Unread postby bunghole » Sat Oct 23, 2004 9:27 am

cowdery wrote:
tlsmothers wrote:You are a bone fide nut! :partyman: I can't wait to meet you someday.


Boy, if ever there were a case of "be careful what you wish for, it might come true" this is it. :P


:rolleyes: :yawinkle:
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Unread postby bourbonv » Sat Oct 23, 2004 9:30 am

Chuck,
Linn is harmless... well there is that Dickel incident, but we won't talk about that.....
Mike Veach
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Unread postby cowdery » Mon Oct 25, 2004 4:15 pm

I have way too much respect for Linn to call him "harmless." I will concede "invariably good-intentioned" however.
- Chuck Cowdery

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Unread postby bunghole » Thu Oct 28, 2004 1:39 pm

bourbonv wrote:Chuck,
Linn is harmless... well there is that Dickel incident, but we won't talk about that.....
Mike Veach


Harmless???? Ask Diageo about harmless. I'm quite proud of the "Dickle Incident". I gave a mulit-national giant the hard; fast, high one right up their old D-HOLE!

Let there be ROCK!

:arrow: ima :smilebox: I'm On The Highway To Hell!
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Unread postby jvanwinkle » Mon Dec 13, 2004 6:56 pm

:D We just received the shipment of the "New Edition" of my sister Sally's "Pappy Book". This new edition contains an added chapter which explains what I have done with the Van Winkle brand since I took over the company after my Dad's death in 1981. There are photos of family members along with information about the progression of the Van Winkle label from its infancy in 1977 to the present stable of seven Van Winkle brands. There's information about my son Preston joining the business along with the joint venture with Buffalo Trace two years ago.
I gave Sally the information for the new chapter and she put it down in her own words. It's a very nice piece of work.
The books arre available now by phoning the Buffalo Trace Gift Shop at: 502-696-5926. The retail price is about $39.95 plus shipping.
Julian
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Unread postby bourbonv » Fri Dec 31, 2004 11:19 am

Julian gave me a copy of the new edition of this book yesterday. I looked it over and found it pretty much the same as the old edition with the exception of the new chapter on Julian and his business. That chapter is excellent. It did not each me anything new about Julian's business because I have known him for quite a while and have followed his brands. Others might find this otherwise. Julian is a very well respected member of this industry and this chapter points out how hard he has worked and much he has earned the great respect given him. He is the grandson of Pappy Van Winkle, but that did not mean he had an easy time staying in the industry. This chapter gives the reader an idea on just how hard a time it has been and more.

To me the most interesting revelation in the chapter is that Julian did not assume Preston would join the business and did not try to manuever him into doing so. Preston joined the company because he saw the respect that was given Julian at the Bourbon Festival and realised that this might be a family tradition worth preserving. He changed his college major to business and joined the ranks (doubling the sales force) within weeks of graduating.

The best quote of the chapter is Preston discussing the growing worldwide appreciation for the Van Winkle brands and the sales trips they both have to take to support the brands. Preston is quoted as saying "Dad went to Paris, and I went to Kansas." Rank does have its privledges.

Mike Veach
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Re: Book Review: But Always Fine Bourbon

Unread postby cowdery » Wed Oct 28, 2009 1:02 am

I don't think so, but I really don't know. My first instinct, though, is "no." The subject is interesting. Certainly a lot of their competitors did that, they filled out their whiskey line with what were essentially commodity gins, vodkas, rums, even tequilas. Even Beam did, under the Beam (but not "Jim Beam") name. Does anyone but me remember Beamero Tequila?

Glenmore did it, Heaven Hill most certainly did it and still does it to this day. I'm pretty sure Medley did.

Brown-Forman didn't.

Most of the others--Wild Turkey, Buffalo Trace--were part of larger companies that certainly did, though not at their Kentucky facilities.
- Chuck Cowdery

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