Saturday, May 21, 2011

I'm still here.

Well, apparently I wasn't one of the lucky 144,000 to fly through a crack in the sky today. Ha!

But anyway, it seems like people did all sorts of stuff to prepare for the impending rapture or chaos that was to ensue on earth. People tried converting people to see their way, they prayed, some stockpiled food while others sold off possessions. My preparation for today? I bought 2 bottles of Rittenhouse Rye! After all, if lava comes spewing from the earth's core and fire comes down from the heavens, that could potentially disrupt the production of my favorite (And hard-to-get!) rye whiskey. So I'm set for a few more months. And since it's now 7PM and I haven't seen cars crashing, people taking to the streets screaming, and any heavenly beings looking through my window, it would appear I can savor some of my newly-bought whiskey this evening.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The OTHER abandoned Pennsylvania distillery.

Today I had the great fortune to tour the abandoned Continental Distillery in Linfield,PA with Dave Ziegler, who was an employee there. Like Michter's, the site is in general ruin and heavily vandalized- having closed about the same time as Michter's (1986). Majority of the buildings are closed and locked, but a few were opened up for us. Here are a few shots from today's explorations. Enjoy and a HUGE thank you to Dave!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

When it comes to Michter's, you never know what to expect!!

So I thought I had not only the decanter list pretty well nailed down, but also a basic list of legally-obtained Michter's items. What I had forgotten was the fact that:

A. I was not alive in the 70's and 80's to see what was actually offered for sale.
B. There was a public sale in 1997 of hundreds of items from the distillery.
C. Michter's collectors are still out there and have boatloads of stuff squirreled away.

That being said, in the the past 2 weeks, a whole new world has begun to open up to me. A fellow Michter's collector that's about the same age as I came upon 2 large-scale Michter's collectors. Both men have amassed mind-numbing size collections. One has already produced a USC football decanter and some half-gallon glass jug lamps! Unbelievable! The other claims to have bought out several dozen collections over the past 2 decades and has shown a few items off. I bought a few things from him, as has my fellow collector friend. In the coming weeks, I plan on meeting with both people to share stories and document their collections- and maybe make a few more purchases myself.

Lastly, as for the counterfeit Michter's pieces, everything just got turned upside down. While there are still obvious fakes, I'm finding more and more anomalies each week. So I guess I can't be too accusatory of anyone at this point. Once I get access to these newly discovered collections, I will edit my posts accordingly to reflect accurate decanter and memorabilia findings.

Oh, and for those of you that like Michter's photos, here's another:

Gotta' love the pot still decanters!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Before Michter's was "The Whiskey That Warmed The Revolution," it was the whiskey that "Sips Softly."

I'm sure most of my devout readers will notice I've made a few updates and changes, cleaned up a few things, and added some features to the blog. If you know me, you know I don't let things stay the same for long. Anyway, on to the next blog post.

I'm going to drop a bombshell here.


Michter's wasn't always Michter's. I mean the whiskey. And the distillery. And pretty much everything Michter's.


Yes, Michter's has a real interesting formation. See, at face value, it would seem that back in the 50's, Lou Forman bought a small distillery in Schaefferstown and distilled and bottled his Michter's there. Wrong. This is where it all gets interesting.

Michter's started way before Michter's.


So was I for a long time. Then the ball of twine unraveled. There were 2 Michter's!!
How could this be? Well, first there was Michter's Pot Still Whiskey, which was bottled by a company called Michter's Jug House which was owned by Lou Forman. During this early period of Michter's Whiskey, there was no Michter's Distillery- The distillery in Schaefferstown was called Pennco and was owned by Samuel Glass and was affiliated with Continental Distilling in Philadelphia. Lou Forman was also very involved with the Pennco operations, but did not own a distillery.

This is where it gets weird.

The Michter's Whiskey name first appeared in 1955. It was sold in a 4/5qt crock and marketed as a fine Pennsylvania whiskey. But since Mr. Forman did not own a distillery and was involved with Pennco/Continental, he had to find some whiskey to fill his crocks from those operations. Pennco had just been created and had taken control of the remaining stock of Kirk's Pure Rye. Continental was sitting on mass quantities of all sorts of whiskey. So in the Michter's jugs it went! Yes, that's right. Michter's started off life as being a way for Pennco and Continental to get rid of whiskey that was sitting around! And not to say it was bad whiskey, it wasn't. It was good whiskey that had no other place to go. Dick Stoll once told me he remembers seeing Pennco and Kirk's Pure Rye barrels being dumped and put in Michter's jugs. Dave Ziegler, who worked on the bottling line at Continental recalls bottling Michter's Liberty Bells there many years ago.

Then Lou Forman had a problem. His nitfy little jugs weren't getting drank. They were being bought and used as decoration! Something had to be done. So Michter's got a quick re-invention into a suave, upscale businessman's whiskey. Soon, Michter's had billboards and ads trumpeting "If you're not 40, forget it!" and then "Michter's Sips Softly." The jugs were still made, but took a back seat to a new Jack Daniel's-esque square glass bottle with a black label. Very suave indeed. Sales expanded and more product began to be bottled in Schaefferstown because Pennco was losing its bulk whiskey contracts. Plus, Lou Forman was more involved with the Pennco side of things anyway. Then came 1975. Pennco files bankruptcy and fearing a cut off of his source of whiskey, Lou Forman and a group of local businessmen create Michter's Distillery, Inc.

And then there were 2!
As the whiskey matured, Michter's Whiskey was still Pennco stock for a few years, but new Michter's Whiskey was being distilled by Michter's Distillery, Inc. So during this period, Michter's Distillery was distilling the whiskey to be bottled and sold by Michter's Jug House. This explains the mystery of why all the Michter's products from 1955 to about 1980 say "Decanted and Jugged" or "Bottled by Michter's Jug House." That's the truth. It was bottled, but not distilled by Michter's. It was distilled by Pennco, Kirk's Pure Rye, or Continental!

And back to 1.
Around the time the distillery was sold to Ted Veru, the Michter's Jug House name disappeared and decanters and bottled began to say "Distilled and Bottled by Michter's Distillery." This again would be true- indicating that all the Pennco, Kirk's, and Continental whiskey had been used up and Michter's was actually being filled with, well, Michter's!


Absolutely! That's about as easily as I could explain it without going into extreme detail. And to wrap this up, here are 2 scans of a brouchure I bought off EBay from 1964 proclaiming Michter's sipping softly. Enjoy!