Saturday, May 8, 2021

Addition to the Collection: May 2021 Edition

 Clearly closets and basements are being cleaned out, and I feel fortunate! Yesterday I was able to pick up another rare, rare, R A R E decanter. I knew of the potential existence of this piece years before I actually was able to verify that Michter's did indeed make some of them. In my paper files, in May of 1984, Michter's (By that time operating as Pennsylvania Sour Mash Distilleries, Inc.) made an appeal to the BATF to relabel some of their unsold Telephone and Ice Cream & Sarsaparilla for the upcoming 6th Annual Heidelberg Antique Car Show on June 24th of the same year. Clearly the relabeling was approved as I now own one of these decanters! My complete decanter list has also been updated to reflect its existence. With no further introductions, a few photos:

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Additions to the Collection: April 2021 Edition

 As the collection grows, purchases don't happen as often, but when I come across something I don't have, it's time at that moment to bring it "home" to the Michter's collection. From the graciousness of a fellow collector that has a very impressive collection (...and shall remain nameless for privacy's sake) comes a few amazing pieces of Michter's distillery. Check it out:

If you're familiar with Michter's decanters, you're probably familiar with the moderately common Doughboy decanter that depicts a WWI solder in uniform. You're probably also familiar with its monotone nearly pea green glaze, which doesn't do what could be a beautiful decanter any favors. Well, boy what could have, and SHOULD have been. Gaze upon this prototype beauty that shows a nicely painted/glazed soldier:

Next is a lowly copper jug with a story to tell. What looks old, worn, and pedestrian was actually a sampling cup from the distillery that was used in daily operations. How do we know the legitimacy? A signed and notarized note from Mr. George Shattls himself, who was Manager at the distillery!

Next are a post card, rare style of brochure, and plastic drinking cup. Definitely very cool items as well.

Lastly, and largest in size, is the wagon wheel ceiling lamp from the Jug House. Complete and all original. Needs a little cleaning, but nothing I can't accomplish easily. Absolutely a custom build, it's well crafted and uses the same glass globes and steel diffusers as the lamps that were made from leftover unsold gold pot still decanters. Each diffuser wears the same sticker the 101 proof copper pot stills have. Now to check the wiring and find a place to put it up.....................

Friday, January 1, 2021

PLCB "Guide To Better Product Knowledge- Spiritous Liquors" Some PA Spirits History!

 Here's a little piece of PA spirits history. This handy little guide was published December of 1964 by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board for employee training and knowledge. I've found it to be quite comprehensive and accurate even today. I've chosen to scan it in its entirety and display it here for other's learning and also as an example of PA spirit history. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Dick Stoll 1933-2020

 Definitely a post I never wanted to make. Our friend Dick Stoll- Navy veteran, husband, father, distiller, outdoorsman- has passed away. Dick was the man that took my Michter's hobby and turned it into a passion of mine. He was the last distiller at Michter's, the last living distiller of the "original distillers" in Pennsylvania, the knowledge base that guided Stoll & Wolfe, and a heck of a genuinely nice guy. To the man that distilled the world's highest rated bourbon, to the man that gave me massive amounts of information about Michter's, to the man that was eager to jump back into the distilling business well after his retirement, to the man that was always good for a laugh, to the man that never saw himself as important as he was- Thank you. Your legacy will live on through the lives you've touched. Your work and kindness will not be forgotten.

Photo credit Amy Spangler (below):

Saturday, July 18, 2020

The Ethan Smith Blog - The Podcast!

Have 49 minutes? Want to hear my story of how I began the Michter's collection?

Click here:

Click FA Podcast at the top of the page and then click your preferred listening platform.

Look for the podcast with me, Ethan Smith, talking about Michter's Distillery.

Rich Shane, of Fermented Adventure traveled to meet me and view my collection. After a short tour, we got down to talking about Michter's and how I got interested in it. We sip a little Michter's too!

Of course, the obligatory Michter's picture. This one shows the bottling line with a young Dick Stoll in a white shirt helping the ladies bottle up some product.......

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Pieces To A Puzzle.....

I was fortunate to pick up six extremely rare Michter's labels- so rare I actually did not think they existed. When Michter's whiskey was first introduced, it was in little ceramic jugs. Lou Forman found himself in a bit of quandary- his product was selling, but people weren't actually drinking the whiskey, they were just displaying the jugs. So he began bottling Michter's in glass bottles too. It is widely assumed that the square "1827" bottles were the first Michter's glass bottles. These look very similar to modern day Evan Williams or older Jim Beam and Jack Daniel's bottles. The reason for this assumption was because on Michter's very own bottle and decanter lists, that is what is first. But, they are incorrect apparently. These labels are from a run of bottles that predate the square "1827" bottles. How do I know? Take a look at the advertisements below. The jug shown next to the bottle and also the general dates of the ads predate all of the information I have on the "1827" bottles by about 5-10 years. I had assumed the glass bottle in the ads shown below was never made and was for promotional visuals only. These labels prove otherwise. Now I need to track down at least one of these bottles! Pieces to a puzzle.

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Two More Pieces Come Home

I was shocked one morning when, in my email, was a notification that two Michter's/Pennco barrel head stencils were up for sale. It's been a dream of mine from early in my Michter's collecting career to own at least one Michter's stencil. Now was my chance! I was fortunate to win both, though not cheaply, and they arrived a few days later. Understand that this is not a personal pride thing- I am trying to amass the largest and most complete Michter's collection to not only ensure history is preserved, but also because I want to make sure anyone looking for information on Michter's and its predecessors gets detailed and accurate information to answer all their questions.

The Pennco barrel stencil appears to be nearly new, if not new. Yes, it's real and not a reproduction, but it appears to have been an extra or back up stencil. Pennco produced quite a lot of rye over the years, so it would have been well used. The distillery was a famous rye distiller, so I am happy to have it.

The Michter's stencil tells a story. I'll walk you through some of the secrets a keen eye would notice....

The first interesting thing we're going to look at is the obvious spot where tape had been applied over "INC." on the stencil. As Michter's changed hands in the early 80's, the "Inc." was dropped from the Michter's name. From what I can tell, it was dropped after the Veru era of ownership in about 1982. To ensure the correct name was applied to whiskey being barreled after the ownership change, the simple thing to do was just tape over the "INC." and keep using the stencil.

A very sharp eye would notice that at one time the small "C" has been occasionally taped over as well. I am not 100% sure what "C" designates on barrels, but I would assume it means the barrel was charred or new cooperage. Being that Michter's Whiskey was aged in a combination of new and used barrels, they may find themselves in situations where the "C" would have been taped over when filling used barrels.

The last secret hides on the rear of the stencil- Tan paint residue. Michter's, when reusing barrels, would paint the heads tan to cover the old stenciling of the prior product. Then new stenciling was applied. It seems they were in a rush at times and the tan paint was not dry before stenciling with the new information.

These stencils were made by Quaker City 234 Arch St in Philadelphia. Today the building appears to be occupied by an insurance agency.