Sunday, February 3, 2008

George Dickel, Say What?

Lest no one think my gripes about bullshit in the marketing of spirits products are limited to micro-distilleries, here's a shot at Diageo, the world's biggest booze company.

I was working on some follow up to my December post about the George Dickel No. 8 shortage for my newsletter, The Bourbon Country Reader, which got me looking at several sources, including the history section of the Dickel web site.

Diageo seems to be engaging in some revisionist history on Dickel's behalf. They now have George and his wife, Augusta, visiting Tullahoma in 1867, where he dreams about "creating the finest, smoothest sippin’ whisky," and then "In 1870, Dickel’s dream came true, and a company which bore his name was opened at Cascade Hollow, Tennessee."

Both, based on everything else I can find out about Dickel's history, appear to be complete fabrications.

One purpose seems to be to obliterate both the independent history of the Cascade Distillery (which was, by all accounts, established in 1877 and never actually owned by Dickel) and diminish the role of the Shwab family (which the Dickel web site misspells as Schwab, like the stock broker), much like Four Roses has built up John Paul Jones at the expense of Rufus Rose.


skubalon said...


I loved the Four Roses tour and the explanation of the history. Especially when I pointed out the alternate story.

What I can’t understand and I know marketing is part of it with a smidge of pride, but what is gained by changing it?

Four Roses was named for the four daughters, right? So why change it to a story equally uninteresting as the supposed founder having his love wear a rose to the dance to signal her acceptance?

I would rather come up with something so wildly incredulous as to make it impossible to know the truth. Then we could at least have a good laugh.

Chuck Cowdery said...

The "four daughters" story may be false too. The most likely explantion is this: Rufus Rose had a brother and a son, and the brother had a son, all of whom worked in the business, and they were the original "Four Roses."

That, of course, isn't even remotely romantic so the Roses may have been the ones who cooked up the four daughters story.

Why do they do it? Rights may have something to do with it. With Dickel, there are still members of the Shwab family around who might expect some compensation if their ancestor's name is used. Beam gets into it with their conceit that the only Beams are the Noes, i.e., the only descendants of Jim Beam, when there are scads of Beams running around, including some who were distillers at Jim Beam.

skubalon said...

Ah, that would make sense.

Still a good fabricated story is what American history is all about.