Sunday, September 28, 2008

Raise a Glass to Paul Newman

Jackie Gleason and Paul Newman in "The Hustler" (1961)

Paul Newman died Friday at the age of 83. If you would like to raise a glass to Mr. Newman's memory, may I suggest J.T.S. Brown Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. 

Robert Rossen was a producer/director who frequently used how his characters drank to tell us something about them. For example, in his "All The King's Men" (1949), heavy drinking signified the growing corruption of Willie Stark's political movement. With Paul Newman's "Fast Eddie" Felson in Rossen's "The Hustler" (1961), whiskey was a metaphor for weakness and lack of self control. During the climactic pool game, Newman's Felson drinks J.T.S. Brown Bourbon, straight from the bottle. His opponent, Minnesota Fats (Jackie Gleason), requests "White Tavern Whiskey, a glass and some ice." We are left to consider the possibility that Fats' brand is actually a placebo, a way to keep his advantage over Eddie by staying sober. (White Tavern was an actual brand, a blend.) 

J.T.S. Brown was an early distiller and the half-brother of George Garvin Brown, who founded Brown-Forman, the parent company of Jack Daniel's. The J.T.S. Brown Distillery was established by his four sons and later continued by one of his grandsons. The last distillery to bear that name is the one in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, known today as Four Roses. J.T.S. Brown Bourbon is still made, by Heaven Hill Distilleries, and it's quite good for a low-priced, bottom-shelf brand, but not widely distributed. I prefer the bottled-in-bond expression. 

Paul Newman's spirit lives on in his movies and his salad dressing. Seriously. The Newman's Own product line has generated millions of dollars for worthy causes. For more information go here.

Of course, "Fast Eddie" Felson was just a character. In real life, Newman drank beer.


Anonymous said...

Just ran across this post and wanted to add my two cents worth. JTS Brown 100 proof is awesome bourbon. Give it a pour, let it sit for 15 minutes, and you've got one awesome sipper. A little water will really open it up and you will enjoy one great vanilla pecan allspice treat.

Anonymous said...

If you live in Ky, or are traveling through you can really find some bottom shelf gems. In my opinion Heaven Hill doesn’t make any bad Bourbon. J.W. Dant Bonded is a sleeper too. Until last year they made a 6 year old 90 proof own make label that was out of this world. It broke my heart when they discontinued it, but I bear no grudge. Such a thing is not meant to last

Anonymous said...

Yep, Heaven Hill does not make any bad straight whiskey. I’m sure they have a sub bottom shelf blended whiskey like every other major distillery but nobody drinks that looking for quality. I assume those are meant to be mixed with cola or 7-Up, for a seven and seven. Actually those blends seem to work better with sodas than straight whiskies to me. The barrel influence in straight whiskey sings too loudly in a highball

Chuck Cowdery said...

Interesting point about blends in cocktails. I know many older New Yorkers prefer blended whiskey for their manhattan cocktails.