Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The 'Michter's Stills' Are Once Again Owned by Michter's

Mainly, I'm posting this to call your attention to my post about the 'Michter's Stills' over on the Whisky Advocate Blog, but here is a little 'rest of the story.'

I became aware of the equipment in question more than a decade ago. I was talking to John Ed Beam (yes, those Beams) about some equipment his family owned. Although he and his two brothers all had good careers in other fields, they also felt the itch to make whiskey to varying degrees. Their dad, David Beam, a former master distiller at Jim Beam, had acquired the equipment years before, but hadn't done anything with it except put it in a little pavilion where he could look at it. John Ed and I talked casually about what it would take to set up a micro-distillery. This was in 2002-2003, when such a thing still seemed like a pipe dream.

My, how things have changed.

That led to a story by me in Whisky Magazine about the family and the stills, which everyone enjoyed, but the idea of the micro distillery never got off the drawing board. John Ed got married, he and his wife had twins, and that was pretty much the end of it.

A few years later another father of twins, Tom Herbruck, was getting his Tom's Foolery Distillery going on the outskirts of Cleveland. Having a distillery was a childhood dream of his (really!) and he was planning to start with applejack, but also wanted to make whiskey. We got to talking about what kind of equipment he might need and I thought of the Michter's stills. I asked John Ed if he thought his dad might be willing to sell them. John Ed wasn't sure but he thought it was worth asking.

So Tom did, and the timing was right. Tom got the equipment, sent it to Vendome for any necessary refurbishment, then on to Ohio. Pretty quickly he had it set up and running. David Beam and other Beam family members helped, as did Dick Stoll, who had run the equipment when it was at Michter's and he was master distiller there.

The Michter's that owns the equipment now is a completely different company, of course, but the old wooden fermenters still have the Michter's name on them after all these years, so it seems like everything turned out right.

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