Skip to comments.The Men Behind Your Favorite Liquors
Posted on 01/05/2009 5:01:53 PM PST by 2ndDivisionVet
Its hard to walk down the aisle of a liquor store without running across a bottle bearing someones name. We put them in our cocktails, but how well do we know them? Heres some biographical detail on the men behind your favorite tipples.
1. Captain Morgan
The Captain wasnt always just the choice of sorority girls looking to blend spiced rum with Diet Coke; in the 17th century he was a feared privateer. Not only did the Welsh pirate marry his own cousin, he ran risky missions for the governor of Jamaica, including capturing some Spanish prisoners in Cuba and sacking Port-au-Prince in Haiti. He then plundered the Cuban coast before holding for ransom the entire city of Portobelo, Panama. He later looted and burned Panama City, but his pillaging career came to an end when Spain and England signed a peace treaty in 1671. Instead of getting in trouble for his high-seas antics, Morgan received knighthood and became the lieutenant governor of Jamaica.
2. Johnnie Walker
Walker, the name behind the worlds most popular brand of Scotch whisky, was born in 1805 in Ayrshire, Scotland. When his father died in 1819, Johnnie inherited a trust of a little over 400 pounds, which the trustees invested in a grocery store. Walker grew to become a very successful grocer in the town of Kilmarnock and even sold a whisky, Walkers Kilmarnock Whisky. Johnnies son Alexander was the one who actually turned the family into famous whisky men, though. Alexander had spent time in Glasgow learning how to blend teas, but he eventually returned to Kilmarnock to take over the grocery from his father. Alexander turned his blending expertise to whisky, and came up with Old Highland Whisky, which later became Johnnie Walker Black Label.
3. Jack Daniel
Jasper Newton Jack Daniel of Tennessee whiskey fame was the descendant of Welsh settlers who came to the United States in the early 19th century. He was born in 1846 or 1850 and was one of 13 children. By 1866 he was distilling whiskey in Lynchburg, Tennessee. Unfortunately for the distiller, he had a bit of a temper. One morning in 1911 Daniel showed up for work early and couldnt get his safe open. He flew off the handle and kicked the offending strongbox. The kick was so ferocious that Daniel injured his toe, which then became infected. The infection soon became the blood poisoning that killed the whiskey mogul.
Curious about why your bottle of J.D. also has Lem Motlow listed as the distillerys proprietor? Daniels own busy life of distilling and safe-kicking kept him from ever finding a wife and siring an heir, so in 1907 he gave the distillery to his beloved nephew Lem Motlow, who had come to work for him as a bookkeeper.
4. Jose Cuervo
In 1758, Jose Antonio de Cuervo received a land grant from the King of Spain to start an agave farm in the Jalisco region of Mexico. Jose used his agave plants to make mescal, a popular Mexican liquor. In 1795, King Carlos IV gave the land grant to Cuervos descendant Jose Maria Guadalupe de Cuervo. Carlos IV also granted the Cuervo family the first license to commercially make tequila, so they built a larger factory on the existing land. The family started packaging their wares in individual bottles in 1880, and in 1900 the booze started going by the brand name Jose Cuervo. The brand is still under the leadership of the original Jose Cuervos family; current boss Juan-Domingo Beckmann is the sixth generation of Cuervo ancestors to run the company.
5. Jim Beam
Jim Beam, the namesake of the worlds best-selling bourbon whiskey, didnt actually start the distillery that now bears his name. His great-grandfather Jacob Beam opened the distillery in 1788 and started selling his first barrels of whiskey in 1795. In those days, the whiskey went by the less-catchy moniker of Old Tub. Jacob Beam handed down the distillery to his son David Beam, who in turn passed it along to his son David M. Beam, who eventually handed the operation off to his son, Colonel James Beauregard Beam, in 1894. Although he was only 30 years old when he took over the family business, Jim Beam ran the distillery until Prohibition shut him down. Following repeal in 1933, Jim quickly built a distillery and began resurrecting the Old Tub brand, but he also added something new to the companys portfolio: a bourbon simply called Jim Beam.
When he was a young boy, Charles Tanquerays path through life seemed pretty clear. He was the product of three straight generations of Bedfordshire clergymen, so it must have seemed natural to assume that he would take up the cloth himself. Wrong. Instead, he started distilling gin in 1830 in a little plant in Londons Bloomsbury district. By 1847, he was shipping his gin to colonies around the British Empire, where many plantation owners and troops had developed a taste for Tanqueray and tonic.
Gaspare Campari found his calling quickly. By the time he was 14, he had risen to become a master drink mixer in Turin, and in this capacity he started dabbling with a recipe for an aperitif. When he eventually settled on the perfect mixture, his concoction had over 60 ingredients. In 1860, he founded Gruppo Campari to make his trademark bitters in Milan. Like Colonel Sanders spice blend, the recipe for Campari is a closely guarded secret supposedly known by only the acting Gruppo Campari chairman, who works with a tiny group of employees to make the concentrate with which alcohol and water are infused to get Campari. The drink is still made from Gaspare Camparis recipe, though, which includes quinine, orange peel, rhubarb, and countless other flavorings.
Uncle Sid, one wicked moonshine!
What about that guy behind the Big Schiltz?
(duck and cover)
none of the above. glenfiddich or glenlevit
This lady likes her Captain Morgan straight . My orange vodka too.
Where’s me rum?
Captain Morgan is for the kids. Being a rum man myself, I prefer Sailor Jerry or Bacardi Premium (named after its first maker, Facundo Bacardi).
Mortlach Distillery History
1823-24 Established by James Findlater, Alexander Gordon & Donald Mackintosh
1852 Distillery restarted after a few silent years by John Gordon
1854 George Cowie becomes involved creating John Gordon & Co
1897 Stills increased from 3-6
1923 Cowie family sells to John Walker & Sons Ltd
1925 Distiller Company Ltd (DCL) take control
1930 Scottish Malt Distillers Ltd. (SMD)
1963 Completely rebuilt
Mortlach Distillery Comments
One of seven distilleries in Dufftown the first to be licensed
Important contributor to Johnnie Walker blends.
Mortlach Distillery Bottlings
Mortlach Aged 16 Years (Flora & Fauna)
Mortlach 22 Year Old (Rare Malts Selection)
I like my Uncle Guiness.
straight up? on the rocks? I’m on the rocks with a splash of ginger ale on top and a squeeze o’ lemon
If we are gonna name names,
These days it is bushmill’s on the rocks.
I'm an ambassador.
Johnnie Red is good. It’s the best and most flavorful of the mass market blended Scotches. The more aged variants are good, too. My fave is probably the Green (I don’t like the Black, for some reason).
Wish I liked gin. Tanqueray’s story is the most believable; three generations of ‘Men of the Cloth,’ then a bootlegger, LOL!
This Yankee likes Southern Comfort on the rocks, or in an Old Fashioned...which none of you Southerners have most likely ever heard of. It’s a ‘Friday Night Fish Fry Thang.’
LOL: I used to drink old fashions until I got terribly drunk and got sick.
My Preference: Hennessy’s Congac hands down.
Don’t forget Laphroig, Lagavullin, or the ever popular Ardbeg.
My whole family done give up on me
And it makes me feel oh so bad
The only one who will hang out with me
Is my dear old granddad
And we drink alone, yeah
With nobody else
Yeah, you know when I drink alone
I prefer to be by myself
“LOL: I used to drink old fashions until I got terribly drunk and got sick.”
Seen this? Ping-Worthy? :)
Beer, and lots of it. :)
Zima was actually named after Barney Frank’s Filipino “errand boy.”
None of the above.
Met him when I was working for the Al Haig campaign back in 1987. Very nice man.
oh, I love “Mental Floss” magazine. Thanks for reminding me. Guess I’ll just renew my subscription.
I have been to both Portobello and “Panama Vieja,” the latter of which are the ruins of the city that Henry Morgan destroyed.
Demarara from Guyana is my fave, if you can find it.
The old campaigners of the British Empire found Gin to be a tolerable way to cut the bitter taste of the Quinine tonic. They eventually developed a taste for the originally medicinal bitters or tonic with their Gin.
Glenmorangie 12 or 18 yr old is truly the nectar of god. If you can have a wee dram with a trusted friend without finishing the whole bottle you are a better man than I or my friends will ever be.
When people in confused conditions yell at me “What kind of man are you?!?!?”. I tell them “Why, I’m a whiskey man!”
In the cabinet ready to report to duty.
If anyone has experienced Johnny Walker Blue, please tell us about it. At $200 a bottle, I for one, would like to know if it is worth the price.
My boss gave me JWB as a Christmas gift one year. Good, but Bavenie 30 is still better.
Glenmorangie. When I can’t find that, which is often, I settle for Glenlivet.
IMHO, it’s not worth the price ...it’s smooth and oaky but that’s all ...not remarkable. For one bottle of JWB you can buy [far better] three bottles of Laphroaig 10yo Cask Strength or ‘vulin ...........that’s MHO.
This might be of interest to you.
The serious stuff!
I started out drinking J.Walker as a college student but eventually switched over to McCallan once I could afford it, and when my taste for finer (single malt) scotch developed.
Got to do some serious reorganizing.