Toasting to Bourbon Pioneer George Garvin Brown on his Birthday

 

Toasting to Bourbon Pioneer George Garvin Brown on his Birthday

You probably won’t find too many parents who settle on “Garvin” when naming their children, but that name has a long history and a deep connection with bourbon lore. If you’ve ever enjoyed a single drop of straight bourbon whiskey in your life, you likely owe a bit of gratitude to George Garvin Brown – the man who is credited with revolutionizing the way Americans bought and consumed bourbon in the 1870s. 

9-6-16-blog-post-3A bourbon innovation that was clear as glass.

George Garvin Brown celebrated a milestone birthday this past Friday – The big 170. Born in 1846, he was contemporaries with other notable historic figures born that year such as Buffalo Bill Cody, George Westinghouse and, ironically, radical temperance movement champion Carrie Nation. Of course, Brown is long gone, but whiskey aficionados celebrate his birthday every year. Before Brown came along, distillers sold their whiskey exclusively by the barrel. And since most weren’t keen on the idea of buying upwards of 40 gallons of alcohol at once, many consumers brought their own jugs from home to fill directly from retailer’s barrels. In order to extend supply, less-than-scrupulous saloons and bars were known to add everything from prune juice to tobacco spit to rattlesnake heads to help fill up the jugs. “Rectifying” barrels in this manner was a common practice that allowed retailers to achieve the ideal coloring and consistency without the cost of adding more bourbon.

At the time, George Garvin Brown was a young Louisville-based pharmaceutical salesman. Glass bottles for packaging were a recent innovation and Brown saw potential for whiskey to be sold in pharmacies across the nation next to other medicines. George had a novel idea. A forward thinking idea that would turn the world of whiskey on its head: Put bourbon exclusively into glass bottles. Sealed bottles would assure quality and, 35 years before Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle”, it was among the first steps in making sure consumers knew exactly what they were taking home. With this innovation, Old Forester bourbon was born, and an iconic brand was launched.

The beginnings of the Louisville based distillery that’s still growing today

Soon after Brown’s innovation, he partnered with another George – his accountant George Forman – and established “Brown-Forman and Company” in 1870, just five years before the first running of The Kentucky Derby. Fast forward 146 years to today and Brown’s company is among the largest American-owned spirits and wine companies in the world- an incredibly impressive feat since the list of failed Kentucky bourbon distilleries over that time period reads like a laundry list of long lost whiskey brands.

9-6-16-blog-post-2Fred Noe, Master Distiller of Jim Beam Brands, likes to joke that Kentucky is the land of four million people and ten last names. So it comes as no surprise that today you’ll find Brown’s descendants everywhere in the Bluegrass. Louisville’s Frazier History Museum was founded by Owsley Brown Frazier in 2004. And, just two blocks down Main Street, you’ll find the 21c Museum Hotel which is co-owned by Laura Lee Brown. In fact, the current Chairman of the Board of Directors at Brown-Forman is none other than George Garvin Brown IV – George’s great-great grandson.

Break out the cake, candles and rock glasses!

We celebrate Brown’s birthday in September pretty much the same way we celebrate a lot of things in Kentucky: with bourbon. For the last 15 years, Brown-Forman has released a beloved special edition of their flagship brand known as “Old Forester Birthday Bourbon.” The oddly shaped bottle has become a “must have” for whiskey lovers who sample, collect, and trade limited edition releases. Each batch is different, each year brings a unique offering, and each release has earned a reputation as being among the most elusive whiskey for those seeking to find it on liquor store shelves.

9-6-16-blog-post-1This year’s Old Forester Birthday Bourbon release was patiently aged for 12 years (three times as long as the standard Old Forester product) entirely on the 5th floor of a single warehouse. These barrels were filled and then placed near the windows of the warehouse allowing them to soak up the heat of the sun. Master Distiller Chris Morris expects roughly 14,500 bottles to be released. While this year’s release is a smidge larger than years past, The Old Forester Birthday Bourbon is relatively miniscule. It takes timing and luck to stumble across a bottle. Considering most of us are lucky to end up with a cupcake and an off-key serenading of “Happy Birthday”, that is one great way to celebrate a man’s birthday.

And, beyond limited bourbon releases, Brown-Forman continues to grow. Projected to open in late 2017 will be the newest edition to The Kentucky Bourbon Trail: A $45 million Old Forester Distillery located right on Louisville’s historic Whiskey Row steps from where George Garvin Brown began the company. And Brown-Forman, makers of Woodford Reserve, Jack Daniels, Early Times and several other liquor brands, is already planning a celebration for their 150th anniversary in 2020. Now, that looks to be a party that George Garvin Brown would approve of.

So, next time you find yourself near a glass of bourbon, raise it high for a well-deserved toast to the man who had the wherewithal to put all that pure bourbon into a convenient, glass bottle. And we also ask you to consider extending some overdue thanks by considering naming your next offspring “Garvin.” Cheers to George Garvin Brown!

Mint Julep Tours can arrange visits to Brown-Forman’s Woodford Reserve Distillery or Brown-Forman’s cooperage as part of any custom tour. Call 502-583-1433 or visit us online today to begin planning your adventure!

Mint Julep Tours presents Derby Eve Distilled

Mint Julep Tours presents the Derby Eve Distilled Experience on May 6, 2016

An Exclusive Bourbon and Culinary Event at Buffalo Trace Distillery  

Louisville, KY – February 2, 2016 – Mint Julep Tours is pleased to announce the inaugural Derby Eve Distilled Exclusive Experience to be held on May 6, 2016, which is the night before the 2016 Kentucky Derby. This unique event includes an after-hours private distillery tour and tasting at Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky. After the tour, guests will enjoy signature cocktails, a bourbon inspired dinner, live bluegrass music, and cigars on the porch.

Mint Julep Tours owner and co-founder Sean Higgins explains what went into the planning process for this inaugural event: “We wanted to build on our existing Kentucky Derby Week Public Tours that showcase both bourbon distilleries and horse farms and create something unique that will be a memorable evening for those looking to have a more laid back, true Kentucky experience before the big race.”

Derby Eve Distilled Final Pricing-01The cost is $289 per person, which includes transportation from Downtown Louisville, the private after-hours Buffalo Trace Distillery tour and tasting, bourbon inspired dinner, cigar or mini julep cup, and two signature cocktails (cash bar also available). There is also a lower ticket price of $239, which doesn’t include transportation. For those that go with the transportation included, the tour will depart from the Mint Julep Tours Gift Shop, located in the Galt House Hotel (Third Floor Rivue Tower), 140 N. Fourth St. in Downtown Louisville. The tour departs at 3:45pm on Friday, May 6, 2016 and returns at approximately 10:00pm.

Tickets and more information are available at www.mintjuleptours.com or by calling 502-583-1433.

Note: Adult beverages are allowed on the bus, however we ask that they be consumed in moderation. It is against the law for any passengers under the age of 21 to consume alcohol.

 

 

ABOUT MINT JULEP TOURS – Mint Julep Tours is a recognized leader in Bourbon and Kentucky adventures as well as the only dedicated tour company focu­sed on The Kentucky Bourbon Trail®.  Based in Louisville, Kentucky they offer Custom and Public Bourbon Distillery Tours as well as unique Exclusive Experiences, Horse Farm Tours, C­­ulinary Tours, and Louisville City Tours. As a truly one-of-a-kind tour company, Mint Julep Tours also offers transportation and event planning services with a focus on Special Events, Corporate Outings and Bachelor/Bachelorette Parties. Specialty horse and bourbon-related gifts are available at the Mint Julep Tours retail store inside the Galt House on the third floor of the Rivue Tower at 140 North 4th Street Suite 326, Louisville, KY 40202.

For more information, please visit us online at www.mintjuleptours.com or call our offices at 502-583-1433.