Monday, August 29, 2022

W. T. Bartley and His “Belle of Nelson” Ad


Although William Bartley, shown here, is not numbered among the major figures of Kentucky distilling, often referred to as “Barons,”  his Belle of Nelson whiskey generated what arguably can be considered the most iconic advertisement of the  pre-Prohibition era.  Some 138 years after it first appeared the image today can be purchased in multiple formats from multiple sources.  

Shown below, the picture allegedly offered a view inside the harem of a wealthy sheikh inhabited by a number of light skinned, well endowed women who are perfectly nude.  Two are lounging in the foreground while a servant woman of color offers them hookah pipes.  The half moon label advertises “Belle of Nelson, Old Fashioned Hand Made Sour Mash Whiskey.” and below, “Distilled by the Belle of Nelson Distillery Co., Louisville.”

Sources indicates that Bartley ordered this ad from the Wells & Hope Company of Philadelphia.  Located at 918-922 Vine Street, this printing firm was established by John F. Hope and Joseph Lewis Wells in 1845.   Their company, one that hired a cohort of anonymous artists, was known for production of lithographs in paper and metal signs, glass, and mirror advertisements.  Distilleries and breweries were among frequent customers.

Indications are that Bartley first used the harem scene ad in October 1882, about one year after he had purchased the rights to the name “Belle of Nelson” from the Mattingly & Moore Company.  That distillery, at least temporarily, had suffered financial reverses that caused it to declare bankruptcy for its distillery located outside Bardstown, Kentucky..  Bartley, located in Louisville, subsequently moved the operation about 54 miles south of that city to New Hope, Nelson County, Kentucky. The site was on the South Fork of Pottinger Creek about two miles from the Marion County Line.  There on eight acres Bartley built a large new distillery on eight acres, shown below.

Insurance underwriter records note that the distillery was frame construction with a metal or slate roof. There were three warehouses and an annex:  Warehouse A was iron clad with a metal or slate roof located 327 feet west of the still house. This was a free  (non-bonded) warehouse situated on a hilltop.  Warehouse B was iron clad with a metal or slate roof located 160 feet south of the still house. It  also was on a hilltop. Warehouse C was iron clad with a metal or slate roof sited 260 feet from the still house.  The annex building also was iron clad with a metal or slate roof 210 feet southwest of the still house. Slops from the mashing process were fed to cattle, housed in a nearby frame barn. The Belle of Nelson Distillery was a major Kentucky whiskey-making facility.

But who was William Bartley?  Not from one of the Kentucky dynastic distillery families, he was born in August 1813 in Edinburgh, Scotland.  His parents are unidentified.   When he was 18 years old, Bartley immigrated to the United States, landing in New York but soon settling in Kentucky.   Early on he was engaged as a dealer in cotton and other commodities.  One reference suggests liquor was among them.  From a whiskey-making region of Scotland, Bartley may have had some experience in that trade.

The Scotsman also was also engaged in family life.  Several years after his arrival in Kentucky he met a local woman three years his elder.  She was Hannah M. Downing, born in Cork, Ireland.  They married circa 1838 and immediately began having children.  Shown here is a Bartley family photo, taken about 1845.  From left the children are Nora, William, Jr., and John.  A fourth child, Hannah, would be born in 1847.  Bartley’s intense gaze is intriguing.

Perhaps he was thinking about another love.  In September 1855, Bartley is recorded marrying Emily Mathusa Milford in Louisville.   Unlike immigrant Hannah, Emily was from an elite Southern family, said to be connected by birth or marriage with many old Southern families of Mississippi and Louisiana.  Her father, Col. Henry Johnson, was a wealthy plantation owner who divided his time between Louisville and his Mississippi properties.

Although both bride and groom had previous marriages and their earlier spouses were still living, no mention is made in the record of divorces, although they can be assumed.  William now 50, and Emily, 40, would go on to have four children of their own, Emily, Margaret, William T. and David.  Bartley’s daughter Nora later married Henry Milford, Emily’s son by her earlier marriage.  As a result, Nora’s step-mother also became her mother-in-law.  Things could get complicated in 19th Century Kentucky.

Fast forward to 1895.  Thirteen years after its founding, “Louisville of Today” featured the Belle of Nelson distillery in an article. The publication painted a picture of almost immediate success:  “…No sooner were the goods of the company put on the market than they met with great favor,  Time has only served to strengthen this popularity and today their various brands find ready sales in all parts of the United States.”

The article went on to claim:  “The distillery is splendidly constructed and is, in equipment, a perfect model of up-to-date convenience and completeness. Machines and appliances of the most approved devices are provided throughout and the distilling capacity is seven hundreds bushels a day.”   Warehouse storage capacity was set at 20,000 barrels and employment said to be thirty distillery workers and eight traveling salesmen.  

The Belle of Nelson brand was widely advertised, extolled for being “…distilled in the hills of Nelson County from the finest of Golden Rye-malt and Maize and Mountain Spring Water.”  At $15.00 for a two gallon case it was relatively expensive whiskey.  Orders, ads claimed, could be filled from distillery “depots” in ten American cities located from coast to coast.  Belle of Nelson provided wholesale customers like bars and saloons with fancy “label under glass” back of the bar bottles and retail customers with trade cards.  Shown below is a card that recently went up for auction at $250.

Diagnosed with a diseased heart, William Bartley died on July 16, 1885, at the age of 72.  He was buried in Louisville’s Cave Hill Cemetery where many of Kentucky’s whiskey “barons” are interred.  Emily at 73  joined him there 11 years later.  Their adjoining gravestones are shown below.

After Bartley’s death, his distillery holdings apparently came under the control of Emily who appointed two sons from her first marriage to run the Belle of Nelson Distillery.  The president was Robert J. Tilford and the general manager C. M. Tilford.  David, her son by Brantley, was appointed secretary-treasurer. By the late 1890s, the Tilfords were gone and David seems to have been guiding the operation.  He declared bankruptcy in 1899 and the distillery was sold to the Whiskey Trust in 1900.

The Trust in turn assigned the facility to allied distillers Stoll & Company. [See post April 23, 2017].  The Stolls took over the New Hope distillery and brand name, continuing to produce Belle of Nelson Whiskey.  In keeping with the precedent set by William Brantley for advertising with colorful saloon posters, the Stolls issued the two signs shown below.  National Prohibition brought an end to the brand, even as Brantley’s racy harem image has been perpetuated down though the years.

Note:  This post was constructed from multiple sources. The most important of them were the 1895 publication, “Louisville of Today,” issued by the Consolidated Illustrating Company of Louisville and “The Evolution of the Bourbon Whiskey Industry in Kentucky” by Sam K. Cecil.

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Sam Colville’s Saloon Failed But His Show Went On


Immigrating from Ireland as a boy, Samuel Colville arrived in California in 1849 and in 1851 opened a Sacramento saloon he called “The Oriental.”  His attractions to this drinking establishment included stage performances by women wearing “bloomers,’ considered scandalous by many.  Within a  year, apparently having failed to make a profit, he sold out.  As a showman, however, Colville persisted and in time came to be known as the “Napoleon” of the New York theater scene.

Born on Christmas Day 1824, in Castle Cary, Donegal, Colville arrived on these shores at age 15.  His initial occupation is said to have been working in dry goods store in New York, gradually working his way west.  Drawn to California during the Gold Fever of 1849,  he soon may have decided that rather than hacking at the earth it was easier to “mine the miners” for their gold.  According to  promotional materials the Oriental was “fitted up with the most splendid and costly manner altogether with a view to the comfort of its patrons.”  The saloon featured a cigar stand, a billiard table, four bowling alleys and, most important, a stage where entertainment was provided.

The Oriental under Colville became known for featuring women parading about in  a radically new mode of female dress that fitted just above the waist and pantaloons that hung three or four inches below the knee, as shown here.  Called “bloomers” they were controversial.   For the lonely miners of Sacramento the chance to view female legs, even if covered in cloth, must have been enticing.  Despite this unique attraction, the Oriental did not do well and was sold about a year later.  The experience left Colville an important lesson:  In stage productions “sex sells.”

The next few years found Colville moving from place to place, honing his skills as an impresario in San Francisco and then in Melbourne, Australia, before taking over the National Theater in Cincinnati, left, bringing to that city America’s most noted actors and actresses.  Recognizing that New York was the center of the nation’s theatre scene, about 1868 Colville moved to The Big Apple.  With partner George Wood they operated “Wood’s Museum” (later, Daly’s Theatre). They scored a great commercial success by featuring Lydia Thompson, shown below, and her British Blondes, an English burlesque act that had New York theatre folk abuzz.

Thompson’s show was filled with double-entendre songs and, although no bloomers were in sight, featured artfully posed beautiful women clad in gauzy material.   One critic observed that from the standpoint of talent the ladies “really had nothing to offer but their persons.”  Nonetheless the show under Coville’s sponsorship toured the U.S. for six years and took in more than $1 million at the box office—equivalent to $24 million today.  

Taking advantage of his growing wealth, Colville launched multiple theatrical companies.  His Coville’s Folly Company traveled the nation presenting early musical comedies.  The Colville Opera Company brought Americans early operettas.  He also ran the Colville Burlesque Opera Company that offered travesties of popular operettas and plays.  “Many of the productions staged for these companies were instrumental in the evolution of musical theater and provided experience and opportunity.”

The impresario was noted for introducing to the Broadway stage and on tour actresses and actors who would become celebrities of the times.  Among them was  Alice Oates, left below, an American performer in light operas and burlesques, who made her New York debut in 1870 under Colville’s auspices.  Another was British actress Julia Mathews, right, known for playing female leads in comic operas.  While on tour, she unfortunately died of malaria in St. Louis at the age of 33.

In addition to staging these productions, Colville was writing for the theatre.  Among his plays was one called “Taken from Life,” that had its debut at Wallace’s’s Theatre in New York.  Advertised widely, the cast included “Comet,” billed as “the great racehorse.”  Coville’s ads called his Burlesque Opera Company:  The most complete organization on earth for the representation of light entertainment combining musical culture of the highest order of merit with mirth of the most hilarious character governed by refinement.”

Amid his multiple theatrical enterprises, Colville was having a personal life.  Unfortunately, despite diligent searching, I have been unable to find any photo or illustration of him.  A passport application when he was 42 provides these details:  Colville was five feet, nine and one half inches tall, had black curly hair, hazel eyes and a “short & full” face.  He apparently was married three times.   His first wife was Mary Provost with whom he had a daughter Violetta, born in 1844.  His second was Elizabeth Ure Ferguson.  That union produced a son, David.  The record appears to be silent on the fate of these women.

This brings us to Emeline Rosenquest.  Born in New York City in 1843 and married at 22 to Isaac B. Reed, Emaline, known by her stage name as “Eme Rosenau” became the star of Colville theatricals.  Although the critics were not always kind, a musical and drama critic of the St. Louis Republican named Garrett opined:  “M’lle Eme Roseau…as a singer is a genuine surprise to every audience. Nobody expects to hear such pure, artistic vocalism and refined manners in burlesque.  Roseau comes upon the scene like a new and sweet spirit from the tone world, her voice strikes a sympathetic cord at once, and her refined presence gives the key-note to the whole performance.”

An occupational association eventually bloomed into romance.  Sam and Emeline were married in July 1883 in a quiet ceremony conducted by a Presbyterian minister in Philadelphia, far away from the lights of Broadway.  Sam was 60; Emeline was 40.  Further evidence of the couples’ desire for privacy, only one of the few attendees was a show business figure.  

That same year Colville, with a partner, purchased the theater shown here. Located at 107 West 14th Street, this venue had opened in 1866 as the Theatre Francais, dedicated to staging French language dramas and operas.  By the mid-1880s, it had become simply the 14th Street Theatre.  Under Colville’s direction it became the primary site for his productions.  At his death the building passed to Emeline who with her brother turned it into a profitable motion picture house.  The building was demolished in 1938.

As he aged, Colville was troubled with heart problems.  Those worsened in early September of 1886.  For several days he had complained of feeling ill, had seen a doctor and received treatment.  His business agent dropped by the Colville home in New York as he was convalescing and the two took a carriage ride in Central Park, apparently believing the fresh air would do Sam good.  They had barely returned when the impresario slumped dead in a parlor chair.  Colville was 63 years old.

The funeral was held at Manhattan’s “Little Church Around the Corner” where the Colville had been a friend of the pastor.  The services were well attended, with many mourners from the entertainment industry.  He was buried in Brooklyn’s Cemetery of the Evergreens.  Emaline would join him there 28 years later.  Their joint headstones are shown here.

The reading of Colville’s will indicated that the immigrant Irish boy had become a wealthy man during his lifetime.  It also sprung several surprises.  In addition to the 14th Street theater property, Sam left a flat $30,000 in cash to Emeline.  The bulk of the estate, including real estate and personal property was left to David Colville, his son from Elizabeth Ferguson.  Violetta, his eldest child from Mary Provost, received no mention.  At the official reading Emeline and David both waived all rights to contest the will. 

Addendum:  In addition to Colville’s work in theatre, he is remembered in Sacramento for having published an early city directory, dated 1853-1854.  Reprinted with a facsimile of the original cover in 1997 by the California State Library Foundation, the volume contained a history of Sacramento, a map, and a

list of residents, including address, occupation, and place of origin.  Strangely, Colville’s name is not among those listed.  An ad, shown below, appears there for the Oriental Saloon under its new ownership.

Notes:  I was brought to the story of Sam Colville by a brief mention of him in a book prepared by the staff of Special Collections at the Sacramento Public Library called “Sacramento’s Gold Rush Saloons:  El Dorado in a Shot Glass,” The History Press, Charleston, 2014.  From there the Internet provided more than ample resources describing Colville’s rise from saloonkeeper to famed 19th Century American theatre mogul.

Sunday, August 21, 2022

Notable Whiskey Men of Italian Ancestry II

Foreword:  This is the second post bringing together three whiskey men of Italian heritage who distinguished themselves as civic and business leaders in America.   An earlier post on Italians featured three individuals each of whom was an immigrant to these shores.  In this second group two are immigrants.  The third whiskey man, whose story opens this article, was native-born of Italian ancestry who found success in an unusual location.

Vic Trolio would have been about 20 years old when he launched his career as a businessman in Canton, Mississippi.   He was born in 1870 in Tennessee, the son of Pietro and Mary Trolio,  both of them Italian immigrants.  As a child Vic's large Italian family had moved to Mississippi where Trolio's first occupation was as a grocer, a career choice for many Italians.   A 1904 memoir cites him as the owner of the Canton Grocery Company.   By that year the Trolios also operated a three-story hotel with fancy balustrades on the main square in Canton.   A key feature of that establishment was the saloon on the ground floor.  Trolio is shown here in a languid pose behind the ornate bar of this watering hole.   A flyer for his barroom, emphasized “anxious to please.”

Trolio advertised the “best of whiskey,” on that flyer, with special emphasis on “Old Ky Taylor.” That was a brand from Wright & Taylor of Louisville.  His saloon also featured signs for “Ashton Whiskey”  from Simon Bros. of Louisville and “Murray Hill” from Jos. Magnus of Cincinnati.   But most of all Vic sold “Trolio Bourbon.”  At 75 cents a quart and  $3.00 a gallon, Vic peddled it  both in his saloon and from his grocery store. He packaged it in a series of ceramic jugs,  one selection of which is shown here.

In 1907,  Mississippi became the first Southern state to ban alcohol completely, anticipating National Prohibition by 13 years.  Trolio was forced to shut down his saloon and end liquor sales from his grocery store.  Another setback occurred when a fire during the winter of 1913 burned the third floor of the Trolio Hotel. It is shown below, third building from left, as it originally looked.  The structure was so badly damaged that Trolio elected not to replace the floor.   Today as a two-story hotel it stands restored and is on the National Registry of Historical Buildings.

During the early 1900s, Trolio turned as one of his business interests to pecan farming.  In a letter to an agricultural publication in 1922, he described the poor pecan crop of the previous year and indicated plans to put out more trees during the current growing season.  In 1938, Trolio died at the age of 68.  In tribute to a man who had been a pioneering entrepreneur and community leader for almost a half century, the citizens of Canton named a street in his honor.

 When he died in 1938, Los Angeles newspapers addressed Giovanni Piuma as “Cavaliere,” (Knight), befitting a man who had gone from impoverished immigrant youth to Italian royal consular agent for Southern California, confidant of Italian King Victor Emmanuel, and Italian knighthood.  Piuma’s rise had been fostered by his businesses, selling wine and whiskey.

Piuma experienced considerable success as a grocer and vintner. His liquor, wine and grocery store expanded considerably in the days before National Prohibition.  Shown below is an interior photo showing barrels and bottles of wine and liquor.  Piuma in a dark suit stands among his sizable staff.  He was featuring his own brands of whiskey, including the labels shown.

As he grew in wealth, Piuma also was establishing a reputation for leadership in his Italian community and in Los Angeles as a whole.  He  gained considerable prestige when he was appointed by the Italian government as consul for Los Angeles. In this role he was charged with looking after Italian residents of the city including arranging burials in the homeland and assisting Italian tourists, especially those in trouble.  On two trips  back to Italy the vintner/liquor dealer was ushered into the presence of King Victor Emmanuel, who eventually would bestow on Piuma the title “Cavaliere.”

Piuma’s interests ranged well beyond just his Italian compatriots.  He was a founding member of the Los Angeles Liberal Alliance, founded in 1905 for the stated purpose of bringing together all the city’s nationalities in an organization dedicated to instilling fealty to the American flag.  As one writer has put it:  “It sought to promote citizenship through the preamble to the Constitution, specifically the famed words about the “inalienable rights” of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” 

Although Piuma is said to be a little known figure today in Los Angeles, his leadership during a period of intense immigration from all over Europe, including Italy, was important in the city for forging a sense of American identity.

Arriving in the United States in 1892 with $1.25 in his pocket and little English,Eduardo Cerruti, despite frequent setbacks, continued throughout his life to plunge into new challenges that made him a living legend in San Francisco. With liquor sales as his mainstay, Cerruti, shown here, founded cigar companies, ran a popular nightclub, and as a final plunge, built a large indoor salt-fed swimming pool that that operated until the 1950s. 

After a series of unsatisfactory jobs, including bartender, and wanting to own his own business, Cerruti opened a general merchandise store in 1903 he called Cerruti Mercantile Company.  Counting up his previous jobs at twelve, the entrepreneur told the San Francisco Chronicle that this move was his lucky thirteenth.  His  company sold a range of merchandise, including liquor, wine and olive oil.  A photo of the store shows barrels and cases ready for delivery.

To assist in this enterprise Eduardo recruited his siblings.  August, his closest brother in age, apparently had come to America earlier and was working for him.  As Cerruti Mercantile grew “large and successful,” Eduardo put out a call for  other brothers to join him.  Peter, Victor, and Mario answered and emigrated.


The Cerrutis were operating as “rectifiers,” that is, blending whiskeys obtained from distillers to achieve a desired color, taste and smoothness.  The liquor would have been aged in barrels on the premises, shown above, then decanted into bottles, labelled and sold to saloons, restaurants and hotels.  Shown here is an amber whiskey quart with the Cerruti monogram embossed in the glass.  The company flagship brand was “Old Promotion,” a label Cerruti never bothered to trademark.  He also opened a cafe and bar called Club Lido.

With the imposition of National Prohibition in 1920, Cerruti was denied the revenue from wine and liquor sales that had fueled his enterprises.  He opened a saltwater natatorium he called “The Crystal Palace Baths,” later renamed the “Crystal Plunge.”  Opened in 1924 located at 775 Lombard Street, the pool held 300,000 gallons of salt water that was pumped in from an ocean pier near San Francisco’s Fisherman's Wharf.   The complex included a dance floor and served snacks and non-alcoholic beverages. 

Cerruti died in 1951 at the age of 76.  A fitting closing thought on this immigrant San Francisco entrepreneur was provided by the Chronicle:  “Edward Cerruti is the living embodiment of what a foreign boy can make of himself in this country, even if, as he did, at the start the capital is only a dollar and a half.”

Note:  More complete biographies of each of these whiskey men may be found elsewhere on this Internet site:  Vic Trolio, June 1, 2012;  Giovanni Piuma, January 24, 2021, and Eduardo Cerruti, August 17, 2020.


Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Andrew Jackson: Tennessee Distiller



While a number of American presidents have been known to drink whiskey, only three are documented to have made it.  The first was George Washington whose distilling career has been widely described and his distillery reconstructed near Mount Vernon.  The second was Andrew Jackson.   By contrast with Washington, very little is found in the historical record about Jackson’s distilling activities.  This has not deterred others in the liquor trade, however, from linking the Seventh President to their brands.

The year was 1796 when Jackson, age 29, bought a farm two miles from the Cumberland River outside Nashville called “Hunting Hill” and made a home there for himself and his wife, Rachel.   His celebrity as the military hero of the Battle of New Orleans was almost two decades in the future.  The past few years had been tumultuous ones.  His marriage (and re-marriage) to Rachel, shown here, had engendered slurs on her character when it was discovered that her divorce from her first husband had not been concluded before their first wedding.  Jackson would fight multiple duels over her honor, one in which he killed a man.  From 1795 to 1798, he also had served without particular distinction as Tennessee’s first congressman and later as a senator.

My guess is that Jackson’s purchase of Hunter's Hill was an attempt at a quieter rural life where he and Rachel could be country gentry, largely insulated from public scrutiny.  The move also opened the opportunity for Jackson to become a distiller.  Although it is not clear if Jackson acquired the distillery with his purchase or built it himself, by 1799 he was operating two stills said to be capable of producing 197 gallons annually.  One reputedly had capacity of 127 gallons; the other was a 70 gallon pot still.

Shown here is the entry for Jackson’s whiskey-making operation in the official ledger of John Overton, the collector in Tennessee of the whiskey tax.  This first Federal excise tax was the revenue-generating plan of Washington's Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton,  to repay the bonded debt owed from the Revolutionary War and to establish the fiscal standing of the national government. Because it was done on the backs of farmers, many of whom distilled their corn into value-added whiskey, the excise was widely unpopular in rural areas,  sparking the Whiskey Rebellion in western Pennsylvania (1891-1894).

Overton’s ledgers listed distillers in Tennessee by county,  The record details those who manufactured spirits, the number of pots or stills, the annual production of distilled spirits in gallons, and the amount of tax owed.  Jackson in Davidson County was recorded as paying his tax.

In June 1799, however, a devastating fire at Hunting Hill burned down Jackson’s stills, barrels and destroyed more than 300 gallons of aging whiskey.  The future President was required to pay the whiskey tax even though the whiskey was gone.  Authorities in Washington were all too aware that some distillers seeking to avoid the levy were hiding their whiskey, burning down their often ramshackle buildings, and then making claims for refunds.  No evidence exists that Jackson was among them.  In fact, he moved quickly to rebuild his plant.

Jackson subsequently made use of the one appeals process the U.S. government provided.  Petitions and claims on the controversial tax could be submitted to the U.S. House of Representatives.  There they were sent to a joint Committee on Claims, established in 1894,  to be adjudicated.   On February 12, 1803, Congress received the petition for a tax refund from Andrew Jackson.  Shown right, he expressed concern, possibly based on his own experience in the House, that he was totally reliant on that body to satisfy his claim.  Jackson said he had no doubt that: “A power to grant relief, in such Cases, was lodg’d in the hands of the Secretary of the Treasury, or in some other department of the Government;  he could not believe that the United States would draw Money from the misfortunes of her Citizens. 

The Committee on Claims reviewed Jackson’s claim and voted to reject it.  This may have been an indicator of Jackson’s lack of popularity among his former colleagues in Congress.  One historian has speculated:  “I like to think that Jackson was so furious about not receiving his money back that he decided to go into politics.”  

While living at Hunting Hill, Jackson had purchased 640 acres of adjacent land.  With his growing wealth from farming and land speculation, he sold this original homestead and built a new house there.  He called it “The Hermitage,” the mansion home, shown here that has come to be identified with him.

 The Hermitage was surrounded by a host of outbuildings.  They included kitchens, spring houses, an icehouse, carriage garage, dwellings for the overseer and the slaves,  blacksmith and carpenter’s shops, a cotton gin and press, stables, smokehouses, a sawmill and barns.  Most important for purposes here, The Hermitage outbuildings included a whiskey distillery.   Unfortunately, little has been written about this facility or Jackson’s involvement with it.  He soon would be brought away from his Tennessee properties by his immersion in the military activities of the young Nation and ultimately by the American presidency.

That absence did not discourage future distillers, however, claiming Jackson as one of their own. Sometimes the claim was pure nonsense.  Shown here are two ads for “Old Crow.”  In both Jackson is depicted serving up that brand to two other American political figures who would eventually become President on the Democratic ticket, James K. Polk and Martin Van Buren.  The ads are correct that both men were friends and allies of Jackson.  Both ads claim, however, that  according to an unnamed 19th century newspaper report, “Jackson favored Old Crow and praised it most highly.”   Baloney.  As a brand name, Old Crow emerged about 1855.  Jackson died in 1845.

More legitimacy attaches to one of several American whiskeys that use Jackson’s nickname of “Old Hickory.”  It was given to him by his troops for his tough-minded willingness to endure whatever his men were experiencing.  The nickname was first associated with whiskey when Fayette County, Kentucky, distiller John Robb produced "Old Hickory Sour-Mash Kentucky Copper" whiskey.  In 1868 the name gravitated to the E.R. Betterton Company of Chattanooga, Tennessee. [See my post on Betterton, August 10, 2013].   It later was used by other pre-Prohibition liquor houses to memorialize a national hero who was himself a distiller.

The tradition reaches down to today.  In 2011 the R.S. Lipman Company, located in Nashville, Tennessee, revived the brand name.  Shown here are bottles of “Old Hickory, Great American” blended and straight bourbons.  They feature labels bearing Jackson’s picture.   Primarily a wine importing company, Lipman markets these whiskey but they apparently were distilled in Lawrenceberg, Indiana.

Note:  This post contains information and images drawn from a wide variety of Internet and other sources.  The third President to operate a distillery was William Henry Harrison.  See my post of October 16, 2022.