Ep. 62 - The Irishman Turned 19th Century Tennessee Whiskey Baron

LESLIE SAMPSON OF J.W. KELLY // You've heard of Jack, George, and we've introduced you to Charles, but J.W. Kelly might have been the biggest Tennessee distiller of all.

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Show Notes

It's time to jump into the story of another lost distiling legacy that has returned to the scene thanks to Keepers Quest Brands in Chattanooga. The distilling legend is a man who came from Waterford Ireland, looked to build a whisky business in New York and ended up in Chattanooga, TN. His name is J.W. Kelly according to his own advertisements, he might have had the largest distillery in Tennessee at the turn of the 20th century.

And to find out about that and more of his legacy, I have as my guest Leslie Sampson of Keeper's Quest the owner of the brand J.W. Kelly - she has been digging deep into the archives to try to learn more about this man and his Deep Spring Distillery - and she's uncovered some amazing bits of information about his life and the Chattanooga whiskey scene from 1866 up to Tennessee Prohibition. He is an interesting character, who in a way reminds me a little bit of Tommy Dewar in his promotional style and creativity. We'll discuss some of his innovations and how he was selling his whiskey - and we'll find out which Kentucky Distillery the J.W. Kelly Company bought 50% of when Tennessee went into prohibition. And we'll dive a little deeper into Tennessee prohibition as well.

Here are the subjects we discuss:

  • The origin of the emergence of the JW Kelly brand
  • How did this Irishman get to Chattanooga?
  • The Deep Spring Distillery
  • Did Jack, George, Charles, and J.W. Kelly have a working relationship?
  • J.W. Kelly as a man and entrepreneur
  • The rocking of the boat
  • What remains of the Deep Springs Distillery?
  • The whiskey without an unkind thought
  • The health benefits of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer
  • Swapping whiskey between distillers
  • The list of Chattanooga Distilleries
  • Was he making pot still whiskey or the Irish style "single pot still whiskey"
  • The possibility of a brotherhood between the Motlows, Jack Daniel, and Kelly
  • Chattanooga's position when all of its neighbors went into Prohibition
  • Carl White's move of J.W. Kelly to Kentucky
  • The concept of the locker club and soft drink parlors
  • The largest distillery in the state?
  • Lincoln County Tenn Whiskey from Kentucky
  • The connection to Kentucky Peerless of Henderson KY
  • Fighting Prohibition together
  • Teetotallers toasting temperance

Listen to the full episode with the player above or find it on your favorite podcast app under "Whiskey Lore: The Interviews." The full transcript is available on the tab above.

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Drew (00:00:09):
Welcome to Whiskey Lore, the interviews, I'm your host, Drew Hannush, the Amazon bestselling author of Whiskey Lores travel guide to experiencing Kentucky bourbon. And today we're gonna jump into another story of a lost distilling legacy and someone that keepers quest brands in Chattanooga has brought back to our imagination. The distilling legend is a man from Waterford Ireland who was looking to build a whiskey business in New York, but somehow ended up in Chattanooga, Tennessee. His name is JW Kelly, and according to his advertisements, he had the largest distillery in Tennessee at the turn of the 20th century. And to find out more about that legacy I have as my guest, Leslie Sampson of keepers quest, they are the owner of the JW Kelly brand, and she's been doing her own digging into the archives to try to figure out about this man and also his deep spring distillery.

Drew (00:01:09):
And she's uncovered some amazing bits of information about his life. And also what Chattanooga whiskey's scene was like in 1866, all the way up until Tennessee prohibition. And this JW Kelly is an interesting character. And the person that I sort of lightly relate him to would be somebody like a Tommy doer, somebody who was just like a go-getter and had a, a flare for promotion and creativity. And so I think you're gonna really enjoy this conversation. We're gonna discuss some of those innovations, talk about how he was selling his whiskey and find out which Kentucky distillery, the JW Kelly company bought 50% of when Tennessee whiskey went into prohibition. And we're also gonna dive in a little bit deeper into Tennessee prohibition itself. So let's go ahead and jump right into my conversation with Leslie Sampson of keepers quest, the makers of JW Kelly, Leslie, welcome to the show.

Leslie (00:02:14):
Oh, oh my gosh. Thank you so much for having me drew I'm. I'm so happy to be here.

Drew (00:02:18):
Well, I'm telling you, you have a, a partial dream job of mine, which is the opportunity to jump in and really dig in deep on one particular distillery, learning it and getting a sense of its history and digging through old newspapers and getting paid for it too, which is which is nice. Cuz usually when I'm digging her through papers, I'm like, you know, this is a great hobby and I, I hope I make money at it someday, but <laugh> so let's talk a little bit first about JW Kelly, the brand that we have now, when did this all start and cuz we've had ed Cole on the show before actually, and we talked about scotch whiskey on there and then we talked a little about JW Kelly at the end, but about how long has the brand been around this second time?

Leslie (00:03:09):
Well, the second time the idea for this, I believe came around in around 2016 one of the people here on board at keepers quest discovered JW Kelly and was very intrigued by it. And then ed was like, well, let's roll with it. He was very, also very intrigued. And so in 2 7, 20 17, they released old Milford, which was one of JW Kelly's original labels. It has his original trademark on there, which is the the still on the, on the

Drew (00:03:49):
It's on the foundation of bricks, I guess, which had the fire underneath it.

Leslie (00:03:53):
Yep. And so they they've trademarked that they've trademarked, you know, the, the entire brand of, of JW Kelly and, and so old Milford was first released in 2017 and it was followed by our single barrel whiskey, which is, you know, basically old Milford, a little bit improved <laugh> and then of course our rye whiskeys, which of course, you know, originally and Chattanooga, they were all Ry whiskeys mostly. But so we kind of took Kelly's example and you know, used, he had a Mel rose rye, he had a golden age rye. And so we've definitely tried to, you know, I always like to say, we keep him alive, not resurrect him. Yeah. Cause I don't think he ever wanna away. He was just kind of hanging out in the wings, waiting <laugh>. But that is that is what the story was.

Leslie (00:04:47):
And now we when we wanted to look into history originally about JW Kelly they originally, this was before I started with the company. So they originally had very small amount of information. It was just the basics. Like he was born in Waterford Ireland and February, 1844 when he was eight years old, he went to Dublin and received and a, a business education instead of regular school. So by the time he graduated, he had not only a business education, but also an education in the wine industry. When shortly after he turned 18, he immigrated to United States to New York and lived there, you know? So this is the basic information that they had. Yeah. And that's what stopped <laugh>

Drew (00:05:37):
And, and, and they knew that he was a big distiller, but they had no idea how big he was.

Leslie (00:05:43):
No. And then enter me, you know, sort of a, a history geek who, who just really loved the story about JW Kelly. And I really wanted to know more. I wanted to answer the question. The big question was what the heck happened to the guy. If he was such a big distiller, what happened to him? And so that's what started me down sort of the rabbit hole. So then we discovered that he had moved from New York to Nashville and he not only worked in sort of, you know, selling whiskey to like union soldiers and things, the people occupied Nashville. He also worked for a printer who published the first directory in Nashville and he helped compile that. So and then afterwards, after the war was over, he had learned so much about rectifying whiskey and about selling whiskey. And he wanted to take that information back to New York.

Drew (00:06:40):

Leslie (00:06:42):
But he had to make one stop first and that was in Chattanooga <laugh>.

Drew (00:06:47):
Okay. Which is where you're at.

Leslie (00:06:49):
It's where I'm at. He came here to collect a debt that was owed to him and was told to wait, cause the person didn't have the money cuz you know, the war just tended mm-hmm <affirmative> this was September, 1866. And so he said, well, all right, then while I'm waiting for you to gimme my money, I'm gonna go ahead and open a shop. So he rented a shop for a month originally while he waited and then found a partner in JG Webb who was a grocery and that partnership lasted 10 years. And but that's where it started for JW Kelly. He, I mean they did groceries, they did tobacco whiskey. He actually began rectifying again in Chatanooga when he moved here in 1866 and that's when deep spring officially started.

Drew (00:07:43):

Leslie (00:07:44):
And it wasn't functional, I think until about 1870 if memory serves and but then that's when he actually really started, you know, diving into building his own brand and his, you know, own labels.

Drew (00:08:00):
It's, it's fascinating to see the relationship after the civil war, to all of these distillers whose names all of a sudden start popping up around 1866 mm-hmm <affirmative> you've got, you know, Jack Daniels name comes up, you've got George Dickel is in Nashville at the same that JW Kelly is likely in Nashville. And the same time that Charles Nelson has a shop in Nashville for Nelson's Greenbrier. So you've got these guys who are gonna become the Titans of Tennessee whiskey all in this one little location that makes you wonder how much these guys knew each other.

Leslie (00:08:41):
I'm thoroughly convinced that they all knew each other very well. I think they all were educated pretty much at, by the same hand because you know, that was the lucrative place to be when you were in Tennessee, especially during the civil war because you know, you had a, so you had a, so many people coming in, you had an influx of people coming in, especially from the, you know, the Northern states. So it, it was like a hands on education and I'm convinced every single one of them. And I'm sure somebody will argue with me, but I'm convinced I, every single one of them had a hands on education in Nashville.

Drew (00:09:18):
Yeah. Well, and apparently just like today, the, the distillers and those, well, this is interesting because usually marketers don't tend to get along as well as distillers do distillers love, getting into conversations and swapping secrets and that sort of thing. But then you get into marketers and they can get somewhat competitive, but these guys were, you know, there was probably enough business for all of them, with all of those union soldiers being stationed around Nashville at that time.

Leslie (00:09:50):
Oh, definitely. I I've read a lot of research that is indicated that there was a pretty big red light district, you know, obviously including the whiskey. And so it was very it was profound for me to learn that Kelly came into that with a business background and an education in the wine industry mm-hmm <affirmative> and from Ireland. So I I'm sure that that was part of the reason that led him to come from New York in the first place, because it was a booming bustling sort of central hub once, you know, the union occupation came into play. So I I'm wholeheartedly believed that that was the huge foundation of, of, to N see whiskey. I know, I know there's probably some before that, but still that for me is

Drew (00:10:42):
Kinda the, the, and there were, there were other people before then, but but they are even less publicized than than these guys. So, you know, that's, that's why, that's why I have to work on a book on this cuz it's there's a fascinating history back there that that, that can add a whole lot to our knowledge about, about whiskey mm-hmm <affirmative>. But talk about his personality, JW Kelly, and we know he came from Ireland and he, he, he tended to be very well respected businessman from what I understand <affirmative>

Leslie (00:11:18):
He was, he was very, I mean, he was a self-made man. He was very affluent. He was very aimable that's the word that you was most used to describe him in a lot of the re references I've read aimable affable likable, but yet a Shrew businessman. I mean, he was, he was somebody that if you owed him money and he gave you 90 days to pay him back and you didn't on the 91st day, you were in court. So he definitely didn't mess with that, but I think that comes from, you know, having growing up in Ireland pretty close to around the potato famine, I'm pre if memory serves correctly. And but I, you know, his father J B Kelly's father was an auctioner. So Kelly was introduced to, you know, sort of different states of affluence at a very early age because his, his father auctioned off buying furniture, horses, livestock, whiskey, <laugh>, you know, so, you know, he was very well educated and very well rounded and a lot of, but in Chattanooga, I, he had his hand in just about everything you could possibly get your hand in with regards to business.

Leslie (00:12:34):
And, but for him, it also, wasn't just about business. He did a lot of charity work as well. He was on the boards at several. It wasn't just the Catholic church now. It was all churches <laugh>. Mm. And he he did, he donated to the orphans home a lot. He helped animals. He and so he did have a, a really soft side to him when you consider the fact that he was probably one of the city's earliest moguls it's astounding to me because he had his hand in whiskey, tobacco, real estate. I mean, he was a landlord. He was he was, you know, a grocer, he was a distiller, he was an importer, he was a distributor. So, I mean, he had all of this under, you know, under his umbrella. I mean, not to mention he owns some, some, and some pretty well known places in Chatanooga like most notably the Reed house, he owned the, the bar, the billiards and a restaurant in there at one point and the cigar shop <laugh>. So he was very, very, very Shrew.

Drew (00:13:54):

Leslie (00:13:55):
His business.

Drew (00:13:56):
You, you shared some of the newspaper clippings that you had, and, and I was reading through some of them and one said he was an intelligent, jolly Irishman mm-hmm <affirmative>. And one other one was talking about how this gentleman came to town. And he said that if the Parisians came here and saw the ladies bonnets on their heads, they, they would break out an hysterical laughter. But here comes this dapper dressed, European looking man down the street, and they're like, oh, he would fit right in. And and that was JW Kelly.

Leslie (00:14:31):
Yep. <Laugh> I love that article. It's one of my favorites makes me laugh every single time I read it only because I love the fact that they describe him in that way, because it, it, it strikes a balance of local yet European and I, I just love it. I mean, he was also a funny guy. We have articles where he tells jokes that they printed in the newspaper. And it makes our boss here, our CEO, ed, just his die laughing every time I find these from JW Kelly. And you know, he was, you know, a world traveler too. Like he was at the Paris exhibition, you know, he was one of the first group to go up in the Eiffel tower, you know, I mean, and everywhere he went, interestingly enough, <laugh> he took whiskey with him, his whiskey. So you'll actually find deep spring whiskey in Europe, in Australia, in Canada, because Jada B Kelly had had family there <laugh>

Drew (00:15:32):
Ah, okay.

Leslie (00:15:34):
You know and they would constantly help out with business. So that's why he was pretty, I mean, he was renowned not just in Chattanooga. So that was pretty fascinating to me.

Drew (00:15:46):
Funny as I was going through those articles too, you talk about him shipping stuff out. And he was talking in one article about sort of how the best way to handle whiskey was to send it out of the country. And so I was expecting the article to really kind of focus on the tax benefits of, of sending it out. But it also, he went on to say that when he was shipping some out to The Bahamas, that they sampled that whiskey and that whiskey was so much better. And it was all because of the jostling on the ship, which means that he basically was Jefferson's oceans at sea a whole century before Jefferson's oceans at sea.

Leslie (00:16:30):
Yeah. <laugh> I found that fascinating as well. <Laugh>

Drew (00:16:34):
Yeah, just, I mean, and we don't, we don't think, oh, we look at these guys and we think you know, these, these whiskey barons were locked in their, their mahogany walled offices and that they were just like pointing in directions and making people go here and go there. And, you know, that's the image that we get because we think of that whole era, the Giled age and the, the Barrons of all the other industries, but these guys were characters. I mean, they, they did interact with their, their people and they were promoters of their pro

Leslie (00:17:15):
I have articles that talk about JW Kelly's employees, all pulling together to buy him like an expensive piece of furniture and a separate, a separate occasion. It was a watch. I mean, so he was definitely well loved and, and sadly well warned when he passed away. I not sadly, but when he way and it's fascinating to me because myself, I don't get that image of Kelly being sort of the dictatorial, do this, do that. I feel like he's more hands on. And the reason why and it might sound a little funny was, you know, when he would go every year, he and his wife would spend the summer visiting Europe or Canada or something like that. And every fall Kelly would bring back whiskey with him mm. On the ship, he wouldn't have it sent previous, he would bring it back with him.

Leslie (00:18:13):
And I think it was just because obviously for his own pleasure, but also he would sell it as well. But I feel like, you know, he was very hands on in keeping an eye on that. Cuz you know, the last thing I wanna do on vacation is to be bothered with work, but not him, you know? Yeah. It just fascinates me. You, he could have had it sent on any ship he wanted to, but it could not leave without him on the boat. And I've just found several articles. Speaking of with him, speaking about that, speaking about how, you know, you know, he knew exactly where his you know, his whiskey was on the ship because he put it, you know, he made sure he went down with the people into the cargo. I was fascinated. Hmm. I was like, wow, who does that? <Laugh> yeah,

Drew (00:18:57):
Yeah, absolutely. Well different, different time period. But yeah,

Leslie (00:19:00):
But he, he was a fascinating guy and I really do think that the reason that he was so hands on is because he learned from an early age, that being part of it being part of the everyday part of that flow and part of the ebb that happens with business is really how you move it forward. Yeah. And I really think that's something he learned from his dad early on.

Drew (00:19:21):
So a name that you start to see in the articles after a while is Davenport, do we know when is it George Davenport? It is. And, and when do, when did he come into the picture? Do we know?

Leslie (00:19:35):
Well, yes we do. We actually have a pretty good idea. So when Kelly first got here to Chatanooga in 1866 he did find a partner who was already a grocer named JG Webb. And they were business part partners for about a little shy of 10 years. And then Kelly found George Davenport who was also from Alabama who came to Chattanooga to do business. He had, I believe a grocery dry goods background and just like Webb did. Yeah. But that was about 1876. Okay. That they became partners and they were partners right through July of 1890.

Drew (00:20:25):
Oh, okay. Okay. So it did go all the way through the 1880s mm-hmm <affirmative> yeah. Cuz I found an article that's at the former Kelly and Davenport now just JW Kelly and company. So there, there was a time when he had a different name associated with that, but it would've been web probably that he was working with when they came up with deep Springs, distill the distillery itself.

Leslie (00:20:50):
Yes. With the distillery. I mean, I think Kelly had a, had a mind to do it anyway, but from the things that I read, I think he wanted to do it at first in New York. But then when he was in Chattanooga, it just seemed right. Yeah. To do it here for him. And I feel like the partnership with Webb helped him, you know, to, to gain footing in Chatanooga because they had both just arrived, but Webb had a little bit better of a background with the grocery side because he brought in jams and jellies and fruits from all over. Yeah. And then Kelly learned a lot about distribution through that. So it was very beneficial. But then when he partnered with Davenport, it expanded, it expanded into real estate and, and building buildings and all different kinds of things. And when Davenport retired from Kelly and Davenport in 1890, he went on to form a dry goods company with his brothers and then eventually became the vice president of the bank right next door to the JW Kelly building. Okay. So, you know it was he was actually a pretty prominent man himself in his own. Right. So, but Kelly was less pleased when Daven port left

Drew (00:22:09):
<Laugh> well, I saw a sketch of what the JW Kelly building looked like. It was in that Richard Sonian Romanesque architecture that I love so much. Does that building still exist?

Leslie (00:22:22):
It does not. Oh no, it does not. Sadly. that was one of the first things I wanted to find out and original when it was built, it was maybe two stories and then it was kind of a, you know, a wooden, a wooden framed building and in about 19 0 4, 19 0 5, Kelly decided to, this was one of the last things that happened before he decided to to make white, the pro as an inch of the company in oh 1906 mm-hmm <affirmative> they decided to build on and make the, and make it into the more formidable building.

Drew (00:22:59):

Leslie (00:23:00):
We were just speaking about, and it was actually the original location of it was right across the street on what, what is in now Martin Luther Boulevard. It was ninth street back then. So it's right across the street from the Reed house.

Drew (00:23:15):

Leslie (00:23:16):
And that's not where the distillery was. That's just where their office building was.

Drew (00:23:21):
Yeah. It was, the distillery was a little further down the road.

Leslie (00:23:24):
Mm-Hmm <affirmative> the distillery, the original location was sort of, if you know, Chatanooga a little bit where the current site of the Chattanooga Chuchu is mm-hmm <affirmative> the deep spring distillery was about, you know, across the street about Cady hoarded up from that. So you could see it from the Reed house. And then somewhere about 1904 they bought the JW Kelly company bought a huge tract of land and it was missionary avenue, which I think is now in north Georgia. But at that point was it still part of Chattanooga? Okay. And they, they rebuilt deep spring distillery and but they kept the old building for the tobacco company for a, for many years. But but the new building was there from about 1906 to, in 27.

Drew (00:24:26):
Okay. And so interesting thing about brands back then is that a lot of them either had some kind of a brand icon or a slogan. So was there a slogan for deep Springs,

Leslie (00:24:41):
Deep Springs? At first had many, but the one that is up with it the most is the whiskey without an unkind thought which I thought is fascinating. E still, if you put that in the Google or anything like that, if you're searching, like I know some collectors who will literally put that slogan in their search engine. So if any deep spring, any item comes up with that slogan on it it'll come up. But still to this day, <laugh> yeah, it's associated. And I, I wondered why, because I kept finding all these advertisements for deep spring and with that, the whiskey with the UN kind thought. And the reason that I found that I think most closely explains it is in it, it sort of started CIR about 18 98, 18 99 in that area is when Kelly decided he was going to start using it.

Leslie (00:25:38):
And at that time there were a lot of competitors going back and forth and back and forth and back and forth. I'm the purest, I'm the cleanest, I'm the P you assign the cleanest. And it was I, I never saw an ad that from Kelly who actually sort of, I guess, dis anybody else really. But I think that's why a lot of people were starting to become very aware of what was in the things that they were eating and drinking. And so cuz we know eventually the, the pure food act comes into play around 1906. Yeah. So, and I feel like that's what Kelly was trying to invoke with the, you know, without an unkind thought, because you know, you can enjoy it and you don't have to worry about it. <Laugh> yeah, no one's going to insult to you. No, one's gonna make you sick. And I really do you feel like that is the whole point that Kelly was trying to get in car? Cause he had whiskey glasses that had, you know glasses and shot glasses and things like that, that he would serve deep spring whiskey in with that phrase on it. Huh. We have some here at headquarters and so you know, it it's, he was all about it. He thought it was just the, the, it wasn't so much about being catchy. Yeah.

Leslie (00:26:54):
It was about invoking that idea of purity and cleanliness and non aggravation is

Drew (00:27:03):
Yeah, I was gonna say, I think the other place that that could come from is that you're in the midst of the temperance movement and that as well, there was a lot of anger around that and it was splitting political parties apart and it was turning people against each other and it was extremely competitive between the, the prohibitionist and the and, and the, and the liquor side of it was easily vilified.

Leslie (00:27:33):

Drew (00:27:34):
Yeah. I mean, it did not take much to basically say they were the devil in disguise and

Leslie (00:27:41):
They did,

Drew (00:27:42):
It was not beyond on any politician to go that far. Absolutely. And it got worse as it got closer to actual Tennessee prohibition. But it, it does make me think, you know, that that would make sense that he's, They're trying to do anything they can do to make themselves not look like evil people.

Leslie (00:28:04):
<Affirmative> and just a funny thing that I discovered during all the research, there was actually a tolerance party in Nashville and the president of it at least at one time. Yeah. Was a man also named JW Kelly <laugh>. Which at first I thought, Ooh, how funny? Wouldn't that be funny if it was the same person, you know, it wasn't <laugh> yeah, it wasn't. But I found it funny that you know, they had the same name and I mean there were two, two or three different JW Kellys in Chattanooga and they all had different industries. So you know, doing all the research, but were, and I found that, I just thought that was, you know, pretty hysterical <laugh>

Drew (00:28:48):
So, so you see all of these different things that he was importing or that he was selling. He, I saw Madeira, I saw champagne. I saw different beers and different whiskeys. And I think the ad that caught me the most was the, for pap blue ribbon, which said pap blue ribbon for temperance. And it, and it was bragging that it was three and a half percent alcohol. It was the most nutritious beer out there that they slow brewed it. And that left all the nutrients in from the barley. And so it was all selling the health benefits. And it's funny cuz as I, I was reading a book on prohibition here recently that was a tactic. It was you know, I mean I did a story on Duffy's pure malt whiskey and talked about, you know, this guy was a snake oil salesman for the most part, but they were all doing that because they had to do something to keep themselves from again, looking like the devil and it made them also more, it, it gave the men who were going to the saloons, an excuse to go to the Salos to have some measure of there's some benefit that I'm getting out of this <laugh>.

Drew (00:30:08):
So, you know, it's just, it's just funny to think of the mindset of that time period, but it was right around bottled in bond and it was it was pre pure food and drug accent. They could get away with that sort of <affirmative>.

Leslie (00:30:21):
Yeah. And another example, I found another article that was written by a doctor who at the time was invented a newfangled program to help people who were addicted to alcohol to not be on alcohol anymore, or any other of the, sort of what you would now consider illegal drugs like cocaine mm-hmm <affirmative>, things like that that were prevalent in that time. And at the very bottom of the article, it said the, the, the author of the article noticed that there was an enormous bill due to JW Kelly and company for whiskey.

Drew (00:31:00):
Oh nice.

Leslie (00:31:04):
Oh, okay. All right. But yeah, so, but it was billed at this as this beautiful clean, you know, Tempus pro temperance program to help you get the rid of those demons and all this other stuff. And then, you know, the, at the core of it is Kelly whiskey. So

Drew (00:31:21):
It's kinda like the advertisements she's see now where it's a beer company at, at the end, it says you know, contact people, you know, for alcoholics anonymous or whatever you have a problem. Or now that there's sports gambling going on, you're starting to see at the bottom of the advertisements for sports guy, if you have a problem, here's an 800 number for you to call, you know, ignore everything we just said. And here's your, here's your number to call yeah. Search.

Leslie (00:31:48):
So smoking is bad for you, but buy our cigarettes, you know? Yeah. Whatever.

Drew (00:31:52):
<Laugh> exactly another thing I found in there that I'll have to investigate a little bit deeper, but it makes me wonder if Kelly was still rectifying whiskey all the way up to the turn of the 20th century was that there was a, a statement from him that Kentucky distillers, just 65 Kentucky distillers were shutting down in 1896 for 18 months because there was too much whiskey in the warehouse and not in enough demand. And why would he care about that? A Kentucky distiller when he's a Tennessee distiller, unless he was still rectifying whiskey at that time.

Leslie (00:32:36):
That, and I honestly think that everybody was just trading, trading, selling back and forth to one another at that point too. Because I do know that deep spring had about 13 labels that they distilled themselves. And Kelly's most prominent one obviously was deep spring, but there was, I, you know, I honestly think there was times that maybe the, you know, what he had wasn't aged enough and vice versa for other distilleries. Cause I I've read that. I've read a lot of information about other distilleries switching and turning if they ran shorts and things like that. So I think honestly when I read that article, it's kind of how I understood it. I took it to mean that, you know, it's just more evidence of, of the sort of really small, tight, inner circle of the, of distillers yeah. That we had, especially in this area in Chatanooga and in coming from middle Tennessee all the way over. So I that's kind of how I took that. Well,

Drew (00:33:40):
Well, the thing is, is that, you know, nowadays we are getting brand loyal, we're doing internet tastings. We're defining what the character of this whiskey is versus that whiskey, they didn't have the internet. So they there weren't. And I'm sure a lot of people back then were probably drinking whiskey for the, of the whiskey rather than for the taste of the whiskey, because those were hard times when we were dealing with, you know, labor issues and, you know, 12 hour work days, six to seven days a week. And you know, that was a hard life to live. And so whiskey was probably the best escape you could get and you didn't care what it tasted. Like you just cared what it did to you.

Leslie (00:34:25):
And I think just some from some of the things that I read even during the civil war, I mean the soldiers would make their own out of pretty much whatever they could get. <Laugh> honestly, I mean, you can you just imagine no wonder, you know, I, I used to joke my grandfather used to make moonshine and he wouldn't mind me saying, because he's no longer

Drew (00:34:44):
Here <laugh> statue of the limitations is run out. Exactly.

Leslie (00:34:47):
And so he learned, it was a, you know, tradition that was passed down. And so it was like, no wonder that, you know, they were all the way all the way back in the woods, in the mountains, somewhere after the war was over. Cuz I used to tell 'em it just tasted so much like crap <laugh>

Drew (00:35:01):
You? Yeah. You know,

Leslie (00:35:03):
But I mean that obviously it didn't, but you know, I think that, I think you're correct. I think that people just honestly just wanted an escape and wanted it in a way. So yeah. And I think that's also why there were so many distillers, especially in the Chattanooga area. I, that all the products that was, that were available. I, I, it boggles my mind, how Kelly was one of the leading ones when there were so many of them. And I mean he, wasn't the only one in Chattanooga that was a major distiller, but he was the oldest.

Drew (00:35:40):
We were kind of talking about that, you know, back and forth before we started recording about, I've heard the stories that there were tons of distillers in Chattanooga, but to actually get named distillers the, the name list seems to be a bit shorter, which ones? Which ones do we have that you've got?

Leslie (00:36:04):
Oh my goodness. Well obviously deep spring JW Kelly's white Oak, which I believe was ER, betterer, chins mm-hmm <affirmative> at some point we had a, I think a R what is it? R roses was here. They've, they've been revived as well. Chatanooga distilling Wakeman, distilling oh my gosh. That's all that comes to mind. I know it's only like four or five,

Drew (00:36:28):
But I've got a chicken Monga chick Maga. Is that how you say it? Chicken.

Leslie (00:36:33):
Chicken Maga. Okay.

Drew (00:36:34):
Maga distillery. That's another one

Leslie (00:36:35):
Distillery. Yeah, but I'm sure if that's a more of a Georgia one or if it's a Chattanooga one, because technically chick Maga is now in Georgia. So I'm not really sure how that works, but okay. They count <laugh>. Yeah.

Drew (00:36:50):
Well, there was an article in there that said that in 1905, it was from 1905 said that mm-hmm <affirmative> they actually had to bring a third Gauger into the district because they were making so much whiskey and that over the last seven years, the tax revenues had basically doubled by 1905. So yes, all this talk of healthy whiskey apparently was was, was doing the job.

Leslie (00:37:17):
Yeah. And plus you also have to consider when you consider who some of the early settlers of Chattanooga, well, when it was settled, it was called Ross's landing. But when Chattanooga was settled, it was settled. We had people coming from Scotland, from Ireland, England, all over the UK and as well as all over the United States, but still Chattanooga kind of had its own melting pot. So when you consider that, you know, they want to bring at least part of their culture with them. Why not whiskey <laugh> yeah. You know, why not make whiskey? Why not drink whiskey? You know? So I think that's why there was so much available here is because not, I mean,

Drew (00:38:00):
They're European cultures and they are familiar with drinking because the water over there wasn't always that great. So you were sometimes having to drink something that had been distilled so that it was a little bit safer to drink. And this is the big thing that I'm trying to push across in terms of what I'm learning about Tennessee distilling is that there's just this automatic it's, Scott's Irish. It all came from the Scott's Irish. And I am finding that is the furthest from the truth. And I think a lot of people will connect the Irish and the scotch Irish and say, they're the same, but the Scott's Irish came from the Alster part of which is Northern Ireland basically. And so we're talking about JW Kelly, he's coming from Waterford, which is down in the Southeastern part of I. So he's coming from a completely different area and you've got the Welsh Scher coming in and you have the Germans that were coming in. We start looking at the big names of distillers in the state, Dickel was German. And then you had Nelson that was German and you had Daniel that was Welsh. And you have the first distiller in the state, according to legend, a Shelby was Welsh. So, you know, and then here you have JW Kelly who is coming from Ireland rather than from Ulster.

Leslie (00:39:30):
You know, he, his distillery was a pot distillery. So he, he pot still distillery. I mean, and so I think there was a lot of tradition coming there, but I mean, I wondered often you know, about the difference between doing that in Ireland and in Scotland. I haven't actually,

Drew (00:39:50):

Leslie (00:39:50):
I don't really have that.

Drew (00:39:51):
We, we kind of got into this discussion and I, we, we didn't talk thoroughly about the first time because I hadn't interviewed Patrick Miller from Talla. Who's doing Irish, single pot, still whiskey. Well, he's doing single pot, still whiskey in Colorado, which is in the Irish style. And so, oh, when we talk about pot still whiskey, everybody was making pot, still whiskey in Tennessee, up until the column still finally made its way through. And those were usually the largest producers that were doing it. But if we're talking about the style of single pot, still whiskey, that is extremely Irish. That's what made Ireland famous mm-hmm <affirmative>. And so if he was making that type of whiskey, then he was different from what they were doing, cuz they were making corn whiskey everywhere else. He would've been making barley whiskey basically of malted and unmalted barley, which would've been an Irish style. So it'd be really interesting to see. And unfortunately I'm sure you don't have any receipts for him, his his, his business that tell what kind of grains he was buying.

Leslie (00:41:05):
We have a few, but it's mostly stuff that he was selling to other areas, not okay.

Drew (00:41:12):
Something that's already a finished product.

Leslie (00:41:15):
Yeah, no, he would sell, he had we have receipts that show that he would actually sell grains to different, different parts of the country. Oh, okay. For distilling. So yeah. I'm, I'm not exactly sure. I can't tie it to where he would get that, but I know that I know that he had done that because we've got receipts to prove it, so yeah. But no, it's fascinating to me because I feel like the more I dig into his history, the more I learn and go, wow, everybody's interconnected. <Laugh> everybody knows it. Yeah.

Drew (00:41:52):
Well, something else I found interesting. We talk about the, the friendliness between distillers. You would think that Kelly and Betterton would be rivals and that they wouldn't really want to mix company, but apparently they both owned a brewery together.

Leslie (00:42:08):
They did, it was Kelly and Betterton and a couple folks I think, from Chicago that actually came together and formed an Alliance. Then I think it was the American brewing company or something like that. Uhhuh <affirmative>. I didn't find an end date yet for that. I don't know exactly what happened to that. Maybe it could have founded as a result of prohibition. I'm not sure. But yeah, I was fascinated to learn that and they actually had some product. They were, they were both distributing at the same time as well. And but no, I, I haven't found what we would necessarily deem like a Coke Pepsi thing. Yeah. You know, I haven't found anything like that. You know, I've found evidence of Jack Daniel, visiting Chattanooga, staying at the re house, walking across the street, you know, going to visit JW Kelly, not, not, not, you know, an assumption.

Leslie (00:43:06):
I actually believe it happened. <Laugh> okay. Okay. Yeah. And of course, you know then we have the, an connection where spoon Malo had a store here and he sold not only Jack Daniel whiskey, but also JW Kelly whiskey. And so I, I mean, I honestly think it was like its own little interconnected sphere, like its own tribe where, yeah. They may have sort of made whiskey, but yeah. And I, I honestly feel like it was a, more of a brotherhood than it was a competition. Yeah. Just from the things that I've read.

Drew (00:43:44):
So interesting time period. Again, me reading on prohibition and, and how it was evolving over time. You had a situation in the state of Tennessee where they were using the four mile law, which said you couldn't have a distillery or a place that sold liquor within four miles of a school. And then they started trying to add other establishments to that as well. And so that pretty much locked the countryside out, but the cities all except for Knoxville had decided that they wanted to try to keep prohibition out. And so knock Knoxville by the slimmest of margins went into went dry. But then it's funny, the four, the four towns are Memphis, Chattanooga, Nashville, and laal, and you're like, what, what is that? Where did that come in from all of a sudden it's like, I don't think of that as a huge metropolis, but but it, it was always listed amongst the four areas that had held out from prohibition.

Drew (00:44:52):
But you know, you've got, I almost think of like a Canada and America like Detroit, Michigan area situation with prohibition in that when prohibition hit Canada became the devious supplier of whiskey during prohibition to mm-hmm <affirmative> the Midwest. And when we look at Chattanooga, an interesting fact about Chattanooga is that it went well. The state went into prohibition in 1909, its neighbors, Alabama went into prohibition in 1907. Georgia went into prohibition in 1908 and North Carolina went into prohibition in January of 1909. So think about Chattanooga and probably the growth right there at the, as all of their neighbor states start going into prohibition. And here you have this one town border town that has the ability now to export, even once they go into prohibition, the ability to export whiskey out to other places. And you start to realize these guys had a cash cow on their hand and no, no wonder they didn't wanna let it go. <Laugh> cause it was well, it's funny. It was like lawsuit city after, after prohibition came kicked in.

Leslie (00:46:25):
Oh goodness. Yeah. Originally it was, you couldn't sell alcohol within four miles of a rural school. Right. Then it was miles of a city school that it was four miles of any school. And that was the holiday bill in 1909. And JW Kelly went to bat with that bill and actually took it all the way to the Supreme court because they did not believe that that should apply to wholesalers who were doing interstate trade. So basically because they couldn't really go to Georgia and in North Carolina, as you mentioned, because <laugh>, they couldn't sell to states where there was prohibition, although between you and me, I think that kind of happened anyway. Yeah. But, you know, anyway so they took it all the way to court and originally the Supreme court didn't think there was, you know, jurisdiction. So they kicked it back to the local Supreme court and that Supreme court said, okay, we get you, we agree with you, but you can't manufacture or sell any alcohol in the state of Tennessee.

Leslie (00:47:34):
And that said, JW Kelly into overload. And they, they went, they went right back to the Supreme court over that and actually was able, that was the only way they were able to continue at sales was because they won that. And so that's, I mean, they had shut down deep spring. All the distilleries had shut down because of the holiday bill. And finally it came back and said, Chad said, Chatanooga said, okay, fine. You beat us. But now we're gonna slap a bunch of excise taxes on you and Institute a whole bunch to more laws so that all your saloons go outta business because they don't have a license you're gonna get sued because you don't have a federal license to sell alcohol across state lines. And it just was one thing after another, after another. And it wasn't just JW Kelly. There were a lot of distillers who were in with JW Kelly on this legal battle. And in the middle of that, I mean, before all this legal battle started, JW Kelly had passed away and as did his wife. So Carl White was the president of JW Kelly and company. And in the middle of all this back and forth and fighting and going to the Supreme court, he to farm <laugh>

Leslie (00:48:53):
Farm in Georgia. Yeah. Which is actually where he settled when prohibition actually finally happened. But during all of that when Tennessee went into prohibition complete and total prohibition JW Kelly company decided to go and move all of their operations to Kentucky and they had bought 50% of what is now the Kentucky per distillery in Louisville. Yeah.

Drew (00:49:25):
He, Henry Henrick Craver was the the owner back then. Yeah.

Leslie (00:49:29):
Yes. And he had sold 50% of it to Carl White. And so Kelly moved JW B Kelly and company moved all of their operations to that distillery. And they manufactured from there and continued mail from there. Until I believe 19,

Drew (00:49:48):
Probably 17. Okay. Yeah. Which is when Kentucky went into to into prohibition.

Leslie (00:49:54):
Yep. And, but, you know, during all of that, I mean Carl White had sort of made this deal with DuPont powder to only manufacture alcohol, but they had to do it in Kentucky because alcohol would fall under the prohibition law in Tennessee. Which that contract was actually taken over after white sold his interest in that distillery during during the first world war. Yeah. I believe, I believe a Kentucky Peerless has a, you know, information about that on their website where you, where they actually were one of the very few distilleries that were manufacturing, alcohol, not

Drew (00:50:39):
Drinking beverage, industrial,

Leslie (00:50:41):
Industrial alcohol. Yeah. They were one of the very few distilleries that was, that was that. But originally that was brokered by Carl White, but once prohibition kicked in Carl White and wasn't about it anymore. And most of the rest of the board of JW Kelly either left and went on to something else or they passed away. Okay. so, but thats kind of, you know, that's just kind of the breakdown of the company. Yeah. I, I, we, we blame prohibition, but in, in all truth and honesty, there were other, you know, distilleries that kept going, making other products. Right. You know, even through this, you know, you know, and, and JW Kelly and company did try to do that. Well, the, they did try to do that. Well,

Drew (00:51:29):
This is what I find funny is the, as I'm reading about prohibition and what was going on in Tennessee in the years between it, when it was first passed in 1909, up to about 1913, you basically had Memphis and Nashville, mayors doing everything they could do to allow and just keep their hands off and let things go. And they, they would have they would know exactly where the saloons were. It wasn't like they were doing speakeasies, the saloons never shut down. And so all of a sudden the mayors started pushing for laws within the city to just tax them more or to, you know, control them this way or that way saying, be good because if you're not good, then you know, yeah. They're gonna come in and take us over so we can keep this thing running as long as we wanna wanna do it.

Drew (00:52:26):
And some of the saloons. And I think I read us on one of the JW Kelly articles. And I had read this also in the prohibition book is that some of the saloons that were owned by the distilleries actually turned into what were called locker clubs. And so what, what they would do is they would allow people who owned their whiskey, they would store the whiskey for the, them at the locker club. And then they could come in and drink their own whiskey amongst their friends, which was an interesting to, and the other thing that just made me laugh was that after a while in this prohibition book, it's very dry reading and it gets this one point where it just, you know, cavalierly talks about the software are the soft drink parlors. And it's saying people would go to these soft drink parlors.

Drew (00:53:16):
Well, they call 'em soft drink parlors, but they aren't selling soft drinks. This is, but these are soft drinks in quotes. Right. right. They would sell near beer and then they were selling liquor there because, but they would call them soft drink parlors. And this was basically the way to basically thumb your nose at the prohibition law. And then the, what would happen is the grand juries in, in Nashville would basically have if the sheriff for, or law enforcement brought them a case they wouldn't indict. And so everybody just learned that they're not going to indict. So you might as well just keep doing what you're doing. So prohibition just became a joke at, at that point. But

Leslie (00:54:03):
Yeah, except for in Chattanooga, they were super serious about it. Yeah. They actually, the grand jury actually handed down several indictments about 110, I think. Wow. In one day and JW and Kelly was on that list for selling alcohol. And also one of the, this was around, this was before she passed away in 1907. One of the, the saloons that Mrs. Kelly had inherited from her husband, you know, was one of those locker, you know, locker clubs or whatever you call it. Yeah. It was just barely given a grant. And the only reason it was was because she was a widow. <Laugh>

Drew (00:54:45):

Leslie (00:54:46):
So there was like one, there was one article that said something to the effect of it was like 120 applications for for saloon permit was, were filed and 60, you were approved. And by the time 1970 rolled around, there were only three. Oh, wow. Left. Wow. So yeah, it was pretty, so that's applicable except for Chattooga. They were super serious about it here. <Laugh>

Drew (00:55:22):
So this is another one that probably comes down to marketing. There is a ad that states just months after JW Kelly himself had passed away, that said that deep spring was the largest distillery in the state. The question is, is that really true? And it's, and this is why it's fun to really dig into this history, because know, marketers will say whatever marketers are gonna say, and back then, there wasn't a fact check organization that was going around saying that's not true. That's not true. And so but you know, but this has been the challenge when, in my research, it started out that, oh, well, Jack Daniels must have been the biggest. And then all of a sudden you realize, no, he actually tried to stay small. So, well, must have been George Dickel because we all know George Dickel, wait a second. There's Charles Nelson and Charles Nelson was worldwide. So he must have been the biggest. And then we hear now that JW Kelly is saying that he's the largest distill. And, and to the credit of JW Kelly, I guess, in the way, or, or not to to blast this particular statement, I don't know that I've ever read either any, any advertisement from Nelson's Greenbrier or from George stating that they were the largest distillery in the state,

Leslie (00:56:46):
Nor have I, I have never read any sort of information about that either. When I came across that article that you're talking about about deep spring, I was curious because I was like, wait a minute. Originally we had this picture of tiny two story building with a water tower next to it. <Laugh>. So how in the world is that the biggest distillery? And so I started doing some more research and I actually found images from when they built a bigger distillery with a huge warehouse around 19 0 7, 19 0 5, 19 0 7 at six. I mean, and if it was the biggest distillery, if I compare it with images that from the newspaper, there were images I found of the Daniel distillery and I found images of the Dick old distillery. If I compare it, I could see how they could make that claim back then. But me personally, I kind of like, it was like they were taking into, into the consideration what, what they had in Chan in Chattanooga and also what they had in Kentucky. Okay. okay. So that's kind of how I understood it cuz that's around the time when they started talking about you, you know, having you of buying into that distillery and stuff like that. So I, I kind of, that's kind of how I understood it because I mean, square footage wise, I really don't know if it was the biggest

Drew (00:58:13):
Honestly, well, it could have been largest, largest output could be enough to say you're the largest distillery in the, in the state.

Leslie (00:58:21):
Yeah. And it, and, and Kelly actually did have quite a, I mean, I read, I came across an article for example, that said data B Kelly was indicted for a violation of something called the Faust law mm-hmm <affirmative> and I didn't know what that was, but eventually it turned out it was an ex size law tax law. And there was also something called the privileged law for which they were, are indicted. And that what that was, was the inspector guy went there and said, wait a minute, you're making more than five to 10 barrels of whiskey a day. Mm. If you were making five to 10 barrels of whiskey a day, you had $300 to pay per year in taxes. More than that. 10 plus barrels I think was like 500 now in 1907. That's a lot of money. I know, we think about it now. Oh, $500, whatever there are distillery. No, that was a lot of money back then. Yeah. So the, so if we're thinking about Kelly manufactured, maybe let's just say for arguments sake, 15 barrels a day, you could have a point. Yeah. So you know, I building wise, no, I wouldn't think that they were that way building wise, but maybe I, I, without knowing the, you know, what like Daniels would do and Dickel would do, because I mean, they were, they were all worldwide. Yeah. Kelly was sold all over the world as well. So without knowing the outputs to compare it, I, I would not want to say that <laugh>

Drew (00:59:53):
Well, and the thing is that he probably wasn't pot still distilling by that time, if he was doing the largest output, because it, pot, stills take were ate too much time. The distillation process is longer, so it's hard to pump out a lot of, of whiskey.

Leslie (01:00:09):
Yeah. But this is, I mean, from a distillery that was, that began, you know, Kelly himself put, made articles where this distillery began in, in 1866. Yeah. So if you think about, you know, once you get that up and cause I think it was up and fully distilling and making its own, you know, juice and stuff by at least 1870. So, you know, when you consider that, you know, if you make 15 barrels a day since 1870,

Drew (01:00:42):

Leslie (01:00:43):
I don't know what that equates to that's Matt <laugh>, but I'm just saying it could, it could potentially be that way. <Laugh>

Drew (01:00:50):
So another thing I found interesting in, in the articles, which is something that I've been trying to track down on Tennessee whiskey, we know that Jack Daniels lobbied the state to get Tennessee whiskey designated as using the Lincoln county process on top of bourbon. So mm-hmm, <affirmative> my question to Jack Daniels long ago was how long have they been calling it? The Lincoln county process? Is that something that they were calling it back in Jack Daniels day and I never could actually get confirmation on that. I'd get a, yeah, of course they were. But that, that just didn't sit with me there. It felt like there needed to be a deeper answer to that. And when looking at an advertisement from October 19, 0 7 for JW Kelly. It says deep spring Lincoln county, Tennessee whiskey, and it's made in Chattanooga. So that sounds like their way of saying that they are doing charcoal mellowing of their whiskey using the Lincoln county process, but they're just actually calling it Lincoln county whiskey rather than calling it Tennessee whiskey.

Leslie (01:02:03):
Yeah. And they actually actually had a label. I I'm pretty sure it was a, it was triple a or something like that. Triple a Tennessee whiskey or something like

Drew (01:02:13):
It was, it was quadruple a, I said it was four a yeah. Is what I call it for a Tennessee. Because if you look at one of the graphics that you sent me, it's really funny looking at the combination of, of Peerless along with JW Kelly. Because if you go to Peerless and you walk into the first room during the tour, you will see the exact same picture of the Henderson county, tall brick structure. That is the distillery. And there, it will say at the top of the advertisement, Kentucky Peerless and on your stuff, it says JW Kelly over the exact same drawing, which, which is, did

Leslie (01:02:55):
You need to hear the story? <Laugh>

Drew (01:02:57):
Okay. And well, I was just to finish my thought. The the interesting thing is, is that when you look down the list, there's a list of what they made. And so they talk about making three different types of Lincoln county, Tennessee whiskey. So that was actually the way that they phrased it and they made this is the mind blow. They were making Lincoln county, Tennessee whiskey in Kentucky. Yep. So what they're basically saying is Lincoln county, Tennessee whiskey is a process, not a place,

Leslie (01:03:34):
Right? Yeah. I always thought it was a place too, but it, it is not. Yeah,

Drew (01:03:38):
Well, it, it, it originally was you know, Jack Daniels was made in Lincoln county initially, but that was it. So it so, but then once Lincoln, once it became famous once Jack Daniel started to grow, they weren't in Lincoln county anymore because Lincoln county got split. And so they got put into more county instead of Lincoln county. So it's not like the distillery moved the county moved <laugh> yeah.

Leslie (01:04:09):
That's why I always thought it was a place. Yeah. Because like,

Drew (01:04:13):
Yeah, exactly. But if they're making this whiskey in Chattanooga, that's the first sign. The second sign is that once they moved to Kentucky, they continue to call at Lincoln county, Tennessee whiskey mm-hmm <affirmative> so so interesting and regulations were different back then. You didn't have to go through the TTB to get your label approved. So not, not quite as, as difficult, but you, you were gonna say something.

Leslie (01:04:35):
Well, I was gonna tell you the story about Peerless, Kentucky Peerless. So when I, a collector sent me a picture of that advertisement that you're talking about, and I was like, oh, I wonder if this Kentucky distillery still exists. So I typed in the registry number, blah, blah, blah, Henderson, Kentucky, and bam, Kentucky pyramid. This came up with the same picture. And I was like, oh, holy goodness. So I reached out to Kentucky Peerless and said, Hey by the way, I have this information, I just thought, I'd share it with you. And I got a message back from it's their lovely C CEO. And he he's amazing. And he's like, we had no idea. <Laugh> remember they're a family distill.

Drew (01:05:24):
Yeah. Yeah. Henry Craver was their, their descendants of Henry Craver.

Leslie (01:05:28):
Yeah. And they had no clue that there was any sort of relationship with JW Kelly. So now we have a friendly relationship with them. And we have shared all of the history that we found thus far with them. And I think at some point it may, I don't know, I'm, I'm crossing my fingers and hoping it comes, becomes part of the tour. Cause I would take that tour in a heartbeat. <Laugh> I really, I really would love that. But no, when I found out it was the same, I was, I was dumbfounded. I was floored. I couldn't believe it. So, and they were very, very happy to receive that information. So that was a blessing because you know, you do this research and you wonder, well, whatever good is gonna come out of it. And you know, we were able to help them. So that was really great. Yeah.

Drew (01:06:12):
Well, and I think in a way, you know, when my dad was doing genealogy, he would bump into somebody he else who had done, he'd start working at a branch and then he'd bump into somebody who'd already done a lot of that work. So that time period between 1911, when JW Kelly bought into Kentucky Peerless, any research that Kentucky Peerless has done up to prohibition is just stuff that's already been sort of done for you in terms of, of knowing that other than what was left behind in Chattanooga, trying to struggle on and, and work because you got all these wholesaling businesses and cigar company and the rest. So some of it had to linger behind and not go too good Kentucky.

Leslie (01:06:59):
It's a fascinating thing. I think that's one of the reasons why I was so happy to be able to dive into this because not only do you, it's a, it's almost kind of like a requirement. It's almost like an end result. You don't just learn about JW Kelly history because it's whiskey history. It's the entire collective because it that's, that's what I was talking about. It's a brotherhood. So like you just learn about the whole thing and then you're able to put the pieces together in different ways and, and find pieces you didn't even know existed, like the, you know, Kentucky Peerless. So we were, yeah, it's just fascinating to me. Yeah. So that's why I love talking about it and learning about it as

Drew (01:07:40):
Well. There was one other thing that I would toss in here too during prohibition. And we're talking about all those different lawsuits that I read in the Kentucky or in the Tennessee prohibition book about how Le Malo of Jack Daniel and J well, it would've been Carl White of J of you Kelly basically had gotten together with some other distillers and gone to a Memphis attorney and promised to pay him $5,000. If he could just extend prohibition. The date from the beginning of 1909 to the, the spring of 1910, and they would pay him five grand for that. And then if he could actually get it declared unconstitutional, they would pay him in a additional $9,000 to do that. So but you know, here it is, it's two different distillers that you would think would be competitors, but they're really having to join together.

Drew (01:08:48):
Now they are a brotherhood. And what's interesting is that as you start learning about tenant C program and how it came about the reason that they pushed so hard after the shootout in Nashville and the death of, of a Senator over a, a dry Senator over this is is basically because the distillers were starting to unite for, from out of the state. And they had come in and created an organization that was meant to fight for their side. And so the, the temperance movement panicked and said, we gotta get this done now, because once those guys organize, we aren't gonna be able to stop them. And that's how it became. So absolutely adamant the, it, they had to get prohibition done. And it, it passed in, in two months, I mean, talk about government and, and actually it passed the, the legislature didn't come back in until the beginning of January. It took about three weeks for them to go through all the committees and get the law passed. So that is really fast for government.

Leslie (01:09:58):
Yeah. Well, I think a lot of wheels were grease when you start to think about it, but yeah. It's mind boggling to me. Yeah. I, I honestly that's the best comment I have about it because it makes no sense to me. Yeah. Like I don't understand it, like you know I get it. People didn't want having around, but really, really these are the same people who, when they got home, took a drink to, you know, yeah. Had a nice drink to get over the stress of the day of fighting for temperance. Come on now. Yeah. You know, that happened <laugh> yeah.

Drew (01:10:35):
I, I saw some quotes from some of the, the in fact there was one story and I'll have to dig it up one of these days about how basically after winning a vote, the senators went back and and, and got sloppy drunk, and then did a toast to temperance <laugh> at the end. It's like, okay. Yeah, we see who you are. I,

Leslie (01:10:59):
Yeah, yeah, yeah. You, yeah. <Laugh> to me, honestly, that's it just, it just points out the fact that the whole thing was nothing more than political and, you know, it, it was, you know, yes versus no, and just like, it, it, everything in politic in politics goes like that. Yeah. It still, it still happens like that. You know, you pick a topic, you know, but no, I really think that that was probably one of the hugest mistakes ever, but still

Drew (01:11:29):
<Laugh> it was, and it, and, and they couldn't have it out from how crazy it was going in Tennessee that the whole country was gonna have the same situation, but, you know right. Who knows anyway. Well, Leslie, thank you so much for taking the time and talking through JW Kelly's history and kind of introducing people to him and talk about the whiskey itself and where it's being sold right now. Is it something that you can get nationally? Is it regional?

Leslie (01:12:01):
No, it's, it's not you can actually get it in all the major, major markets across the country. Okay. but we have four labels, four JW Kelly labels. They are, yeah. Like we talked about old Milford Gobar golden age, which I see have a bottle of right. By me back there and Melrose Ry. And these are, these are distilled with with not distilled bottled. Yeah. Here in Chatanooga. And we are, we're a rectifier. We don't yet have a distillery. Okay. We will. Yeah. but we we bottle it here by hand and we have, we age our, our barrels here as well. So then they're available in all the major markets across the country.

Drew (01:12:47):
Okay. I got the special privilege of actually being able to go back into your blending area. And you had to some bottles of that you had for a restaurant. I think it was that it was moon pie. That whiskey had been aged in a moon pie barrel. <Laugh> I,

Leslie (01:13:05):
Yeah. I sadly I don't know too much about that one. I think that was previous to me. Yeah. but we are actually we're about to launch and this one actually, I think might be regional. I'm not sure yet, but we are helping to celebrate the hundred 50th anniversary of the re house. Oh. By having a special bottling for the rehouse. And so that's actually kind of the project we're working on now. So we do have special bottlings like that, which I think will only be available region. Okay. Don't quote me on that. All right.

Drew (01:13:37):
Very good. So now when people see JW Kelly, they will know all about it. Well, great. Well, thank you, Leslie. I appreciate it. And I look forward to talking to you as you get more research done on this. This is fun, fun topic.

Leslie (01:13:50):
Yes, definitely. Thank you so much drew.

Drew (01:13:53):
And if you wanna learn more about JW Kelly, the whiskey, and man, just head to JW kelly.com, where you're gonna find his full history and for show notes, transcripts and links to Whiskey Lore, social media, head to whiskey-lo.com. And if you enjoy today's episode, you might also enjoy episode seven, where I talk with Andy Nelson of Nelson's Greenbrier about Charles Nelson's history. If you can't get enough whiskey history consider heading to Facebook and joining the official Whiskey Lore community there, you'll get behind the scenes details. You take part in community events and you can make some new whiskey history, loving friends. That's the official Whiskey Lore community on Facebook. I'm your host, drew Hamish. And until next time, cheers and SL Giva Whiskey lores, a production of travel fuels life LLC.


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