MODERN-DAY MICHTER’S: OFFERING THE GREATEST AMERICAN WHISKEY
Today, Michter’s has two locations in Kentucky – a 65,000 square foot distillery in the Shively section of Louisville and, currently under renovation, the architecturally significant Fort Nelson Building in downtown Louisville.
RESTORING A LEGEND: HONORING MICHTER’S LEGACY WITH A RESURGENCE IN KENTUCKY
In the 1990s, Joseph J. Magliocco and his consultant and mentor Richard “Dick” Newman teamed up to resurrect Michter’s. Magliocco, who entered the wine and spirits industry after attending Yale College and graduating from Harvard Law School, was intimately familiar with Michter’s through his college days of imbibing and bartending and later through his work selling Michter’s in New York. Newman meanwhile, had followed up his service in the US Marine Corps (for which he earned a Purple Heart) with an illustrious career in the whiskey business, eventually running Old Grand-Dad, Old Crow, and Old Taylor for National Distillers before becoming President and CEO of Austin Nichols, the distiller of Wild Turkey. Magliocco and Newman began with a simple strategy – to honor the Michter’s legacy by producing the best whiskey possible, cost be damned! After filing for the unused and abandoned Michter’s trademark, they made their first major strategic decision: to resurrect Michter’s in Kentucky, in the heart of the modern American whiskey industry, to ensure access to the best whiskey talent and resources available.
THE EARLY YEARS: REVOLUTIONARY RYE IN SCHAEFFERSTOWN, PENNSYLVANIA
Originally known as Shenk’s and later as Bomberger’s, the whiskey company which ultimately became known as Michter’s was founded by John Shenk, a Swiss Mennonite farmer, in Schaefferstown, Pennsylvania in 1753. In its earliest days, Shenk’s produced whiskey from rye grain, a favorite local crop in the Pennsylvania Blue Mountain Valley where the distillery was located.
According to Pennsylvania historical lore, commemorated by the Lebanon Valley Coin Club in 1978, this particular rye whiskey was so valued that when the Revolutionary War broke out, General George Washington visited the distillery and purchased whiskey to fortify his men as they hunkered down in their camp through the long, brutal winter at Valley Forge. Over 200 years later the Michter’s Pennsylvania management would say Michter’s was “the whiskey that warmed the American Revolution.”
In the mid-1800s, Pennsylvania Dutchman Abraham Bomberger purchased the distillery from the Shenk family, and the distillery became known for many decades as Bomberger’s.