As we're about to celebrate what would be Pappy's 147th birthday, we wanted to share some of his stories and anecdotes that continue to bring us inspiration and remind us of his special character. Pappy was a man of reason, hard work and always committed to quality. He was larger than life but humble, a true professional, but never took himself or anything above making fine bourbon too seriously. He was an avid golfer, hunter, a man of his word and a bit of a comic.
These excerpts, taken from our family's book (written by our Aunt Sally) "But Always Fine Bourbon" are a few fine examples of Pappy's true character. We hope you enjoy!
Pappy on Hospitality: There were five keys, and they stood for the five steps in the the making of bourbon. But more important, the keys served as the symbol of hospitality. They appeared often, on bottle labels, on stationery, and on billboards.
Pappy on Politics: Because of his long activity in the distilling industry and because of his personality had become one of the best-known executives in the United States. Outspoken on any subject, from the art of whiskey making to the sorriness of some politicians, he would often repeat: "I used to be a Democrat, but I soon got tired of that."
Pappy on Moderation: He had a wry sense of humor, was gifted with pungency of expression, and served as a living testimonial to moderation in all things: eating, smoking, and particularly drinking--even his own product. About whiskey-drinking in general, he said: "It's good as long as you don't drink too much." Pappy always preached moderation--and quality versus quantity.
Pappy on Golf and Dogs: One unforgettable image is that of the man in his pith helmet and Bermuda shorts, standing just in front of the Louisville Country Club's 18th green, with a dog hitched up on some golf clubs. A golfing buddy had trained a bird dog to act as his caddie, then presented to Pappy. The dog's name was Thunder, and Pap had a cart and harness rigged so that Thunder could pull the clubs along the fairway after his master.
Upon further investigation, our family dug up some advertorial columns that appeared in US News & World Report, Time, Newsweek, The New Yorker and Sports Illustrated during the 50's and 60's:
How To Lick the Ups & Downs: It's been uphill all the way, sticking strictly to our costly family sour-mash recipe, patiently preserving our old-time quality, and invariably sealing its true Bottled-in-Bond character under the green government stamp. But our middle of the road methods seem to have paid off. By adhering steadfastly to our Straight Bourbon principles through economic slumps and lumps, we continue to find our Old Fitzgerald steadily gaining acceptance among a group of discriminating gentlemen who have made it the final choice of their mature tastes.
But Always Fine Bourbon: There's a sign on our distillery gate that pretty well tells what breed o' cats we are. The sign reads--"We make fine bourbon...at a profit if we can...at a loss if we must...but always fine bourbon." Over the past 100 years we've made bourbon both ways--at a loss and at a profit. But nary a drop has ever been made except in the one costly, old fashioned sour-mash way we know is best. Our main concern has always been perfection of product, pure and simple.
How To Stay Married For Life: At his Golden Wedding Anniversary, Henry Ford was asked the secret of his long and tranquil married life. "Stick to one model!" Henry advised. For more than a century, our family distillery has stuck to one old-fashioned whiskey, made on the original sour mash recipe which first brought fame to Kentucky as the home of fine bourbon.