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Bernheim distilling timeline

Unread postPosted: Thu Jul 21, 2005 6:58 pm
by bourbonv
I thought I would post this history timeline since we have a few I W Harper fans here.

Bernheim Distillery History

1848 - I W Bernheim is born in Schieheim, Germany. (Kentucky
Encyclopedia, p.72).

1850/1 - Bernard Bernheim is born (Closing Chapters of a Busy
Life, p.55)

1867 - I. W. Bernheim comes to America (Bonfort's Wine and
Spirits Circular, May 25, 1894, p.77).

1872 - Isaac Wolfe and Bernard Bernheim with silent partner
Elbridge Palmer start Bernheim Bros. in Paducah, Ky.
with $3,200 ($1,200 the Brother's life savings). (UD
Archives, 991.m.190 a+b).

1879 - Bernheim Bros. acquire the I W Harper trademark. (N
Morgan to T Manners 4/2/92).

o - Bernheim Bros and Company purchase the "rights to the
use in the manufacture and sale of distilled spirits a
certain trademark for whiskey consisting of a double
quarter foil and arbitrary title I. W. Harper" from
Abraham Hoffheimer of Cincinnati. Ohio (U D Archive,
Uncataloged Manuscript).

1881 - Belmont Distillery is first listed in the Louisville
City Directory. The site of this distillery is the
present Bernheim distillery location (U of L Archives).

1882 - Bernheim is living in a house on the Corner of Second
Street and Ormsby. (UD Archives, 991.m.147)

o - I. W. Bernheim gives coal and bread to the poor people
of Paducah who were suffering during a winter flood
(Closing Chapters of a Busy Life, p.74).

1885 - I W Harper wins the gold medal at the New Orleans
Exposition. (UD Archives, 991.m.190 a+b).

1888 - Bernheim Bros. leave Paducah to move headquarters to
Louisville, Ky. (UD Archives, 991.m.190 a+b).

1889 - Bernheim Bros. is first listed in the Louisville City
Directory (U of L Archives).

1890 - Bernheim Bros. acquire interest in Pleasure Ridge
Distillery (N Morgan to T Manners 4/2/92).

o - Bernheim suscribe to the Illustrated Louisville of 1890
and have the discription of their business placed in
the book. It states that they are located at Nos. 135
& 137 Main Street in a 5 story brick building that is
30 feet front by 225 feet deep. Product is kept on all
floors which are conected by elevator.

1891 - The Pleasure Ridge Park Distillery advertises Kentucky
Comfort Whiskey in The Wine and Beverage Bulletin (Jan.

o - The Pleasure Ridge Park Distillery erects 2 new
ironclad warehouses to replace one destroyed earlier in
the year (Wine and Spirits Bulletin, May 1891).

o - Bernheim Bros. and Uri announces that Nathen M Uri is
leaving the company as of June 1, 1891 (Wine and
Spirits Bulletin, June 1891).(N.M. Uri's photograph is
on page 52 of the July 18, 1892 Wine and Spirits

1892 - Bonfort's Wine and Spirit Circular has a picture of the
"small tub mash floor" at Belmont Distillery (July 10,
1892, p.233).

1893 - I W Harper wins the gold medal at the Chicago Worlds
Fair. (UD Archives, 991.m.190 a+b).

o - Bernheim Bros. build a log cabin at the fair as a
display and a way to entertain friends at the fair
(Bonfort's Wine and Spirits Circular (with picture),
May 10, 1893).

1894 - Bernheim registers the "T. B. Ripy" trademark
(Bonfort's Wine and Spirit Circular, Aug. 10, 1894,

1895 - Bernheim Bros. have trade "from Maine to Texas and New
York to California" according to Bernheim in his family
history (I W Bernheim, The Bernheim Family, p.58).

1896 - A fire burns the warehouse in Pleasure Ridge with
Bernheim Bros. whiskey in it. The brothers face
financial disaster as the government wants $1,000,000
in taxes for the whiskey. Takes 18 months of litigation
to free the brothers from the debt. (UD Archives,
991.m.190 a+b).

o - The partner with Bernheim Bros in the P R P Warehouse
was Nathan Block of Block, Frank and Co. who made
Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks bourbons (I W
Bernheim, The Bernheim Family, p.58).

o - Bonfort's Wine and Spirit Circular has article
describing the Belmont small tub sour mash process and
the location of their wells (Oct.10, 1896, p. 360).

1897 - Bernheim Bros. builds a distillery at 7th St. and
Bernheim Lane - the first distillery actually owned by
the brothers. (UD Archives, 991.m.190 a+b).

o - The distillery produces its first mash in April, 1897
(I W Bernheim, The Bernheim Family, p.60).

1899 - Bernheim Bros. buy a larger store and sell their store
on Main between 1rst and 2nd to W L Weller and Sons.
(Bernheim Family History, I W Bernheim, U Of L
Archives). The Louisville City Directory list the new
location as being at 626-628 West Main Street (U of L

o - Bernheim's cousin, Barney Dreyfuss quits Bernheim Bros.
and moves to Pittsburg and purchases a baseball team
(Pirates?) (I W Bernheim, The Bernheim Family, p.65).

1900 - I W Harper wins the gold medal at the Exposition
Univeral, in Paris, France. (UD Archives, 991.m.190

o - Walthen R Knebelkamp is born in Athertonville Ky. (UD
Archives, 991.m.147).

o - Bernheim Bros. have moved into their new building with
the back of the building being mostly made of glass and
iron to allow maximum lighting for office space (Wine
and Spirit Bulletin, Jan. 1, 1900, page 8).

o - Bernheim builds a new heated brick warehouse at the
distillery at a cost of $10,000. I W Bernheim is quoted
as saying that he will make 2,350 barrels of F F V Rye
this year, but will make 4,000 barrels the next.
"Mammaoth brick warehouse" that will be "modern and
complete in every detail" (Wine and Spirit Bulletin,
June 1, 1900, page 8).

o - I W Harper advertisement on page 29 of the Wine and
Spirit Bulletin (June 1, 1900).

o - Bernheim runs a special train to their distillery
members of the trade attending a confederate reunion in
Louisville (Wine and Spirit Bulletin, July 1, 1900,

o - Photographs of the Bernheim Distillery are spread
throughout the Aug. 1, 1900 issue of Wine and Spirit

o - Wine and Spirit Bulletin notes that Bernheim Bros.
makes I W Harper "their leading blended whiskey (Aug. 1, 1900, pages 10-11).

o - Wine and Spirits Bulletin article states that Bernheim
Bros. "Stands to-day in the very front rank, not only
of the commercial institutions of Louisville but of the
whiskey houses of the World." The writer did not think
that "there is any doboubt that in a few years if
indeed not already, the brand `I.W. Harper'... will be
known in every part of the world." (August 1901, pp.

1901 - Bernheim donates a statue of Thomas Jefferson to the
city of Louisville. The statue was sculpted by Sir
Moses Ezekiel (Wine and Spirit Bulletin, Nov.1, 1901,
Page 18).

o - Article in the Wine and Spirits Bulletin gives complete
agenda for dedication ceremonies of Jefferson Statue
(Dec. 1, 1901, p.20).

1903 - Bernheim Bros. form Bernheim Distilling Co. with
$2,000,000 paid up capital. (UD Archives, 991.m.190

1904 - I W Harper wins the gold medal at the Louisiana
Purchase Exposition in St. Louis. (UD Archives,
991.m.190 a+b).

o - Bernheim exhibit at the Exposition is at the main
entrance of the Corn Palace (Wine and Spirit Bulletin,
May 1, 1904, page 33).

o - Bernheim builds a new 15,000 barrel warehouse at a cost
of $30,000.00 and a new "Bottling in Bond" plant at a
cost of $10,000.00 (Wine and Spirits Bulletin, May 1,
1904, page 45).

o - Lee S Bernheim retires as Treasurer of Bernheim
Distilling Company in order to pursue "sociological
study and work" (Wine and Spirits Bulletin, Oct. 1,
1904, page 19).

1905 - Photograph of and article about the Bernheim exhibit at
the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, St Louis (Wine and
Spirit Bulletin, Jan. 12, 1905, page 26).

1906 - Bernheim Distilling Co. buys Warwick Distillery at
Silver Creek, Madison County and interest in a rye
distillery in Maryland. (Bernheim Family History, I W
Bernheim, U Of L Archives).

o - Leo Gerngross comes to the U.S. from Nuremburg, Germany
(Schenley News, July-August 1958).

1907 - I.W. Harper wins a gold medal at the Greater Louisville
Exposition (U D Archives, Uncataloged photograph).

1911 - The Bernheim Distillery and the Warwick Distillery are
finishing their improvement projects (Wine and Spirits
Bulletin, Nov. 1, 1911, page 22).

o - The Mida's Financial Index, 1911, list Bernheim
Distilling Company as having a capital value of over
$1,000,000 and distilleries Dy. No. 9, 5th Dist and Dy.
No. 1, 8th Dist. (Louisville and Silver Creek, Madison

1912 - Bernheim runs a series of advertisements on page 58 of
the Wine and Spirit Bulletin for I W Harper. The ads
change about every month.

o - The Pleasure Ridge Park Distillery has an advertisement
for Henry Watterson Bourbon on page 25 and an article
about "Marse" Henry on page 43 Of the July 1 issue of
the Wine and Spirit Bulletin.

1913 - Bernheim Distilling advertises in the Southern
Prosperity Edition of the Courier-Journal.

1915 - I W Bernheim retires (N Morgan 18/11/91).

o - I. W. Harper wins a blue ribbon at the Panama Pacific
International Exposition in San Fransico (U D Archives,
Uncataloged Photograph).

o - Leo Gerngoross and Emil Schwarzhaupt found the whiskey
brokerage of Schwarzhaupt & Co. (Schenley News, July
-August, 1958).

1918 - Bernhiem Bros. Distillery at Bernheim Lane and the RR
tracks is sold to A B Flarsheim for $39,000. United
American Company had owned it since 1911, (Courier
-Journal article Nov. 8, 1918, section 1, page 12,
column 1).

1920 - Bernheim moves its office to 105 West Main (Louisville
City Directory, U of L Archives).

o - Prohibition forces Max Selliger and his Belmont and
Astor distilleries to close (Louisville City Directory,
U of L Archives).

1925 - Bernheim moves its office to 2718 West Broadway
(Louisville City Directory, U of L Archives).

o - Bernard Bernheim dies on July 27, 1925 (Closing
Chapters of a Busy Life, p.55).\

1929 - I. W. Bernheim donates statues of Henry Clay and Dr.
Ephraim McDowell to Kentucky to place in the Statuary
Hall of the Nation's Capital (Closing Chapters of a
Busy Life, pp.59-60).

o - I. W. Bernheim purchases 13,000 acres of "Kentucky
Knob" land for the creation of Bernheim Forest. The
land was to be funded by the Issac W. Bernheim
Foundation (Closing Chapters of a Busy Life, p. 78).

1932 - Bernheim moves its offices to 1386 Lexington Rd.
(Louisville City Directory, U of L Archives).

1933 - Leo Gerngross and Emil Schwarzhaupt - whiskey brokers
from Chicago, buy the Bernheim plant. They already
owned the Max Selliger plant (Astor and Belmont
distillery units) at 17th St. and Breckinridge in
Louisville. (UD Archives, 991.m.190 a+b).

o - NOTE: Gerngross and Schwarzhaupt were part of founding
the American Medicinal Spirits Company (Fortune, Nov.,

1934 - Bernheim moves its offices to 1701 West Breckinridge.
Also listed at this location are the Belmont and Astor
distilleries. Astor is a rye whiskey. (Louisville City
Directory, Uniiversity of Louisville).

1937 - Gerngross and Schwarzhaupt sell to Schenley
Distileries, Inc. Other brands include Old Charter,
Cascade, and Echo Springs. (UD Archives, 991.m.190

o - Bernheim and Belmont Distilleries sold for $22 million
dollars and involved 142,650 barrels of whiskey (New
York Times, 2/19/37).

1938 - A new bottling house is built at the Bernheim
distillery. (991.m.142).

o - Belmont Bourbon is released on May 1, 1938. Since
Belmont was a bonded whiskey before prohibition, it was
not re-released until a four year bonding period had
passed (Remarks of Merit, April, 1938, p. 8).

1944 - Leo Gerngross retires as a Vice President of Schenley
(Schenley News, July-August, 1958).

o - Bernheim writes a letter explaining that the name
Harper comes from a man name Harper who had a horse in
the Kentucky Derby (U D Archive, Bernheim History

1945 - I W Bernheim dies while spending the winter in
California. (Kentucky Encyclopedia, p.72).(Bernheim is
buried at Bernheim Forest).

1946 - Bernheim makes improvements on its boiler that reduces
the density of the smoke from its power plant by 65%
(Beverage News Observer, 6/10/46).

1948 - Walthen R Knebelkamp becomes president of Bernheim and
regional manager for Schenley. (UD Archives,

1950 - Emil Schwarzhaupt dies (Schenley News, July-August

1951 - Cascade Bourbon being barreled at Bernheim. (UD
Archive, 991.p.10).

1954 - I W Harper 86 proof is introduced by Schenley (U D
Archive, Uncataloged Press Release).

1955 - The I W Harper "ceramic man" decanter is released. (UD
Archives, 991.m.147).

o - An article in the Schenley magazine states that I W
Harper is the best selling bourbon on all ocean liners
(Schenley Magazine, Winter 1955, p.3).

1956 - Bernheim distillery wins first place in Louisville and
Jefferson County Beautification League contest. Brown
and Williamson Tobacco Corperation placed second and
Brown-Forman Distillery won third place. (UD Archives,

1958 - Leo Gerngross dies (Schenley News, July-August, 1958).

1959 - Walthen R Knebelkamp elected president of Churchill
Downs, retires from Bernhiem and replaced by Gregory W
Schweri. (UD Archives, 991.m.147).

o - Khrushchev suprises V.P. Richard Nixon with a visit to
Air Force Two in Moscow. He drinks I W Harper Bourbon
with the Vice President. (UD Archives, 991.m.147).

1966 - I W Harper "110 Countries" advertisement showing point
of sales material appears Beverage Media (July 1966,
pp. 51-54).

1969 - I. W. Harper 12 year old is introduced (U D Archive,
Uncataloged Public Relations file).

1970 - Bernhard, The Prince of the Netherlands, sends a "Thank
You " note to Schenley because W.C. Beerman has been
sending him a bottle of bourbon (I.W. Harper) for his
birthday and Christmas for many years and he enjoys the
product (What's New at Schenley, Nov. 1970, p.5).

1972 - I W Harper 10-Year Old Bourbon is bottled to celebrate
the 100th birthday of the brand (What's New At
Schenley, March 1972).

1974 - I W Harper 101 is introduced. It is the first time
Schenley offered a bourbon with a proof over 100
(What's New At Schenley, Nov. 1974).

1983 - I W Harper ranked top in a Dallas, Texas bourbon
tasting held by one of the competing bourbon's taster.
The panel consisted of Becky Murphy - Dallas Morning
News; Claude Boucher - Lone Star Company; Mark
Dickerson of Red Coleman's; Joel Freeman - Wine writer,
and Gerald Kotecki of Penland Distributors, Inc. (U D
Archive, Uncataloged Press Release).

1987 - United Distillers acquires Schenley (C Morris,
Glenmore, 15/11/91).

1992 - The new Bernheim Distillery is opened. This distillery
is making all of the whiskey produced by UDPI with
three seperate formulas. The Stitzel-Weller formula is
roughly 75% corn / 20% wheat / 5% barley malt and
barreled at 114 proof. The Bernheim formula is roughly
86% corn / 6% rye / 8% barley malt and barreled at 125
proof. The Glenmore formula is 80% corn / 20% rye and
barley malt and barreled at 125 proof. (C Morris,

1994 - I W Harper Gold Medal 15 Year Old is introduced as part
of the Heritage Collection (M Veach, 3/25/96).

1996 - I W Harper 15 Year Old Gold Medal wins a gold Medal at
the International Wine and Spirits Competition in
London (M. Veach, July 15, 1996).

Mike Veach

Unread postPosted: Fri Jul 29, 2005 8:03 pm
by bourbonv
I thought someone might have said something about these mash bills at Bernheim. The thing left out and unsaid is the fact that these small amounts of malt mean that enzymes have to be added for conversion. I think that is one of the big differences in the taste of Van Winkle made Stitzel-Weller wheated, and later Stitzel-Weller wheated. The increased barrel proof at Bernheim along with the enzymes makes the Bernheim wheated even more different, and in my opinion, watery and weak on flavor.

Mike Veach

Unread postPosted: Fri Jul 29, 2005 8:14 pm
by bunghole
Mike what does Ed Foote have to say about that?

Unread postPosted: Fri Jul 29, 2005 8:25 pm
by bourbonv
Ed was put into an unusaul situation. He was hired at Stitzel-Weller (actually Old Fitzgerald at the time, the name had not been changed back at the time) and his first project was to experiment with the enzymes. He was not particularly happy with that but he did what he was paid to do and it did save the company some big bucks since malt is the most expensive grain to purchase. He was constantly complaining and resisting the effort to raise the barrel proof. This made him unpopular with the brass at U.D. (notice they never put him in the spot light like the other companies did). He always argueed that it is true that you can hardly tell a difference between 110 and 112 barrel proof and you can not tell much difference between 112 and 114, but there is a noticable difference between 110 and 114!

Ed tried to do what was best and got pushed out of the way by the bean counters.

Mike Veach

Unread postPosted: Sun Jul 31, 2005 11:14 pm
by brendaj
Thank you so much for all this cool information.
I am especially interested in the Pleasure Ridge reference:

1890 - Bernheim Bros. acquire interest in Pleasure Ridge
Distillery (N Morgan to T Manners 4/2/92).
Is this the Pleasure Ridge we both know & love... :lol: Oh tell me more. Where was this distillery?

Unread postPosted: Mon Aug 01, 2005 9:24 am
by bourbonv
This was a distillery located where the High School is now. It burned just before prohibition and never re-opened.

Mike Veach

Unread postPosted: Mon Aug 01, 2005 9:50 am
by brendaj
I'm really interested in the history of the area, and the number of distilleries in and around Shively/Pleasure Ridge. How many others were there before prohibition?

Sally Van Winkle talks about the limestone water beneath Shively. I guess that, and the close proximity to the river made the area near perfect.

What are the chances you have a photo or two at the Filson?

Unread postPosted: Mon Aug 01, 2005 10:54 am
by bourbonv
The Shively area really only started distilling after prohibition. Besides the Shively area, there was the PRP distillery and the Old Boone distillery in Valley Station.

Mike Veach

Re: Bernheim distilling timeline

Unread postPosted: Tue Oct 27, 2009 9:58 am
by bourbonv
Moving forward.

Re: Bernheim distilling timeline

Unread postPosted: Tue Oct 27, 2009 10:58 am
by bourbonv
That is because I was gone from United Distillers when that happened.

Re: Bernheim distilling timeline

Unread postPosted: Wed Oct 28, 2009 10:27 am
by RobotAZ
I can't follow well enough to conclude where they were operating before Bernheim opened the new one in '92. I guess at that location.

Re: Bernheim distilling timeline

Unread postPosted: Wed Oct 28, 2009 1:12 pm
by cowdery
The previous distillery at Bernheim was used very little during the 80s because there was such a glut of whiskey. Schenley had sold Buffalo Trace earlier in the 80s. It was during this period that they may even have made some rye-recipe bourbon at Stitzel-Weller. They may also have been buying new make, like Diageo does now, from Heaven Hill, Brown-Forman and others.

Then there is the Glenmore story. Glenmore Distilleries in Louisville was the U.S. distributor for Amaretto DiSaronno for many years. In the early '80s, ADS decided to change U.S. distributors and paid Glenmore about $32 million to be let out of their contract a few years early. With that money, Glenmore bought some even smaller distillers, including Medley (which made Ezra Brooks) and Fleischmanns (no bourbons, but a successful blended whiskey and gin sold under the Fleischmanns brand name).

In 1991, Guinness bought Glenmore, merged it with Schenely, and named the new entity United Distillers. This left United with literally hundreds of brands and several distilleries, though only Medley was operating. Most of the brands were small and regional. In the spring of 1993, United sold 70 brands to Heaven Hill, including J.W. Dant, Cabin Still, Ezra Brooks and Yellowstone bourbons. Heaven Hill then turned around and resold several brands to David Sherman Company in St. Louis (now Luxco), including Ezra Brooks and Yellowstone.

When the new Bernheim plant went on line, they closed Medley and Stitzel-Weller, selling Medley to Charles Medley, who had been master distiller there for Glenmore. They retained Stitzel-Weller but moved the bottling line there to Owensboro, where Glenmore had a large and modern bottling plant at the site of the old Glenmore distillery. That's the bottling plant and warehouse complex now owned by Sazerac. Angostura now owns Medley. Yellowstone in Shively was sold to Florida Distillers, which made blending spirit there. Florida Distillers is also now owned by Angostura but I'm not sure who owns Yellowstone now or if anything is being done there.

Diageo was formed in 1997 and in 1999 did another big sell-off, which is when Heaven Hill bought Bernheim along with Old Fitzgerald and some other brands, and Sazerac bought Weller. The warehouses at Stitzel-Weller were nearly empty at one point, then Maker's Mark rented some space in them, and Diageo started to use them again when its deal with Four Roses started to wind down.

Re: Bernheim distilling timeline

Unread postPosted: Wed Oct 28, 2009 5:06 pm
by RobotAZ
"Florida Distillers is also now owned by Angostura but I'm not sure who owns Yellowstone now or if anything is being done there." That's the Mizkan vinegar place. Right?

Re: Bernheim distilling timeline

Unread postPosted: Thu Oct 29, 2009 4:56 pm
by cowdery
Don't know. I'm not familiar with that.

Re: Bernheim distilling timeline

Unread postPosted: Thu May 24, 2012 10:53 am
by bourbonv
Moving this forward for an interested caller.