Grommes and Ullrich

Have an old/rare bottle you'd like some more info on?

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Grommes and Ullrich

Unread postby ricej3 » Tue Mar 05, 2013 9:23 pm

Wanted to start out with a bang!!!!! Here is my attic treasure. I would love to know the history on the lineage of this baby if any of you knoe about it.
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grommes 4.JPG
grommes 4.JPG (56.62 KiB) Viewed 1724 times
grommes 3.JPG
grommes 3.JPG (39.08 KiB) Viewed 1724 times
grommes 2.JPG
grommes 2.JPG (35.49 KiB) Viewed 1724 times
grommes 1.JPG
grommes 1.JPG (34.01 KiB) Viewed 1724 times
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Re: Grommes and Ullrich

Unread postby EllenJ » Tue Mar 19, 2013 4:39 pm

Hubert Grommes and Michael Ullrich operated a grocery in Chicago in the late 1800s. In those days, many of the larger grocers had marketing agreements with suppliers that included labeling with their own house brand (they still do, of course), and before Prohibition, grocers were the main retailers of packaged liquor (either in labeled bottles or dispensed from a barrel into a jug or your own container). Some brands were famous for their high-quality specialty foods, such as S.S. Pierce, Harry & David, Austin Nichols, and Grommes & Ullrich.

The latter two are also known for their house brand liquors. Neither was, nor owned, a distillery anywhere, but were sellers of whiskey bottled especially to their specifications. That practice is still common today, of course. In the 1950s, Austin Nichols purchased the distillery of the major supplier of their Wild Turkey brand. Other brands continued to use a variety of distillery sources. Old Mr. Boston began as a distillery in Boston (Massachesetts, not Kentucky) but that didn't survive Prohibition. The post-Repeal whiskey brands were nearly all owned by different companies than those that originated them, and I don't believe that Grommes & Ullrich survived as a company. But the brand itself was purchased and used by a Chicago company (that MIGHT have been related to the original grocers, since Marquette was also one of their brands), and that's who bottled your example. Heaven Hill is, today, a major source for house-branded bourbon, but HH was in its infancy in the early thirties and probably was not the vendor. Many brands sourced from distilleries in the Owensboro, KY, area, such as Medley, Green River, Fleishmann, and Glenmore. The same was true later of Ezra Brooks and (some say) the early Van Winkle whiskies. I believe Grommes & Ullrich did, too. Then Glenmore bought most of those distilleries up. Then Glenmore closed. And everyone went looking for new sources.

Since Oscar Getz's Barton distillery in Bardstown purchased most of Glenmore's stock (as well as its brands), I think it's a good guess that the G&U in your bottle is Glenmore (or Medley Bros, or a mixture of both) whiskey. The brand still exists today, and although I don't know the source of the juice in the bottle, I wouldn't be surprised that it's still Barton bourbon, perhaps directly or maybe via Kentucky Bourbon Distillers. At ten years old, it's pretty good whiskey, too. Your's would almost certainly taste better (nearly all the thirties whiskies were richer and tastier than today's), but I'd be a little concerned about opening it. There's a little bit of evaporation; that's not really so bad. But it also looks like a layer of sediment around the surface. If that's on the inside of the bottle, I'd leave it alone.
Attachments
Grommes-Ullrich .jpg
The bottle on the left is (more or less) contemporary.
The bottle on the right is from around 1958
Grommes-Ullrich .jpg (89.72 KiB) Viewed 1437 times
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Re: Grommes and Ullrich

Unread postby Satty Beach » Wed Mar 27, 2013 4:58 pm

I'll thank you if no one else will. BTW I have a decanter shaped like the space shuttle with "GW" written on it in Sharpie. Now, in this neighborhood in DC there is a mural on the side of a bodega with George Washington taking a long (loooong) pull on a bottle like this right before crossing the Delaware and right before he uttered those immortal words "let's go kick some nazi ass!!". I think the provenance is clear. this actually did belonged to George Washington. I also have a decanter that look kind of like R2D2 from that movie I can't remember the name of. I say "kind of looks like" but I think it is actually pre-colombian, if not an ancient alien artifact. Yeah, after much thought I'm going to have to go ancient aliens on this one. I figure these are probably worth $20,000 for the pair (but would take $5,000) . I'm booking my flight to Las Vegas to talk to a guy named Rick.
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Re: Grommes and Ullrich

Unread postby EllenJ » Wed Mar 27, 2013 11:37 pm

Satty, you're weird.
Are you sure we're not related? :lol:
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