D.H. Cromwell 15 Year Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon / Stitzel-Weller
Produced in the early 2000s, this is an exceptionally rare collaboration between Julian Van Winkle III's Old Commonwealth company and Gordon Jackson of Louisville's Old Town Liquors. It was originally sold to raise money for the American Cancer Society and is also a tribute to legendary bar owner, Helen Cromwell: - The Dirtiest Mouth in Milwaukee
Helen Cromwell (b.1886 – d.1969) was the owner of the Sunflower Inn, a small bar in Milwaukee which was named after the flowers that grew in the front yard. The bar started out as a speakeasy during prohibition and became popular with local factory workers and gangsters from across the United States. Cromwell famously only served two types of alcohol, Scotch and bourbon. If anyone dared to ask for something different she would retaliate by screaming violent and filthy language towards the unlucky recipient, gaining her the nickname "Dirty Helene Cromwell." Despite the venue being incredibly small in size and having no chairs, the Sunflower Inn became known as Milwaukee’s best-kept secret.
When Julian Van Winkle II discovered that Cromwell was serving rival whiskey brand, Old Forester, he launched a personal and succesful campaign to convince her to switch to his Old Fitzgerald products. After subsequently discovering "Old Fitz" was the ony bourbon brand she now offered in her bar, Julian Van Winkle Snr (as known as Pappy) called her on the phone and personally invited her to the annual Stitzel-Weller sales meeting, later paying for 400-mile taxi ride to Louisville as she refused to fly. Following three days of being wined and dined, a new personal relationship was born. Eventually, in the late 1950s Cromwell would lose the bar in what she described as a "dodgy loan deal".
In a nod to Cromwell's taste for foul language, the bottle carries the acronym VGS (Very, Good, Sh*t).
The Stitzel-Weller company was officially established in 1933 at the repeal of National Prohibition in the US. It was the result of a merger between the A. Ph. Stitzel distillery and its biggest customer, W.L. Weller & Sons. The Stitzel-Weller distillery opened on Kentucky Derby day in 1935, and quickly developed a reputation for its high quality wheated bourbon, and its main brands were Old Weller, Old Fitzgerald and Cabin Still. The original ownership was shared between Alex T. Farnsley, Arthur Philip Stitzel and Julian Van Winkle. The former passed-away in 1941 and 1947, respectively, leaving the Van Winkle family as the sole heirs to the business. 'Pappy' died in 1965, having handed the reigns to his son, Julian II the year prior, who ran it until 1972 when the board of directors forced him to sell it to the Norton-Simon subsidiary, Somerset Imports. When they were bought over by the American arm of Scottish distillers, DCL, its subsequent iteration invested heavily in bourbon. So much so in fact, that their newly rebuilt Bernheim distillery had such capacity that Stitzel-Weller was rendered surplus to requirements. It was shut down in 1992. Still part of the Diageo portfolio, it has never re-opened and instead now houses the visitor experience for their Bulleit brand.
This is one of only 72 bottles ever produced.
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Please note: Due to the various ages of bottles and their seals, condition of liquid is at the buyer's discretion and no claim can be lodged against failure/leakage in transit.