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Whiskymag 137 July _Aug 2016

Brown Foreman Corporation

In the whisky industry the Brown-Forman Corporation is the owner of  Early Times whisky, Old Forester bourbon, Jack Daniel's whiskey, Southern Comfort liqueur, Canadian Mist Canadian whiskey and market the Glenmorangie Single malt Scotch whisky,  they also have vested interests in vodka tequila and wine companies.

 

History of Brown Foreman

Around 1870  George Gavin Brown (Founder of Brown-Forman),  half brother to John Thompson Street Brown,  as business partners produced Old Forester, the first whiskey to be sold in sealed bottles. Prior to this bourbon had been sold to saloons in barrels, and owners decanted the whiskey into their own bottles with the name of the saloon on the label. The Browns supplied bourbon into their bottles corked, sealed and  labelled them at the distillery and warned saloons not to buy the bourbon if the seals were broken, however after about five years they parted.

 

One theory behind the separation was that George believed that maturing the whiskey for longer and would result in a better product and higher price with more profit in the long run whilst John wanted to sell a less expensive whiskey on a quicker turn over. George Brown then went into partnership  with John Forman and established  the Brown-Forman Distillery, continuing to supply Old Forester bourbon.

 

Another feature was all of the labels were handwritten and included a guarantee on the quality of the bourbon. Old Forester sold well as a result of these innovations--but Forman was dubious and in  1902 he sold his interests to the Brown Family believing that this success would diminish as soon as the novelty of packaging began to fade. The same year George Brown purchased Mattingly's distillery in Saint Mary, Marion County, Kentucky.

 

In 1905 there was a change in bottle design to pear-shaped bottles. sales increased significantly as a result. And it was alleged that this led to a certain amount of bitterness among other distillers in the region and that some competitors went so far as to slip iron nails into barrels of Old Forester to make it turn black.

 

During the 1900-20  period the company concentrated on promoting Old Forester and some adverts  stated it as a product that could restore health – 'Many, many times a day, eminent physicians say, Old Forester will life prolong and make old age hale and strong.' was used. This pre-Prohibition (1920) advertising had been valuable and the Brown-Forman company was one of only five distillers permitted by the government to continue to make and alcohol for medicinal purposes.

 

Brown-Forman went public just prior to Prohibition (1920—33) however  the Browns family maintained control of the majority of shares

 

In 1923 the Early Times Brand was  acquired and over the next 30 years became the best-selling whisky in the country. Today it is sold in over 40 countries and ranks as one of the top four selling bourbons in the world,  in 2005 it became the top selling Kentucky whisky in Japan. , The whisky was produced during prohibition having been designated  "medicinal whiskey".

 

Prohibition was repealed in 1933 and the distillery returns to marketing Old Forester as a bourbon instead of  a health tonic. This period was short lived and with outbreak of the Second World War the company investigated ways in which their alcohol could be used to help the war effort, and produced alcohol that was used in making both gunpowder and rubber.  However the company keeping its eye on the ball knew that after the war they wanted to be in a position to exploit future postwar markets. So knowing quality bourbon needs 4 years to mature started laying down stocks in 1941 They attempted to predict when the war would end and correctly decided on 1945.  As the competition's bourbon would not be marketable until 1949, They could monopolize the bourbon market for the first four postwar years

 

The prediction of the wars end had been arrived at by an  “executive committee”  and resulted in impressive sales, The company management decided to create a full committee management style, Finance, marketing, and production committees were created, in addition to the executive committee, to discuss and implement policies that could lead to the future success of the company.

 

The Labrot & Graham distillery was first purchased in 1941 Brown-Foreman operated the plant  until 1968 and then sold the then-mothballed property in 1971.

 

In 1956 the company moves away from its core bourbon distilling by purchasing the Jack Daniel Distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee. Founded in 1866 the brand enjoyed a popular, 'homely' image. The label of the 'Tennessee sipping whiskey' featured men in overalls, coonhounds, and scenes from Lynchburg.

 

During the early 1960s the company diversifies further by purchasing the Joseph Garneau Co., an importer of scotch whiskeys and European wines

 

In 1966 Daniel L. Street was appointed president of Brown-Forman, the first time that someone outside the Brown family had been president of the company. The following year he authorized a merger with Quality Importers, which added agencies for Ambassador scotch, Ambassador gin, and Old Bushmills Irish whiskey to the portfolio.

 

Street chairmanship ended in 1969 when he was replaced by William F. Lucas who also was not part of the Brown family. He had started as an engineer in 1935 and worked his way through the ranks. And through his tenure added: Bols line of liqueurs and Korbel champagne and brandy.  Bolla and Cella Italian wines and in 1971 Canadian Mist brand was acquired from Barton Brands.  Lucas significantly increased Brown-Forman's wine and liqueur revenue to 22 percent of total sales. Most importantly, in 1979 Lucas purchased privately held Southern Comfort for $90 million.   The company was equally successful with Jack Daniel's: and in the 1970 to 1979 period  tripled Jack Daniel's sales to 1.7 million cases.

 

In 1979, W.L. Lyons Brown, Jr., was appointed president, He was the great grandson of George Garvin Brown  re-established the tradition of a Brown at the head of the business.

 

1984: The company's name changed to Brown-Forman Corporation.

 

In 1992 Brown Foreman launched several ready-to-serve cocktails as extensions of its primary brands: Jack Daniel's Country Cocktails, and quickly soon became one of America's top 20 spirit brands. Southern Comfort Cocktails and Pepe Lopez Margaritas followed.

 

In the same year Fetzer Vineyards. an important producer of premium California wines, was acquired for about $80 million. In the process, Brown-Forman became the fifth largest player in the U.S. wine market.

 

W.L. Lyons Brown, Jr., retired as CEO in 1993 and his younger brother Owsley Brown II assumed the position.

 

1994: Company creates Brown-Forman Beverages Worldwide, a combination of previously separate U.S. and overseas divisions. Which sees a number of  overseas initiatives such as  a joint venture with Jagatijit Industries, Limited of India to distribute Brown-Forman products such as Southern Comfort. In South Africa, a blended whiskey called Blue Grass Kentucky Whiskey was successfully introduced. Worldwide sales of Jack Daniel's increased rapidly.

 

The Labrot & Graham distillery was re-purchased  in 1993 and refurbished to bring it back into operation. The Woodford Reserve brand was introduced to the market in 1996.

 

During this period, Brown-Forman also gained a presence in the super-premium vodka category through a 1996 agreement whereby it became the exclusive U.S. importer of the Finlandia and by 2000 had achieved a 45 percent stake in Finlandia Vodka Worldwide with the balance of the ownership remaining with Altia Group Ltd., a distiller and marketer owned by the government of Finland.

 

An 80 percent interest in Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards was acquired in 1999 most of the other 20% was taken the following year. It also expanded its distribution of Glenmorangie Scotch, which they had been marketing in the United States since 1991, agreeing to take over sales and marketing of the brand in continental Europe, the Far East, Australia, and South America.

 

In 2005, the company sold its Lenox division makers of fine china which had been acquired in 1983. The following year, 2006, the Chambord liqueur brand was acquired. Followed by the  Tequila Herradura, a year later.

 

In 2008, they parted copany  with the Bolla and Fontana Candida Italian wine brands to Gruppo Italiano Vini (GIV). And In 2011, sold Fetzer Vineyards and associated brands to the Chilean wine producer Viña Concha y Toro S.A.

Early Times Whisky Jack Daniels Whiskey Old Forester Boubon Woodford Reserve Bourbon Early Times Whisky Jack Daniels Whiskey Old Forester Boubon Woodford Reserve Bourbon

The Whiskey, Boubon 2013 Portfolio Consits of:

Canadian Mist Canadian Whisky

Collingwood Canadian Whisky

Early Times Kentucky Bourbon Whisky

Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey

Old Forester Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whisky

Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whisky

The Whiskey, Boubon 2013 Portfolio Consits of:

Canadian Mist Blended Canadian Whisky

Canadian Mist Black Diamond Canadian Whisky

Collingwood Canadian Whisky

Early Times Kentucky Whisky

Early Times Kentucky Bourbon Whisky

Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey

Jack Daniel's Single Barrel Tennessee Whiskey

Gentleman Jack Tennessee Whiskey

Jack Daniel's Country Cocktails

Jack Daniel's Ready to Drink Cocktails

Jack Daniel's Honey Liqueur

Old Forester Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whisky

Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whisky

Woodford Reserve Double Oaked.

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