~ McCormick Distillery, Weston, Missouri ~     
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~ A 'Taste-In at McCormick Distillery with Friends ~
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~ Van 'Truck-In' At McCormick Ditillery ~
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~ Photos from Several Tours 1965 ~ 1980 ~
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Special Page Addition, March 16, 2012
I received an email from Stephanie Parsons, Marketing Manager of McCormick Distilling Company
She saw the old Distillery Page I had on my Web Site, asked to use some pictures from that
Sure, take all you want, but then I recopied all the pics from the original 35mm slides
And added some that were not on the original page and I think it needed the update
And now today I received these special gifts, thank you, from a McCormick fan from way back

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In 1856, just outside Weston, Missouri, Lewis and Clark discovered natural limestone springs
And Ben Holliday, a shrewd Kentucky businessman knew that these springs were perfect
For producing pure and high quality whiskey

In 1856, Ben opened the Holliday Distillery with his brother, Major David Holliday
And would later develop the Pony Express route to San Francisco
Build steamships and own railroad lines.
David ran the distillery, and the operation remained in the family until 1894

In 1894, the Holliday family sold the distillery to George Shawhan who renamed it Shawhan Distillery
Insisting on the strict quality controls and attention to detail as his predecessors
He produced a well-received whiskey which became a Midwestern favorite

The Shawhans sold the business in 1936 to the Singer Brothers, who renamed it 'Old Weston Distillery'
Committed to making the finest whiskey possible
The Singers employed the best quality materials, personnel and technology of the era

The McCormick name, used by another distillery in nearby Waldron
Was purchased by the Singers and still graces the Distillery's labels today
In 1950 the McCormick Distilling Company was purchased by Cloud Cray of Midwest Grain Products
Keeping the name and quality intact

During the 1976 BiCentennial, McCormick was listed in the National Register of Historic Sites
One of only two distilleries nationwide receiving this distinction
McCormick was also recognized as the oldest distillery in the country still operating at it's original location

This is one of the Sunday public tours, later discontinued because of the traffic jams that occurred
backing up traffic on the narrow two lane roads leading to the distillery

The famous pure limestone springs, the source of the water for McCormick Whiskey

And pumpng a little of that pure water in my glass of Bourbon

And that water and that Whiskey sure taste good!

The open pavilion where the sample drinks are served

My neighbor, John Rensing went along this trip
Taking a look back toward the Pavilion and Bourbon and aging Warehouse in the background

Serving samples of all the McCormick products

And all kinds of mixers that you prefer in your Bourbon, Gin or Vodka

John, taking a rest to sip his drink

Then a walk trough the Distilling Building

What is the big attraction in there anyway?

Johnny Bob entering the Bottling House

Here the 'Re-Gauge Building'

If an aging barrel springs a leak they have to bring it here, repair the barrel
And then pour the whiskey back into the same barrel

And it's good to the last drop

But not a drop left in this barrel

Another tour with neighbors Raymond and Frank

Trying to tip over the tank for another drink

Now up on top of the Ancient Cave to get an overall view
Hey that's my drink there, don't spill it

Now perched just outside the Cave

Now, here is a giant step into the past, late 1965 or so I am thinking
The American National Bank in Saint Joseph arranged for an employee tour of McCormick Distillery
And to fill out the tour, they asked the local IBM office to join in

And we had a private limo to take us there and deliver us back safely

IBM Co-workers Don Nelson and Bill Long

Bob Teagarden and his wife

Anticipating the short trip to Weston and Mccormick Distillery

Damon Patton, IBM programmer in the St Joseph office

And then arriving at the Distillery and our private tour

But first of course... 'Cocktails are Served'

Here are some of the ladies from the bank...
I knew most because I had worked on their IBM typewriters

Lining up at the Cocktail Table at the Ancient Cave Entrance

Of course the usual clowning around with the barrel

And they furnished the silly attire for the procedure
Somehow I lucked out of this picture

. A private tour like this had several advantages over a public tour
For one thing the drinks were unlimited, and they served a nice buffet
And had 'gambling games' in the 'Ancient Cave' there, previously used to age whiskey

Inside the cave was the bar and buffet and games wih Prizes
This is Bill, my co-worker in St. Joseph for 30 years, getting primed for the games

They gave us a number of chips to play the games and win prizes
Of course I spent all my chips and won nothing

It seems that the ladies won all the prizes, those games rigged or what?

And then the tour through the Distillery Building

They clean the grain first, mix with water
Then cook the mash before it gets to the fermenter vats

From the meal hoppers, then into the mash cookers, then it's 'beer'
And into those fermenter vats for several days

At 50.95 gallons per inch this is a whole lot of potential whiskey

The 'beer' from the mash passes through the beer still

And then into this 'column still'... Steam is fed into the bottom, the filtered beer into the top
Then the beer trickles down through perforated copper plates, evaporating the water and siphoning off the pure alcohol
It leaves the still at close to 200 proof... Then is poured into new charred white oak barrels
And stored in the U.S.Government bonded warehouses

To be called bourbon, the mash has to contain at least 51% corn
And aged in a new charred oak barrel for at least two years

After touring the distilling process, we go across the street to the Bottling house
All of this process is overseen by agents of the U.S.Government

The tours are held on Sunday so the bottling line is closed, dark and you can't see much

The bottling machine at a standstill until the next working day

Next to the bottling house is the 'Re-Gauge' operation... If a barrel springs a leak in the warehouse
It is brought to the re-gauge house, the whiskey removed from the barrel, the barrel repaired and the same whiskey
Acording to Government regulation has to go back into the same barrel

And a 'class portrait' in front of the famous McCormick Springs which supplies the pure limestone spring water
Required for high quality bourbon... For a time they bottled and sold that water in a liquor store in St. Joseph
It mixed right well for a 'Bourbon and Branch'

In 1976 I joined the Pony Express Van Club in St Joseph, Missouri
On this outing we headed South on I-29 to Weston, Missouri for the McCormick Distillery tour

And turning in off the State Hiway to the Distillery just East of Weston, Missouri

Heading down the hill to the Entrance

And waiting to enter for the ID Check and Drink tickets

Sign our Guest Register here please

This pic is on the tour we took with the Van Club but these are IBM people who went with me in my van
John Sloan, third from left, then Bill Long and far right Betty, Bill's wife

IBM Co-worker John Sloan and Betty Long taking a look at the bubbling mash
Bill Long looking on

Bill and Betty discussing the situation

And me, Don Smith, taking a good look at the mash in the vat

And then on for another tour of the Distillery Buildings

And these following photos don't need much comment, just the Van Club clowning around
And sampling the free McCormick wares

Center, with sunglasses, the President of the club when I joined
To his left, the succeeding president for one year
And then I was elected President the next three years

Winding up the Distillery Tour, a final wave before heading back up the road to Shady Lake
For an impromptu 'Truck In' at the State Park there

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~ So Now... We are Off to Where? ~

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~ Bourbon Whiskey ~

Federal regulations require that Bourbon whiskey be made from a minimum of 51 percent corn.
Other grains used may be rye, wheat and barley malt in any combination.
By law, Bourbon must be distilled at no higher than 160 proof
and aged in new, charred American (Mostly made in Missouri) white oak barrels
Also, no colorings or flavorings can be added.
Only distilled water may be added to the Bourbon before bottling,
to achieve the proper bottling proof, which must be at least 80 proof.

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