Pfeiffer & Schwartzel Family Family History
The Pfeiffer Brothers produced a number of brands and types of whiskeys from 1896 until Probation shut them down in 1920. The following shows many of the labels they used and illustrations of how the whiskey was packaged at that time. The labels contain interesting slogans and other facts, which aren’t readily apparent.
Whiskey was originally stored and sold only in wooden barrels and ceramic jugs. The use of glass bottles for storing whiskey was impractical and generally too expensive in the 1800’s due to the hand glass blowing methods. In 1870, Old Forester became the first distiller to exclusively bottle their whiskey in bottles[i]. In 1903, the automatic bottle-making machine was invented which made selling whiskey in bottles financially feasible. Before that time whiskey was sold directly out of wooden barrels in saloons. Some saloons transferred small quantities of whiskey from the barrels to glass decanters imprinted with the whiskey’s name. The Pfeiffer Brothers followed in this tradition by supplying saloons with their own decanters.
The barrels pictured to the left, are from photographs that were part of a sales book that Cal and Ed Pfeiffer used. The book showed both barrels and whiskey bottles for many of their brands.\
Once the production of whiskey in bottles became feasible they still lacked in adequate methods for storing the glass bottles. The bottles were wrapped in cardboard wrappers that were next inserted into wooden cases. The bottles were sealed with corks similar to wine bottles today requiring the use of a corkscrew to open.
Their whiskey was packaged as shown, in a glass bottle with a cork stopper and then wrapped in a cardboard sleeve. The wrapped bottle was inserted into a wooden case. A reusable cork stopper was included to close the bottle once opened with a corkscrew.
Old Cork, 1896 Brand
“Fragrant As A Rose”
Pfeiffer Brothers started their business in 1896 and thus, Old Cork was one of their first products. This whiskey sold for $6.00 per bottle. The tax on a gallon of whiskey was about $1.10 a proof gallon[ii]. After considering inflation, a bottle of Old Cork would sell for about $114.00 per bottle today.
Old Cornelius a blended whiskey named after Cal (Cornelius) Pfeiffer, one of the two Pfeiffer Brothers.
The Tom Moore brand was named for the distillery that produced some of the whiskey for the Pfeiffer Brothers. The Tom Moore distillery is in Bardstown, Kentucky and was designated as distillery No. 355 and began operation in 1889. Thomas S. Moore established the distillery.
The distillery produced a number of brands such as, “Tom Moore”, Dan’l Boone” and “Silas Jones”. They bottled private brands for a number of distributors such as the Hermann Bros. and Hilmar Ehrmann of Louisville and others.
The distillery shut down during Prohibition and was reopened after repeal. The distillery was sold to Harry Teur, who modernized the plant and renamed it as the Barton Distillery. In 1944, Oscar Getz and his brother-in-law, Lester Abelson, purchased the distillery. Then Amalgamated Dist. Products P.L.C. purchased the distillery in 1982 from Oscar Gets and changed the name to Barton Brands Ltd., which is still in operation in Bardstown, Kentucky.
The brand, Tom Moore actually first was produced in 1876 by the Mattingly and Moore distillery which was founded by Tom Moore and Ben Mattingly.
The Tom Moore Distillery also bottled their own whiskey under the name Tom Moore. Apparently the Pfeiffer Brothers purchased whiskey from the distillery and had certain rights to the brand name. In the Oscas Getz Whiskey Museum in Bardstown there is a bottle of Tom Moore whiskey with a bottom label that states “Pfeiffer Bros. Controllers, Louisville, Ky.”
Silas Moore, a blend of straight whiskeys. It is unknown who Silas Moore was, possible a relative of Tom Moore.
A sour mash whiskey.
A Fire Copper whiskey
Fire Copper = sweet mash?
The two OLD J.B.T. Whiskey labels may have some hidden significance as in the type of whiskey produced. First, it is not known for sure what J.B.T. stands for. Sam Cecil the author of “The Evolution of the Bourbon Whiskey Industry in Kentucky” believes that JBT stands for John B. Thompson who in 1878 purchased the Old Jardan Distillery. The distillery was moved to Harrodsburg, Kentucky.[iii] Next, the “Fire Copper”[iv] [v] designation indicates that this whiskey may be made from a sweet mash rather than the traditional method where a sour mash is used. This definition of “Fire Copper” is somewhat questionable according to Sam Cecil and Mike Veach, a whiskey expert. They believe that the term “Fire Copper” had no real significance and was probably more used for advertising. Sam Cecil also stated that sweet mash bourbon wasn’t very good. The double distilled designates that the whiskey was redistilled after it came off the primary still. Distilleries used a second still column or a “thumper” still to raise the alcohol content in the whiskey. A few distilleries years ago distilled the whiskey a third time. Today probably the only distillery to triple distill whiskey is Labrot & Graham Distillery which produces Woodford Reserve.
Note that the “Copper Fire” was replaced by the “Sour Mash” on the labels and also note that one of the Old J.B.T. labels has the Tom Moore Distillery listed.
The Double Distilled/Fire Copper label was on a bottle that also contained a label designating it as the Gold Metal winner at the Saint Louis Worlds Fair.
Hayfield Farmhouse, Louisville, Kentucky, off of Tyler Lane
The Hayfield and the Buckroe brands of whiskey have special significance. Cal Pfeiffer named this Hayfield whiskey after the farm where his wife lived for several years before their marriage. Primas Grieshaber, Catherine Pfeiffer’s father, owned the farm but he sold the farm after three years since they lived too for from town. The Hayfield farmhouse still exists today and is located in Louisville, Kentucky on Tyler Lane. Cal Pfeiffer and Catherine Grieshaber held their wedding reception at the farm, June 4, 1895.
The Buckroe brand was named after a “Buckroe Beach” which is located in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia on the Atlantic Ocean. This beach was a resort in the early 1900’s and was probably frequented by Cal Pfeiffer.
Nox All Whiskey
Double Distilled Fire Copper
“CAUTION – This whiskey being made from the finest selected grain. It is guaranteed to the consumer as a pure double distilled fire copper whiskey and is recommended for family and medical uses.”
Dixie Bell – Double Distilled Fire Copper Whiskey
Fifer’s Malt Rye Whiskey
PB Gin “It Makes Backbone”
Other brands include:
[i] The Book of Bourbon and Other Fine American Whiskeys: by Gary Regan and Mardee Regan, 1995, page 55
[ii] “The Evolution of the Bourbon Whiskey Industry in Kentucky” by Sam K. Cecil, 1999, page 20
[iii] “The Evolution of the Bourbon Whiskey Industry in Kentucky” by Sam K. Cecil, 1999, page 108
[iv] “Memorial History of Louisville, from its first settlement to the year 1896” By J. Stoddard Johnson, Page 265 defines fire copper.
[v] The Book of Bourbon and Other Fine American Whiskeys” by Gary Regan and Mardee Regan, 1995, page 105