In 1901, Illustrated Louisville was published. This was a book with short histories of the businesses in Louisville at the time. It was a for-profit venture and the businesses featured in the book paid a fee to have their business listed. The result is that not all Louisville businesses are included in the book. For the businesses that are featured, it is a rich source of history for each business. There are several whiskey companies featured in the book. Each company has a short history of the company plus a description of their business at the time. Some companies went a step further and purchased advertisements in the book. Jno. G. Roach & Co. is one of those companies.
The article published for Jno. G. Roach & Co. states that they are distillers of “fine sour mash whiskies” and are located at 100 & 102 East Main Street. Their brands included “Old Log Cabin”, “Bel Air” and “Rich Grain” hand-made sour mash whiskies. The advertisement includes illustrations of their three distilleries. The article states that the Old Log Cabin Distillery was located in Louisville on the waterfront that included a three story still house with a capacity of 600 bushels a day and a four story warehouse that held 20,000 barrels. The Bel Air Distillery was “situated near this city” with a three story still house with a capacity of 600 bushels a day and “an extensive warehouse” that held 17,000 barrels. The Rich Grain Distillery was in Uniontown, Kentucky and is described as “one of the best arranged and equipped distilleries in the United States”. It is described as having a two story still house with a capacity of 1,000 bushels a day, a 3 story elevator (I assume they mean a grain elevator), and 2 story warehouses with a capacity of 31,000 barrels.
The article states that Mr. Roach was born in Green County, Ky. and was associated with the distilling business “from youth up”. He was a popular and public minded citizen who was also involved in the Union National Bank and Louisville Insurance Company. His partner, Charles P. Graves, was born in Lebanon, Kentucky and was part of the business before becoming a partner. The other partner, John T. Barbee was born in the southwestern section of Kentucky and also involved with the company before becoming a partner.
The articles published in Illustrated Louisville are marketing articles. They always show the company in the best light and if not written by the company featured, they were written with the approval of the company. I think the last line of the Jno. G. Roach and Co. article gives a perfect example of what the book was all about – the promotion of Louisville businesses. The line is: “Equity and integrity characterize their every transaction, and jobbers seeking reliable sour mash whiskies to handle will do well to place orders with this honorable old house.”
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