Conversation with Joseph J. Magliocco (Chatham/Michter's)


On October 15, 2015, I received a phone call from Joseph J. Magliocco, the President of Chatham Imports, the parent company of Michter's Distillery. Apparently, my wife is NOT the only person who reads this blog!

Mr. Magliocco was not overly excited about my original post detailing the history of Michter's. So we spent the better half of an hour discussing the brand, which he oversees as part of his Chatham portfolio. It was ultimately a very positive conversation.

Corrections:

1) I stated that Chatham trademarked the Michter's and Bomberger's names in 2004. In fact, Chatham has owned the Michter's mark since March 21, 1997. Chatham applied for and registered the trademarks "Bomberger's Distillery," "Bomberger's Declaration," and "Bomberger's Whiskey" between 2012 and 2014. My confusion arose from the facts that the "new" Michter's brand hit the market in 2004, others have reported the wrong trademark dates, and the USPTO trademark database lists all ten of the various Micther's trademarks both "dead" and "live."

2) I mistakenly called Joseph J. Magliocco "John Magliocco." No excuse there. He even has a website and a Wikipedia page. Did you know he was a Religious Studies major at Yale before heading off to HLS? No wonder he forgave my errors.

3) I described how Tom's Foolery in Ohio had acquired the old 1970's Michter's pot still. I failed to mention that Michter's recently purchased the old still and will install it in their downtown Louisville distillery on old Whiskey Row. You can read Chuck Cowdery's report about it from Whisky Advocate here.

We also discussed several items from my post that deserve clarification:

1) I described the "new" Michter's label as "tragic." Mr. Magliocco sees his whiskey company as a great American "comeback story." I agree that he has done something great by reinventing a brand in Kentucky that was quite literally dead in Amish Country, PA. He has created jobs, generated wealth, and sourced some delicious whiskey. I don't agree with the concept that Michter's has "come back," as that would entail an operational distillery in Schaefferstown, PA. It's obviously an emotional issue for the people involved, but I think the nexus between the old and new Michter's is limited. I acknowledge that Chatham owns the trademarks and has good intentions to honor the old Michter's with their current business plan. Magliocco has an extremely high Whiskey IQ and a deep appreciation for the history, which is worth something.

2) I stated that "[t]he new Michter's whiskey, having nothing to do with the "old" Michter's, is sourced from Kentucky distilleries..."' My high school English teacher taught me to avoid speaking in absolutes. I should not have said "nothing to do with..." A young Joe Magliocco sold Michter's whiskey in 1976. His father was a regular Michter's drinker. His mentor and partner in building the new Michter's was Dick Newman, the former Austin Nichols president. I have read that Austin Nichols once sourced its Wild Turkey rye from Michter's Distillery in PA. Dick Stoll has said that Wild Turkey tried to buy Michter's in the 1970's. Therefore, they have some things to do with one another.

3) I stated that Dick Stoll and Erik Wolfe settled the lawsuit with Chatham Imports because "litigation would be too costly." I based my assertion on a July 2015 Litiz Record article which also incorrectly identifies the Michter's trademark date. Joe Magliocco pointed out that the trademark dispute was instigated by an investment banker named Marc L. Reber (who partnered with Stoll & Wolfe to create the new Bomberger's brand). It was Reber's attorney who wrote the first letter, asserting "common law trademark rights." While I can't independently verify what Magliocco told me, he believes that Marc L. Reber has access to far more capital than Chatham ever would, and that cost was not a factor in the settlement. [Reber is listed as an analyst at Foundation Asset Management].



Finally:

In conducting some additional research, I came across what I believe are two essential blog posts, one "for" and one "against" Joe Magliocco and Michter's. You can read them at these links:

Coppered Tot (for)

Bourbon Truth (very against...)