Joe Louis Whiskey Circa 1952

Joe Louis Whiskey Circa 1952

In Banter by Patrick "Pops" Garrett4 Comments

It’s been a hectic week on the Bourbon & Banter front due to my wife having shoulder surgery and the day job being overly stressful. I apologize for not posting a more often this week. I hope today’s installment of vintage ads will make up for the radio silence on my end. I came across this spread for Joe Louis Whiskey in the June 19, 1952 edition of Jet magazine and found it fascinating. I had no idea that Joe Louis tried his hand at promoting whiskey or that a band was formed to help promote the brand.  I spent a few minutes looking for additional information and this is all I could come up with this morning.

“Beginning in 1952, Joe Louis Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, 86 proof, was a short-lived venture by then retired heavyweight boxer Joe Louis. He was owner of the Joe Louis Distilling Company in Philadelphia, PA, where the label was produced for about a year. The whiskey was bottled in Kentucky, and the last line of the bottle label read “Joe Louis Bottling Co., Lawrenceburg, Kentucky.” By January 1953, the label read, “Joe Louis Distilling Co., Lawrenceburg, Kentucky.” Miniature pairs of boxing gloves of various colors were used to promote the whiskey. The gloves were stamped with the Lawrenceburg bottling and distillery name. The whiskey was sold in different volumes, including fifths, pints, and half pints. Lucky Millinder organized a band in 1952 to promote the whiskey.” View original source at University of Kentucky Libraries.

Evidently it was a short-lived effort but interesting nonetheless. I also find it curious that in the photo where they are making a toast, Joe Louis is toasting with a bottle oc Coke instead of his own whiskey. Doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in the product, does it?

Joe Louis Whiskey Circa 1952

If anyone has more details on this or had a chance to drink it please let us know. We’d love to know more about who actually distilled this for Joe and what the market thought of his efforts.

As a side note, I also came across a 1974 Jim Beam advertisement that featured Joe Louis. If you were to pick a modern day athlete to promote bourbon, who would it be?



About the Author

Patrick "Pops" Garrett

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Patrick Garrett, "Pops" as he's known to his friends, is the founder of Bourbon & Banter, LLC and claims the title of Chief Drinking Officer (CDO). A long-time marketing professional and photographer, Pops hopes to use his professional experience and love of Bourbon to spread the Bourbon Gospel and help everyone realize the therapeutic power of having a good drink with friends. Read Patrick's full profile.


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    Pops, I found your article during an Internet search. I was talking to a person this morning about my grandfather who was manager at Bonds Mill / Old Joe / DSP-KY-35 during the 50s. This person told me that Joe Louis Whiskey was bottled there. (I can’t remember if he said distilled.) I will be finding out more and will let you know what I find if you are still interested.

      1. Avatar

        I found an interview of T.B. Ripy IV done in Jan 2014 by Al Young. Mr. Ripy tells a story about Joe Louis bourbon being bottled at Bonds Mill / Old Joe and about Mr. Louis coming to Lawrenceburg. Start at the 44:35 mark.

        Mr. Ripy also mentions my grandfather, Holman Bryant. The script is provided so if you search for Holman Bryant it will take you to the Joe Louis story in the transcript.

        I also talked to one of my uncles last night. He told me that my grandfather had brought Joe Louis to their house so the kids could meet him.

        The interview is here:

  2. Pingback: Tasted: Joe Louis Bourbon -

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