While we’re fascinated with how spirits taste, the stories and people behind them can be equally interesting. For the second installment of our Liquor-Label Icons series, (you can read the first one here), we’re featuring the creators of some of our favorite brands. Cheers!
In 1863, winemaker Jean-Baptiste Camus, who had previously been growing grapes and distilling cognac for wholesalers, decided to start his own eponymous line. Now, a century and a half later, the house of Camus is the fifth-largest cognac producer in the world and is led by Cyril Camus. Though popular in Europe and Asia for decades, it launched in the United States just a few years ago.
It’s hard to find a liquor store or bar that doesn’t carry Tanqueray Gin, but its founder, Charles Tanqueray, wasn’t born into the industry. He in fact came from a long line of clergymen. In 1830, when he was 20, he left home and moved south to London to build a gin distillery, which was ultimately located in Bloomsbury. While he was soon making alcohol, the brand’s famous green bottle didn’t come along until 1948.
Martell Cognac dates back to 1715, when Jean Martell began his spirits business, and has survived revolutions, the phylloxera blight and two world wars. After Martell’s death in 1753, his widow, Rachel, expanded the company by buying vineyards and cellaring facilities, and their two sons, Jean and Frédéric-Gabriel, took the cognac international. However, its signature product, Martell Cordon Bleu, wasn’t introduced until 1912.
George Dickel Tennessee Whisky:
While Tennessee is, of course, home to the Jack Daniel’s distillery, the state also boasts George Dickel, which opened in 1870. Like Daniel, Dickel was a real person; he was an immigrant from Germany and began his career as a merchant in Nashville. Though shut down for nearly four decades following Prohibition, the brand’s modern-day recipe is based on notes left by Dickel himself.
Booker’s Bourbon is named for legend Frederick Booker Noe II, but who is Baker’s Bourbon named for? Like Booker, Baker Beam (pictured above, front) is a descendant of whiskey pioneer Jim Beam and worked at the family’s distillery for more than 37 years. The spirit, first released in 1992, is aged for seven years and is a potent 107-proof.