Profits Down at Fortune Brands

Fortune Brands (ticker symbol FO) released their third quarter report on Thursday and the results were somewhat disappointing to investors. Drinkers may be less concerned, but we at the are always interested when the father of Makers Mark appears on the verge of sneezing.

The company essentially pointed the finger at the downturn in housing in the US market as the prime reason for their lacklustre results –  they sold a lot less faucets apparently – but we don’t really give a fig about those faucets. It’s the bourbon we care about…

Profits were down on one time charges and revenues were essentially flat. The parent corporation of Makers Mark, Jim Beam, Tequila Sauza, and some other crap including Titleist golf equipment and Moen faucets, is a major player in the spirits business and a competitor of the Brown Forman group (Jack Daniels).

The Deerfield, Ill. company reported net income of $102.6 million, or 66 cents per share, in the three months ending Sept. 30. That’s down from $124.1 million, or 82 cents per share, in the same period last year.

Excluding one-time charges in the quarter, Fortune Brands earned 72 cents per share. Analysts expected 74 cents per share on revenue of $1.75 billion.

Source: AP

I’m sipping Makers Mark as I write this post, if you were wondering…

Kris Kristofferson: In the News

Kris Kristofferson-This Old Road
This Old Road

Just listening to the roulette wheel that is the “random” playlist and up came something from Kris Kristofferson’s This Old Road. We lived with this recording when it came out it and  I remember that it felt like it was one in a list of solid recordings released around the same time by the “old ones” – Kris Kristofferson, Bob Dylan, John Prine, Glenn Campbell, Mavis Staples, Betty Lavette, Wilson Pickett, and others (…jesus, Gordon Lightfoot, John Fogerty) – and these recordings landed on these ears like blessings in some cases. This was definitely true for This Old Road….

Tonight the song that spun was In the News, with a devastating lyric:

Read about the sorry way he done somebody’s daughter
Chained her to a heavy thing and threw her in the water
And she sank into the darkness with their baby son inside her
A little piece of truth and beauty died

Kris Kristofferson, In the News, from the album This Old Road

What is with these awful Whiskey flash sites?

You know, it’s hard to find a good, old-fashioned, accessible html site anywhere on the whiskey trail. Every site you go to it’s the same thing: some slick flash-based whiskey-toned nightmare pops up insisting that you lie to them about your age prior to letting you in. I realize the latter is a legal requirement put upon them by (I’m assuming here) good old Uncle Sam, but the flash is simply inexcusable.

Case in point. I saw a reference this morning to a Jim Beam project known as beamfire. I checked out the link and was shocked, shocked that flash was being employed at a whiskey site…

It’s a shame. I’m sure the vendors spend no end of money on these shell sites that nobody but assholes would want to “hang out” at. They are trophy sites really. They say, “look at what we have on display, isn’t it pretty? Sir, please keep your hands off, that’s not for touching…”. Ugh. It’s what you get when you hand 20 grand to a bunch of turds at a design shop who like nothing better than cashing the cheque and getting out their stamp pad….

Here’s my advice: show some creativity, put a site out there that is accessible, standards based, and cutting edge on the design side. Please, no more flash. It’s unbecoming.


Puttanesca: a type of tomato sauce including anchovies, garlic, and olives, eaten with pasta.  The etymology of puttanesca, however, is colourful: derived from the Italian puttana, meaning prostitute.

There are a few stories floating around about the connection between puttanesca and puttana. One legend has it that puttanesca was named for a sauce made by the “working ladies of the evening” who used a combination of savory and aromatic ingredients most available to them that were quick to prepare, and included olives, capers and fresh tomatoes. Quick to prepare so they could eat quickly or feed their young ones before their “shift” started. Another is that the pasta sauce is simply full of colours that remind the men of the house of the ladies of the night and their bright colours. One other reference noted that it was perhaps the strong smell of the sauce, perhaps when anchovies were used, that inferred the puttana connection.

Neko Case: Wish I Were the Moon

Neko Case - Blacklisted
Neko Case - Blacklisted

We at the bourbonhours stop for many things: lemonade stands, road-kill, barbecue, New Orleans. And Neko Case. Case in point: I was driving down the Internet this morning and came across a video linked on No Depression. Now I don’t have this recording (shame on me – soon to be rectified), and was thrilled to take a turn with “I Wish I Was the Moon” from the 2002 album Blacklisted.

Now, if it starts again, it’s time to steer this old Cadillac back onto the digital interstate. Where is that on-ramp?

Wax On Wax Off: Makers Mark announces new COO

Makers Mark
Makers Mark

AP is reporting a change in the executive suite at Makers Mark headquarters. Rob Samuels, age 36, will take over as the new COO (Chief Operating Officer) of the Makers Mark enterprise. Rob Samuels is the grandson of the iconic brand’s founder, Bill Samuels Sr., who founded the business in the 1950s, and the son of the legendary Bill Samuels Jr., who has seen the fortunes of the Makers Mark brand soar during his tenure.

The job will be to oversee the day-to-day operations of the company and to manage the Loretto distillery. Bill Samuels Jr. will maintain a significant role in the company, staying on as CEO and president.

“My grandfather took me by the hand and he shared with me from his perspective what he had created,” he said. “And I was really just in awe of the process and the smells and everything that went into making the whiskey.”

Rob Samuels, COO, Makers Mark (source: AP, courtesy Yahoo)

Nepotism in most businesses is generally frowned upon: there’s a gut reaction to the silver spoon factor. In the whiskey business – and spirits in general – it’s the norm. Tradition and continuity are the stock in trade of the booze business, and Makers Mark as a brand and an institution strives to keep its traditions intact. With the kind of growth it is currently undergoing, and with corporate over-lords in Fortune Brands, we’ll have to see where it all ends up. Jack Daniels got pretty big, and we still dig the flavour…

Dixie Kitchen’s Famous Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce

How many albums do you know that have recipes on them? Mary Gauthier’s “Dixie Kitchen” has a drop dead bread pudding recipe on the liner notes of her cd that’ll knock your socks off. Gauthier opened a restaurant in Boston called the Dixie Kitchen. She worked there for 11 yrs trying to make a go of southern food and music. Although the bread pudding recipe is pretty amazing, I don’t know if that’s what made her successful.  Give her a listen, turn on the oven, and have a taste. It’s rich and filling, and not to be trifled with.


Bread Pudding:

  • 1 loaf of French Bread (1 ½ feet long)
  • 1 quart milk (4 cups)
  • 3 beaten eggs
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 2 Tbsp vanilla
  • ¼ cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 3 Tbsp butter

Bourbon Sauce:

  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ¼ cup bourbon


Bourbon Sauce: In the top of a double boiler, melt butter and sugar. Gradually whisk egg. Set aside to cool slightly.

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, break bread into small pieces. Cover with milk and soak for one hour.

Mix eggs and sugar. Stir in vanilla, chocolate chips and raisins. Add to bread and milk, mixing well.

Melt butter in a 13 x 9 x 2 baking dish, tilting to coat all sides. Pour in bread pudding and bake 50 minutes.

Add bourbon to previously warmed sauce. Pour sauce over bread pudding. Serve warm.

Mary Gauthier, Dixie Kitchen (produced by Crit Harmon, 1998). Serves 12.