Sunday, April 18, 2021

Sazerac Corporation, Glenmore Distilleries of Kentucky – and the Ulster dimension

In May 1956, 60 year old Colonel Frank Thompson (1895–1990) – veteran of two World Wars and the Chairman of the Glenmore Distilleries Kentucky whiskey empire that his Ulster-born father James, and uncle Frank, had founded in 1872 – sailed into Belfast Lough on his 90ft Danish-built motor yacht also called Glenmore.

Col Thompson was an accomplished sailor and he knew our coastline well as he'd sailed into Dublin, Belfast and Londonderry (to visit family at Longfield near Eglinton) in September 1953, not long after taking delivery of the vessel. He was also the heroic 'face' of the Distillery and its many brands, appearing in its advertising campaigns, suitably attired as a Kentucky gentleman.

As is normal for voyages of this scale, the yacht needed some scheduled maintenance, and also a replacement skipper. Frank was specifically hoping that an Islandmagee man would take the job – in the end he got one from Gilnahirk.

Born on 4 July 1895, Frank won the French Croix de Guerre medal for his Great War service. He died in February 1990, aged 84, his funeral service was held at Highland Presbyterian Church in Louisville.

Today, Glenmore Distilleries is the North America headquarters of the global Sazerac corporation, and is still located where the Thompsons founded it – in Owensboro, Kentucky, on the bank of the Ohio River.

Much, much more to follow...

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