McCormick Distilling Company

McCormick Distilling Company
McCormick Distillery
McCormick Distilling Company is located in Missouri
Nearest city: Weston, Missouri
Coordinates: 39°23′54″N 94°52′43″W / 39.39833°N 94.87861°W / 39.39833; -94.87861Coordinates: 39°23′54″N 94°52′43″W / 39.39833°N 94.87861°W / 39.39833; -94.87861
Area: 9.9 acres (4.0 ha)
Built: 1857
Governing body: Private
NRHP Reference#: 74001090[1]
Added to NRHP: April 16, 1974

The McCormick Distilling Company is an alcoholic beverage distilling and importing company in Weston, Missouri. Opened originally by Benjamin J. Holladay in 1856 under the name Holladay Distillery, its distillery has been registered in the National Register of Historic Places and has been operating continuously at the same location longer than any other distillery in the United States.[2][3] In addition to making its own products, the company is also an importer of products made elsewhere.



The area for the distillery was chosen for the natural limestone springs that ran underground.[4] After opening the Holladay Distillery in 1856, Benjamin J. Holladay went on to develop the Pony Express route to San Francisco as well as build steamships and railroad lines in western America. In 1860, Holladay turned the distillery over to his brother, Major David Holladay, who then ran the Distillery until 1894 when it was sold to George Shawhan and became the Shawhan Distillery. During the period of Prohibition in the United States, the distillery remained open by producing whisky for medicinal purposes.[5] The distillery was sold to Isadore Singer in 1936, and was renamed as the Old Weston Distillery. Singer then purchased the McCormick brand name from a neighbouring plant at Waldon, Missouri, and renamed the distillery as the McCormick Distillery. In 1950, the company was purchased by Cloud Cray of Midwest Grain Products.

Business partners Ed Pechar and Mike Griesser then bought the company in 1992. Under Pechar and Griesser's ownership and management, McCormick Distilling expanded from 35 employees and $50 million in sales in 1992 to 186 employees and $150 million in sales in 2006. Griesser died in November, 2004. As of 2011, McCormick Distilling remains a privately held corporation owned by company chairman Ed Pechar, the estate of Mike Griesser, and a small group of employee partners who comprise the Board of Directors.[6]

The McCormick distillery is included in the National Register of Historic Places.[7] A substantial number of other distilleries are also recognized as historically significant in the National Register; however, the McCormick distillery has been operating continuously at the same location longer than any other distillery in the United States. Some historic distilleries are older, but have not been operated continuously at the same location due to the prohibition period or other reasons. For example, the Bomberger's Distillery began operations in 1753 but no longer operates (most recently having been shut down in 1989), and the currently-operating facilities at the George T. Stagg distillery, the Labrot & Graham's Old Oscar Pepper Distillery, the Woodford Reserve Distillery, the Burks' Distillery, and the Jack Daniel's Distillery have all had some periods in history during which they ceased operations.


Products distilled at the McCormick distillery:

  • McCormick Vodka: McCormick Vodka is quadruple distilled vodka containing only American grains. According to the company, McCormick Vodka is the #2 selling American vodka in the world. McCormick Vodka is available in a variety of flavors including: Apple, Watermelon, Raspberry, Grape, Sweet Tea, Blueberry, Cherry, Citrus, Orange and Peach.
  • 360 Vodka: As “the planet's first eco-friendly vodka”, various eco-efficiencies are incorporated into the production and sale of 360 Vodka to minimize its carbon footprint. Quadruple distilled and filtered five times for smoothness, 360 Vodka also comes in a variety of flavours: 360 Madagascar Vanilla, 360 Cola, 360 Grape, 360 Mandarin Orange, 360 Sorrento Lemon, 360 Bing Cherry, 360 Georgia Peach, and 360 Double Chocolate.

Products imported to the United States (and, in some cases, bottled) by McCormick:

  • McCormick's Irish Cream (imported from Ireland): McCormick's Irish cream liqueur is manufactured in Ireland (by third party agreement) using Irish spirits and cream. The brand itself is owned and managed by McCormick Distilling and the product is produced to its specifications.
  • Hussong's Reposado Tequila (imported from Mexico): Created in 1892 by Juan Hussong. Each distinct stone jug of Hussong's tequila carries a registration number and a signature by Ricardo Hussong.[8]
  • Tarantula Liqueur (imported from Mexico): Tarantula is a tequila-based citrus liqueur that is available in four flavours: Azul, Strawberry, Reposado, and Plata.
  • Tequila Rose Liqueur (imported from Mexico): Tequila Rose is a tequila-based flavoured cream liqueur that is available in four flavours: Strawberry, Java, Chocolate, and Hot Rose (the Hot Rose flavour being added in August, 2011).
  • Polar Ice Vodka (a Pernod Ricard product imported from Canada): Polar Ice is the largest selling Canadian vodka brand, and is described as being quadruple distilled and triple filtered.
  • Wiser's Whisky (a Pernod Ricard product imported from Canada): Wiser's Canadian whisky is claimed to be the top-selling family of whisky brands in Canada.[9] Wiser's is available in variations called Wiser's De Luxe, Wiser's Legacy, Wiser's 18 Years Old, Wiser's Small Batch, and Wiser's Special Blend.
  • Montego Bay Rum (imported from the West Indies) Varieties include Montego Bay Light, Montego Bay Dark and Montego Bay Coconut, which is blended with a coconut liqueur
  • Ke-Ke Beach Liqueur (imported from the Netherlands): A cream liqueur with a key lime pie flavor.


360 Vodka has received awards for taste and innovation including the 2009 gold medal and 2008 bronze medal for best vodka at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition; a gold medal from the Beverage Tasting institute (2010), gold medal from the Los Angeles Wine and Spirits competition (2009) and a platinum medal from the SIP awards (2010) for 360 Double Chocolate. McCormick's Irish Cream won the 2003 gold medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition and was voted the #1 Irish cream beverage by the Beverage Testing Institute . Polar Ice (vodka) was awarded a double gold medal at World Spirits Competition in 2007 as well as a bronze medal by the Beverage Testing Institute 2008. Hussong's won the 2006 Gold medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Championship.[10]

Green Initiatives

In November 2007, the McCormick Distillery implemented a number of business practices that are asserted to be sustainable and environmentally friendly. An internal committee called the "Green Group" was established to improve environmental performance, increase operating efficiencies and energy savings, and heighten employee awareness and conservation. In the first year of the new green initiatives, 167 tons of material was recycled, with a participation rate of 88% among employees. To solidify the company's environmental commitment, McCormick Distilling partnered with the Environmental Protection Agency and Renewable Choice Energy.[11] Some of the environmental initiatives implemented at the distillery include:

  • Four-day work week - to reduce the number of cars on the road and associated fuel consumption commuting to and from the distillery
  • On-site air pumps for car tires so that employees can maintain their vehicles' optimum fuel efficiency
  • On-site recycling
  • Preferred parking spaces reserved for employees who drive hybrid and/or electric vehicles to work

360 Vodka

As part of the company's green initiative, 360 Vodka was marketed as "the Planet's first eco-friendly vodka"[12]. 360 Vodka is bottled using 85% recycled glass, 100% recycled paper and water-based UV inks. The grains used are grown less than 95 miles from the distillery to minimize the fossil-fuel consumption associated with transporting the grain. Consumers are allowed to return the bottle's swing-top closure to the company to be recycled, and for every top recycled, McCormick Distilling donates $1.00 to Global Green USA.

Forest 360

"Forest 360" is a campaign to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and greenhouse gasses that lead to global warming. With the assistance of the Missouri Department of Conservation, McCormick Distilling planted more than 200 indigenous trees on 40 acres of land surrounding the distillery and has invited business partners to do the same. Official participants of "Forest 360" include the Republic National Distributing Company, MGP ingredients, Hovey Williams I.P Law, J.B Thome and Co. Inc., Young's Market Company, Binder-Edelstein Company, Southern Wine and Spirits of Colorado, Fast Ireland Spirits.[13]


The company created and posted a series of cocktail how-to videos, distributed through social media networks like Facebook and YouTube.[14] In 2011, the 360 Vodka Virtual bartender application was launched to promote the concept of creating green cocktails.[15]

Collectible Decanters

McCormick Distilling has produced a series of decanters which are sought after by collectors. Produced between 1968 and 1987, at least 175 decanters were released in collections, the most popular of which were forty different decanters featuring Elvis Presley at every phase in his career.[16]

Decanter Series

  • Automotive and Transportation
  • Bicentennial series
  • Birds
  • Bulls
  • Confederate series
  • Elvis series
  • Entertainer series
  • Frontiersman series
  • Great Americans series
  • Gunfighter series
  • Jugs
  • Lamp series
  • Pirate series
  • Shrine series
  • Sports and sports mascots
  • Warrior series
  • King Arthur series
  • Miscellaneous.[17]

1996 Export Investigation

From 1996 to 1999, the company sold nearly five million gallons of disguised grain alcohol to a freight forwarder operated by a Russian immigrant for eventual smuggling into Russia. The shipper was suspected of having ties to some of the most powerful mob clans in Russia.[18] Other distillers, brokers, and shippers around the United States were also reported to have been under investigation by U.S. authorities.[18] McCormick was charged and pled guilty to a misdemeanor count of making a false entry in regulatory documents, in which it identified the alcohol as non-drinkable products such as industrial cleaning solutions, and it agreed to pay $2 million in penalties and $1 million in reparations paid to the government of Ukraine, and accepted a one-week suspension of its license.[18] According to a Ukranian weekly news report, McCormick fully cooperated with US law enforcement officials and court documents state that the company never knowingly did business with organized crime.[19]


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2009-03-13. 
  2. ^ Main page of company web site
  4. ^ Christina Medina, "McCormick Distillery has long local history",, July 3, 2011. (Accessed Sept. 14, 2011)
  5. ^ History section of McCormick Distilling Company website
  6. ^ Food and Drink News "McCormick Distilling drinks to the future."
  7. ^ Beverage world online journal "The Whisky that Opened the West" March 13th, 2007
  8. ^ Hussong's Resposado Tequila
  9. ^ Wiser's Whisky Official web site
  10. ^ Anthony Dias Blue. “World Spirits Competition Archives” July 12th, 2011
  11. ^ Bartender Magazine. "Green is the Scene at McCormick Distilling" April 22nd, 2009
  12. ^ 360Vodka “About 360 Vodka” (Accessed July 12, 2011)
  13. ^ Christina Medina. "McCormick Distillery has long local history." July 3rd, 2011.
  14. ^ “360 Vodka” and (Accessed July 26, 2011)
  15. ^ “360 Bartender” (Accessed July 26, 2011)
  16. ^ Food and Drink News "McCormick Distilling drinks to the future" (Accessed July 12, 2011)
  17. ^ Evergreen Club. "McCormick Decanters Series" May,2002.
  18. ^ a b c Rashbaum, William K. (August 19, 2000). "A Smuggling Operation With a Russian Twist". The New York Times. 
  19. ^ "Ukraine Receives $1 Million in Damages". Ukrainian Weekly. June 1, 2000. 

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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