Brown-Forman (NYSE:BFB)(NYSE:BFA) announced today a six-month long celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the end of Prohibition. Prohibition in the U.S. officially ended on December 5, 1933 when Utah approved the 21st Amendment to the Constitution, becoming the last state needed for a three quarters majority to enact the provision. The 21st Amendment repealed the 18th Amendment to the Constitution, which on January 16, 1919 outlawed the production and sale of beverage alcohol – except for “medicinal purposes.”
Brown-Forman, founded in Louisville in 1870 by George Garvin Brown, survived Prohibition when then-company president Owsley Brown I secured one of only ten federal licenses to continue to sell its Old Forester Bourbon whiskey for medicinal purposes. At that time, whiskey was considered an effective tonic for treating an assortment of ailments and doctors often prescribed whiskey for their patients. (It should be noted, however, that the number of patients requesting a prescription of whiskey skyrocketed during Prohibition.)
Brown-Forman first used its existing stock of bourbon whiskey to fulfill orders for prescription whiskey, and then in 1923 the company made its first acquisition, buying the Early Times brand and all of its stock of bourbon to meet the growing demand for medicinal whiskey.
By 1929, all supplies of whiskey made before Prohibition had been tapped out and the U.S. government began allowing Brown-Forman (and other companies with the special licenses to sell medicinal whiskey) to make new whiskey at a Louisville distillery operated by the federal government. Go figure.
Today, Brown-Forman is the only U.S. company in the spirits and wine business that existed before, during, and after Prohibition, and to celebrate this truly milestone event, it will undertake a series of activities to mark the occasion.
— Give special recognition to all bars, taverns, and restaurants in the U.S. that existed before, during (as a “Speakeasy”), and after Prohibition. Brown-Forman is asking all such establishments to e-mail the company at [email protected]
— Old Forester, Brown-Forman’s original brand and the world’s first bourbon whiskey sold in sealed glass bottles to assure its quality, has created a special gift pack with a Prohibition-era replica bottle. (More details about this gift pack will be forthcoming.)
— Jack Daniel’s has created a special two-bottle gift pack, with one bottle commemorating the 75th Anniversary of the end of Prohibition and the other observing the 70th Anniversary of the re-opening of the Jack Daniel Distillery – because the state of Tennessee didn’t end the ban on alcohol production until 1938. (More details on this gift pack will be forthcoming.)
— Paul Varga, Brown-Forman’s CEO, will join with members of the Brown family and other company executives to ring The Closing Bell(R) at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on December 5, 2008 – the day in 1933 when national Prohibition in the U.S. officially ended. (Brown-Forman stock is traded on the NYSE.)
— Brown-Forman employees across the U.S. will join the celebration on December 5 with workplace parties that will include special “end of Prohibition” cocktails.
In addition to these activities, Brown-Forman’s master distiller and resident historian, Chris Morris, is speaking to organizations in Kentucky and elsewhere about Prohibition, how it helped shape the beverage alcohol industry in the U.S., and how Brown-Forman is the only U.S. company that existed before Prohibition that still exists today.
Brown-Forman Corporation is a producer and marketer of fine quality beverage alcohol brands, including Jack Daniel’s, Southern Comfort, Finlandia Vodka, Tequila Herradura, el Jimador Tequila, Canadian Mist, Fetzer and Bolla Wines, and Korbel California Champagnes.
Important Note on Forward-Looking Statements:
This release contains statements, estimates, or projections that constitute “forward-looking statements” as defined under U.S. federal securities laws. Generally, the words “expect,””believe,””intend,””estimate,””will,””anticipate,” and “project,” and similar expressions identify a forward-looking statement, which speaks only as of the date the statement is made. Except as required by law, we do not intend to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise. We believe that the expectations and assumptions with respect to our forward-looking statements are reasonable. But by their nature, forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that in some cases are out of our control. These factors could cause our actual results to differ materially from Brown-Forman’s historical experience or our present expectations or projections. Here is a non-exclusive list of such risks and uncertainties:
— continuation of the deterioration in general economic conditions, particularly in the United States where we earn about half of our profits, and other markets with economies linked to the U.S., including higher energy prices, declining home prices, deterioration of the sub-prime lending market, decreased discretionary income or other factors;
— pricing, marketing and other competitive activity focused against our major brands;
— lower consumer confidence or purchasing related to economic conditions, major natural disasters, terrorist attacks or widespread outbreak of infectious diseases;
— tax increases and/or tariff barriers or other restrictions affecting beverage alcohol, whether at the federal or state level in the U.S. or in other major markets around the world, and the unpredictability or suddenness with which they can occur;
— limitations and restrictions on distribution of products and alcohol marketing, including advertising and promotion, as a result of stricter governmental policies adopted either in the United States or in our other major markets;
— fluctuations in the U.S. Dollar against foreign currencies, especially the British Pound, Euro, Australian Dollar, and the South African Rand;
— reduced bar, restaurant, hotel and travel business, including travel retail;
— longer-term, a change in consumer preferences, societal attitudes or cultural trends that results in the reduced consumption of our premium spirits brands or our ready-to-drink products;
— changes in distribution arrangements in major markets that limit our ability to market or sell our products;
— adverse impacts relating to our acquisition strategies or our integration of acquired businesses and conforming them to the company’s trade practice standards, financial controls environment and U.S. public company requirements;
— price increases in energy or raw materials, including grapes, grain, agave, wood, glass, and plastic;
— changes in climate conditions, agricultural uncertainties or other supply limitations that adversely affect the price, availability or quality of grapes, agave, grain, glass, closures or wood;
— termination of our rights to distribute and market agency brands in our portfolio;
— press articles or other public media related to our company, brands, personnel, operations, business performance or prospects;
— counterfeit production of our products and any resulting negative effect on our intellectual property rights or brand equity; and
— adverse developments stemming from state or federal investigations of beverage alcohol industry marketing or trade practices of suppliers, distributors or retailers.