Sunny Brook Whiskey

There are prominent Sunny Brook Whiskey signs on either side of the river at St. Louis, both of them quite dated and both painted on the sides of large red, brick buildings. The Old Sunny Brook Distillery Company, based in Louisville, Kentucky, produced Kentucky Straight Bourbon and Kentucky Blended Whiskey.

On the Missouri side is a decent example located on South Broadway near Interstate 55, on the north face of what is currently a computer repair business. The large letters are unevenly faded but still mostly legible, reading top-to-bottom:

FAMOUS

SUNNY BROOK

WHISKEY

KENTUCKY’S

BEST …

 

The other sign is found on the Exchange Club, 404 Sycamore, in Belleville, Illinois, and, like most west-facing wall signs, it is quite faded. Yet, with some study, it is still readable and overall in good condition. This advertisement has considerably more to say than its Missouri counterpart. It also contains a reference to the 1904 World’s Fair, held in St. Louis, which dates the sign, likely, to within five years after the Fair. It reads like this:

 

fleur de lis  [window]  AGE   [window]  PURITY  [window]  MAKE   fleur de lis

 

SUNNY BROOK

 

[window]      SOLD    [window]    A PERFECT WHISKEY    [window]

ONLY

IN

BOND

AWARDED BOTH

GRAND        &       GOLD

PRIZE     MEDAL

ST. LOUIS

WORLD’S FAIR

We see the layout is original and unchanged, because the lettering has been carefully planned around the windows. There are no other signs occupying the same space, painted before or after this ad, which is somewhat unusual for a highly visible brick building such as the Exchange Club. At the base of the wall, off to the side, is a flagpole and a World War One Memorial.

Company History

The brand name Sunny Brook Whiskey was first used in 1891 by the Old Sunny Brook Distillery Company. The 80 proof spirits were distilled and bottled in Louisville at 28th and Broadway from 1891 until sometime prior to 1975 when that distillery was razed. From the beginning on into the 1960s, the company seems to have stressed that their whiskey was always a wholesome product with a slogan in the early days “The Pure Food Whiskey.” Labels proudly displayed the medallion of its Grand Prize Award at the St. Louis World’s Fair of 1904 on bottles well into the 1980s. Advertising and promotional giveaways for Sunny Brook Whiskey were abundant and much of it may still be seen for sale on e-Bay. In later decades, the company used imagery of cowboys, playboys, and a Great White Hunter on safari to sell their product, but the character most commonly seen is found in advertisements dating from the early 20th century—a spit-and-polish gent in a military uniform, looking like Lord Kitchener in the Boer War, the “Guardian of Quality for Generations.” In the 1980s, Old Sunny Brook Distillery was bought out by the National Distillers Products Company. The trademark is now owned by Jim Beam Brands Company.

Comments:

  • David Sebben October 25th, 2013 1:55 am

    I came across this blog and absolutely love it. I am a ghost sign junkie and love exploring any city I pass through for them. I’d love to share some of them with you. Please let me know how I can share.

    David

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