Salesman in Winter

The booze business, at least when Seagram was alive and kicking, was about stories. Here is one of my favorites.

A salesman for one of the Seagram sales companies (or perhaps it was a distributor sales rep) called on bars in Wisconsin in the dead of winter. His main objective was to get Kessler Blended Whiskey placed. His mission, his bonus and perhaps even his job depended on sufficient sales of the brand. Not easy, since Wisconsin was (and still is) a market cluttered with whiskies and brandies.

He would park his car out front, walk into the bar, engage the owner/manager and talk about the virtues of Kessler. Invariably the bar owner would tell him that he already had enough whiskies and no room or interest in a new one.

To overcome the owner/manager resistance, his spiel was always the same. “Listen, this brand is so distinctive and stands out from other whiskies that I’ll bet you I can pick Kessler out of a line up of whatever whiskies you care to test it against. I’ll get a bottle and you can pour a shot of it and any other whiskies and I’ll always be able to pick the Kessler.”

Now baited, the owner would likely say, “What’s the bet?” The salesman’s answer would be something like “50 bucks if I can’t pick it and you buy 3 bottles if I can.” Hardly anyone turned him down.

He would go out to his car, bring in a bottle, give to the owner and turn his back. The owner would pour shot glasses for the ‘taste test’ including any number of brands plus a shot of Kessler.

The salesman would then turn around and take a sip of each whiskey and very quickly point to the shot of Kessler and say, “that’s it.” He was never wrong. Always got the sale, up and down the state of Wisconsin.

How did he do it?

Since it had just come from the trunk of his car, it was the only one that was cold.

To this day Kessler is still a very strong Blended Whiskey brand whose main strength is in Wisconsin.

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4 comments

  1. Ah yes, the good old days “when men made markets”. Your story about the Kessler salesmen in Wisconsin brings to mind a “trick of the trade” we used to use in the winter to sell Calvert Gin. Since refrigeration of liquor tends to smooth and mellow it out and in fact was illegal in many states at the time; some ingenious sales people always kept a very cold bottle in the trunk and never hesitated to bring it in and taste test it against any other room temperature brand the bar might be pouring. Since much of gin consumption is more or less straight in martinis, in more cases than not the salesmen would leave the account having acquired a new “pouring account”. Now that would make you day.

  2. Great story.
    Great Blog!
    Did that when we introduced Boodles in the 70’s. Always let the trade try Beefeater first.
    The First Gin of the day always burns it’s way down. After there are ‘awake’ the cool Boodles went down easy

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