Bottle #3: Hot Shot Tropical Fruit Schnapps

Jan 11, 2023

Sometimes the hunt is much more interesting than what’s in the bottle. Case in point: Hot Shot Tropical Fruit Schnapps. It is introduced to the market in 1987, presumably in an attempt to grab market share from Peachtree Schnapp’s. Peachtree Schnapps was introduced in 1984 and gone on to sell 12 million bottles in its first year, so it was clearly a category ripe for exploiting. (Note: I will be very sad and shocked if there isn’t a bottle of Peach Schnapps lurking somewhere in these boxes!)

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I couldn’t find much about Hot Shot online – there was an old magazine ad for sale on Ebay, and vintage t-shirts and denim jackets from the 90s. There are 5 recipes calling for it in the 1988 edition of the Mr. Boston Official Bartender’s Guide, including substituting it for triple sec in the Hot Shot Margarita and mixing it equal parts with orange juice for a Suntan.

The bottle said it was made at Hot Shot Distillery in Owensboro, Kentucky, and I was able to find a business listing for two locations that had at some point operated in that name. Had I been paying attention, I could have had the answer to my “what time period is this from” question right then and there, since the Missouri distillery opened in 1993, but I’m kind of glad I didn’t, because researching more led me down some interesting diversions.

At first I got sidetracked, because I found a picture of my tiny bottle on another tiny bottle collector’s site, but attributed to the DeKuyper brand. That ended up a dead end – I couldn’t find any evidence of that being true, and the picture is too blurry to read the text. But thanks to the North Carolina Alcohol Control Commission – who apparently don’t refresh their website very often – I learned that Hot Shot had been produced at least until 2015, with the distiller now listed as Luxco.

Luxco is still around today, but its website was smartly playing up its bourbon brands and not its prior association with Hot Shot Tropical Fruit Schnapps. Fortunately, you can’t hide anything from the US Patent and Trademark Office. (I expect to get really familiar with this source, because it is an absolute treasure trove of old brand names!)

I learned that the Hot Shot trademark had been held by two companies before Luxco. The prior one was David Sherman Corporation, which had renamed itself to Luxco in 2006. Both of those companies were in Missouri. But before THAT the owner of the trademark was Glenmore Distillery based in Owensboro Kentucky!

Now things were getting really interesting. Glenmore Distillery has a long and storied history, starting life as the R. Monarch Distillery in 1849. As Glenmore Distillery, they continued to operate straight through Prohibition, because they were one of the so-called Big Six – distilleries that were allowed to continue operating to sell whiskey for medicinal purposes, as outlined in the 1927 Medicinal Spirits Act. This gave them a huge competitive advantage after Repeal, and between their own Kentucky Tavern brand and their purchase of Yellowstone Bourbon in 1944, by 1955 they had barreled 2 million bottles of bourbon.

Production at the Owensboro distillery ended in 1973, with the company consolidating production at the Yellowstone distillery in Louisville. But the Glenmore distillery continued to be used for bottling and warehousing for its subsidiaries. One of which was Mr. Boston – which explains those five recipes in 1988. Alas, in 1991 the company was purchased by Guinness, who promptly shut it down and sold off a bunch of the brands – apparently including Hot Shot – to David Sherman Corporation, now known as Luxco.

But before that happened, sometime between 1987 and 1991, they also made my tiny bottle of Hot Shot Tropical Fruit Schnapps.

Update: We can shorten the time frame to between 1987 and 1988, because a 1986 law went into effect in 1988 which required ABV to be listed (while still allowing proof).

Watch me taste this bottle with Fred Yarm.

 

 

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Bottle #3: Hot Shot Tropical Fruit Schnapps

Jan 11, 2023 |

Sometimes the hunt is much more interesting than what’s in the bottle. Case in point: Hot Shot Tropical Fruit Schnapps. It is introduced to the market in 1987, presumably in an attempt to grab market share from Peachtree Schnapp’s. Peachtree Schnapps was introduced in 1984 and gone on to sell 12 million bottles in its first year, so it was clearly a category ripe for exploiting. (Note: I will be very sad and shocked if there isn’t a bottle of Peach Schnapps lurking somewhere in these boxes!)

I couldn’t find much about Hot Shot online – there was an old magazine ad for sale on Ebay, and vintage t-shirts and denim jackets from the 90s. There are 5 recipes calling for it in the 1988 edition of the Mr. Boston Official Bartender’s Guide, including substituting it for triple sec in the Hot Shot Margarita and mixing it equal parts with orange juice for a Suntan.

The bottle said it was made at Hot Shot Distillery in Owensboro, Kentucky, and I was able to find a business listing for two locations that had at some point operated in that name. Had I been paying attention, I could have had the answer to my “what time period is this from” question right then and there, since the Missouri distillery opened in 1993, but I’m kind of glad I didn’t, because researching more led me down some interesting diversions.

At first I got sidetracked, because I found a picture of my tiny bottle on another tiny bottle collector’s site, but attributed to the DeKuyper brand. That ended up a dead end – I couldn’t find any evidence of that being true, and the picture is too blurry to read the text. But thanks to the North Carolina Alcohol Control Commission – who apparently don’t refresh their website very often – I learned that Hot Shot had been produced at least until 2015, with the distiller now listed as Luxco.

Luxco is still around today, but its website was smartly playing up its bourbon brands and not its prior association with Hot Shot Tropical Fruit Schnapps. Fortunately, you can’t hide anything from the US Patent and Trademark Office. (I expect to get really familiar with this source, because it is an absolute treasure trove of old brand names!)

I learned that the Hot Shot trademark had been held by two companies before Luxco. The prior one was David Sherman Corporation, which had renamed itself to Luxco in 2006. Both of those companies were in Missouri. But before THAT the owner of the trademark was Glenmore Distillery based in Owensboro Kentucky!

Now things were getting really interesting. Glenmore Distillery has a long and storied history, starting life as the R. Monarch Distillery in 1849. As Glenmore Distillery, they continued to operate straight through Prohibition, because they were one of the so-called Big Six – distilleries that were allowed to continue operating to sell whiskey for medicinal purposes, as outlined in the 1927 Medicinal Spirits Act. This gave them a huge competitive advantage after Repeal, and between their own Kentucky Tavern brand and their purchase of Yellowstone Bourbon in 1944, by 1955 they had barreled 2 million bottles of bourbon.

Production at the Owensboro distillery ended in 1973, with the company consolidating production at the Yellowstone distillery in Louisville. But the Glenmore distillery continued to be used for bottling and warehousing for its subsidiaries. One of which was Mr. Boston – which explains those five recipes in 1988. Alas, in 1991 the company was purchased by Guinness, who promptly shut it down and sold off a bunch of the brands – apparently including Hot Shot – to David Sherman Corporation, now known as Luxco.

But before that happened, sometime between 1987 and 1991, they also made my tiny bottle of Hot Shot Tropical Fruit Schnapps.

Update: We can shorten the time frame to between 1987 and 1988, because a 1986 law went into effect in 1988 which required ABV to be listed (while still allowing proof).

Watch me taste this bottle with Fred Yarm.

 

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