Old Dominick Distillery Script
Scripted introduction for tour guides at Old Dominick Distillery in Memphis, TN
The Old Dominick Welcome, Stories, & History
Scene 1: Introduction
Hello. My name is ________________
Welcome to Old Dominick Distillery
This is where we are making the Memphis spirit
Today and from 5 generations ago.
That’s right. If you thought you were coming in to get the new drink on the block, hate to tell you, but folks were drinking Old Dominick’s spirits way before it was cool.
You’re kinda late.
Like 150 years late.
So y’all can just go on back to where you came from.
Scene 2: Memphis Toddy
Of course, I’m kidding. I don’t want you to leave.
Yes, we are a brand-spanking new distillery, but we have a recipe -an ages old recipe
Steeped in history
In family legacy
In excitement and intrigue
In mystery and suspense.
And that is our Memphis Toddy
Which was totally forgotten about for, like 100 years.
But, today you are going to get to try it.
Because we have brought back to life the Memphis Toddy
Along with some new spirit friends:
We have a Memphis vodka
A honeybell vodka which is our citrus flavor
And a couple of whiskies in the works, which are aging in barrels right now as we speak.
Scene 3: Share a Sip
And on that note, I want to thank you folks so much for coming in today, and for sharing the revitalization of a family past with this launch of a new endeavor. We are truly a family company. We love to share stories, and we want to share a sip of pure Memphis spirit with you.
Before we move on, I like to get to know my group a little bit.
Who are my whisky drinkers?
Who could leave the brown stuff for the birds and likes their vodka?
Anyone from Memphis?
Who are my out-of-towners? From where?
Who is in Memphis with me right now? Trick question. Everyone’s hand should go up.
ACT 2: History
Scene 4: Memphis in 1843
Now that we all know each other, we’re going to time travel for a little bit. We’re headed back to the year 1843.
To give you a better time frame: Elvis Presley recorded his first his single, right here in Memphis at Sun Studies, “That’s Alright Mama” in 1954.
Now go back another hundred years, and some change, and you’re there.
1843. We’re still in Memphis.
But it’s a ramblin’ rambunctious river town on the rise.
Try to imagine that tin-can clinking, old-timey piano tune.
It drifts through the cigar-smoke haze
Of a whisky-scented saloon or gambling den.
It wafts through some wood shutter slats onto a bustling street
Where -watch out! Big, heavy work horses are clopping full-speed ahead over crooked cobblestone.
They’re hauling huge loads of cotton
Practically bursting from their canvas covers
From the booming new trade of the time.
There’s a street vendor shouting over occasional gunfire
From your obligatory southern brawl
And everywhere float dust-covered cowboy hats and bonnets atop the heads of Memphis-residing
Gentlemen of ill-repute
And ladies of loose candor
Suffice to say, some things haven’t really changed.
Scene 5: Little Domenico
Now a-little-ways away from here, in the country of Italy, a baby boy was born. His name was Domenico Canale.
Which is so Italian. I love it. Domenico Canale.
Is anyone Italian? Help me say it right…
Domenico, in 1859, at the right bold age of 16, came to America.
Now I don’t know about y’all, but when I was 16, I was
(Insert story. Example: A freshly licensed driver, stuffing as many teenagers into the old family minivan as I could, so we could drive to the mall and raise some hell.)
Domenico, at that age, took a 6- day voyage from Italy to the USA
He landed in New Orleans
Hopped on a riverboat, and steamed up the Mississippi until he finally set his boots down on the cobblestones of Memphis.
Now our cobblestones are kinda special.
Memphis is the only city in the country
With an original, usable, cobblestone, riverfront landing
Ours is the largest in the nation.
I highly encourage you to check it out, especially if you’re in from out of town.
From here, you just go down to Beale street, head towards the Mississippi, and you can’t miss it.
It’s a cool, functional piece of history we have here.
Scene 6: Working Domenico
Domenico gets here; he has a couple of uncles in town who have preceded his arrival.
He goes to work for them in that building right over there.
They set him up with the super-glamorous task of manning a fruit cart.
But he was an ambitious young buck, within a few years he started his own business selling fresh fruits and vegetables.
In 1866, he formally established his food wholesale business as D. Canale & Company
That business is still in operation today
It’s still family-run
And it’s the company that began and runs distillery
When you came in the front door today, you may have noticed the emblem overhead. That’s
The D. Canale & Co. logo
Scene 7: Old Dominick Spirit Founded
Now I mentioned folks have been drinking old Dominick Spirits for quite some time
Quite some time is 1880
14 years in business as D. Canale & Co.; the Old Dominick Spirit was founded
And it was a smash hit, let me tell you.
According to the original advertisements of the day, it was
Recommended by every physician in Memphis
Used in every hospital
Possibly known to cure such ailments as
Warts, Gout, Influenza
Various forms of pox
Sneezing, hiccups, the common cold & cancer
Measles, Mumps, Whooping Cough
French Maladies, and Indigestion
I’m not going to make any medical claims, but I do think you will like it.
Scene 8: Prohibition ruins everything!
So everything’s grand. Folks are hootin’ and a’hollerin’, drinking Old Dominck Spirits
Until early into the 20th century, when the country as a whole witnessed a bit of a travesty
A bout of madness really.
Does anyone know what I’m referring to?
Prohibition was enacted with the passing of the 18th Amendment.
Greater tragedy ensued still, with the passing of our dear founding father, Domenico Canale in 1919 -the same year it was passed in the state of Tennessee.
Possibly due to a broken heart.
ACT 3: Old Dominick Today
Scene 9: The Toddy remains
Now his company, D. Canale & Company, still lives on
Much of the Canale family still lives in Memphis
As for that Old Dominick spirit, it did continue to live on
But hidden inside a bottle of that old Memphis Toddy
Which was tucked away, forgotten about, and began collecting dust.
Until, just a few years ago in 2013, some brave soul
Picked up that bottle
Blew off the dust
And said, “Hey, we should try this.”
They did, and it was absolutely awful.
But persistence seems to run in the Canale blood.
They had that bottle shipped off to a lab to reverse engineer the ingredients.
Turns out it was a bourbon infused with botanicals and fruit
Hundred-year-old fruit, not so good
But the whisky was solid
So that one taste-test, of that one-hundred-year-old bottle became
A whole new line of spirits
And revitalized the Old Dominick brand
Scene 10: The Brand
A tidbit about that brand
Have you guys noticed the rooster around here?
That’s a dominicker rooster.
Quick refresher on our vast chicken knowledge:
Dominickers are the oldest American breed of chicken
They’re a good strong, hearty stock with a nice, calm demeanor.
With a name like “dominicker” it’s the perfect mascot for us.
We have affectionately named our rooster Nico.
If you recall, I told you Domenico had gone to work for his uncles across the street.
Well, since we’ve set up shop over here, we like to say we now know why the chicken crossed the road.
Scene 11: Water
So those are some of the stories that really make us special
And some of the history that makes us unique.
There’s one more thing I want to touch on and that’s our quality.
The best quality comes from the best ingredients.
A key ingredient in spirit making is water.
Folks, you can get spirits from all over the world, and very fine spirts indeed. But nothing will quite align with what we can do here in Memphis because we are privy to an unmatched source of water locally.
If you go 500 feet below ground from where we’re standing
There runs a naturally sweet, pure, light groundwater
It’s a low-mineral water
Filtered through a layer of finely ground quartz crystal known as Memphis sand
Groundwater scientists have called Memphis water the best-tasting in the world.
We happen to agree. We also agree it’s the best-tasting for making spirits
But you don’t have to take my word for it on this one. Please enjoy a sample for yourself.
While this is very refreshing indeed, I know you folks came here to try a little more than just water, so if you’ll follow me, we will make our way through production and finish in our tasting room.