Management: Bronfman's Private Stock

Hardly a day goes by that far-traveling Samuel Bronfman, 74, the founder of the world's biggest distillery, does not telephone his son Edgar, 35. Last week, at his Chippendale desk in Manhattan's Seagram Building, Edgar took a typical call. Sam said he was feeling fine, but it was raining nastily in Clearwater, Fla., where he was on a visit. And by the way, the feisty father asked his son, shouldn't they market bottled cocktails under the Seagram label? Edgar smiled with satisfaction.

The seemingly innocuous conversation marked a significant victory for the...