A GMO Argument

A GMO Argument

I’ve been seeing a lot of articles lately about the use of GMO and non-GMO corn a lot lately.  I believe the conversation is usually a bit off the mark. (one example- https://daily.sevenfifty.com/bourbon-producers-consider-the-pros-and-cons-of-non-gmo-corn/) The vast majority of corn and soybeans grown in the US are genetically modified organisms, or GMO’s.  This means that the genes/traits of another organism (in most cases, genes from bacteria) have been inserted into that of the corn or soybeans to improve the plant’s ability to survive and prosper. This, in itself, is a great leap forward for science and its ability to improve sustainability of corn and soy crops. When you admire those corn and soy fields that are weed free, identically green, very close...

MGP Ingredients- The Distillery Prohibition Did Not Destroy

MGP Ingredients- The Distillery Prohibition Did Not Destroy

If you’re tasting a lot of whiskeys and considering where they come from, you’ll have already become familiar with MGP (Midwest Grain Products) Ingredients.  In most cases, you’ll have read an article about how hundreds of whiskeys on the market today are, in fact, distilled at MGP and that many of those companies are not honest about their whiskeys’ provenance.  In some cases, people cannot believe that a company that sells extracted starches, textured plant proteins and cleaning products could also make such great whiskey. I’m here to tell you, this is as American as apple pie. (Apple pie is originally European, too, by the way…We imported its recipe the same way we imported our distilling traditions.) To be clear, MGP Ingredients (also referred to by...

Potential in Pennsylvania

Potential in Pennsylvania

Picture a seed in your mind. It’s small. Even sitting in the palm of your hand, it doesn’t seem like much. But for all its unassuming nature, make no mistake, that seed holds powerful potential. Grind it, smash it, plant it, grow it, soak it. The seed is a food. It can multiply itself when planted and grown. A seed can be ground into flour. Its versatility has literally changed mankind from hunter-gatherer to farmer through its cultivation. In our modern times, its importance gets lost amongst high tech gadgets, ultra-capacity food distribution and light speed communication. Just for a moment, I want to reset and refocus our attention back on the humble seed and its unlimited potential. It is not just a food stuff, it is an economic powerhouse. The creation of...

The Cost of Prohibition for Pennsylvania

The Cost of Prohibition for Pennsylvania

While it is slowly becoming common knowledge that Pennsylvania is the birthplace of American whiskey, I’m often asked, ”Why is Pennsylvania only now showing signs of distilling life again?” The truth lies in the duration and aftermath of Prohibition. In 1899, there were close to 965 distilleries in the country with about 400 of them located in Pa. By 1914, that number had been reduced to 434, and by Prohibition, there were only 27-33 left. (ref.- http://www.bottlebooks.com/american%20medicinal%20spirits%20company/american_medicinal_spirits_compa.htm) Consolidation and the shuttering of so many distilleries left the distilling industry on the brink of collapse. The reality was that the political will and capital that remained in support of distilling would begin...

Summer 2016 PA Distillery Tour #10- Maggie’s Farm Rum Distillery, Pittsburgh, Pa

Summer 2016 PA Distillery Tour #10- Maggie’s Farm Rum Distillery, Pittsburgh, Pa

Her Jamaican rum And when she did come, I asked her for some.            -Bob Dylan, lyrics from 4th Time Around Usually, my interest lies in American whiskey. But before there was whiskey in America, there was rum. The American Revolution’s roots are drenched in it. Rum was the drink of colonial America. It was considered a necessity by early colonists, so when the British heavily taxed molasses (the Molasses Act of 1733) and sugar cane (the Sugar Act of 1764), the colonists were furious. Rum was used as currency in trades with the Native Americans and was used as exchange in the triangle trade/slave trade (rum exchanged for slaves in Africa, slaves exchanged for labor in the Caribbean for use in sugar cane production, sugar cane shipped to be made into rum, and...

Learning From History

Learning From History

I strongly believe that those of us that don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it. That goes for ourselves and our nation. The only amendment to the Constitution of the United States that diminished our freedom was the 18th Amendment. It took almost 100 years to fan the flames of temperance into the fire of alcohol prohibition in our country. The road to Prohibition, it seems, may have been paved with good intentions, but a very vocal few, ultimately, determined the fate of America in the early twentieth century. Many things factored into our country adopting Prohibition as the law of the land. Right up until the Industrial Revolution in the late 19th century, drinking water was still not widely available. Digging deep, freshwater wells would need the...

“Old Hickory” and “The Hickoryites”

“Old Hickory” and “The Hickoryites”

Andrew Jackson was an interesting character. He was born to Scots-Irish immigrants (most likely landing first in Philadelphia) somewhere between the border of North and South Carolina in 1767. He was an orphan without siblings by the age of 14. His eldest brother, Hugh, died during the Revolution and his other brother, Robert, died of smallpox after he and Andrew had been held captives of the British. You can imagine how losing your family at so young an age would begin to harden the man. Jackson may not have come from wealth, but his years as a frontier lawyer down in Tennessee certainly changed that. He would go on to have a distinguished career as a lawyer, a judge, a politician and a land speculator. His purchase of the Hermitage, his plantation near...

Booz and Booze

Booz and Booze

  Where does the word “booze” come from?  I’ll begin by telling the truth, but let me tell you a Philadelphia story, too. Let me start by saying that it is an adaption of the middle Dutch word “būsen”, which means “to drink to excess”, into the middle English word “bousen” in the 14th century.  The use of the English word “booze” didn’t appear in writing until the 17th century.  There are other options for the possible origins of the word from Germany, but the Dutch seems the most likely.  Though it is often dismissed, as a Philadelphian, I cannot dismiss the possibility that E.G. Booz had something to do with the term being used more often… Edmund G.Booz was born in 1824 in Bristol, PA in Bucks County.  He was a very successful liquor merchant that...