What defines whisk(e)y?

What defines whisk(e)y?

So what determines what whisk(e)y is anyway? Government laws and regulations do. They have changed over the years, but as whiskey becomes a larger contributor to government budgets (through taxes) the government tends to take a larger interest. It is no great surprise that the government would take such an interest. Before Prohibition in the United States, taxes on whiskey alone accounted for 1/2 of national revenue! (There is an argument to be made that Prohibition caused the Great Depression…) Keeping your “native spirit” under domestic control is important not only to maintain its integrity, but also to maintain its tax contributions. There are so many differences in laws relating to whiskey that the only real connection that whiskey has throughout the...

The Whiskey Wars

Maybe you’ve heard about the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794, but the Whiskey Wars? October, and conversations with people about pre-Prohibition whiskeys, got me thinking about the Whiskey Wars. They began in October of 1869 when army veterans found nine stills in an alley after a knife fight. There were many many illegal stills in NYC at the time and most of them were located in Vinegar Hill or “Irishtown.” Distilling was legal at the time, but the problem wasn’t with whiskey, it was with taxes. Distillers hadn’t seen their whiskey taxed from 1817 until 1862 and had become used to their profits. The Civil War created a desperate need for government revenue and taxes went from zero to 20 cents per 100-proof gallon. By 1868 it had gone up to $2.00 which is equal to $30...

Jefferson’s Whiskey?

Jefferson’s Whiskey?

Thomas Jefferson may have a whiskey named after him, but maybe not for the reasons you think… When the Jefferson’s brand of whiskey was launched in 1997, the brand said that Trey Zoeller chose the name Jefferson’s “because the bourbon was inspired by Thomas Jefferson’s curiosity, experimental spirit and good taste.” When Reid Mitenbuler (author of Bourbon Empire) asked Zoeller admitted, “I had no marketing budget. I simply wanted a recognizable face associated with history and tradition.” Even if the whiskey wasn’t thoughtfully named after Jefferson, the history of his association with and his connection to whiskey is interesting… After the Revolutionary War, the country (the government) needed revenue to pull itself out of...

Larceny is the new Old Fitzgerald?

The Larceny brand of bourbon by Heaven Hill is a nod to the legend of John Fitzgerald… Max Shapiro’s daughter, Kate Shapiro Latts, is the business savvy designer of the marketing behind Larceny. Who doesn’t love a good story? (Not to mention a great label) During the Civil War, the Internal Revenue Act of 1862 authorized the Federal government to impose a temporary excise tax on distilled spirits. This act was intended “to provide Internal Revenue to support the Government and to pay Interest on the Public Debt.” The act created the positions of storekeeper and gaugers. Storekeepers oversaw the administrative operations, including records and tax filings. They oversaw physical operations and controlled access to the grains, still,...

Possible Origin for the Word “Whiskey”?

I discovered a new option for where the word “WHISKEY” may have originated… The word “whisk” (Scotch: quhiske)- to move rapidly, to go lightly-is the word given to to light chase apparently invented by the Scots-Irish whiskey smugglers to escape tax collectors! The King’s law required that all liquors be transported in barrels of sixty gallons or more. Taxes could then be placed on the liquor and the size of the wagon transporting the liquor. The smugglers would use small, one horse wagons and put their liquor in smaller 5 or 10 gallon barrels to travel swiftly over the moors and less used roads to escape detection. The “whiskeys”, or fast moving delivery carts, as they were called would’ve been well known by...