What Is It About Distillers and Artists?

What is it about distillers and chefs and artists? Why can they be so difficult to work with? I read an article recently about Chip Tate (creator of Balcones) and his wild temper. It made me think about the frustration of artists in a business world. There are always stories in the restaurant industry about pots being thrown in the kitchen and hot tempers that rival the oven temperatures. We’ve all heard the stories of the directors in Hollywood that aggravate others working on the film. Artists can be difficult to deal with because they want it done their way. After all, it is their vision and they see it done in a specific way. The artist is happy to work alone and hone their craft. The fact is that art is often great because it is the vision of one person, and...

George Washington’s Rye Whiskey

Did you know that at the time our first President passed away, he owned the largest distillery in the country? George Washington was not a whiskey drinker, but he was impressed with whiskey as a financial investment. Washington’s farm manager in the 1790’s was James Anderson, a Scottish immigrant with experience in distilling. It was Anderson that convinced the former President to begin making rye whiskey and once Washington saw the profits, the distillery expanded. By 1799, the Mt. Vernon distillery was producing about 11,000 gallons of whiskey a year. George Washington was very familiar with the desire for whiskey throughout our newly established country. As a general, he knew that whiskey was a necessity for troops. Each soldier in 1785 was given a 4 oz....

9-11 was 14 years ago…

9-11 was 14 years ago…

9-11. It occurred to me that a lot of young people that are just turning 21 and are now of legal drinking age were 7 years old when those planes hit the World Trade Center’s north and south towers. Second graders. Maybe this realization is so shocking to me because it doesn’t seem possible that it could’ve happened so many years ago. For those of us that were of legal drinking age on September 11, 2001, that night, though sobering, may have required a drink. I remember the bar I went to and the beer I was drinking 14 years ago when President George W. Bush addressed the nation to inform the American people that we were going to war. Tonight, I will raise a glass of special whiskey with my brother. He just returned from Basrah, Iraq last Friday. It’s...

Abraham Lincoln. Tavern Owner?

Abraham Lincoln.  Tavern Owner?

Did you know that Abraham Lincoln was a tavern owner? Abraham Lincoln was born and raised in Kentucky. His father, Thomas, was a cooper and carpenter. In 1816, his father sold his farm for 10 barrels of whiskey and $20 and moved his family to Indiana. In 1830, when Lincoln was 21, they moved again to Decatur, Illinois. Around 1833, Lincoln, William Berry and Joe Bowling Green opened a tavern in New Salem, Illinois. Berry said of Lincoln, ” he did work the latter part of one winter in a little still house, up at the head of a hollow.” They charged 1 bit for a whiskey (a common coin at the time was the Spanish bit worth 12 1/2 cents. 2 bits was 25 cents). Lincoln’s exposure to liquor as a tavern keeper may have had an effect on his thoughts on...

Let’s Have a Dram

Let’s Have a Dram

Sunday.  Here’s a great quote from Henry David Thoreau- “The gods who are most interested in the human race preside over the tavern. The tavern will compare favorably with the church. The church is the place where prayers and sermons are delivered, but the the tavern is where they are to take effect, and if the former are good the latter cannot be bad…” -Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) Let’s go to the pub and have a dram…

Back to Pre-Prohibition Standards?

There’s something satisfying for me in knowing that some of the whiskeys that American distillers are producing for consumers today are similar to the whiskeys produced before prohibition. The lighter bodied post-Prohibition blends are out of fashion and the darker, fuller whiskeys have returned. People want more flavor, and, thankfully, the distilleries are responding. It only took about a century, but finally, flavor is back:) If only we still had those older trees to make our barrels with…I’d like to be able to taste more of those anise flavors that old growth barrel staves (supposedlly) gave us. Perhaps a dram of Old Forester tonight…

“The 10 August”

“The 10 August”

Today is the day historians refer to as “the 10 August.” The insurrection of 10 August 1792 was one of the defining events in the history of the French Revolution. The day of 10 August (French: journée) resulted in the fall of the French monarchy after storming the Tuileries Palace by the National Guard of the Insurrectional Paris Commune and revolutionary fédérés from Marseilles and Brittany. King Louis XVI and the royal family took shelter with the Legislative Assembly and was suspended. The formal end of the monarchy occurred six weeks later. Have a dram of Bastille for revolutionaries today! (The storming of the Bastille happened in Paris the morning of July 14,1789. Its fall was the flashpoint of the French Revolution.)

The Beam Family Tree

A serious family tree for a serious whiskey family. The whiskey industry owes a dept to this prolific family. Let’s hope they continue to bring new distillers and managers and the like into the industry for a long time to...