Bourbon is Not Scotch…

Bourbon is not Scotch. Silly and obvious, I know, but after reading an article where a man was blasting bourbon distilleries for removing age statements, I feel it must be said. Many bourbon drinkers today are first introduced to brown liquors through scotch. It makes sense. You grow up, you want something a little stronger and little more “top shelf”. Scotch is wonderful stuff, so you try other brown liquors and discover that bourbon is sweeter and bolder in many ways and you want to explore more…but the age statements are lower and it can’t be as good, right? Wrong. Bourbon is not Scotch. Bourbon is aged in brand new, charred oak barrels. (They don’t need to in American white oak, but they tend to be.) I usually use the analogy of...

To “E” Or Not To “E”…

To “E” Or Not To “E”…

The spelling of the word whiskey is somehow an argument… I’ve been asked this question many times, “What is the correct spelling of whiskey?” There is no correct spelling. It is the norm in the United States and Ireland to spell it whiskey. (As an American, I tend to write “whiskey”.) Other countries (Scotland, Canada, Japan, etc…) tend to favor (or is it favour?) the whisky spelling. Makers Mark, Old Forester, and George Dickel (all American whiskeys) spell their brands without the “e”. Maybe by the time we all get around to accepting the metric system, we can all finally accept one spelling for our favorite brown liquor:) There are no hard and fast rules and it is NOT the law to spell it one way or another....

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...

The Taft Decision

The Taft Decision

Did you know that President Taft is responsible for defining “what is whiskey?” E.H. Taylor with the help of John G. Carlisle, then the Secretary of the Treasury, enabled the passing of the Bottled in Bond Act of 1897 to help eliminate the widespread adulteration of whiskey. In 1906, during Teddy Roosevelt’s administration, the Pure Food and Drug Act was passed. This caused arguments between the two big whiskey producing factions, however. Harvey Wiley, the chief of the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Chemistry and a leader in passing of the Pure Food and Drug Act, believed that whiskey was a distilled spirit from grain that was aged in oak barrels with only pure water used to adjust the proof. The rectifiers, those whiskey producers...

Not All Ryes Are Created Equal…

Watch yourself here with your rye whiskey purchases. Though rye whiskey is similar to bourbon (at least 51% rye -instead of 51% corn as bourbon must be- aged in new,charred oak barrels, distilled at no more than 160 proof, at least 80 proof in the bottle and entered into barrels at 125proof), it does NOT hold the same restrictions about adding caramel coloring or additives. Bourbon is “America’s spirit” (In 1964, Congress declared bourbon an official product of the U.S.), but rye, sadly, does not hold that distinction. It can be made elsewhere and with much less attention to its integrity. Though rules about rye can be more lax than those on bourbon, if the product is a STRAIGHT RYE WHISKEY, than all the rules apply. No colorings or flavorings...

Considering the Volstead Act in Congress 100 years Ago Today

Today in history, almost a hundred years ago, Prohibition was being considered in Congress. What was to become the Volstead Act, the bill was introduced in the House as H.R. 6810 by Andrew Volstead (R–MN) on June 27, 1919. (It wouldn’t pass until October, though 38 of the 48 states were already dry.) Can you imagine that it took nearly 100 years for whiskey to make a comeback in Pennsylvania? On December 22, 2011, Governor Corbett signed House Bill No. 242 (PN2815) into law. It is now known as Act 113 and distilleries are finally making a comeback in our state! We need to support them and drive the stain of that failed experiment of prohibition out of Pennsylvania. Rye whiskey is back,...