Why Was the Taft Decision Necessary?

(Hint: It’s Not Necessarily Why You’d Think…) Rectifiers VS. Straight Whiskey Interests To understand why the Taft Decision was so important to the whiskey industry, one must first understand why it was necessary to begin with. And NO- it was not to decide the definition of “straight whiskey.” The reason the Taft Decision was necessary at all was because the definition of “whiskey” was being hijacked. This will not be a popular statement, but…the people hijacking the definition were the lobbyists FOR straight bourbon. Since the earliest days of whiskey-making in America, there were rectifiers. Early on, so much of the whiskey being made in pot stills was inconsistent and flawed so many retail establishments began blending and refining the...

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...