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...

There Were No “Old” American Whiskeys Before 1958…

Did you know that there were no American whiskeys over 8 years old before 1958? Modern perceptions are that older whiskey is better whiskey. That is purely a marketing scheme. Picture the whiskey industry after WWII. The few distilleries that remained after prohibition had been successful with pulling themselves out of a whiskey drought by producing massive amounts of young whiskey and blending older stocks with neutral grain spirits. People were drinking straight whiskey again and the whiskey industry was successful until WWII ended production in order to massively produce ethanol for the war effort. The whiskey monopolies (including Schenley) were experiencing another whiskey shortage due to the war. Jump to the beginning of 1950 and the build up to the Korean...

Whiskey Production Finally Rebounds to Pre-Prohibition Numbers…

It may seem like an enormous amount of whiskey is being produced in the United States right now. That may be true, but we’re only just catching up to production levels before that great, failed experiment of Prohibition. In 1911, about 105 million gallons (400 million liters) of whiskey were produced. The highest level of whiskey production was reached in the 1951 at about 212 million gallons. It will take a lot more whiskey to reach that amount again! At the end of Prohibition, there were only about one million gallons of aged whiskey stocks in storage warehouses. The American public was consuming about 100 million gallons a year of spirits! Most whiskey producers could not afford to return to the market, so the few companies that were financially viable in the...