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...