The Social History of Bourbon
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The distinctive beverage of the Western world, bourbon is Kentucky's illustrious gift to the world of spirits. Although the story of American whiskey is recorded in countless lively pages of our nation's history, the place of bourbon in the American cultural record has long awaited detailed and objective presentation. Not a recipe book or a barman's guide, but a fascinating and informative contribution to Americana, The Social History of Bourbon reflects an aspect of our national cultural identity that many have long suppressed or overlooked. Gerald Carson explores the impact of the liquor's presence during America's early development, as well as bourbon's role in some of the more dramatic events in American history, including the Whiskey Rebellion, the scandals of the Whiskey Ring, and the "whiskey forts" of the fur trade. The Social History of Bourbon is a revealing look at the role of this classic beverage in the development of American manners and culture.
every business and condition in life." Less prescient than Brown, most distillers failed to read their future, secure in the belief that there were some things that were permanent in this changing world-good land, good family, the Democratic Party, White Supremacy and Old Line Sour Mash whiskey. Surely, for a time, the path of a bourbon baron lay in pleasant places, with his Southdown sheep and blooded cattle scattered over his broad acres, the smoke rising above the trees around his stillhouse,
The "free" 'stiller's operating costs were low. He used crude, inexpensive equipment and the cheapest materials. The processes were essentially the same as those employed by the legitimate industry. There were, of course, no refined tech- 104 THE SOCIAL HISTORY OF BOURBON niques of quality control and no interest in by-product recovery. The moonshiner prepared his coarse meal or chicken middlings in an open barrel. Sugar was added to hurry up the fermentation, for speed was essential to the
forever afterward without visible means of support. The Company insisted i't was not involved. The case was just something the management read about in the papers, probably the work of "anarchists." "We have heard of it so much it has come to be a kind of chestnut with us," President Greenhut told a Congressional Committee engaged in investigating the Trust in 1893. A wily and reluctant witness, Greenhut, when asked about his knowledge of trusts in general, said that he attended only to his own
then being sold annually "in its original integrity," while 105,000,000 gallons were used for mixing purposes in beverages which contained from three gallons of aged whiskey to each twenty gallons of grain spirits, down to practically no whiskey at all. This grade of goods involved some rather simple work in the basement wi th ethyl alcohol, concentrated Essence of Bourbon, prune juice, a dash of fusel oil and a mysterious something in a bottle labeled "Body and Age Preparation." In a matter of
and it used to be said that for every missionary sent out to Christianize Africa, ten thousand gallons of rum went along for more secular purposes. The arduous occupations of lumbering, coopering, shipbuilding, grubbing out the farms, fishing on the Grand Banks all called for strong drink to wash down the Indian corn and salt provisions. So did the rigors of the American climate. Rum, and later whiskey, offered an attractive form of central heating. The status of ardent spirits was clearly