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Monday, January 11, 2010

What happened to John Barleycorn?

I was reading about Rip Van Winkle. Thought perhaps he was related to Ed Winkle but Ed has way too much energy. I discovered that Old Rip Van Winkle is a premium bourbon which is made from corn, wheat, barley instead of corn, rye, and barley. They say this gives a smoother flavor and ages better.
And it would appear that all the old distilleries are gone. If you have a taste for copper kettle brewed old Crow you are out of luck as the distillery closed down 30 years ago...
So, should you have a taste for 30 year-old bourbon you are most likely still drinking the real stuff, brewed in distilleries that could date back to the War of Northern Aggression. The 20-year old stuff probably came from a modern facility with lots of stainless steel, OSHA approved hand rails and none of the dead rats and bird poop and rust and what ever nasty stuff made the old whiskey so good.
It would appear that Jack Daniel's owns the remaining distilleries but my attention span is short and I guess you can type word in the Google search engine just as well as I can...
In a side note, there are small distilleries that have been started in recent years. I suppose a craft industry for whiskey has started up with the loss of the legendary old distilleries. I planted for a local fellow who has built a distillery on his little 40 acre farm. He keeps it kind of quiet. It is legal and everything, but I couldn't get a tour the last time I was there.


  1. Check out Templeton Rye. Originally distilled in sheds and hog houses in western Iowa after WW1, bottled and stored in post holes. Saved a lot of family farms in the thirties. Direct connection to Chicago, Al Capone called it 'the good stuff'. Last I knew, the ancient guy who was still hand numbering the labels was in on the early years. Seems to have been a wink wink, we'll catch you next time relationship with local law enforcement. Being made to the old recipe, they can't keep up with demand.

  2. Like every other American business, I'm sure that it's over-taxation and over-regulation that has destroyed the old-time distilling industry. Even the Whiskey Rebellion (no longer taught in schools) was about taxation, favoring politically connected distillers and stealing the land of the farmers who had no other way to pay their property taxes. Gee, government hasn't changed much in two centuries, has it?

  3. nor could we get that free drink that we really looking for.

  4. It's the story of modern America ain't it. Sell the family business to a foregin conglomerate. Send the factory to China. The workers can go on the dole or sell junk at Walmart and the public can be inferior product for less than it cost to make the good stuff. At least there are craftsmen still making spirits and beer like your no-till customer


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