History of Prohibition Era Rye

The History of Whiskey

Origins, Facts, laws, & purity

4000 year history of whiskey

ORIGINS, FACTS, LAWS, AND PURITY The History of Whiskey – Whiskey and the principle of distillation had not been established until reasonably recently. Innovation evolved in many ways, at various periods, came to mean specific things to multiple artisans. For starters, around 2500 years ago, Greek sailors boiled ocean water for a drink. About 2100 years ago, the same method of extracting spirit from wine was popular. The Greek people used a kind of stuff jar, which was lined with a pot. The wine they produced was such a great idea that it really should be proclaimed, just it led to the birth of all of our great tasting spirits today

Nevertheless, in the attractive family tree history of hard liquors, these spirits are just young geezers, with a little ancient-history in them. There is no clear documentation of alcohol distillation before the Salerno School of Southern Italy was dabbling in the 12th century. Five thousand years after the brewing of barley beer and 6,000 years after the first oxidation of the wine. Even then, it is not apparent how ordinary distillation was in the overall population. The Fractionation techniques developed during the high renaissance between the 8th and 13th centuries AD. Yet it is due to the monasteries, the traditional giants of wisdom that these methods have been retained established, and disseminated in Europe.

Where did whiskey really come from?

Both Ireland and Scotland claim to have given birth to whiskey. But, as food writer Kate Hopkins notes in her book Drams of Whiskey, neither country has definitive proof. “Ask an academic,” she writes, “… and he or she is likely to shrug and mumble, ‘Hell if I know. That part of the world wasn’t too keen on keeping records of who was doing what.’” The making of liquor dates back to at least 800 AD when Arab chemist Abu Musa Jabir IBN Haiyan was carrying out distillation, the purifying of a beverage made via fermentation (i.e. beer, wine, or hard cider). The wine was already being distilled around the world when physicians tried distilling beer in either Ireland or Scotland (or both), according to the late English whiskey writer Michael Jackson. In his book Whiskey The Definitive World Guide, he explains that a family of physicians, the MacVeys (a.k.a… the Batons), translated medical texts from the Arab world whose secrets of distillation resulted in the first whiskey creations. As doctors, the MacVeys/Batons served both Ireland and Scotland, which is why whiskey’s exact origins remain murky. Let’s just call it a tie. (

Significant Historical Events

History timeline of whiskey

Throughout its history whiskey has played an important parts in our lives, below are an account of historical events that shaped its future worldwide.

2000 BC

Arguably, the art of distillation was founded in ancient Mesopotamia (the modern-day equivalent is an area covering parts of Iraq and Syria), often used as a way to produce perfumes and aromatics.

100 AD

Here we find the first written record of distilling. Ancient Greek philosopher Alexander of Aphrodisias describes the process of taking seawater and distilling it into pure drinking water. Medieval civilizations evolved their techniques over the following centuries, although still not resulting in alcohol.

500-1000 AD

Knowledge of distillation spread to Europe along with the traveling Moors of the early first millennia. The process is picked up by those in the Christian religion, using it to produce ingredients for various ceremonies, and also medicines for colic, palsy, and smallpox.

1000-1200 AD

The origin of whiskey began over 1000 years ago when distillation made the migration from mainland Europe into Scotland and Ireland via traveling monks. The Scottish and Irish monasteries, lacking the vineyards and grapes of the continent, turn to ferment grain mash, resulting in the first distillations of modern whisky. Aqua vitae /?ækw? ?vi?tæ/ (Latin for “water of life”) or aqua vita is an archaic name for a concentrated aqueous solution of ethanol. The term was in wide use during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, although its origin is likely much earlier. This Latin term appears in a wide array of dialectical forms throughout all lands and people conquered by ancient Rome. Generally, the term is a generic name for all types of distillates and eventually came to refer specifically to distillates of alcoholic beverages (liquors). Aqua vitae was typically prepared by distilling wine; it was sometimes called “spirits of wine” in English texts, a name for brandy that had been repeatedly distilled. Aqua vitae was often an etymological source of terms applied to important locally produced distilled spirits. Examples include whisky (from the Gaelic use breath), eau de vie in France, aquavit in Italy, and akvavit in Scandinavia, okowita in Poland, ??????? (okovyta) in Ukraine, ??????? (akavita) in Belarus, and ??????? (yakovita) in southern Russian dialects.


Around this time, the earliest records of alcohol distillation appear in Italy, with it being distilled from wine. The technique was recounted by Ramon Llull (1232 – 1315).


The first written record of ‘whisky’ appears in the Irish Annals of Clonmacnoise, where it was written that the head of a clan died after “taking a surfeit [excessive amount] of aqua vitae” (whiskey) at Christmas.


By this time, the distilling of whisky in Scotland is fully underway, as evident by a record in the Exchequer Rolls of 1494 by Mr. Marshall Robb; where King James IV of Scotland granted a large amount of malt “To Friar John Cor, by order of the king, to make aqua vitae.”


The art of distillation spread to Scotland and Ireland no later than the 15th century, as did the common European practice of distilling “aqua vitae”, spirit alcohol, primarily for medicinal purposes.


The production of whisky shifted to the general public, after King Henry VIII of England dissolved the monasteries, making a large number of monks independent and looking for new ways to make a living. Distillation was it.


As the European colonists began to arrive in America, they brought with them the practice of distilling whiskey. Many Scottish and Irish immigrants settled in their new territories, eventually beginning to distill their new types of grains and mash.


The Old Bushmills Distillery is licensed in Northern Ireland, and today holds the title of The oldest licensed whiskey distillery in the world.

1707 - 1725

The English Malt Tax of 1725 seriously threatens the production of whisky. Scottish distilleries begin producing whisky at night, giving it one of its oldest (and finest) nicknames: moonshine.


After many years of producing their own whiskey, and seeing its value to the general population, distillers often used whiskey as a currency during the American Revolutionary War. After the revolutionary war, General and now President George Washington was famous for opening his Mt. Vernon rye whiskey distillery, and at its time produced over 300,000 barrels of rye whiskey a year.


The first commercial distillery is founded in Louisville, Kentucky on the banks of the Ohio River by Evan Williams.


A new excise was introduced to help fund debt from the Revolutionary War. Import duties were already high, and so an excise tax on domestically produced distilled spirits was levied – the first of it’s kind by the new national government. Although the tax applied to distilled spirits of any kind, whiskey was the most popular, and so the excise became commonly known as the “Whiskey Tax.”


The ensuing unrest between grain farmers and the US government was soon dubbed the “Whiskey Rebellion“. Farmers were used to distilling their surplus grains into whiskey and a united protest gathered speed, particularly in the western counties of Pennsylvania where federal officials were intimidated in order to deny collection of the tax. The rebellion came to a turning point in July 1794 when the home of tax inspector General John Neville was attacked by nearly 600 armed men. President Washington responded by sending in a militia force of around 13,000 to march west and meet any resistance with force. The rebels disbanded before their arrival, key leaders fled to safety, and the mass protesting came to an end in 1794.


George Washington starts producing whiskey at his Mt. Vernon distillery.


While the physical rebellion halted, opposition to the Whiskey Tax continued and became a significant issue in following political elections. The newly formed Democratic-Republican Party, led by Thomas Jefferson, would pledge to repeal the tax if voted into power, and when Jefferson took office in 1801, he did just that.


A certain Scottish grocer named John Walker began producing his own whisky, which would become one of the most famous and most widely distributed brands of Scotch whisky in the world. John Walker himself was a teetotaler.


In 1823, the UK passed the Excise Act, legalizing the distillation (for a fee), and this put a practical end to the large-scale production of Scottish moonshine. The United Kingdom brought “moonshine” production to an end when they gave Scottish distilleries an option to legalize their operations by paying a fee. The process that is sour mash was developed by Dr. James C. Crow at what is now the Woodford Reserve Distillery in Kentucky. In the process, an amount of spent mash is added to a new mash, and the balance of acid and live yeast that is contained controls the growth of foreign bacteria, improving consistency between batches so that every bottle is as close to the previous as possible. This revolutionized the way in which bourbon is made, and is also a current legal requirement when producing Tennessee whiskey.


After inventing a “continuous still” and improving the technology involved in distillation, Irish inventor Aeneas Coffey patented the Coffey still, allowing manufacturers to produce whiskey more efficiently, and at a lower cost.


Old Bourbon County had been producing “Old Bourbon County Whiskey” for some years; the name was used to differentiate it from other whiskeys because Old Bourbon was the first corn whiskey that most people had come across. It wasn’t until 1840 that it was officially given the name Bourbon when a distiller by the name of Jacob Spears was the first to label his product as “Bourbon whiskey.“


The first blended whisky comes into production. Andrew Usher mixed traditional pot still whiskey with that of a new batch produced in a Coffey still. Usher met stubborn resistance from traditional Irish distillers, many of whom claimed that this new blend was not whisky at all. Still, his company became the first to produce and mass-market a bottled blended scotch, and even became a popular import in the U.S…………… after finding distribution with Nicholas & Co. in 1853.


For 13 years, the American Prohibition era banned all production, sale, and use of alcohol. However, the federal government made an exception: the prescription of medicinal whiskey from a doctor, to be sold through a licensed pharmacy. (During this same time-frame, the pharmacy chain Wallgreens used this to their advantage, growing from 20 stores to nearly 400.)


The French brandy industry was devastated by the phylloxera pest that ruined much of the grape crop; as a result, whisky became the primary liquor in many markets.


WWII stops whiskey production because capital and grains were going toward the war effort.


Bourbon really hit the big time, as American Congress declared bourbon whiskey the country’s official distilled spirit. They also laid out the specific regulations that are to be met in order to label a whiskey as bourbon.


Whiskey sales decline as liquors like vodka become more popular.


Vodka sales are higher than whiskey sales in the U.S…………… for the first time ever. Since 1973 the price of a bottle of whisky, including the Excise Duty, has been subject to a Value Added Tax.


In 1995, for the first time in one hundred years, the tax on Scotch whisky was reduced. The duty fell from £ 5.77 to £ 5.54 a bottle (70 cl).


In 1996, the tax on Scotch whisky was again reduced.


The American Whiskey Trail is launched to promote many of the historical sites and operating distilleries in Kentucky, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and New York.


The Rye Whiskey makes a huge comeback in the American and overseas markets. From declines to over 600% growth yearly in sales from 2005 to present.

The above timeline was sourced from by Bottleneck Management.

No yeast Additives or shortcuts

Highland Scottish Scotch

Scotch While all whiskeys are produced from the fermentation process grain mixture, Scotch will be another outlier. For it to be labeled a scotch, the liquor should be produced from buckwheat flour, with many scotches containing nothing but wheat, water, and yeast. You also include thought the entire grains of other dairy products as well as butterscotch coloration. No yeast additives or shortcuts are permitted. The essence should also be stored in bourbon barrels for not less than three years and should have an ABV of less than 94.8%. You can’t call your cocktail merlot except when it’s made 100% in Glasgow, Scotland.

Matured for no less than two years

French Bourbon

Bourbon’s history is produced from a grain blend containing 51 percent corn. The fermented cycle for this combination is sometimes begun by adding in any grain with an older marinating pot, a method regarded as sour mash. Bourbon could only be branded like Bourbon because it is manufactured in the U.S…………… although its namesake carries pre- French roots.

Although the guidelines for Bourbon are much looser than for Scotch, they still have to deal with a few rules. The liquor must also be diluted to not upwards of 80 percent alcohol (160 proof) and not more than 62.5 percent when placed in aged barrels in new oak barrels. Bourbon may not have a fixed aging time, but to label the drink pure bourbon, it must be matured for no less than two years (and may not have applied any decoration, taste, or other spirits). Mixed Bourbon is allowed to incorporate decoration, flavoring, and other ingredients, as long as 51% of the blend is pure corn.

scent, flavor, and quality

American Rye Whiskey

Through the history of rye whiskey. Rye is the most complicated of all spirits to describe. The explanation is the traditional naming convention for Rye produced in the Northern United States. However, one would believe that Rye liquor must be provided exclusively from Rye mash that is not always the case. America has processed Rye for as long as the nation has lived, and the bulk of the mixture has traditionally been made up of Rye mixture. The only requirement to mark the liquor as Rye in the United States is that it has 51% rye grain in the mixture. It has the scent, flavor, and quality usually assigned to a class on its own, whatever it might be. United States whiskey must be produced from a mixture consisting of not less than 51% corn hence the word or phrase “Corn Whiskey”. Certain widely used foods contain maize and barley. Like Whiskey, it must be matured in charred new oak barrels diluted to ABV less than 80 percent (and as Whiskey, it must not be higher than 62.5 percent when applied to the cask). Also, like Bourbon, only Rye, who is more than two years old, is considered aged and pure.

Shinjiro Torii & Masataka Taketsuru

Japanese Whiskey

Two of the most compelling figures in the history of Japanese whisky are Shinjiro Torii and Masataka Taketsuru. Torii was a pharmaceutical distributor and the organizer of Kotobukiya (later to become Suntory). He began bringing in western alcohol and he later made a brand called “Academe Port Wine”, in view of a Portuguese wine that made him an effective shipper. In any case, he was not happy with this achievement thus he set out on another endeavor which was to turn into his all-consuming purpose: making Japanese whisky for Japanese individuals. In spite of the solid restriction from the organization’s chiefs, Torii chose to construct the primary Japanese whisky refinery in Yamazaki, a suburb of Kyoto, a territory so renowned for its brilliant water that the unbelievable tea ace Sen no Rikyū fabricated his coffee bar there.

Once the most popular spirit in the world

Irish Whiskey

Irish whiskey was once the most popular spirit in the world, though a long period of decline from the late 19th century onwards greatly damaged the industry. [1] So much so that although Ireland boasted over 30 distilleries in the 1890s, a century later, this number had fallen to just three.

Irish whiskey has seen a resurgence in popularity since the late twentieth century and has been the fastest-growing spirit in the world every year since 1990.(

“The Water of Life” Whiskey

Whiskey Taxation

Know Some types of Whiskey are tightly taxed; some are not. For starters, Bourbon may follow some requirements to have its word on the bottle. On the other side, generically called “blended “Whiskey may be made everywhere, utilizing whatever products or processing methods. Growing type often has its features, which draw consumers with different flavors.

“The water of life” and its History – Know Some types of Whiskey are tightly taxed; some are not. For starters, Bourbon may follow some requirements to have its word on the bottle. On the other side, generically called “blended “Whiskey. May be produced everywhere, utilizing whatever products or processing methods. Growing type often has its features, which draw consumers with different flavors.

But rye whiskey falls into an interesting text.

Although a whiskey in America, rye whiskey is classified as only to be called rye if the spirit was distilled with rye of up to 51%. and whiskey at 51% corn, but it has become so confusing top whiskey drinkers. Due to the fact that historically, “straight rye” is a whiskey. Most whiskies are sold at or near an alcoholic strength of 40% abv, which is the statutory minimum in some countries – although the strength can vary, and cask-strength whisky may have as much as twice that alcohol percentage. The percentage of NGS must be disclosed on the label and maybe as much at 80% on a proof gallon basis. Distilled alcoholic beverages that are labeled as “whisky” in India are commonly blends based on neutral spirits that are distilled from fermented molasses with only a small portion consisting of traditional malt whisky, usually about 10% to 12%.

The triangle trade was broken, but by that time, whiskey was well on its way to becoming the native spirit of the United States.

The Early Years of American Whiskey In 1777, the newly formed United States of America adopted the Stars and Stripes as the Continental Congress flag, and George Washington was concerned that his troops didn’t have enough liquor.

Rye Whiskey: This is no regional label for rye whiskey, but most of it is produced in North America. Alternatively, it relies on rye use; lesser amounts of specific crops can often be included. Your true American Rye whiskey seems to be loud and sweet.

It is distilled throughout the world, most popularly in Ireland, Scotland, the United States, Canada, and Japan. (

American Whiskey Tax and the introduction of Kentucky whiskey

Starting out with the Whiskey Tax or federal excise tax, was just the first of many acts that started an all-out whiskey rebellion of the American whiskey drinkers in the United States. Ruling political parties after George Washington distillery was producing over 300k barrels a year which saw a need for whiskey tax reform.

New Americans had no points to pay on the closing, no smooth broker taking a percentage, and no rent to pay until the Revolutionary War ended (The Treaty of Paris, September 3, 1783).

James Hamilton had estimated the current national debt at about $54 million, and on July 1, 1791, the government started to enforce an excise tax on all spirits–imported and domestic.

During the year before his death in 1799, it has been estimated that Washington earned a considerable profit from his distillery, and had upwards of 150 gallons of whiskey left in storage.

By 1820, over 25 percent of the total U.S…………… population lived west of the Appalachians, and by that time, steamboats had replaced the flatboats and were plying the Mississippi laden with Kentucky whiskey.

According to Oscar Getz in Whiskey, An American Pictorial History, by 1860, on a per-capita basis, Americans were drinking over 28 percent more spirits than they had consumed just a decade earlier. The jugs most often were of the “little brown jug how I love thee” variety–glazed stoneware in sizes ranging from one to five gallons* 1 pint. 100 proof (50 percent alcohol.) It also stated that only straight whiskey could be bonded (although distillates other than whiskey–rum, for instance–that met the requirements could also be “Bottled in Bond”).

Due to the whiskey excise tax over 12,000 saloons had been closed “by various means” in the year 1909, and over 41 million Americans were living in “dry” territories.

The U.S…………… population in 1909 was about 90.5 million; therefore, if the League’s statistics were accurate, over 45 percent of the country already was dry in 1910. (

London Spirits Competition

London Spirits Competition

Alcohol banned in united states

History of American prohibition

Prohibition Era Destruction of Rye Whiskey Stills
Prohibition Era Destruction of Rye Whiskey Stills

What is Prohibition?

The restriction was an effort to ban the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages. The agitation for legalization started mainly as a political revolution in the early late nineteenth century – the state of Maine enacted the first State Legalization Act in 1846, and the Cannabis Party was founded in 1869. The campaign attracted traction in the 1880s and 1890s from reformists who saw alcohol as the source of misery, industrial injuries, and family break-up; others correlated liquor with urban refugee ghettos, violence, and government corruption. This was also targeted at breweries, many of them of German origin. Limitations on the manufacture of alcohol were first introduced as a war effort in 1918. The ban was firmly formed with the passage of the eighteenth amendment in 1919 and its introduction from January 1920 onwards.

When did Prohibition come into force?

The 18th constitutional amendment banning the manufacturing, selling, or export of alcohol was passed by the Congress’s house in December 1917 and ratified by the requisite five-thirds of the States on 16 January 1919. The Law was passed under the National disability discrimination act in October 1919. In compliance with the terms of the Law, the ban ended on 17 January 1920. The action described ‘addicting liquor’ as something comprising half of one percent alcohol by volume while enabling the selling of alcohol for medical, ritual purity, or business uses.

Protesters march in defiance against prohibition.
Protesters march in defiance against prohibition.
prohibition begins
Enforcement of Prohibition by Law Enforcement

How Prohibition was enforced, & how successful was its enforcement?

The American Revolution and the racial integrity Act is enacted more quickly than followed. Doctors were permitted to administer alcohol for ‘medicinal’ uses and to purchase it themselves for ‘laboratory’ usage, though both of these words were poorly understood. The selling of ‘sacramental liquor’ has risen dramatically since the early years of the prohibitions. Private ownership or use of alcohol itself was not unlawful, so while more People began to consume alcoholic drinks, offenders jumped in to satisfy the demand through illicit means.

Where there were pubs and saloons in the past, there were also unregulated drinking dens known as ‘speakeasies’ or ‘blind pigs,’ which were projected to be about 200,000 by the end of the decade. Individuals have often made their illegal alcohol called ‘moonshine,’ ‘bath-tub liquor’ called home-brewed malt. Therefore, the Law’s regulation has proved to be extremely challenging for local police forces and the Drug regulation or the Federal Division “The G-Men”. The agency at its height was comprised of about 3,000 officers who had to patrol the sea and land boundaries with Canada and Mexico to avoid piracy, as well as prosecute the illicit domestic exportation of alcohol in the world overall.

Prohibition Comes to an End

The premium cost of bootleg beer ensured that the upper and poor people were much more limited during the Prohibition than the middle or high-class Americans. And as the expenses of police forces, correctional facilities spiraled upward, the enthusiasm for Prohibition diminished by the end of the 1920s. Throughout comparison, conservative and nativism groups exercised a more significant influence of the temperance movement, alienating the more liberal leaders.

Although the world mired in the Great Depression of 1932, generating employment and profits by regulating the beer business has an overwhelming appeal. Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt stood for President with a program advocating for the end of Prohibition that year and comfortably secured a win over former leader Herbert Hoover. The success of the FDR represented the Depression’s culmination, and in February 1933, the Senate approved a bill supporting the 21st chapter to the Constitution, which would replace the 18th. The invoice was sent to the States, and Utah provided the 36th and final vote required for adoption in December 1933. While a few states managed to outlaw alcohol after Prohibition, by 1966, they had all changed its policy.

Destruction of barrels of beer by authorities.
Destruction of barrels of beer by authorities.
Iowa Legendary Rye History

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