William Hogeland's THE WHISKEY REBELLION

Check in here for reviews of whiskey related books and other materials

Moderators: Brewer, brendaj

Unread postby gillmang » Sat Jun 03, 2006 5:29 pm

Well, if Williams was Welsh, not Scots, that may explain why he exited the whiskey business in favour of bricks. :)

Seriously though, Wales, as a Celtic land, used to have a distilling tradition so it is no surprise that those Welsh who made it to America distilled, or some did.

Weller is in my opinion an English, not German, name (remember Sam Weller in one of Dicken's books, I think it was Pickwick Papers).

Of course your point may be correct, Mike. Certainly whiskey in all its plenitude and aspects was the result, ultimately, of many fused cultures (i.e., Americans) working together. But I still believe that the handed-down stories about the origins of U.S. whiskey, that it is a Scots-Irish legacy, are true, for the reasons mentioned earlier and I'd sum them up by saying that the majority of the people who settled the Appalaichan and adjoining areas in the mid-1700's up to the Revolution were Scots-Irish or Lowlands Scots or Borders English - and they all distilled. And so they left the legacy. Were that not so, why would so many writers aver that is the case particularly as the general immigration pattern in the whiskey areas would suggest it is true? For the key Scots-Irish influence on American whiskey making, the biography of Jack Daniel, "Blood and Whiskey: The Life and Times of Jack Daniel" cites Joseph Dabney's book from 1974, Mountain Spirits, and also, a book by R.J. Dickson, Ulster Immigration to Colonial America, and a number of other studies by people who seem to have no ax to grind on this issue. Anyway I am just citing part of the record that seems to support the key contribution of this major immigration group to American whiskey and its ways.

But you may be right and I repeat: I am no expert.

Gary
User avatar
gillmang
Vatman
 
Posts: 2140
Joined: Mon Jan 24, 2005 4:44 pm

Unread postby cowdery » Sat Jun 03, 2006 7:30 pm

If the Scots were so important, then why is American whiskey so unlike scotch? To me, that is the major question unanswered by your theory. If barley was scarce, they could have malted corn or wheat and dried it with wood smoke but they didn't. They made grain whiskey. In addition to the Germans, the Dutch were early in America and both made a flavored grain spirit mostly from rye.

The French, I think, were influential in aging but not in distilling, having little experience with malting or mashing.

There was plenty of barley in America but the people we're talking about also drank a lot of beer. It's possible barley was too valuable for brewing, and wheat too valuable for bread, and there not being too many uses for maize beyond livestock feed, and because the large maize kernals produced a lot of fermentable material, maize became preferred for distilling, especially in the interior where rye didn't grow as well.

As for the Lincoln County Process, rectification of spirits using charcoal or charred bone dust became common in the United States and Canada in the 1830s. Eventually, this gave way in most places to redistillation and more sophisticated stills that permitted fractional distillation. The fact that rectification via charcoal filtration continued to be practiced in parts of Tennessee is more of a holdover than a deliberate innovation, although it could be that they held it over because of the particular flavor imparted by the maple charcoal they were using there.
- Chuck Cowdery

Author of Bourbon, Straight
User avatar
cowdery
Registered User
 
Posts: 1586
Joined: Tue Oct 19, 2004 1:07 pm
Location: Chicago

Unread postby cowdery » Sat Jun 03, 2006 7:39 pm

gillmang wrote:This is why e.g., George Washington brought in a Scot to distill at his estate.


Anderson was not brought in by Washington to distiill. Anderson, who was a Scot, was hired by Washington as his plantation manager and, after surveying the property and assessing its resources, Anderson suggested distilling. Washington was not looking for a Scottish distiller when he hired Anderson, he was looking for a plantation manager. Anderson, then a mature man of 51, had many skills, including knowledge of distillation, but he had to talk Washington into allowing him to start a distillery.
- Chuck Cowdery

Author of Bourbon, Straight
User avatar
cowdery
Registered User
 
Posts: 1586
Joined: Tue Oct 19, 2004 1:07 pm
Location: Chicago

Unread postby bourbonv » Sat Jun 03, 2006 8:15 pm

Gary,
You are forgeting one important factor when studying the history of American distilling - marketing. Most writers today state many things that were manipulated by the marketing department as fact. I believe the emphasis on the Scots-Irish factor coincides with the success of Scotch and Irish whiskey in America. I place this about 1850.

Weller is a German family. I worked with genealogist whoi has traced the Weller family back to Maryland where they ran a match manufacturing business and back to there home town in Germany.

Mike Veach
Mike Veach
"Our people live almost exclusively on whiskey" - E H Taylor, Jr. 25 April 1873
User avatar
bourbonv
Registered User
 
Posts: 4086
Joined: Thu Oct 14, 2004 7:17 pm
Location: Louisville, Ky.

Unread postby gillmang » Sat Jun 03, 2006 8:47 pm

Mike: fair enough if you have checked personally on the origin of the American Weller family who were engaged in the whiskey business. As for the Scots-Irish being linked to the origination of American whiskey because of the availability of imported Scotch and Irish whiskey from about 1850, interesting idea, but I just can't buy that.

Chuck: I appreciate the clarifications made, but my point was Washington entrusted distilling on his property to a Scottish person. Washington could not have been unaware of Scots pre-eminence in the field. (But I acknowledge that the link may have been a coincidence, sure, but I don't think so). As for barley vs. corn and rye, you raise a good point. I believe though your comments also suggest the answer, which is that barley was reserved for beer and non-alcohol-related usages and wheat for bread. In a frontier and emerging community this kind of segmentation would have been normal. Distilling, important culturally as it was, was a relative luxury and had to be satisfied with lesser grains (in economic terms). Regarding the malting of corn with wood smoke, malting is costly and if you don't need to do it, why bother? Also, use of the charred barrel, which emerged early, was (I suggest) the answer. Bourbon to this day has a smoky edge, when I first tasted it years ago it linked in my mind (in this respect) to Scots malt whisky. Regarding the Lincoln County Process, maple charcoal is unique (today anyway) to Tennessee and imparts a character to the whiskey - Jack Daniel is noticeably a smoke-edged whiskey. Bone-dust and other carbon filters could have been used which would have been more neutral in effect. I surmise (but it is only guesswork, informed to a point) that maple charcoal was liked because it made the "cretuur" more like the whisky back home.

We have to remember too that at the time, bere (which is related to but different than barley) was used in Scotland or much of it to make whiskey. Maybe bere simply did not grow well in America. Also, its yield is very low (see the current Malt Advocate which states this in relation to a current whisky being made from bere). Maybe the early Americans saw quickly that rye and corn were superior in yield and went with them for that reason alone.

Gary
User avatar
gillmang
Vatman
 
Posts: 2140
Joined: Mon Jan 24, 2005 4:44 pm

Unread postby EllenJ » Sat Jun 03, 2006 9:50 pm

cowdery wrote:... Back when I was skiing, I one day reported proudly to my skiing mentor that I had not fallen all day. Her reply: "If you're not falling, you're not skiing."

Definition... SKIING n. A sport consisting of a semi-controlled fall down the side of a mountain while one's feet are clamped to long sticks.
=JOHN=
(the "Jaye" part of "L 'n' J dot com")
http://www.ellenjaye.com
User avatar
EllenJ
Registered User
 
Posts: 866
Joined: Sun Feb 26, 2006 11:00 pm
Location: Ohio-occupied Northern Kentucky (Cincinnati)

Unread postby EllenJ » Sat Jun 03, 2006 10:36 pm

cowdery wrote:...There was plenty of barley in America but the people we're talking about also drank a lot of beer. It's possible barley was too valuable for brewing, and wheat too valuable for bread, and there not being too many uses for maize beyond livestock feed, and because the large maize kernals produced a lot of fermentable material, maize became preferred for distilling, especially in the interior where rye didn't grow as well.

Years ago, it seemed as if everything I learned about American whiskey I learned by reading Chuck Cowdery's articles. This post took me right back there. Thanks, Chuck, for again providing an explanation that actually makes some sense and is believable. Yes, I can see no reasonable inconsistancy with that idea, and I have no choice but to agree that's probably exactly why corn was chosen for distillation over the other grains. The only difficulty comes from the fact that I believe all this started in Pennsylvania, where beer-brewing (and the use of locally-grown barley) was already a big industry, and rye-growing seems almost exclusively to have been done for the purpose of producing ethanol.

Then again, taking all this in context with Hogeland's book, let's keep in mind that the production of ethanol was not particularly the same thing as making drinkin' whiskey. These people were creating bankable wealth, and there really wasn't any consideration of drinking it.

Let's use gold as another example. We may think of gold's ultimate retail value as a jewelry material; but the investment value is really as a more generally desireable metal... perhaps jewelry; perhaps industrial. Although I haven't yet reached a point in his book where Hogeland acknowledges this trait as a factor in the accumulation of whiskey, I'm sure he will eventually get around to that. The point is that stored whiskey, like stored gold, allowed the political and financial heirarchy of Westsylvania to maintain a monetary standard that was not dependent upon the Hamilton bank. Hamilton, at least as portrayed by Hogeland, simply HAD to destroy the accumulation of whiskey as a form of wealth in order to enforce his vision of wealth as narrowly restricted to borrowed federal funding. The excise tax was not levied upon lumber, or furs, or flour, or any of the other products of the western farmers. In actual fact, it wasn't levied upon whiskey, per se. It was levied on the means to produce whiskey, a not-so-subtle distinction that seems to get overlooked too often by scholars such as Hogeland. And it was to that purpose that Hamilton manipulated the so-called Whiskey Rebellion.
=JOHN=
(the "Jaye" part of "L 'n' J dot com")
http://www.ellenjaye.com
User avatar
EllenJ
Registered User
 
Posts: 866
Joined: Sun Feb 26, 2006 11:00 pm
Location: Ohio-occupied Northern Kentucky (Cincinnati)

Unread postby EllenJ » Sat Jun 03, 2006 10:43 pm

By the way...
Anyone have a guess as to how long before Michael Moore's film based on this book is announced? :D
=JOHN=
(the "Jaye" part of "L 'n' J dot com")
http://www.ellenjaye.com
User avatar
EllenJ
Registered User
 
Posts: 866
Joined: Sun Feb 26, 2006 11:00 pm
Location: Ohio-occupied Northern Kentucky (Cincinnati)

Unread postby gillmang » Sun Jun 04, 2006 7:49 am

In looking again at The Practical Distiller by Samuel M'Harry (1809), I saw the following statement:

"Malt for distilling ought to be dried without smoke".

Hmmm.

This requires that I amend or qualify my theory earlier stated. It is an intriguing statement in many ways. Since the book contains recipes for beverage beer as well as for whiskey, one can read M'Harry as suggesting it is okay to use smoked malt for brewing beer but not for whiskey-making. Indeed many have speculated that beers of the time must have been smoky because it is known wood was used to dry barley malt (however, other sources I have, from England, going back to the 1700's and earlier suggest that smoked beers were regarded as faulty or a regional taste and malt should be dried with materials which did not impart a smoke taste to beer, so this is unclear). But one thing is clear and I acknowledge it - M'Harry did not like smoky whiskey.

Since I posit that the whiskey heritage of Ulster-people and Lowlands Scots was the main influence on American whiskey, where does this leave my theory? Is it possible M'Harry personally did not like a peat reek? Many Scots today do not - most malt whisky made today is not strongly peated and much of it uses no peat at all. Maybe other 1809 American distillers liked this effect, however. This is possible. However I will accept that probably M'Harry was speaking to the general practice. However, this does not mean that the influential Dr. Crow, working some 30-40 years later, did not want to impart a smoky taste to American whiskey such as he had known at home - and Crow is associated with the methodical use of the charred barrel. I do not know from whence in Scotland he hailed. If he was a Highlander, maybe he liked the peat taste of Islay Scotch whisky, for example...

But let's assume Crow did not intend to impart a smoky palate to American whiskey.

In that case, I offer this thought and modification to my previous ideas: since the Scots-Irish and Lowlanders were the predominant immigration to America from Britain in the 1700's, is it possible whiskey production there, legal or not, had dispensed with or never used peated malt? Today the surviving Scots Lowlands distillers, and Bushmills distillery in Ulster, use no peated malt at all. In general in Ireland whiskey is unpeated (except for the Scots-leaning Connemara and that is made by Cooley, a distillery established only in the last 20 years or so). The Lowlands and Ulster by the later 1700's may have used straw or coal to dry their malt. I am not sure when coke became a commercial product, it was available in 1809 since M'Harry advises how to make "coaked malt". My point is, the specific social and economic background from which whiskey spun-off to America may have been smoked malt-averse or even ignorant of its use. Peated or strongly peated malts are associated today with the Highlands fringes of Scotland, so possibly even in the early 1800's strongly peated whiskey was regarded as a regional or crofter's practice and people in Ulster and the Scots Lowlands used non-smoky materials to dry their malt. And I have noted that Fischer in Albion's Seed states that emigration from the Highlands of Scotland to America was not the pattern in the 1700's, subject to some exceptions, one of which I have already mentioned in relation to North Carolina. Therefore, smoked whiskey might have been regarded by the American Scots-Irish and their forbears as a fault or a curiosity and to the extent practiced in the Highlands it was something foreign to their tradition and understanding of whiskey.

In sum, one might conclude that American whiskey is a legacy, adapted, of Scots-Irish and Lowlands distillers who in general at the time did not use smoked malt to make whiskey.

In M'Harry, there is no suggestion that whiskey should be made from all-malt - malt is advised only in small quantity to effect a conversion of the starches in corn and rye. The mash bills given by M'Harry and taken for granted by him are blends of rye, corn and malt in proportions that are used today or in recent memory (e.g. 2/3rds corn, 1/3rd rye, half corn, half rye, etc.). His beer recipes (for beverage beer) call for all-malt and he specifies "pale" or "brown" (he says pale is the best - - looks like predicted the American yellow lager trend early on. :)). He does offer some fruit beer recipes and other variations but one can see these are secondary.

In this regard, he clearly was influenced by yield. He repeatedly states that corn and rye offer high yields, especially corn, and the classic 2/3 rds corn 1/3rd rye recipe (with malt to convert) is his staple recipe and is used in the section where he works out profit calculations for a common distillery - this is the bourbon mash recipe of today. The only difference to modern practice - not a small difference - is his output was mostly unaged or little aged.

We have spoken in other threads about the charred barrel but I'll say here it receives little attention in this 1809 book. He mentions charring (by burning of straw in the vessels) to "sweeten" tubs and hogsheads but seems to be referring to the vats and other vessels used to mash and distill the product, not to store finished whiskey. Although, in extended comments in the common gin section he advises to store clarified spirits, in effect whiskey, in "sweet" casks - which by reference other parts of the book can include new charred barrels - and states a couple of years aging will greatly improve them - this may be an early form of bourbon. He refers also more than once to a natural "aged flavor" and gives recipes to emulate it, including filtering in maple charcoal, brick dust or through flannel (just as JD or GD do today in the first stage of processing) and adding coloring. However, he notes a disadvantage to aging too: he says it imparts some "flavor" and this is not wanted by people whose speciality it is to blend foreign liquors with domestic. He is referring to the practice of adulterating foreign brandy, say, with clean young domestic spirit to extend it and make it cheaper to sell. In sum, bourbon as we know it today seems to have existed and M'Harry knew about it and ways to imitate it but American aged whiskey was still in its infancy and certainly bourbon had not emerged fully as an acknowledged, separate type of spirituous drink. Then too, M'Harry was a distiller whose business was to make and sell - quickly - whiskey. The aging of whiskey was evidently a different matter or, perhaps, a different specialty and one (as other evidence has shown) that was performed initially by grocers and other intermediaries including shippers. Other sources might establish that aged whiskey, in effect bourbon as we know it today, was an established trade category albeit (probably) prized and costly. I seem to recall that George Washington's extant distillery records show that a small proportion of his output was aged and almost all his whiskey was different grades or strengths of common whiskey, i.e., sold as produced (the vodka of its time). The true bourbon may have been initially a small part of the whiskey market vying with and perhaps influenced in its origin by, good French brandy, but here we get even further afield from this thread.

Finally, and although we must remember M'Harry's book is one book, by one person, in one place (Pennsylvania), I acknowledge there is no foreign air about the book. He is all-American making what was by 1809 an all-American product. He rarely refers to foreign liquors except to suggest American liquor properly made is as good or better. In this he was right.

Gary
Last edited by gillmang on Sun Jun 04, 2006 9:32 am, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
gillmang
Vatman
 
Posts: 2140
Joined: Mon Jan 24, 2005 4:44 pm

Unread postby bourbonv » Sun Jun 04, 2006 9:31 am

Gary,
If you check out the Stitzel-Weller timeline you will see that Johannes Weller was born in Germany in 1716 and came to America about 1730. His son Daniel was born in the 1760's and came to Kentucky in 1796. He was a distiller and his brother was a gunsmith. Some of their decendents also moved to Ohio and started making pottery.

Let me repeat, I do not think that the Scots-Irish had no effect on American distilling, I just think their claims have been exagerated over the years. Too many of the early distilling families here in Kentucky were of German heritage to ignore the Germanic influences. I think it took a World War followed by prohibition to hide away this influence from the marketing people. Germanic distilling is very old. I have a couple of articles that discuss early stills and they claim that the worm was invented in German Europe. Without the worm, you do not get whiskey production except in cold weather.

I think the traditional "melting pot" scenario took place here, combining German, Scots-Irish and a touch of French influences to create the American whiskey we have today.

Mike Veach
Mike Veach
"Our people live almost exclusively on whiskey" - E H Taylor, Jr. 25 April 1873
User avatar
bourbonv
Registered User
 
Posts: 4086
Joined: Thu Oct 14, 2004 7:17 pm
Location: Louisville, Ky.

Unread postby gillmang » Sun Jun 04, 2006 9:37 am

Mike, the only thing that troubles me about a significant German influence on bourbon is the wood barrel aging of bourbon. Malt whisky is aged in wood and has been from the 1800's and probably (in some cases) earlier. Ditto French brandy. But not German spirits. Some are aged for short periods but my understanding is aging is not a hallmark of the typical korns, schnappses and the other German or Dutch spirts.

I agree with you that for the time when common whiskey was the norm, the German influence had some sway. But bourbon emerged early, its glimmers are evident in M'Harry which is only 1809.

Gary
User avatar
gillmang
Vatman
 
Posts: 2140
Joined: Mon Jan 24, 2005 4:44 pm

Unread postby gillmang » Sun Jun 04, 2006 9:53 am

I think we are in fact largely in agreement with each other but perhaps place the emphasis on different factors. I guess I look mainly at the charred barrel, at the fact that malt whisky (and cognac, certainly) are also aged in wood, at the survival of a bourbon culture mostly where the Scots-Irish (and French in part, yes) were the majority group, and at Dr. Crow (more Scots influence later). The Germanic and Dutch influences seem to me more important, perhaps co-equal, earlier in American whiskey history but also at a time when bourbon hadn't emerged as a style.

Gary
User avatar
gillmang
Vatman
 
Posts: 2140
Joined: Mon Jan 24, 2005 4:44 pm

Unread postby bourbonv » Sun Jun 04, 2006 10:55 am

John,
Hogeland points out that Hamilton does not pitch this as a tax on manufacture, but a tax on consumers of whiskey. After all it is expected that the distiller would pass the additional cost on to the consumer. Of course Hamilton new that this tax would still favor the large distillers over the small distillers. He also set it up were a full time large distiller would actually be charged less tax than the small part time distiller. He did this by figuring the tax based upon still size and that size's yearly capacity to make whiskey. This was so unfair to the small distiller that it was one of the admendments to the law to allow part time distilling licenses.

Mike Veach
Mike Veach
"Our people live almost exclusively on whiskey" - E H Taylor, Jr. 25 April 1873
User avatar
bourbonv
Registered User
 
Posts: 4086
Joined: Thu Oct 14, 2004 7:17 pm
Location: Louisville, Ky.

Unread postby cowdery » Sun Jun 04, 2006 7:42 pm

Another thing we all need to keep in mind is that distillers who learned their trade in the old country became less important here as time went on and members of the Beam family started to procreate, thus providing an ample domestic supply.

Meanwhile, tastes and technology continued to evolve on both continents. In other words, we shouldn't assume that the whiskey Dr. Crow learned how to make in Scotland in the 1820s was the same as what the Scots were making 50 years later, let alone today.

Two things that caused big changes in the Scottish whiskey industry, which occurred at roughly the same time, were the introduction of the continuous still and the creation of the first blended scotches. It was only after blending was introduced, by English merchants, that scotch whisky began to sell to anyone other than Scots.
- Chuck Cowdery

Author of Bourbon, Straight
User avatar
cowdery
Registered User
 
Posts: 1586
Joined: Tue Oct 19, 2004 1:07 pm
Location: Chicago

Unread postby bourbonv » Wed Jun 21, 2006 11:39 am

We have had a Professor from TCU with us for a week. One of the things he was looking for was lower Mississippi settlement patterns and politics. He is going to look through his notes and see if there was a patern of people from Pennsylvania say, in the year 1796, anywhere in the lower Mississippi River area.

Another interesting point is that after 1815 there was an influx in New Orleans of people from Kentucky and Tennessee as many of the soldiers serving with Jackson decided to stay. This also increased demand for whiskey in the New Orleans market.

Mike Veach
Mike Veach
"Our people live almost exclusively on whiskey" - E H Taylor, Jr. 25 April 1873
User avatar
bourbonv
Registered User
 
Posts: 4086
Joined: Thu Oct 14, 2004 7:17 pm
Location: Louisville, Ky.

PreviousNext

Return to The Library

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests