Once upon a time -- it really doesn't seem that long ago but when I look at a calendar it seems like more than a decade already(!) -- I began to be fascinated by the stories about how American whiskey came to be. Among the sources of knowledge I most treasured was one Charles K. Cowdery, whose essays were easy to find on the internet, and each of which targeted important aspects of American whiskey (only bourbon at the time, but it changed to include nearly any American spirit). As I, too, became a contributor to the base of American Whiskey knowledge, Chuck and I have had many a discussion, both private and public over multiple contexts, all of which have added to my (and hopefully his) understanding of this wonderful subject. There are times when I've thought of Chuck as a God of Whiskey Knowledge, and there are times when I've thought of him as totally full of bullsh!t. I'm pretty sure he's felt the same about me, at least the second part.
But having read some of Chuck's blog articles on George Dickel, I have to admit that I've returned to my original state of awe. For awhile, as I began to dive deeper into the twisted and (certainly intentionally) obscure history of our familiar modern brands of American whiskey I, too, enjoyed shining light upon the differences between myth and truth. But after awhile, the fact that it was so common to every aspect of the industry made it feel somewhat boring to me. And the fact that some elements (of an industry steeped in the tradition of smuggling and extra-legal activities) hinted strongly of threatening suggestions, caused me, I somewhat shamefully admit, to press less firmly for answers they did not wish to give me. I'm not the only one to see which side of the toast carries the butter; at least one certified historian I know has also become more (some would say "mature"; others just "careful") about whose toes are stepped upon these days. I can't say that I blame him. Let's just say that running moonshine whiskey is no different than running moonshine... well, anything else. And some of the same families and organizations that operated during Prohibition have learned to prosper through diversification since then.
I'm only in this for the fun of it, folks. And I feel I know when to quit poking around. And that's why I don't claim to be a real journalist. For awhile, Chuck was not a "real journalist", either. In fact, for awhile, I think Chuck had backed off, at least with his Bourbon Country Reader publication, until he was basically quoting company's media info. But that was apparently not a permantent situation. In opening his blog, Chuck seems to have re-acquired that sense of investigative journalism that made his articles of a dozen years ago so different and important. One can sense that he's re-acquired that feeling of "fun" that poking into these dark, spider-infested holes can often be.
The articles about Dickel are outstanding, Charles. Thank you! I know that the history of American whiskey is a rather narrow special interest, but if there were a Pulitzer category for blogs, I would certainly nominate yours for that prize. Everything that so amazed me about the truth behind the media hype you once revealed has returned, and I truly believe, despite the fact that I retain the right (and the need, in many cases) to disagree with you, that anyone not following http://chuckcowdery.blogspot.com
should not expect to be taken seriously as a student (or even an Enthusiast) of American whiskey.