Wow, Shoshani, that certainly whups yo' haid around a bit, don't it?
One must (and any reasonable student of whiskey history does) understand that some (in fact, lots) of the "information" offered to promote the Pure Food & Drug Act of 1906 is, shall we say questionable. Harvey Wiley, for example, is often demonized as being so obsessed with the "potential" for fraudulent marketing of really dangerous products as "fine old bourbon whiskey" as to make his reports and "the sky is falling" speeches almost as hard to swallow as those of some current talk-radio pundants and politicians. But the statistics, so well documented in this report, really do seem to back up much of what he was trying to convey.
As are you... and I, too, although possibly towards different perceptions.
I have long maintained, against the "common knowledge", that nearly ALL of the beverage alcohol we think of (and that was labeled as) "Bourbon" or "Rye" whiskey (or Cognac, Scotch, or Caribbean Rum) that normal Americans (i.e., those not local to the distilleries themselves) purchased or drank were manufactured compounds. Especially the ones whose brands became famous and returned (with all of their prestige) after Prohibition ended.
My difference with Wiley et al is that I believe most of that product was produced by merchants whose goal was to provide the best possible product for their customers, and that only a few were the "evil poisoners" often described. I have in my possession examples of fine pre-Pure Food & Drug Act bourbon and Maryland rye whiskey whose quality and complexity of flavor, in tastings that have included many of the folks writing here, exceeds anything being sold today. In some cases I suspect these to be the very same "compounded" and "mis-branded" whiskies described in the report. In other cases, I know for a fact
that this is true. And, while the bourbon being marketed today is certainly consistantly good, it isn't as good as it was a few decades ago, before federal deregulation allowed it to be made more cheaply; and it's absolutely
not as good as it could be, were artisan distillers and consciencious bottlers allowed to make the sort of alterations they once did before the beginning of the 20th century.
Do I, therefore, believe such beverages should be allowed to called "bourbon" or "rye"? NO!!
But I believe those who claim to enjoy "only the finest straight bourbon or rye" might do well to prepare yourselves for (1) a severe drop in the number of new drinkers (and old) who agree with you, and/or (2) the knowledge that perhaps the flavors you once thought straight whiskey to the best examples of, maybe aren't; and that you can dare to prefer some of the new products despite what your grandfather would say.