Between 1935 and 1938 one very significant substantive change was made to the nascent standard of identify for Bourbon and rye whiskey (among others): the requirement for aging in new charred oak barrels. The difference is less than a sentence. No one really knows how it came to be added.
Discussion on the history of American whiskey legislation, esp. its taxation.
In 1971 the United States and France entered into a trade agreement titled "Protection of names of Bourbon whiskey and certain French brandies." By signing it, the French government agreed that Bourbon was a distinctive product of the United States and further that it can only be made there and in accordance with its defined standard of identity. This was the first of many international agreements based on Concurrent Resolution 64.
In May of 1933 the federal government issued one final set of regulations regarding prescriptions written for medicinal whiskey, reflecting an act passed just two months earlier. But the 21st amendment was already in the process of being ratified and by the end of the year national Prohibition would be repealed. These regulations appear to have been its last gasp.
In 1916 Spiritus Frumenti (AKA whiskey) was removed from the United States Pharmacopoeia (U.S.P.) ending its official status as a medicine. And then four years later, just as national Prohibition is given the force of law, an odd thing happens: whiskey gains status as a medicine once again. What was the deal with that?
I have always understood the notion of holding whiskey ‘in bond,’ i.e. putting it into a warehouse for some period of time to age before excise taxes needed to be paid on it, as an implicitly good thing. Recently I came to understand that this boon could and did have some (possibly unintended) consequences, at least when bonding was first introduced.
An innocuous looking document sent out by the TTB on the 27th of April 1962 would change the way American whiskey had been barreled since before Prohibition. Was the science it was based on any good or was the outcome predetermined?
A week or so ago I attended an ‘experience’ at one of the many distilleries in Kentucky now offering tours and tastings. Like many similar offerings, it included a recap of various important milestones in American whiskey history. And as happens all too often, one or more of these milestones was attributed to the wrong event and date. I guess this isn’t the biggest deal but when those of us who represent the distilling industry are asked to tell the story of Bourbon to the general public I think it’s important to get these details right.