Read more about the article A Moment of Sober Reflection
The Harrison-Cullen Act levied a federal tax on low proof alcoholic beverages like beer and wine. This was several months before the 21st amendment was ratified. Obviously the feds saw the writing on the wall.

A Moment of Sober Reflection

Today, December 5th, is the 89th anniversary of the end of national Prohibition after Ohio, Pennsylvania and Utah (!?) voted to ratify the 21st amendment. Interestingly enough the federal government had already begun the repeal process months earlier.

Read more about the article Lessons Learned from the One Year Bonding Period
One of many sales records left behind by the Elkhorn Distillery. Sales volumes were generally small, not enough to keep the distillery solvent.

Lessons Learned from the One Year Bonding Period

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.

Read more about the article The Tao of Baudoinia
The striking gabled warehouses at Deatsville, Kentucky provide a perfect environment for the fungus Baudoinia...up to a point.

The Tao of Baudoinia

The black fungus Baudoinia is a common sight on the outsides of whiskey warehouses in Kentucky. Turns out the way the fungus grows also has an interesting connection with another well known phenomenon, Angel's Share.

Read more about the article The Day Entry Proof Changed
In 2007 Buffalo Trace released this version of George. T. Stagg at an astonishing proof of 144.8. Changes to entry proof back in 1962 are what made the infamous 'Hazmat' release possible.

The Day Entry Proof Changed

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?

View from the top of the ladder at Hard Water, San Francisco
Not too many people got to look at the wall from this angle. But for those of us who worked here, it was a view we took all too for granted.

A Notable Absence…

Seeing the list of America's best Bourbon bars for 2022 it was hard for me to note that Hard Water was missing. It was one of many bars that didn't survive the COVID shutdowns.

Juarez Whiskey Straight American Bourbon
Label from a bottle of Bourbon whiskey made in Mexico in the 1930s, before 'Bourbon' became a protected trade name.

Three Important Dates in American Whiskey History

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.

Molecular structure of β-Sitosterol
This is the molecular structure of β-Sitosterol. Is this the culprit of chill haze in your whiskey?

Getting Clear(er) on Chill Haze

There are two common schools of belief (or perhaps ‘churches’ is a better term) on chill filtering. One school declares that chill filtering is a harmless process and that what’s removed has no impact on flavor, only color and possibly the texture (mouthfeel) of the whiskey is affected. The other school strongly believes that chill filtering is destructive and results in an unavoidable attenuation of aroma and flavor in the whiskey. It seemed unlikely that both of these assertions could be true so I decided to look further into the matter.