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March 2008 - Bourbon                    Back to Drink of the Month

Bourbon is an American distilled spirit made primarily from corn.  It has been produced since the 18th century. According to Wikipedia, on 4 May 1964, the U.S. Congress recognized Bourbon Whiskey as a “distinctive product of the United States," and created Federal Standards of Identity for Bourbon. Legislation now stipulates that Bourbon must meet these requirements:


  • Bourbon must be made in the United States.
  • Bourbon must be made of a grain mixture that is at least 51% corn
  • Bourbon must be distilled to no more than 160 (U.S.) proof.
  • Bourbon must be 100% natural (nothing other than water added to the mixture)
  • Bourbon must be aged in new, American, charred oak barrels.[1]
  • Bourbon which meets the above requirements and has been aged for a minimum of two years, may (but are not required to) be called Straight Bourbon.
  • Bourbon aged for a period less than four years must be labelled with the duration of its aging.


According to Wikipedia, almost all bourbons marketed today are made from more than two-thirds corn, have been aged at least four years, and do qualify as 'straight bourbon' -- with or without the 'straight bourbon' label. The exceptions are inexpensive commodity brands of bourbon aged only three years and pre-mixed cocktails made with bourbon aged the minimum two years.

Also from Wikipedia: The Whiskey Rebellion was an uprising that had its beginnings in 1791 and culminated in an insurrection in 1794 in Washington, Pennsylvania, in the Monongahela Valley. The rebellion occurred shortly after the Articles of Confederation had been replaced by a stronger federal government under the United States Constitution in 1789.

The new federal government, at the urging of the first Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, assumed the states' debt from the American Revolutionary War. In 1791 Hamilton convinced Congress to approve taxes on distilled spirits. Hamilton's principal reason for the tax was that he wanted to pay down the national debt, but he justified the tax "more as a measure of social discipline than as a source of revenue." But most importantly, Hamilton "wanted the tax imposed to advance and secure the power of the new federal government."

The tax was designed so smaller distillers would pay by the gallon, while larger distillers (who could produce in volume) could take advantage of a flat fee. The net result was to affect smaller producers more than larger ones. Large producers were assessed a tax ranging from 7 to 18 cents per gallon.

The result? Well, as you can imagine.  People were not happy…..and don’t get in the way of a whiskey drinker! Civil protests became an armed rebellion. As word of the rebellion spread across the frontier, a whole series of loosely organized resistance measures were taken, including robbing the mail, stopping court proceedings, and the threat of an assault on Pittsburgh. According to Wikipedia, one group, disguised as women, assaulted a tax collector, cropped his hair, coated him with tar and feathers, and stole his horse! George Washington decided it was time to show his government’s force [what is it about US Presidents with the name George???].  A militia force of 12,950 men was organized, roughly the size of the entire army in the Revolutionary War. Under the personal command of George Washington, Alexander Hamilton and Revolutionary War hero General Henry Lee, the army assembled in Harrisburg and marched into western Pennsylvania  in October of 1794. The rebels "could never be found”, but the militia expended considerable effort rounding up 20 prisoners, clearly demonstrating Federalist authority in the national government. 

This marked the first time under the new United States Constitution that the federal government used military force to exert authority over the nation's citizens. It was also one of only two times that a sitting President personally commanded the military in the field. (The other was after President James Madison fled the British occupation of Washington, D.C. during the War of 1812.)

Enough History. Let’s have a drink!

We thought it was about time Dipsophilia gave American Bourbon a try.  We found the following recipes on-line:

Grumpier Old Man



2 oz Bourbon

1 oz Lime juice

Sour mix

Pack old-fashioned or rocks glass with ice. Add bourbon (a high proof bourbon, similar to Wild Turkey), add Lime Juice, top with Sour Mix. Serve with sip stick, no garnish



2 oz Bourbon

1 dash Lime juice

Pour two ounces of Yukon Jack over ice; add a dash of lime juice; enjoy 

Bourbon Sloe Gin Fizz

2 oz Bourbon Whiskey

1 oz Sloe Gin

1 tsp Fresh Lemon Juice

Soda Water

Pour the bourbon whiskey, sloe gin and lemon juice over cracked ice in a chilled Collins glass. Stir gently. Add 3 ice cubes, and fill with soda/sparkling water

Garnish with a maraschino cherry and a slice of lemon.



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