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funknik
09-10-2009, 11:49
As I mentioned in an earlier thread, I've been reading a lot of Raymond Chandler novels lately (all of them, actually), and he mentions several historical American whiskies by name.

He also, however, repeatedly mentions how a bottle is "green label stuff" as though it were a designation of high quality. He applies this term to Old Forester and to Mt. Vernon Rye specifically and then uses it again to describe other, unnamed whiskies. I was curious if older bottles had a green label to denote a higher quality product or to designate BIB or something in the era following prohibition? Or is it just a figure of speech and if so, from whence does it come?

I know somebody will tell me . . . thanks in advance, dudes.

texascarl
09-10-2009, 12:03
During the time of some Chandler novels, prohibition was still in effect. Many bourbons could still be purchased for medicinal purposes at a pharmacy, and the 'green label' could be tied to that. Bona fide quality if not 'extreme high quality', still worth searching for in the good old days.

FWIW, I really enjoy the opening of 'Red Wind'. Reading about Marlowe is never time wasted.

funknik
09-10-2009, 12:12
During the time of some Chandler novels, prohibition was still in effect. Many bourbons could still be purchased for medicinal purposes at a pharmacy, and the 'green label' could be tied to that. Bona fide quality if not 'extreme high quality', still worth searching for in the good old days.

FWIW, I really enjoy the opening of 'Red Wind'. Reading about Marlowe is never time wasted.

I hate to quibble, but Chandler's first novel, The Big Sleep was published in 1939, six years after the end of prohibition. Although some of the early novels were cribbed from earlier short stories, I'm pretty sure all of the books I have read take place post-prohibition. The two that mentioned the green label stuff were written in the 40s & 50s.

Thanks for the tip on Red Wind - - I hadn't heard of that one . . . I've only read the novels, haven't gotten to the older, short fiction yet. The description says the PI's name is Dalmas in this one.

gblick
09-10-2009, 13:41
Maybe he was referring to the tax strips....green on BiB's, and red on non-BiB's (on the ones I've seen).

cowdery
09-10-2009, 16:17
I'm not aware of any standardized label colors. Of the green labels that come to mind, Old Fitzgerald Green Label is the BIB (the 80 proof label is gold), but Jack Daniel's Green Label has always been the bottom of the line, a little cheaper and less mature than Old No. 7 Black Label, and the first Jack to 80 proof. Johnnie Walker's labels, of course, are most famously red and black. Green wasn't introduced until 1997. Jim Beam's Green Label is the little known "Choice," which is 5-years-old and "charcoal filtered." That's now, of course, but I know of no references to "green label" as a standardized expression regarding whiskey quality at any point in American whiskey history, or anything involving a standardized color system, whether formal or informal. It could be some very localized slang with no broader connection to the distilled spirits products of the era.

texascarl
09-10-2009, 20:15
http://www.esquire.com/fiction/books/hardboiled1207

funknik
09-11-2009, 05:13
Maybe he was referring to the tax strips....green on BiB's, and red on non-BiB's (on the ones I've seen).
that seems likely . . . BIBs are mentioned frequently throughout these books.

StraightBoston
09-12-2009, 18:20
+1 for the BIB vs. non-bonded theory.