View Full Version : Whiskey in the Old West, Part Deux

06-11-2008, 21:49
I'm reviving an old thread because after reading through the previous thread of the same title, I found it didn't answer my question. And my question is this: I'm currently reading a novel called "The German Bride" by Joanna Hershon. It's about settlers in Santa Fe, New Mexico in the 1860s/early 1870s. My question is this: the main character keeps drinking bourbon in the bars and brothels of Santa Fe. Was bourbon commonly drunk in the Old West at that time? Was there bourbon available? I thought rye the usual whiskey of that period. Is that correct? Was there still bourbon around?

06-12-2008, 07:39
E H Taylor Jr. was selling OFC in San Francisco in the 1870's. His main competition of the time were the Cutter brands and of course Old Crow. W L Weller and sons were selling in Reno in the 1890's. I am sure other bourbons were sellin in the west as well. Rye was very popular in the population centers of the Northeast, but bourbon has always been more popular in the south and west of the United States. More rye was sold than bourbon, but that does not mean bourbon was not in the markets. Even the northeasternstrongholds of rye whiskey had a fairly large market for bourbon.

Mike Veach

06-14-2008, 18:43
Hi Guys, Bourbon was Very common in the west after the 1860's. Jesse Moore, J. H. Cutter,Davey Crockett, Pepper were bottled from Barrels in California in the 1870's and 1880's. Check out www.casperwhiskey.com (http://www.casperwhiskey.com) and look at the http://www.geocities.com/casperwhiskey/WesternBottles.html
Best regards,
David Jackson

06-14-2008, 18:52
The bourbon referenced was likely from Bourbon County Ky (or claimed to be). Other than being corn whiskey, it probably had little in common with what we consider bourbon today. It was likely unaged, diluted, and adulterated with who knows what by the time it got to the end consumer.

06-14-2008, 19:01
The period usually considered the "Wild West" was very brief. It began a few years after the Civil War ended and was over well before the century turned. One of the forces that opened the West was the railroads. Cattle flowed east and whiskey flowed west, from Kentucky by way of Chicago. This was the period, and the West was the market, that established bourbon as a competitor to rye, which was still more popular in the East. First with cattle, then with gold, the West had money so it didn't make things, it bought them, and the whiskey it bought was bourbon from Kentucky and Illinois.