Okay, I give up. This was all a setup, wasn't it?
Not twenty minutes after I posted that last reply, and only a few hours after my longer answer to Scott and Mike, the long-awaited latest issue of the Bourbon Country Reader arrived in the mail. And what would the feature story be? Why none other than a perfect illustration of everything I'd just said!
For those who aren't already reading this in Vol 5 No 2, the author of a recent book of bourbon history took Chuck to task for what she interpreted as a slur on a dear family member's character in an article appearing in the previous edition. The article was titled, "Trouble With Bourbon History..." and dealt with exactly what poor Mike Veach will have to deal with if he is to try to sort out the tangled lines of events in the world of bourbon. Actually, I didn't see any personal criticism in the article, but then it wasn't my grandfather who was the subject either. At any rate, in working out the details with her and her historic advisor, Chuck learned even more about the subject and he passes that on in this edition. As with so many things about bourbon history, what starts out seeming to be just a little marketing story ends up involving all kinds of juicy little scandals, such as theft of controlled substances by federal agents, altering of photographs, blocking of proprietary information, and a historic line that wiggles its way through at least five distilleries. And for what? We're not talking about cloak 'n' dagger stuff here, just a harmless little tale about how a particular brand got started. And for her part, the author made a very plausible point that if her grandfather had indeed known the true story he would certainly not have covered it up since it's just the sort of tale he loved to tell. In fact it would have been darn near impossible to keep from telling it. Unless of course...
Since telling the true story might have involved "squealing" on a corrupt federal agent who was still in the business, and whose "exceptions" might not have been limited to only small quantities for his own personal use, the question of physical safety arises and the better part of valor might have been to stay with the "official" story. And for the sake of his family (which would have included his granddaughter) I suspect that may have been exactly what he did. Despite a little girl's memories, not everyone was nice during Prohibition.
Anyway, all the more reason to subscribe to Chuck's newsletter. And watch out, Mike. You go poking around in historical beehives, you better be wearing long sleeves.
P.S. - Chuck, do you think Max Shapiro is aware that Evan Williams didn't really sell his first-ever commercial bourbon distillery directly to Frank Heavenhill?
[big ol' grin]