In a discussion of United Distillers bourbons in another topic group, Chuck Cowdery mentioned Rx, an obscure brand marketed by them.
RyanStotz said, "They're still making Rx? No freaking way. Of all the things UD decides to keep selling, they pick Rx. My mind doesn't get blown very often, but this did it. Did it sell particularly well in KY/IN, or do they just have labels they need to use up?"
They didn't keep Rx, per se. They kept George Dickel, and Rx is one of their brands. It's export only, I believe. I've never tried it, but I'll be bringing some pre-1964 Cascade Kentucky Bourbon with me for friends to taste and if anyone's tried Rx they can confirm whether it's very similar. If so, then I'd have to say Rx is some pretty fine whiskey -- the Cascade sure is.
When Dickel moved from Frankfort (actually, from what is now the Buffalo Trace distillery) to Tullahoma, Tennessee in 1958, the Cascade Bourbon brand (owned by Schenley) remained in Kentucky. The new Tennessee product was called Cascade Tennessee Whisky, a somewhat confusing situation that lasted only until 1964 when it took the George Dickel name.
Way back in 1910, Cascade Whisky, like its Tennessee brother Jack Daniels, had fled the state as a result of prohibition (a decade before the rest of the country went dry). They brought their whole Lincoln County charcoal filtration system with them and set up shop at Stitzel (later to become Stitzel-Weller). Prohibition put a stop to actual production, but Stitzel had a license to produce whiskey "for medicinal purposes" and it continued to sell warehoused Cascade product all through prohibition. It's this whiskey that the modern Rx label is supposed to commemorate.
In 1935, Stitzel combined with W. L. Weller and Sons to form Stitzel-Weller, and in 1941, sold Cascade, and the Tennessee process by which it was made, to the George Stagg distillery in Frankfort. Interestingly, it was at this exact time that Jack Daniel's Reagor Motlow found it necessary to make a personal crusade into the Federal Internal Revenue Department's legal halls with the express purpose of defining "Tennessee Whiskey". And, in doing so, ensuring that any product made that way could NOT be called "bourbon". The fact that Jack Daniel's was the only distillery located in Tennessee (a requirement for the designation) made it illegal for Cascade (its only competition in making that style of whiskey) to call itself EITHER Bourbon, OR Tennessee Whiskey... a real competitive victory. Why this happened just as Cascade had changed hands, I don't know. Maybe Motlow had hoped to purchase the company and when that didn't happen, made a move to destroy it. Pure speculation here; more study is needed; send funds to...
But Cascade wasn't destroyed. In fact, it continued to call itself "Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey". I'm not sure how it did that. Perhaps the Internal Revenue Department's definition isn't legally binding (in the same way that the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms' definitions are). Or maybe they simply made a change in the way Cascade was made. Even if the leeching were not done strictly by the Lincoln Process (wherein the raw spirit is run through about ten feet of sugar-maple charcoal before being put into the barrels for aging), they could still use the tanks and the sugar-maple charcoal to filter the whiskey AFTER aging, which they might have done (again, pure speculation). At any rate, the whole show closed down in the mid-'60s when the Cascade label was retired. Schenley, who purchased the Stagg distillery and changed it to Ancient Age, sold the Cascade label (along with George Dickel) back to Stitzel-Weller, but the idea of running the dumped bourbon through the sugar-maple charcoal tank AFTER aging (which is Rx's claimed process) was already firmly established by then. Could that have been the forerunner of Rx?