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Thread: Time Magazine

  1. #1
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    Time Magazine

    I find it fascinating that they've put their old article archives online. Here's a piece on whiskey pricing printed about two weeks after the end of Prohibition.

    The article cites Macy's in New York as selling all straight old (16 yr) American whiskeys for $6.94/quart. Plugged into a historical purchasing power calculator such as this one, we get $6.94 in 1933 dollars is roughly equivalent to $104.58 in 2005 dollars.

    So, set the wayback machine for 1993 and imagine if you will: Prohibition has just ended in half of the country. Small quantities of whiskey, of unknown quality, reappear on shelves and every whiskey, no matter how crappy, costs about the same as a Hirsch 16 gold foil or a Pappy 20. Food for thought.
    Dave

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    Re: Time Magazine

    Quote Originally Posted by oldironstomach View Post
    I find it fascinating that they've put their old article archives online. Here's a piece on whiskey pricing printed about two weeks after the end of Prohibition.

    The article cites Macy's in New York as selling all straight old (16 yr) American whiskeys for $6.94/quart. Plugged into a historical purchasing power calculator such as this one, we get $6.94 in 1933 dollars is roughly equivalent to $104.58 in 2005 dollars.

    So, set the wayback machine for 1993 and imagine if you will: Prohibition has just ended in half of the country. Small quantities of whiskey, of unknown quality, reappear on shelves and every whiskey, no matter how crappy, costs about the same as a Hirsch 16 gold foil or a Pappy 20. Food for thought.

    Thanks!

    The article is fasinating and the calculator is something I have wanted for years and years!

    At the end of the article the distillers promise that they will soon have whiskey, both straight and blended, available for $1.50 for a quart. That is $22.60 in 2005 dollars. I'd say we have it pretty good. Plenty of good stuff for that or cheaper these days.

    Ed
    Bourbon makes me happy.

    Go Fighters!

  3. #3
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    Re: Time Magazine

    Thanks for pointing this out. A few years ago I indentified this resource on SB but you had to subscribe to Time at the time to use it.

    I inserted "whiskey" in the search box and 1301 articles came up. There is much here no doubt of interest for those enamoured of whiskey's historical angle.

    There is a funny story about Julius Kessler (Hungarian immigrant who founded the pre-Prohibition whiskey trust and left for his homeland after Prohibition with "a few million dollars and 83,000 cigars"). One can speculate this departure was in a huff, or puff.

    After Repeal, the still-active Kessler, then 80, returns in triumph to head up a subsidiary of Seagram bearing his name to sell a line of blended whiskeys priced lower than the 7 and 5 Crown whiskeys just introduced by Seagram. (You can still find Kessler's American blended whiskey on the shelves, I saw lot in the Santa Rosa area last July). Kessler was quoted as saying that in his whole life, he had not consumed more than 5 gallons of whiskey, tasting "droplets" only for testing purposes. Still (or maybe because of that?) he retained an enviable joie de vivre at 80 and was observed eating up a storm and dancing until 5:00 a.m. on New Year's in Broadway.

    That's what abstemiousness will get you - maybe.

    Gary

    P.S. Another whiskey executive who was careful with his intake was Jack Daniel, who allowed, at least during the day, only a tiny amount on his tongue to appraise the quality of his sour mash. Possibly he was more lively after hours than Julius Kessler, though. The figures of whiskey's business history provide abundant interest for the connoisseur of Americana.
    Last edited by Gillman; 01-14-2007 at 13:14.

  4. #4
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    Re: Time Magazine

    There's some great stuff in the Time archive.

    Just spent 30 minutes looking at different stories identified by searching "whiskey".

    I found:

    - precis of the industry as it was just on the eve of Repeal (this is the first of the 1301 entries, from late 1933). Lots of great facts and figures, e.g., America drank 130,000,000 gallons of alcohol before Prohibition per annum and of this, about 1% was Scotch and some Irish whiskey. Almost all was "bourbon and rye" (although much of that was blended no doubt).

    - explanation of acquisition of Old Overholt by National Distillers

    - explanation of how blends were fashioned for the early post-Repeal years

    - report on the New York City "cordial shops", which sold liquor more or less openly during Prohibition and had different grades e.g., of gin, (A, B & C - the explanation for the different prices is interesting)

    - discussion of how dentists acquired the right to precribe medicinal whiskey

    - discussion of how a Jameson/American whiskey hybrid (to which reference was made on the board some time ago, I think someone posted an old ad for it) was made: it was 25% 20 year old pot still Irish whiskey and 75% 1 year old Kentucky straight whiskey. I believe this experiment was short-lived.

    - discussion of Keeley Institute, an early treatment method for alcoholism (the founder of the system, Keeley, a Civil War doctor, propounded that the problem was a disease; this was revolutionary for the 1870's). Articles can also be found on the problems of excess drinking in general and the alleged benefits of moderate consumption of whiskey (specifically).

    - discussion of various difficulties the industry had during the war years (Second World War).

    The reportage is done in the snappy, "hard boiled" style characteristic of the period.

    A treasure trove of information indeed.

    Gary
    Last edited by Gillman; 01-14-2007 at 13:16.

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    Re: Time Magazine

    Quote Originally Posted by oldironstomach View Post
    So, set the wayback machine for 1993
    Obviously, I meant 1933!
    Dave

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    Dave

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    Re: Time Magazine

    That's a good one. Could anyone be quoted to that effect today?

    This is an America of times past ... But rock and rye is still sold and its components are.

    I predict it will come back big time, first in the New York City clubs. Maybe by 2010 or so.

    Gary

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    Re: Time Magazine

    Quote Originally Posted by Gillman View Post
    That's a good one. Could anyone be quoted to that effect today?

    This is an America of times past ... But rock and rye is still sold and its components are.

    I predict it will come back big time, first in the New York City clubs. Maybe by 2010 or so.

    Gary

    I hope you are right.

  9. #9
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    Re: Time Magazine

    The Time archive is an interesting resource. Thanks for the tip. Here's an interesting tibbit I found.

    National Distillers declared for its stockholders of record as of Sept. 15. 1934 a dividend consisting of one case of 24 pints of 15-year-old whiskey for each five shares of National Distillers Products common stock. National's brands at the time included Old Grandad, Old Taylor, Green River, Mount Vernon, Sunny Brook and McBrayer. The purpose of the dividend was to induce holders of convertible preferred stock to exercise their option to convert.

  10. #10
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    Re: Time Magazine

    There is really a lot on that site.

    One of the things I found interesting was the number of stories, starting in the later 50's until the 90's, about how consumers were wanting lighter and lighter drinks.

    There are stories about the trend to 86 proof, for example and how its lightness as compared to bonded whiskey would appeal to people who found the old-style whiskeys too heavy. And of course a lot of talk about vodka and blended whiskies.

    This was like a mantra, light light light, leading up to the big hopes for light whiskey at the end of the 1960's.

    I think the picture that is painted is of an industry that did not feel confident about its core product. I think few of the industry spokespeople quoted in this era would have predicted the surge of interest in quality straight whiskey we see today.

    Gary

 

 

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