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cowdery

James Anderson is not the Father of American Whiskey.

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cowdery

Why won't I let anyone have any fun, making up history to promote their products? Why do I have to be such a prick?

Here is my perfect explanation. Spencerfield Spirit, which markets the Pig Nose and Sheep Dip brands of blended scotch, has declared James Anderson, who started the distillery at Mount Vernon for George Washington, "The Father of American Whiskey."

They sent out a ton of press releases timed to coincide with last week's President's Day holiday and the story was picked up widely.

Nobody questioned it. They all ran the press release verbatim. Too bad it's all bullshit.

The thing is, it isn't all bullshit, in that Anderson was a real Scottish-American distiller, he just wasn't unique except for landing the job with Washington. Making whiskey for the father of our country does not make him the father of American whiskey.

But this is how crap like this winds up in Wikipedia and even in credible sources.

For more, go here.

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Lost Pollito

Gotta tell it like it is. Nice post Chuck.

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ratcheer

Chuck, I see your excellent post is not getting much response. I suppose the reason is that you made your case so correctly and completely that there isn't anything remaining to be said about the matter.

Tim

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callmeox

I'm thinking that we will see Chuck on Mythbusters eventually.

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ThomasH

I think we should promote him as the "Other Chuck". We hear about Chuck Norris brushing his teeth with a chainsaw and other silly cliches that are printed on school folders and other stuff at Walmart, Why not promote our Chuck as the whiskey myth slayer!

Thomas

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barturtle

Gee, Chuck, I don't know...for some reason it sounds like you're saying that history doesn't change, when we all know that history changes all of the time. One day we may find letters showing that the upper class, political powers that be were still whiskey snobs that we devoted to the Scots-Irish whiskies, and it wasn't until someone as prominant as Washington started up his distillery, were they willing to entertain New World Whiskey. Such letters could suggest that without Mr. Anderson convincing George to undertake such construction, American Whiskey as we know it might not have gained acceptance and therefore not have developed into what it is today.:cool:

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OscarV

Yeah of course J Anderson is not the "Father Of American Whiskey".

Being the Master Distiller at George Washington's operation meant that not only he ran a large operation but the biggest operation in America.

An operation the size of Washington's meant that it was not the first, therefore the "Father" was some generations prior to him.

Who ever that could be, any other suggestions?

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craigthom

While it's just a matter of terminology, I think Sheep Dip is a vatted malt, and calling it a blend is misleading. Yes, it's a blend of different single malts, but Four Roses Yellow and Small Batch are blends of different bourbons, and we wouldn't call them "blended whiskey".

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barturtle

It must be pointed out the the traditional usage of "Father of..." is not always the first, but tends towards the most influential. For example the "Father of Architecture" is commonly referenced as Imhotep, who "built the first pyramid", which itself is a debatable claim...but he sure as hell wasn't the first to build a building.

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sotnsipper
I'm thinking that we will see Chuck on Mythbusters eventually.

Maybe he can start his own show. Bourbonbusters? They seem to have everything else on TV these days. This may be one worth watching!

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craigthom
According to the SWA, there's no such official animal as a vatted malt.

http://www.scotch-whisky.org.uk/swa/45.html

Just because they don't define it doesn't mean it isn't useful as a descriptive term. They recently adopted those definitions, and they do call it a "blended malt", but it's still not a "blended whiskey".

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cowdery

I stand corrected. Sheep Dip is a mixture of several different malts, and most people call that a vatted malt. Pig's Nose is a blend, in that it combines several malts with a nearly-neutral grain whiskey.

Many people are resisting the term "blended malt" because the term "blend" almost universally means that neutral or nearly neutral spirits are used.

If you read the Spencerfield stuff, they don't even try to rationalize the "Father" title, they just bestow it. Ironic since they care so much about whiskey that they resurrected these two so-called orphan brands, yet they play fast and loose with American whiskey history as if it matters not at all except as a vehicle to help them sell more scotch.

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Squash

This thread seems to be going in a different direction than the title, but so be it.

I don't purport that Wikipedia is always the best place for accurate information, but I find the following useful, and more in line common experience and common sense: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whisky

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ILLfarmboy
Just because they don't define it doesn't mean it isn't useful as a descriptive term. They recently adopted those definitions, and they do call it a "blended malt", but it's still not a "blended whiskey".

I agree.

Didn't JW have to change the label of their "Green" to reflect the change in regs. I think they may have previously used the word "vatting" on the label.

Personally I think "vatted malt" is less confusing because of the word "blend's" association with blended scotch containing grain whiskeys and American blends containing GNS.

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cowdery
This thread seems to be going in a different direction than the title, but so be it.

I don't purport that Wikipedia is always the best place for accurate information, but I find the following useful, and more in line common experience and common sense: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whisky

Interesting that in that article the "types" section is almost entirely about scotch, without even a nod to anything relevant to the American experience. Although many scotch snobs equate American whiskey with Scottish grain whiskey, to do so is ignorant and wrong.

It would be an uphill battle to try to reform this section to be more balanced, and that's where Wikipedia often sucks. Overall I think it's great, but you usually need to verify what you find there from other sources. If you trust it completely you could get burned.

As for thread drift, the fact that this is a scotch company screwing with American history to sell scotch is a crucial part of my outrage.

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callmeox
Just because they don't define it doesn't mean it isn't useful as a descriptive term. They recently adopted those definitions, and they do call it a "blended malt", but it's still not a "blended whiskey".

True, but a common lingo or common terminology makes it easier to talk about these things.

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ThomasH

Diageo got into a hell of a firestorm in 2003 when they attempted to turn their Cardhu single malt into a vatted malt and then attempt to label it as pure malt in an attempt to keep up with rapid increases in the brands sales in the Spanish market. The SWA jumped all over them for it stating that the new labeling would confuse the consumer who thinks they are still getting single malt from one distillery when they in fact were getting a vatting of single malts from different distilleries. Diageo eventually went back to producing Cardhu as a single malt. To find any bottles of the Cardhu pure malt is to find a true collectors item. I actually got ahold of a mini of it that is in my collection!

Thomas

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craigthom
True, but a common lingo or common terminology makes it easier to talk about these things.

I agree, except that I think more people are familiar with the term "vatted malt". The SWA people just did that last year, I think.

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cowdery

We are not sheep. We are not even Scottish. We do not have to do what the SWA says. Bottlers may be bound by official lexicons, but I'm not.

"Pure Malt" was like "Small Batch," a term created by a marketing company for its own marketing purposes. Not necessarily a bad term or even a bad idea. The bad idea was using the Cardu name on it. When the brand name is the distillery name, it's hard to claim that the brand can mean more than the distillery.

It was consumers that forced them to back down. The SWA just followed on.

I'll probably prefer "blended malt" to "vatted malt" despite the official sanction. These are terms of art and "blend" has connotations in whiskey that outweigh its literal meaning.

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callmeox

IIRC, the professionals who actually do the blending for the producers are called blenders and master blenders. Just because the word blend has a negative connotation in the US, why use the term vatted when talking about Scots whiskey that is officially labeled as a blend? To me, that only serves to confuse people.

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cowdery

Except in this case, many more people know and are comfortable with the term "vatted malt" than have accepted and use the term "blended malt," although perhaps "blended malt" will become accepted eventually.

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jane nicol

Well our little press release has certainly provoked some debate! And yes it was a press release and not a history paper.

Of course we are not trying to re-write history but as you say we can link James Anderson to Spencerfield Farm and Mount Vernon. That is historic fact and we did a lot of research to prove that and consulted a leading academic to validate our claims.

The parochial records held in Carnegie Library, Dunfermline, show that James Anderson was born at Pitadro and returned to farm Little Spencerfield, the land that is commonly known today as Spencerfield Farm. His wife Helen Gordon was also born at Spencerfield.

We are very proud of James Anderson and the history of our farm. This is why we have called for James Anderson to be recognised as an unsung hero.

One question: Who would you nominate Father of American Whiskey Whisk(e)y?

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Josh
Well our little press release has certainly provoked some debate! And yes it was a press release and not a history paper.

Of course we are not trying to re-write history but as you say we can link James Anderson to Spencerfield Farm and Mount Vernon. That is historic fact and we did a lot of research to prove that and consulted a leading academic to validate our claims.

The parochial records held in Carnegie Library, Dunfermline, show that James Anderson was born at Pitadro and returned to farm Little Spencerfield, the land that is commonly known today as Spencerfield Farm. His wife Helen Gordon was also born at Spencerfield.

We are very proud of James Anderson and the history of our farm. This is why we have called for James Anderson to be recognised as an unsung hero.

One question: Who would you nominate Father of American Whiskey Whisk(e)y?

I think a number of people could be nominated based on sound history. The Peppers could claim the title, as could James Crow. An arguement could be made for Taylor as the father of modern American whiskey. Hell, even Jacob Beam, by virtue of being the ancestor of so many distillers, could be considered the father of American whiskey.

Or (not to go against the time-honored Great Man of History approach) maybe there isn't a father of American whiskey. (cue the patriotic music and flapping :usflag: in the background) It's a product of the many men and women who over the past 200+ yrs., through hard work and ingenuity, created what became (and continues to become) American whiskey.

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cowdery

We know that John Winthrop Jr. was the first to brew corn beer, in 1662. Corn beer would be an essential precursor to corn spirits. Since we don't know who was the first to take that beer and distill it (though it probably happened soon thereafter), Winthrop is the best nominee I can muster.

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