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cowdery

James Anderson is not the Father of American Whiskey.

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fishnbowljoe
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.

I agree with Josh. It is simply too hard to pin the title of "Father Of American Whiskey" on just one person. From the time the first settlers arrived in America, to the early 19th Century, and even in some respect to today, American whiskey has been an evolving child. One farmer distilled in a certain manner. Another farmer distilled a bit differently etc. etc. etc.... Somewhere along the way, someone took different ideas and different ways of distilling, from different people and areas, and merged them into something a little bit different/better yet. Maybe someone else in some other part of the country did the same thing. Then again, someone else from yet another part of the country did the same thing too, only again, just a little bit differently. I liken it to a pyramid. There is a very broad base, that eventually reaches a pinnacle. (Have we even reached the pinnacle yet?) To me American whiskey had it's beginnings with people whose names we'll never know. The names we know, (those mentioned by Josh, and others) were the ones who managed to take different ideas and processes, and come up with something just a bit better, and nurture them to fruition. Lord knows how many times this happened during the history of our country before it all started coming together. Also, just how much luck was involved? Hmmmm, let's char some barrels.

I tend to think that some John Doe from Doodah County Delaware has more to do with the real evolution of American whiskey than James Anderson. James Anderson made whiskey for a president. John Doe made it for himself, his neighbors and to help himself eke out a living. That's one helluva motivator. (This is where we cue the music. Aaron Copeland's Fanfare For The Common Man is most apropos.) Throughout the history of bourbon and American whiskey, (at least what little I know of it so far) certain people have been acknowledged as having an important impact on bourbon and American whiskey. This even goes so far as being dubbed the father of bourbon, etc... All hail Elijah Craig! It is my belief that they all are step-fathers of a beautiful child that has yet to reach maturity. I know I won't see this baby reach maturity in my lifetime. In a way, I hope it never grows up. It's always growing, changing, and evolving. (Cue music again. This time, Also sprach Zarathustra by Strauss. For those that don't know it by name, it's the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey.) Remember, the only thing constant, is change itself. Sometimes change is good. Sometimes it's not. We can only hope and work for the former. Well, I guess I've had my say. :soapbox: I usually don't get this preachy. Sorry. I guess I'm starting to feel comfortable with what I know and what I believe about whiskey and it's history. It's all good! Joe

PS. Besides, who the heck is Jane Nicol. Shoot, I know Chuck! :slappin:

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bourbonv

President Taft, 100 years ago this year, made the decision that defined American whiskeys as we know them today. He would have to be the "Father of American Whiskey" because before the decision there was no definition of style.

Mike Veach

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cowdery

Jane Nicol is one of the owners of Spencerfield Spirit, the company that is promoting James Anderson as "the Father of American Whiskey" as a promotion for Sheep Dip and Pig Nose scotch.

It's the use of corn/maize, a New World grain, that makes American whiskey American, so the first (unknown) person to distill a spirit from a mash containing corn could certainly claim the title, if we had any idea who that person was.

Such designations can be very subjective, and depend a lot on your criteria, as Mike demonstrates. Even allowing that, there's just no good way to rationalize giving it to Anderson, as by all indications his distillery and its products were typical of the period and not in any way unique.

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Josh
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.

The first white guy in North America to do it maybe. They've been making it in South America for centuries. It's called chicha (or something like that) in Peru. Most art or history museums with a decent South American artifact collection will have some chicha jars.

A friend who lives in Ecuador has had it and describes it as "nasty", but she said that for some reason it tastes better with bugs floating in it. :skep:

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Rughi
...They've been making it in South America for centuries. It's called chicha (or something like that) in Peru...

I've heard stories about chicha, it seems very...traditional.

I believe chicha is fermented but not distilled, so it's more similar to a mash than a whiskey.

Roger

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cowdery

Let's say the first European then, as you're right that chicha de jora is corn beer.

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pepcycle

Well it looks like this has been beaten well enough, so I'll hijack.

There is no father of anything without a mother.

I propose that Bad Tom Smith of Breathitt County be the declared the Mother of American Whiskey.

His gallows confession included, "Bad whiskey and Bad women have brought me to where I am", truly the words a BMF.

(If you need more info on Bad Tom, look up Eversole-French Feud of Eastern KY)

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cowdery

That reminds me of a statement from Son House, in which he says that he had religion, but the whiskey and the women would not let him pray.

And you, Ed, should know as well as anyone that nothing here is ever beaten well enough.

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