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Something We All Knew (Whether We Knew It or Not)

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While returning from a weekend trip to Gatlinburg in East Tennessee Monday, we stopped at the Museum of Appalachia in Norris, which is among the finest such repositories of rural Americana of a period which extended well into the 20th Century in our neck of the woods.

Anyway, while there, I shot a picture of this former N.C. still:


(note the statement in upper right: "Whiskey Still; Once used in North Carolina and typical of Appalachia")

...and inexplicably failed to take a picture of the thematic item of this thread, a mule-driven grinding stone for tree bark. The purpose of grinding the bark was to access the tannic acid in it, which was used in the "tanning" of leather and other goods.

Okay, you now see where this is headed (at least you do if you drink Wild Turkey and some other familiar brands). We all know that leather is a 'taste' often found in bourbon, in general, particularly certain ones. I'm sure some have wondered where that sense comes from (while others less familiar with tasting vocabulary wonder whether it really exists:skep:). Well, here's your answer -- the tannic acid from tree bark is the substance used to give 'tanning' of leather and other goods their name. You know tree bark, don't you? It's that stuff around the trees from which bourbon barrels are made...:shocked:

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