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Another Historical Tidbit

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Guest **DONOTDELETE**

Here is another document from the Filson Historical Society's archive for you to consider. It is from the the Eli Houston Brown III papers and was written by John Stone who was born in 1745 and came to Kentucky in 1790 from Virginia. It is undated but the correspondence of Stone ends in 1833 and the paper and such makes me think about 1800.

"Pennington Method Stillery

Take 12 gallons water into a tub then put in one bus.l corn meal and stir. Will go over three tubs in this manner Then begin at the first tub & put into it 10 or 12 gallons of boiling water in each then stir as above Then fill your still again with water to boil - 20 minutes after this put 4 gallons of cold water to each tub Then add one gallon of malt add to this half bus'l rye meal Stir these all together Will when the still boils add 10 gallons boiling water to each tub Stir as aforsaid Then let your tubs stand ab't 3 or 4 hours after which fill up your tubs with cold water Stir as aforsaid Then let your tubs stand until as warm as milk or rather cooler then yeast them"

Is this a "Bourbon" mash? It sounds that way to me. If so this kills the Craig myth probably by 10 years or so.

Mike Veach

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Guest **DONOTDELETE**

Mike I am perplexed by this. I am thinking that rather than milling dryed kernnels of corn the first distillers of corn whiskey would just pick it fresh and cut the corn off the cob with a knife thereby making the mash a sweet fresh cream style corn ready to cook and capture wild yeast out of the air. Once the mash has "worked a while" then you just toss it into the still. This is the way I've always done it.Are there no written records of such a process?

Linn Spencer

Have Shotglass. Will Travel.

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Guest **DONOTDELETE**

Linn,

I have never seen any such recipes but that does not mean they don't exist.

Mike Veach

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cowdery

This is really remarkable. I would not have expected there to be bourbon-like formula around that early. What a great find!

--Chuck Cowdery

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cowdery

How corn was used and processed in pioneer America would be an interesting study unto itself. We always think of distilling as a by-product of milling, so it seems likely that most corn used in distilling was dried and milled first. The reasons for this are another question. One can certainly imagine a very thirsty pioneer following your method.

--Chuck Cowdery

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Guest **DONOTDELETE**

Another thing is that there's nothing about that recipe to make you think it was a particularly uncommon, experimental method even then. Whether Pennington or someone else "invented" the corn-malt-rye combination, that might have been well before this description of it was written.

=John=

http://w3.one.net/~jeffelle/whiskey

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MashBill

Linn,

Interesting concept, but I'm not sure it fits in with the frugal lifestyle of our ancestors.

Corn that is grown to make bourbon, corn meal, and animal feed (we call it field corn here in Kansas) is much different than the sweet corn that we eat. It is very hard stuff. I don't think you could cut matured field corn off of the cob. If you pick it very early it is edible, but it is still very tough and not nearly as sweet as the sweet corn that we humans eat. I doubt that our pioneer forefathers would harvest field corn that early, as they would get much less yield (bushels/acre) and they would have a hard time keeping it from spoiling. Fully matured field corn is much higher in volume (more bushels/acre) and is very dry. Sweet corn that is left to mature on the stock will usually rot before it dries out.

By the way, how did yours turn out?

Bill

http://home.kc.rr.com/mashbill/

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MashBill

Mike,

It sure sounds like a bourbon mash to me. This is very interesting information. Thanks for sharing it with us. Wouldn't it be fun to have a time machine so we could go back and find out for ourselves ......

Bill

http://home.kc.rr.com/mashbill/

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Guest **DONOTDELETE**

Bill at that early date there weren't any hybred varities that I am aware of. Corn was corn. Does out there know for sure?

I haven't made any corn liquor in many years, but I'm going to bring a sample from a local micro-batch distiller to the festival. Unaged corn moonshine is best used as fuel additive. Bourbon it ain't.

Linn Spencer

Have Shotglass. Will Travel.

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Guest **DONOTDELETE**

I agree Chuck. That is why I posted it here. It also shoots holes into the already leaky Elijah Craig myth.

Mike Veach

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Guest **DONOTDELETE**

I sort of thought the same thing myself. We might very well be posting these on the straightpennington.com site if history went another way.

Mike Veach

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Guest **DONOTDELETE**

You are right Linn. It has not been that long that hybrid corn was developed (the 1940's if I am not mistaken) and in my fathers time there was only "flint and dent" varieties of corn.

Mike Veach

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Guest **DONOTDELETE**

Chuck,

I think economics also played a big part. What else do you do with the left over corn from the previous year that needs to be used so the crib will be empty for the fall's crop.

Mike Veach

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cowdery

While it's true that they didn't have modern hybrids 150 years ago, it isn't quite true to say "corn was corn" either. On the original wild grass from which maize was derived, the "ears" were about two inches long and about as big around as a pencil. The Native Americans worked on it for 6,000 years to get a plant that stood about three feet tall and produced ears about 5 inches long. They obviously figured out a thing or two about selective breeding which means they must have had different varieties for different purposes. Since the Europeans learned maize cultivation from the Natives, I'm sure they did too.

--Chuck Cowdery

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bourbonv

I am working on an article using this information and some other documents I have found to look at the origin of bourbon. It is looking more and more like bourbon was called bourbon because of a French influence, not in Kentucky, but in New Orleans in the 1820's.

Mike Veach

a.k.a. "DONOTDELETE"

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brendaj

Hey Mike!

What up?

Please let us know when you finish your article. I definitely want to read!

Since we all know that Bourbon's name has much to do with the fact that it was shipped from Limestone, in Bourbon County, and Bourbon County was named as a tip-of-the-hat to the french for their help, it would stand to reason that the french population would know of its existance. New Orleans would most likely be a major recipient of the whiskey shipped from there. Since there were loads of french in New Orleans, I can see how they would be the ones to start calling it Bourbon.

The guys loading it to the boats probably didn't call it Bourbon, the probably called it whiskey...or whisky, or shine...or...

Are you coming to the Festival this year?

Bj

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bourbonv

Brenda,

You know the legend, but the history, as I am finding out, is quite different. First of all forget all of the Elijah Craig legend. I have yet to find anything that supports Collins' claim in his History of Kentucky. Craig certainly did not create the recipe. Charred barrels were not commonly used until 10 to 15 years after his death. And even the sour mash process seems to be a common process.

I will give you a hint about the New Orleans connection: If you live in Kentucky and make whiskey, what do you do to that whiskey to make it more appealing to the French people in the market that is easiest to ship the whiskey?

Mike Veach

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bourbonmed

Mike,

Welcome back, Mr. Bourbon Historian. We look forward to seeing you at the festival. drink.gif

Omar

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Dave_in_Canada

Answer: Invent stainless steel drums? HA smile.gif

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brendaj

Mike,

what do you do to that whiskey to make it more appealing to the French

Ok, I'm in...I was gonna crack jokes about pink panties and waving white flags, but I'll refrain... smirk.gif

Back then, the French weren't such wussies.

so tell me, tell me...

Bj

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bourbonv

Brenda,

My research indicates that Cognac was first aged in charred barrels in 1440. So if you want to sell whiskey to the French heritage people in New Orleans, you make it taste more like Cognac and age it in charred barrels. You might even decide to give it a French sounding name, say "bourbon" for example.

Take three glasses and pour some bourbon, cognac and scotch. Which two are closest in flavor profile? When did they start aging scotch in charred barrels? Not before the Americans started aging bourbon is my guess and I base this on the fact that between 1817 and 1861 there was no federal tax on spirits so a person could afford the loss to the angels, but there sure was a tax on scotch at that time and the tax was right of the still. Any loss in aging would cost somebody money.

Mike Veach

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Dave_in_Canada

And don't forget that the King of France at the time was from the House of BOURBON (if history serves me right).

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brendaj

Mike,

Cognac was first aged in charred barrels in 1440. So if you want to sell whiskey to the French heritage people in New Orleans, you make it taste more like Cognac and age it in charred barrels.

Well I'll be! That makes perfect sense.

I can't wait to read that article.

Bj

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bourbonv

Dave,

Another valid point except that is a two edged sword. Many people loyal to Napoleon left France for New Orleans because of the Bourbon King. Then again during the time of the revolution many loyalist came to America to escape the revolution. I think it boils down to Kentuckians picking the most French sounding name (that had not been Americanized like Versailles).

Mike Veach

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bourbonv

Brenda,

Think of bourbon at that time as "corn brandy" and I think you will see what they were shooting for.

Mike Veach

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