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Another Historical Tidbit

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Dave_in_Canada

That's why you're the historian! You guys think of all the angles. smile.gif

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bobbyc

Even if the Ky Distillers did not have a good Cognac to emulate, A flatboat trip from Maysville or Louisville to New Orleans, in some accidently charred barrels would net a similiar result.

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bobbyc

Bourbon County was formed from Fayette County in 1786. Most of the Bourbon producing area of our state was contained in Jefferson and Lincoln County as per a map of Ky counties 1780.

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bourbonv

Bobby,

I don't think there was any accident in the charring of the barrels. Consider this - Before 1803 there were two things that prevented the creation of aged bourbon. The first was no market. New Orleans was closed more than open to western markets and when it was open it often involved bribes to Spanish or French Governors. The other was the whiskey tax which was not repealled until 1802. It took the best part of a year to make the trip by flat boat and to return by horse. How many trips down there would it take before they decided to try something to increase sales. Lets say ten. Boom! the War of 1812 starts and another tax until 1817. Finally they can experiment with aging and minimum loss of revenue. Four years later in 1821 they have aged product and they take it down on a new fangled steamboat. It sells well and the idea catches on and in the 1820's we start seeing aged bourbon advertised.

Mike Veach

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kitzg

Your article sounds fascinating, Mike. Let us know when it will be published and if it's published somewhere we can get it.

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bourbonv

I am working on some additional papers from the Corlis-Respess family that came to us a little over a year ago. This is the same family that owned the distillery in Bourbon County in the early 19th century and has the reference to charring the barrels in 1826.

In 1820 John Corlis sends 50 hogsheads of tobacco to New Orleans on 4 steamboats leaving Louisville. When the first boat arrives in New Orleans, his man writes him and amongst other things, gives him the price of whiskey in New Orleans at that time. He states that it is "40@43". I am assuming that this is a 40 gallon barrel, the average size of the time, at 43 cents a gallon. This is a fairly low price considering that is pretty close to the prices in Kentucky at the time. If the price of cognac was higher than that, then they might have decided to see what they could do to get "cognac prices" for their whiskey. They may have even used empty cognac barrels to put some whiskey in to start the process.

Mike Veach

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cowdery

Although I can't support this with any documentation at the moment, I did some research about 20 years ago into the origins of Southern Comfort. I discovered that the "Southern Comfort Cocktail" was created by a New Orleans bar owner, M.W. Heron, in an attempt to make green, frontier whiskey taste more like cognac. To that end, he added various flavorings and colorings. Cognac was considered the best thing available to drink in that place and time and fetched a good price.

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bourbonv

Chuck,

A very interesting point. What year are we talking about? I never really looked into it, but I thought Southern Comfort was post Civil War.

Mike Veach

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tdelling

>What year are we talking about? I never really looked into it,

>but I thought Southern Comfort was post Civil War.

Their marketing department propigates the story that Southern Comfort

was created in 1874, and originally named "Cuffs and Buttons".

Tim Dellinger

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bourbonv

Tim,

That is pretty much what I remember being told. Still I would not rule out completely that it was created before it was mass marketed outside of New Orleans. I doubt that is the case because marketing people will sieze upon the smallest thread to push back their "founding date" in this industry.

Mike Veach

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tdelling

>Still I would not rule out completely that it was created before it was

>mass marketed outside of New Orleans.

The history of "rectified" American whiskey is one of those areas that

I've always been interested in, but I haven't had time to delve into.

One reason is the lack of information out there... whiskey with "flavor

additives" is not always looked at kindly, and thus doesn't get much

press.

I have vague notions that at various times and places in American history,

flavored whiskies were the predominant form of consumption, but I'm just

not very sure.

We've all seen "whiskey recipes" consisting of raw spirit, water, coffee,

tobacco, various fruits, etc.... certainly these recipes have been around

for a while. If a pre-bourbon recipe can be found, we can ask similar

questions that you're asking about bourbon:

Was cognac the notion of quality drink, which these recipes were trying

to emulate? Is cognac the genesis of dark-color-as-an-indication-of-quality,

which lead to the inclusion of coffee, tobacco, etc. in these recipes?

In other words, if they're emulating bourbon before the "invention" of

bourbon, then this points to cognac as the inspiration for both drinks.

Tim Dellinger

p.s. I foresee, one day, a re-emergence of "rectified" whiskies. I know

that Wild Turkey makes a "honey liqueur", but other than that, Southern

Comfort is the only thing that comes close.

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bourbonv

Tim,

I have done some research into the rectifying of bourbon. The Filson has several examples of flavoring the new whiskey to make a gin or cherry bounce or even a fruit cordial. I also did a program here with Lincoln Henderson called 100 Years of Bottled in Bond. I found a recipe for recitified bourbon from 1861 in a book at the Getz Museum. It seems that I posted it here at the time. Lincoln then took the recipe and made the 5 gallons that the recipe called for, bottled it and put a label on it calling it "Clark and Lewis - The whiskey that rectified history". We tasted that product along with some Old Taylor bottled in 1918, Old Taylor bottled in 1928, a prohibition rye bottled 1933, Bankers and Brokers - a Stitzel-Weller bond from 1941 and some modern Old Forester 100 proof.

The rectified whiskey was interesting. There was a lot of carmel tones - but not bourbon caramel. There was the minty tones of wintergreen often found in old bourbon - but this was more like Altoids wintergreen. There was even the red color, but again, not bourbon red. It tasted more like a cordial than a whiskey. I have some and if you are ever in Louisville, look me up and I will let you try it.

Mike Veach

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Gillman

Good thoughts all, Tim.

Rectification in the sense of flavoured never really went away. Look at the raft of flavoured vodkas and coolers out there. Even unflavoured "clean" vodka would likely have been regarded as a good young whiskey in the 1800's, at least a good young rye whiskey (a young Monongahela). Whereas the pedigree of bourbon very early on seems anchored on the concept of charred barrel aging. Was cognac the model? Quite possibly. There is that theory (I believe advanced by Chuck Cowdery or John Lipman) that the very name Bourbon was intended as a reference in New Orleans to a cognac brandy substitute..

Gary

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ratcheer

I don't really keep up on vodka, but I recall seeing recent ads for a Polish vodka made from 100% rye. In a very real sense, this is just young rye whiskey. And, I also recall reading an article (it may have been right here on sb.com) that said that the rye whiskey of colonial times was much more akin to vodka than to anything we would call (modern) whiskey.

Tim

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