Sitting inside while watching the snow come down through the window I’m convinced is why man invented whiskey. Now that rye whiskey has made a resurgence, I can enjoy the weather the same way my Pennsylvania ancestors did, before that failed nanny state experiment known as Prohibition nearly killed this local style forever. But when it comes to rye, there’s some things appearing in the market place I don’t understand.
There’s currently several market attempts to essentially pass off as high-end product something that closely resembles moonshine. The first one I’ve tried recently is Dad’s Hat Pennsylvania Rye. This is a new rye brand that’s made locally right next door in Bristol, and while I think this rye has great potential if aged more, my first reaction was that it was bottled before its time. Dad’s Hat also make a white, un-aged whiskey product. I noticed the other dayÂ Jack Daniels is making one as wellÂ that sells for close to 40 dollars (!!!!) a fifth at the local state store.
I have no issue with the idea un-aged, or little aged whiskey products, but white whiskey is usually referred to as white lightning, or white dog. It is what you end up with after multiple distillations of the mash, but before the whiskey goes into the charred, white oak barrels which is where, over time, it turns from white lightning into whiskey. Whiskeys that were un-aged, or aged too little, were previously relegated to either the bottom shelf, or bottles that said XXX that your Uncle kept hidden out behind the woodshed.
I get nostalgia for the good ol’ days when our alcoholic ancestors drank motor fuel, but I’m just not going to pay a premium for something that’s not far from what grandpa used to store in the bathtub in case the Treasury men came knocking. Old Overholt is a perfectly fine rye whiskey for the price. Bulleit is also making a decent rye for less money. I currently have in the cabinet a Knob Creek rye that I like a lot. There’s a lot of companies starting to manufacture decent rye whiskey. But I don’t get the idea of selling un-aged or poorly aged products and charging top shelf prices for it. Surely this is a fad?
UPDATE: Uncle explains the origins.
Besides, the Whiskey Rebellion didn’t really have as disastrous an effect on Monongahela as is often portrayed. It could be argued, in fact, that it was the best thing to happen to American whiskey since the Revolutionary War popularized the substitution of American products for such “loyalist” items as tea and rum. The imposition of the excise tax may have made distilling prohibitive to some individual farmers, but for the commercial distiller the result was the elimination of an entire class of competition, and at a cost that could be simply added as an expense to the final price.