When we pull our preferred liquor choices off store shelves, we seldom give thought to the people behind the creation of these stellar spirits. From bottles to T-shirts to guitars, we see these commonly used iconic names being used for marketing all kinds of products. How did this whole distilling thing get started, anyway?
Harnessing the American “Spirit”: Outlaws Who Helped Shape Our Alcohol Culture
To fully appreciate that glass in your hands and how it came to be, we must know a little bit about the scandalous stories of those courageous enough to defy the law, create with passion, and commit to making the world a more delicious place through their innovation. Here are some stories of distillers who set the standard by which we all live and do business in today’s culture:
Mary Wazeniak: Moonshiner Extraordinaire
“Moonshine Mary,” as she was more affectionately called, ran a speakeasy in Chicago, Illinois in the 1800s. She dabbled in distilling to keep her customers relaxed and happy while they were in her care. Mary gained notoriety when one of her loyal customers dropped dead from methanol poisoning after six shots of her homemade moonshine. Mary was sentenced to a year in prison for this supposed crime, and this is where the story gets more scandalous.
The Federal government, at this time, was attempting to seed the idea into the American psyche that alcohol was evil and that its devastating effects could do drinkers no good. Many times, it was a federal government “plant” that would place chemical additives into homemade batches of shine to make them undrinkable and toxic to the public. It was likely that Mary was set up and then framed for this heinous act in order for the Federal government to advance their agenda of gloom and doom. Thanks, Feds!
Simon Powell & Sons Distillery Employees: Blown To Kingdom Come
In 1880, the fine folks at Simon Powell & Sons Distillery had a pressurized steam cooker that had become quite efficient at cooking and preparing mash for distillation. A clog in a line had developed, making it difficult to continue the process, so the project engineer ordered that the heat and power to the boiler be increased to force the clog through. Unfortunately, the boiler reached its breaking point, exploding and sending the boiler over 200 feet straight up in the air before coming to rest somewhere on Morgan street. The dastardly boiler took the lives of six distillery workers that day, including loyal wives whose only crime was attempting to bring their husbands a dinner pail.
Thomas Lincoln: Father To Abraham
Believe it or not, Abraham Lincoln’s ancestors had ties to the whiskey movement sweeping across the country before he was a candidate for the presidency. His father traded all of their worldly belongings for a few barrels of whiskey that would serve as currency for their new life in a new part of the country. The journey to the new land was not without its peril, but eventually, the family was able to carve out a little piece of prosperity as Lincoln began his modest education that would get him to the White House. Blame it on his father’s whimsical ideas for making a quick buck, but Lincoln always had aspirations of creating a morally sound society without all the trappings of booze, entertainment, and frivolity. He implemented some of these ideals during his short term as President of the United States.
Doc Boggs: Our own predecessor
Our beloved Doc Boggs was a folk musician just trying to make an honest living for himself and his family; as he struggled to make something of himself and his music, he took a job as a coal miner. The grueling hours of a coal miner were downright dangerous and dirty---and they only paid $.07 per hour!
Doc quickly realized that this meager salary wasn’t going to do the trick; he began making homemade moonshine and “running bootleg” to support himself and his family. Ironically, he made quite a name for himself and his award-winning recipes; people still clamor for the time-tested hand-me-downs that people spoke so highly of. Lip-smacking apple pie, blackberry, and signature white lightning flavors are just a few of the delicious offerings that he has created; flavors that we commit to recreating and savoring with every sip.
Want a taste? Contact us today!
You, too, can pay homage to those who have gone before us and paved the way to better spirits. Palmetto Distillery’s delicious shine flavors and award-winning whiskey are the result of those who have sacrificed much to perfect the distilling process. Pick up some bottles of your favorite flavors today! Visit www.palmettodistillery.com to place an order.