Whiskey is woven into the fabric of American history. Two hundred years ago, Americans preferred whiskey over all other drinks. The imbibing began at sunrise before we did our hard work and continued long into the evening after we’d returned from our fields, offices, and factories.
Why was whiskey so popular?
Just what made whiskey so attractive to the masses throughout history? In the 1800s, the average adult male put away nearly 10 gallons of hard liquor a year. It was considered normal for an adult to consume nearly half a pint of whiskey per day!
Colonial society deemed whiskey, gin, rum, and brandy to be supplemental foods that enhanced limited, often monotonous diets. It was also seen as a medicine, used to “cure” ailments like colds, flu, fever, and disinfecting wounds. Firewater was woven into the fabric of tradition, and its use was expected in many capacities.
Americans also drank whiskey because it was cheap and easily obtained. The corn surplus of the early 1800s left so much corn flowing across the Midwest that it was necessary to distill it in order to reduce the potential waste. A gallon of whiskey produced from this plentiful grain cost only 25 cents, making it accessible to ordinary joe and sophisticated aristocrat alike.
Why not water?
Oof….water was not an option at this time in American history, for with its consumption came a host of undesirable health conditions and maladies. Citizens at the mouth of the mighty Mississippi had to let water obtained from it stand for several hours before drinking it in order to let sediment drift to the bottom of the container. Others who weren’t quite so adventurous chose to collect rainwater that dripped from their rooftops into cisterns, but this was not a reliable enough source to quench thirst during a drought or dry spell. Rural areas lacked resources to build adequate well and drainage structures, and these could not be relied on to produce water that was clean and safe enough to drink.
It was thought back in the day that water was the drink of the “lowly and disadvantaged.” After all, it was the drink of swine, cattle, and horses! Erroneous beliefs circulated regarding water’s lethal nature if drunk warm or hot, which caused many to steer clear.
Developing A Taste For Whiskey--One Meal At A Time
Today’s varied food choices are not reflective of the cuisine that was available to our American ancestors. Thank goodness whiskey was complimentary to many of the bland dishes that were consumed during our country’s formative years---it seemed that everything at that time was corn-based, from the bread to the puddings to the beverage that we speak so highly of. Tradition taught hardworking Americans that whiskey aided in the digestion of fatty and salty foods, so it was used regularly as a chaser to heavy meals and nighttime binges.
Americans believed that God made corn for America and Americans for corn; as such it was given the title of “national beverage.” Even though there are many other contenders for that title in today’s day and age, whiskey still earns the respect and reverence of all who know even a bit about its role in history and how it helped to shape American culture.
Palmetto Distillery: Continuing Great Traditions Today!
Palmetto Distillery is a meticulous labor of love for brothers Trey and Bryan Boggs, direct descendants of the renowned moonshiner, Doc Boggs. With the utmost respect for the traditions, recipes, and distillation methods of their ancestors, they pour their passions into every batch of moonshine and whiskey that they create. The result? Award-winning spirits that are an experience in and of themselves. If you want to savor the superior flavor of the South, contact us today to set up a tour or a tasting. Visit www.palmettomoonshine.com for more information.