Whiskey, Taxes, and a Little History

Whiskey is woven throughout the history of America, whether it was the Whiskey Rebellion, prohibition, the roaring 20’s and speakeasies, or today with the renaissance of the Bourbon Trail, mixology, and classic cocktails.  Caskers in New York City posted a new Bourbon for sale yesterday that I had never heard of, with an ironic historical name, “Bower Hill.” What grabbed my attention, being a bit of history buff, was the name. Bower Hill was the home of Tax Inspector John Neville — a central figure of the Whiskey Rebellion.

Bower Hill

Here is the story from Caskers’s website:

In 1794 a group of approximately 600 Mingo Creek militiamen surrounded Federal Tax Inspector John Neville’s fortified home, rebelling against the Excise Whiskey Tax of 1791. The farmers and militiamen taking part in this “Whiskey Rebellion” were fighting for the very same principles which fueled the American Revolution, and during the attack on Neville’s home — Bower Hill — two rebel leaders were killed, including Revolutionary War Major James McFarlane. Upon completion of the two-day battle, Neville’s home was razed by fire, and now, Bower Hill and the Whiskey Rebellion are commemorated with a new rebellious spirit, Bower Hill Single Barrel Bourbon.

Distilled and aged in Louisville, Kentucky, Bower Hill Barrel Reserve Bourbon has a warm amber appearance and an aroma of vanilla spice and rich, charred oak. On the palate, there are more spicy oak tannins complemented by lush fruits and wheat toast, leading to a long, smooth finish defined by caramel and popcorn.

Bower Hill Barrel Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon just hit the market in 2015 — be the first to pick up a bottle today!

Isn’t that a great story, and what a good looking bottle! It’s a relatively new bourbon – released in 2015. I need to spend a little more time researching who makes this and what the story is behind the bourbon.

There are so many whiskeys and bourbons with historic names. George Washington is the first to come to mind. I have a bottle of Rye Whiskey from George Washington’s Distillery at Mount Vernon, Virginia (that’s a neat tour btw, we visited the distillery last spring when we were in Virginia visiting our daughter).


Jefferson’s is the another. Some of their bottles even have Thomas Jefferson’s image on them.


Booker Noe named Knob Creek after the small stream that flows through Abraham Lincoln’s childhood home in Kentucky.


Another one that comes to mind is 1792 — the year Kentucky became a state (did you know prior to becoming a state it was part of Virginia?).


And, Calumet is named for the horse farm that bred many Derby and Triple Crown Winners.


Reviews on many of these are to come.  There are many more stories behind the names of today’s whiskey brands. Next time you pick up a bottle look into its history, then sip in the sweet success of years of the distiller’s craftsmanship. I, personally, can’t wait to try Bower Hill!

All of these bourbons are available on Caskers’s website. I’ve included links to them below:

George Washington Estate Rye Whiskey (Sold out, they usually release in December)

Jefferson’s Reserve Very Old Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Knob Creek Reserve Single Barrel Bourbon

1792 Small Batch Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Calumet Farm Bourbon Whiskey

(This post was not sponsored by Caskers. I am just a big fan! It’s a great website to go to learn about bourbons and buy online.)


Collecting Old Bourbons

I collect different things – horse racing memorabilia, old sports stuff from colleges my family went to, Boy Scout badges… But the one thing I don’t collect is old bourbons.Well, until last January.

I was attending the All-American Collector’s Show in Glendale, Ca this weekend and it reminded me if a purchase a year ago at this same show.  I walked up to a booth & saw an Old Bardstown 103rd Kentucky Derby Decanter.  The 103rd Kentucky Derby was in 1977 when Seattle Slew won, and went on to win the Triple Crown.  I already have one but as a price check I asked the guy in the booth how much he wanted for it.  He said, “12 bucks and it still has the bourbon in it.”  I wasn’t interested until he said, “It has the bourbon in it.”  That was bottled 38 years ago.  I couldn’t get the money out of my pocket fast enough.

There are bourbon aficionados out there who do collect old bourbons.  It’s important to understand that bourbon does not age in the bottle like wine (If it was a 12 year old bourbon when it went in, its still a 12 year old barrel aged bourbon).  But that said, old bourbons have a different taste that is unique to their heritage and maker.  One of the most famous of those collectors is Chet Zoeller who was profiled in the June/July 2014 Garden & Gun Magazine.  He collects pre-Prohibition bourbons.

“These Prohibition-era bottles emerge periodically from their hiding spots in attics and storm cellars, places where they have spent nearly a century as fugitives from what was once the law of the land. When they do, Chet Zoeller is waiting to pounce. A septuagenarian Kentucky native, Zoeller knows as much about the history of bourbon whiskey as any man alive, and he has made it his mission to lay his hands on one bottle from each notable pre-Prohibition distiller. He’s up to 125, about halfway there. Among his prizes: a rare bottle of the once popular Green River whiskey from Daviess County, and an Old Oscar Pepper with its distinctive “OOP” on the label. While the latter brand is lost to history, the distillery itself remains in operation as Woodford Reserve.”

Like anything worth looking for, these bourbons can be found and they are still out there.  Take a look at the Garden & Gun article and look out for that old bottle of bourbon in your Grandfathers kitchen cabinet.  So, I ask you this — Should I open the bottle of Old Bardstown?