Favorite Civil War whiskey?

major bill

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Joined
Aug 25, 2012
I understand the most popular whiskey in America at the time of the Civil War was Irish whiskey. I am not sure if Tennessee whiskey was popular yet. I assume that Canadian whiskey and Scotch whiskey was available. Some probably drank moonshine whiskey. I was wondering if Irish whiskey and Canadian whiskey tasted the same as it does today? There must be records of whiskey making but whiskey makers may not have given out their recipes.
 

FedericoFCavada

First Sergeant
Joined
Jan 27, 2015
Location
San Antonio, Texas
At no point in the history of the United States was the consumption of distilled spirits greater than in the early Republic. We're talking five gallons per person per annum average. That is a lot of corn mash whiskey.

The best book on the subject, and one that goes a considerable way into explaining the rising popularity of the temperance movement in the United States, is W.J. Rorabaugh, The Alcoholic Republic: An American Tradition (Oxford UP, 1979).

P. 173: "If Americans had wanted to drink fermented beverages, most could have afforded them As one observer put it, distilled liquor was preferred 'not because it is so much cheaper, but because it is so much more powerful.' " ... p. 176: "If the preference for distilled spirits over fermented beverages reflected American needs, so did the rejection of other available euphoric drugs, such as opium. During the 1820s it was estimated that there were a thousand liquor drinkers for each opium user, a hundred drunkards for each opium addict. ... "

By the Civil War, consumption of whiskey had begun to fall... Industrial laborers began to drink beer, which required lagering and other processes, but was gaining in popularity and market share.
From 1830-1836 Americans drank on average 4.7 gallons of distilled spirits--mostly whiskey, some rum--per capita, while by 1861 and 1870, the consumption was 2.1 gallons of spirits and dropping.

British drank 1.4 gallons of distilled spirits in 1830-1836, and 1.3 by 1861-1870. On the other hand, Scots went from 6.1 gallons of whiskey in 1820-1823 to 13.9 in 1847-1853! Ireland went from 1.5 gallons per capita per annum between 1830-1836, to 4.4 gallons during the 1847-1853--years of the famine and mass immigration...
Swedes consumed "brannvin" in prodigious quantity: 12.1 to 16 gallons per capita in 1830-1836, but 2.6 gallons by the Civil War years 1861-1870... Early recommendations in Sweden for "moderation" listed "only" seven drinks per day, to be consumed as a tipple at various periods of the day. Travelers in sleds and sleighs in the dead of winter were given recommendations of how many liters of booze they should bring.

Wine in the Civil War years was just .3 gals. per capita per annum in the USA. Beer had risen to 4.2 gallons per persons 15 years of age or older per year by the time of the Civil War.

Frenchmen and women drank 26.4 gallons of wine per capita at the time of the U.S. Civil War. That actually rose in the early 20th century. Beer consumption in the UK during the American Civil War was upwards of 32 gallons per capita. This fell to 21.5 gallons after the anti-pub laws and watering down of beer began in earnest during WWI. Too much grain, imported past German U-boats and sea mines was going to beer and ale, it was reasoned. So it was repeatedly cut back, making ever weaker beers. Licensing hours greatly reduced the times when people could go to pubs. The laws remained in place for the most part long after WWI... By 1919-1922 and the strike wave in postwar UK, it was 21.5 gallons of beer and ale per capita per annum.

Personally, I'd really like to try the Thomas Francis Meagher "fightin' 69th" regimental cocktail? He diluted Irish whiskey with some Vichy water. A hapless Irish private was sent out to get some Vichy water for him, and finding none, diluted the Irish whiskey with Champagne! Meagher pronounced it the official regimental drink... Or so the "blarney" has it!
 
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Fairfield

Sergeant Major
Joined
Dec 5, 2019
The drinking of whiskey (or whisky on the other side of The Pond) is an old tradition. The earliest reference in this country that I could find was in 1622 when a Virginian was killed and scalped by indians whom he had gotten drunk on what may have been corn whiskey. 1794 was the date of the Whiskey Rebellion (mainly in western PA) as a follow-up to Alexander Hamilton's whiskey tax (farmers all over the country were making their own).

In the ACW, apparently Confederates were drinking bourbon whiskey from Kentucky (names such as Old Crow and Old Pepper). Union troops were getting whiskey from home as well as making their own. Whiskey was being taxed in the north to help underwrite war costs.

Did the recipes change? Some did but, as a whole, I suspect most were either untouched or merely tweaked. When the recipe for Jack Daniels was altered in 1956, loyal fans were up in arms and even circulated a petition. Southern Comfort has been modified--to great outrage. It is a point of pride--and marketing--both in US and Scotland that the recipe is old.

1622128943429.png
 
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major bill

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Joined
Aug 25, 2012
At no point in the history of the United States was the consumption of distilled spirits greater than in the early Republic. We're talking five gallons per person per annum average. That is a lot of corn mash whiskey.

The best book on the subject, and one that goes a considerable way into explaining the rising popularity of the temperance movement in the United States, is W.J. Rorabaugh, The Alcoholic Republic: An American Tradition (Oxford UP, 1979).

P. 173: "If Americans had wanted to drink fermented beverages, most could have afforded them As one observer put it, distilled liquor was preferred 'not because it is so much cheaper, but because it is so much more powerful.' " ... p. 176: "If the preference for distilled spirits over fermented beverages reflected American needs, so did the rejection of other available euphoric drugs, such as opium. During the 1820s it was estimated that there were a thousand liquor drinkers for each opium user, a hundred drunkards for each opium addict. ... "

By the Civil War, consumption of whiskey had begun to fall... Industrial laborers began to drink beer, which required lagering and other processes, but was gaining in popularity and market share.
From 1830-1836 Amerians drank on average 4.7 gallons of distilled spirits--mostly whiskey, some rum--per capita, while by 1861 and 1870, the consumption was 2.1 gallons of spirits and dropping.

British drank 1.4 gallons of distilled spirits in 1830-1836, and 1.3 by 1861-1870. On the other hand, Scots went from 6.1 gallons of whiskey in 1820-1823 to 13.9 in 1847-1853! Ireland went from 1.5 gallons per capita per annum between 1830-1836, to 4.4 gallons during the 1847-1853--years of the famine and mass immigration...
Swedes consumed "brannvin" in prodigious quantity: 12.1 to 16 gallons per capita in 1830-1836, but 2.6 gallons by the Civil War years 1861-1870... Early recommendations in Sweden for "moderation" listed "only" seven drinks per day, to be consumed as a tipple at various periods of the day. Travelers in sleds and sleighs in the dead of winter were given recommendations of how many liters of booze they should bring.

Wine in the Civil War years was just .3 gals. per capita per annum in the USA. Beer had risen to 4.2 gallons per persons 15 years of age or older per year by the time of the Civil War.

Frenchmen and women drank 26.4 gallons of wine per capita at the time of the U.S. Civil War. That actually rose in the early 20th century. Beer consumption in the UK during the American Civil War was upwards of 32 gallons per capita. This fell to 21.5 gallons after the anti-pub laws and watering down of beer began in earnest during WWI. Too much grain, imported past German U-boats and sea mines was going to beer and ale, it was reasoned. So it was repeatedly cut back, making ever weaker beers. Licensing hours greatly reduced the times when people could go to pubs. The laws remained in place for the most part long after WWI... By 1919-1922 and the strike wave in postwar UK, it was 21.5 gallons of beer and ale per capita per annum.

Personally, I'd really like to try the Thomas Francis Meagher "fightin' 69th" regimental cocktail? He diluted Irish whiskey with some Vichy water. A hapless Irish private was sent out to get some Vichy water for him, and finding none, diluted the Irish whiskey with Champagne! Meagher pronounced it the official regimental drink... Or so the "blarney" has it!
Thank you for this information. It appears we had some drinkers in the 1800s
 

FedericoFCavada

First Sergeant
Joined
Jan 27, 2015
Location
San Antonio, Texas
Thank you for this information. It appears we had some drinkers in the 1800s
Crop yields were often enormous in America in comparison with the often exhausted farmland in Europe... "Indian corn" or maize (Zea mays) is something of a botanical wonder crop, and yields in much of the United States were considerable... With poor infrastructure, and a surplus of corn anyway... It could be freely distributed to hogs and livestock, turned into various foods--although a poor diet of just maize/corn alone resulted in the dietary disease of pellagra caused by a deficiency of niacin. Transport by river on flat boats or other watercraft resulted in a product that was everywhere in abundance, cheap, and simply not worth the cost to ship to market... The result? Distill the stuff into whiskey. The "water o' life" simply gets better with age, and lasts a very long time in casks... Although there is always the loss incurred by the "angel's share." So whiskey became something of a non-monetary currency in much of frontier America. It could be swapped, traded, bartered, etc. There was often a ready market for it among Native Americans, and of course, it was "safe to drink" and could really help smooth out the very many very rough edges of life in the 19th century... Rorabaugh argued that drinking whiskey often promoted masculine aggression, which in turn was valued by rough-hewn Jacksonian common men interested in things like fighting duels, brawling, and even knife fighting with Bowie knives and so on... So since so much was available, it was therefore commonly consumed. Resistance to whiskey taxes suggests how wedded to it people were... They didn't start growing barley and brewing beer, for instance, like, say, "across the pond" in much of the UK south of Scotland...

Also, while it strikes us as odd, in Civil War times and certainly well before, it was made from grain, so it just had to be good for ya... Right? :smoke: :coffee::rolleyes:
 

leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
May 27, 2011
Location
los angeles ca
Crop yields were often enormous in America in comparison with the often exhausted farmland in Europe... "Indian corn" or maize (Zea mays) is something of a botanical wonder crop, and yields in much of the United States were considerable... With poor infrastructure, and a surplus of corn anyway... It could be freely distributed to hogs and livestock, turned into various foods--although a poor diet of just maize/corn alone resulted in the dietary disease of pellagra caused by a deficiency of niacin. Transport by river on flat boats or other watercraft resulted in a product that was everywhere in abundance, cheap, and simply not worth the cost to ship to market... The result? Distill the stuff into whiskey. The "water o' life" simply gets better with age, and lasts a very long time in casks... Although there is always the loss incurred by the "angel's share." So whiskey became something of a non-monetary currency in much of frontier America. It could be swapped, traded, bartered, etc. There was often a ready market for it among Native Americans, and of course, it was "safe to drink" and could really help smooth out the very many very rough edges of life in the 19th century... Rorabaugh argued that drinking whiskey often promoted masculine aggression, which in turn was valued by rough-hewn Jacksonian common men interested in things like fighting duels, brawling, and even knife fighting with Bowie knives and so on... So since so much was available, it was therefore commonly consumed. Resistance to whiskey taxes suggests how wedded to it people were... They didn't start growing barley and brewing beer, for instance, like, say, "across the pond" in much of the UK south of Scotland...

Also, while it strikes us as odd, in Civil War times and certainly well before, it was made from grain, so it just had to be good for ya... Right? :smoke: :coffee::rolleyes:
The US had commercial beer breweries even before the American Revolution. Beer may of been more popular in Western Europe but the US always had a beer drinking tradition.
Leftyhunter
 

Rusk County Avengers

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Apr 8, 2018
Location
Coffeeville, TX
I think my favorite is "James E. Pepper" rye whiskey, recently resurrected in the past few years with the original well, and the original distillery made the "Old Crow" brand that Grant supposedly favored, as well as President Harrison so it must have been popular to some kind of degree.

But I am extremely biased as I am a Pepper, and the original founder in the 1790's was my 5th-Great Grandfather's brother.

As for what was the favorite, its kind of hard to track down as they didn't have bottled whiskey, but it was barreled and sold that way to people to fill they're jugs or drink while out and about. Brand names weren't really a thing, or even known by buyers I expect.
 

7thWisconsin

Sergeant Major
Joined
Nov 21, 2014
Gin was a terrible 17th and 18th century plague... Witness William Hogarth's infamous "Gin Lane" print
By William Hogarth -

BeerStreet.jpg and GinLane.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3516658

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beer_Street_and_Gin_Lane#/media/File:Beer-street-and-Gin-lane.jpg
Gin was to the early 18th century what meth is to the 21st. It was cheap to make, could be made, sold and drunk quickly. Of course there was absolutely no quality control which makes the period expression ¨Drunk for a penny and dead drunk for a tuppance¨ chilling.
I was under the impression that rye whisky was the most common consumed in the 19th century. The practice of aging whisky was fairly new; whisky was drunk new without aging in the 18th century. I don´t think Canadian whisky developed a market in the US until Prohibition; then ¨Canada Club¨ was all the rage.
 

major bill

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Joined
Aug 25, 2012
Tom Elmore has a full story on whiskey in the Civil War in this month's Civil War News.

I never get Civil War News but one day after I started this thread I was given a complementary issue of Civil War News and saw Elmore"s article. If I didn't know better I would have thought I started this thread one day after reading Elmore's article not one day before reading the article.
 

FedericoFCavada

First Sergeant
Joined
Jan 27, 2015
Location
San Antonio, Texas
The US had commercial beer breweries even before the American Revolution. Beer may of been more popular in Western Europe but the US always had a beer drinking tradition.
Leftyhunter
Actually, while this is certainly true due to the brewing traditions of England, Scotland, Germany, the Netherlands, and even Ireland and other locales, a somewhat "forgotten" beverage that was very popular in North America was cider. Johnny Chapman Appleseed
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johnny_Appleseed
was not propagating apple orchards just for applesauce, apple butter, and baking after all...

A tumbler of cider was often enough a favorite breakfast beverage in colonial-era and early 19th-century America...

Coffee became a patriotic alternative to tea, and since it promoted sobriety in the notoriously rum-soaked and alcoholic-prone navy, it was issued as part of the rations to the tune of 2-pints per sailor per day! That's a lot of coffee... By the Jacksonian period, coffee was already a very popular beverage.

While beer and brewing is very old in the United States, the relative quantities drunk in my post citing Rorabaugh demonstrate that it really caught on in the mid-to-late 19th century.
During the years of the U.S. Civil War, the British drank 32 gallons of beer and ale per person per annum/ per capita. In the United States, it was more like 4 1/2 gallons. Before Prohibition and the 18th Amendment, of course, there were very, very many small breweries everyplace... Just a few when Prohibition was finally suspended by the 21st Amendment's ratification in 1933... "Happy days are here again..." in the midst of the Great Depression.

Not so much before, when whiskey (and rum) were "it."
 
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FedericoFCavada

First Sergeant
Joined
Jan 27, 2015
Location
San Antonio, Texas
Gin was to the early 18th century what meth is to the 21st. It was cheap to make, could be made, sold and drunk quickly. Of course there was absolutely no quality control which makes the period expression ¨Drunk for a penny and dead drunk for a tuppance¨ chilling.
I was under the impression that rye whisky was the most common consumed in the 19th century. The practice of aging whisky was fairly new; whisky was drunk new without aging in the 18th century. I don´t think Canadian whisky developed a market in the US until Prohibition; then ¨Canada Club¨ was all the rage.
Originally vodka was made from rye as was whiskey in Ireland and Scotland and brannvin in Sweden... Grappa in Italy is made from the crushed portions of grapes used to make wine, lest anything "go to waste."

Vodka drinkers these days seem keen on potato derived vodka, but its origins predate the New World crop being grown and consumed in Central and Eastern Europe.
 

nc native

Sergeant
Joined
Aug 30, 2011
Location
NC Piedmont
Brandy was also a popular drink during the Eighteenth and Nineteenth centuries. It was easy to make as long as there was fruit available and had a sweet taste. In many of the wills of my ancestors, brandy stills and kegs were passed from generation to generation and I had one enterprising ancestor who grew over two hundred acres of apples to supply the brandy makers and distillers in his section of Eastern North Carolina. I've tried some homemade peach brandy years ago and even though I'm pretty much an abstainer from alcoholic beverages these days, I'd be very tempted to drink that again if I were offered some.
 

leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
May 27, 2011
Location
los angeles ca
Crop yields were often enormous in America in comparison with the often exhausted farmland in Europe... "Indian corn" or maize (Zea mays) is something of a botanical wonder crop, and yields in much of the United States were considerable... With poor infrastructure, and a surplus of corn anyway... It could be freely distributed to hogs and livestock, turned into various foods--although a poor diet of just maize/corn alone resulted in the dietary disease of pellagra caused by a deficiency of niacin. Transport by river on flat boats or other watercraft resulted in a product that was everywhere in abundance, cheap, and simply not worth the cost to ship to market... The result? Distill the stuff into whiskey. The "water o' life" simply gets better with age, and lasts a very long time in casks... Although there is always the loss incurred by the "angel's share." So whiskey became something of a non-monetary currency in much of frontier America. It could be swapped, traded, bartered, etc. There was often a ready market for it among Native Americans, and of course, it was "safe to drink" and could really help smooth out the very many very rough edges of life in the 19th century... Rorabaugh argued that drinking whiskey often promoted masculine aggression, which in turn was valued by rough-hewn Jacksonian common men interested in things like fighting duels, brawling, and even knife fighting with Bowie knives and so on... So since so much was available, it was therefore commonly consumed. Resistance to whiskey taxes suggests how wedded to it people were... They didn't start growing barley and brewing beer, for instance, like, say, "across the pond" in much of the UK south of Scotland...

Also, while it strikes us as odd, in Civil War times and certainly well before, it was made from grain, so it just had to be good for ya... Right? :smoke: :coffee::rolleyes:
The US had commercial beer breweries even before the American Revolution. Beer may of been more popular in Western Europe but the US always had a beer drinking tradition.
Leftyhunter
Originally vodka was made from rye as was whiskey in Ireland and Scotland and brannvin in Sweden... Grappa in Italy is made from the crushed portions of grapes used to make wine, lest anything "go to waste."

Vodka drinkers these days seem keen on potato derived vodka, but its origins predate the New World crop being grown and consumed in Central and Eastern Europe.
That's interesting that Irish Whiskey was once made from the. Not to say that perhaps a small Irish distillery still uses the but I never found an Irish rye whiskey. As far as I know only American and Canadian whiskey distilleries produced the whiskey at least since the 19th Century but I might be wrong.
Leftyhunter
 

leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
May 27, 2011
Location
los angeles ca
Actually, while this is certainly true due to the brewing traditions of England, Scotland, Germany, the Netherlands, and even Ireland and other locales, a somewhat "forgotten" beverage that was very popular in North America was cider. Johnny Chapman Appleseed
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johnny_Appleseed
was not propagating apple orchards just for applesauce, apple butter, and baking after all...

A tumbler of cider was often enough a favorite breakfast beverage in colonial-era and early 19th-century America...

Coffee became a patriotic alternative to tea, and since it promoted sobriety in the notoriously rum-soaked and alcoholic-prone navy, it was issued as part of the rations to the tune of 2-pints per sailor per day! That's a lot of coffee... By the Jacksonian period, coffee was already a very popular beverage.

While beer and brewing is very old in the United States, the relative quantities drunk in my post citing Rorabaugh demonstrate that it really caught on in the mid-to-late 19th century.
During the years of the U.S. Civil War, the British drank 32 gallons of beer and ale per person per annum/ per capita. In the United States, it was more like 4 1/2 gallons. Before Prohibition and the 18th Amendment, of course, there were very, very many small breweries everyplace... Just a few when Prohibition was finally suspended by the 21st Amendment's ratification in 1933... "Happy days are here again..." in the midst of the Great Depression.

Not so much before, when whiskey (and rum) were "it."
Yes it took a good fifty odd years before small or microbreweries made a comeback in the US post Prohipition. Not sure why Americans didn't like beer has much has the British. I can understand why cider was popular as it would of been very affordable. For some reason alcoholic cider almost died out in the US although in the past twenty or so years it has comeback.
Leftyhunter
 

leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
May 27, 2011
Location
los angeles ca
Originally vodka was made from rye as was whiskey in Ireland and Scotland and brannvin in Sweden... Grappa in Italy is made from the crushed portions of grapes used to make wine, lest anything "go to waste."

Vodka drinkers these days seem keen on potato derived vodka, but its origins predate the New World crop being grown and consumed in Central and Eastern Europe.
For some reason vodka wasn't all that popular in the US until relatively recently. The James Bond film franchise was sponsered in large part from Schmirnof (sp? ) Vodka..
Leftyhunter
 
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