For information about researching family or brand heritage, read this first.
We’d love to hear from you! You can reach us through the following channels:
Michael at bourbonveach dot com
Photos Courtesy of Michael Veach
January 5, 2016 at 10:05 pm
Hi Mike! LOVE YOUR PAGE
January 10, 2016 at 10:03 pm
I’m a bit of a laggard as I only just discovered you are posting blogs this week. I pleased to see you are bringing your bourbon knowledge to a public forum to be shared.
You make a good point about the lower proof back in the 19th century having an effect on flavor extraction. More highly fractional spirit distillation did not appear in the US whiskey industry until after the Civil War with the installation of column or beer stills. Rectifying columns or chambered stills were another matter. Crow’s pot still would have been at a lower range compared with today’s barrel entry proofs (55 – 62.5% ABV)
Interestingly, I have come across Caribbean rum imported to New England in the 19th century being diluted to 45% ABV/90P for maturation. Jamaican rum was distilled at 61 – 65% ABV (highest, using pot stills) while Barbados rum was lower proof (not as ‘fiery, more mellow and palatable; probably 52 – 55%). Distillers and agents seem to have been quite aware of the accelerated flavor impact of maturing spirit at lower proofs by the early 19th century.
Another factor impacting on flavor development was cask size. It was not until during the Second World War the US Government created the ASB 53 gallons/200 litres so requisitioning was to a standardized size (storage, strength & handling). After Prohibition it appears the 48 gallons was the most popular capacity, Certainly, not the standard. Before Prohibition it was quite varied. At Crow’s time is was probably 40 or 42 gallons. Virginia, February 23rd 1631, set a barrel at 42 gallons (one sixth of a tun). They seem to have set a default standard for American coppers. The reason the petroleum industry in Pennsylvania back in the mid-1860s, standardizing their barrel at 42 gallons as the bulk of the supply was coming from coopers making casks for the whiskey industry.possibly even buying used barrels for their oil needs.
The +20% difference in barrel capacity (42 versus 53 gallons) would have also contributed to increasing to the intensity of the whiskey’s flavor.
Kind regards Chris
January 16, 2016 at 5:46 pm
How can I have you over in our hotel to talk about bourbon with our team? We would love to host you! We are in the process of rolling out an extensive bourbon program in all our bars and would love your expertise.
March 14, 2016 at 3:55 pm
I would like to get an idea of the value and information on a bottle of heavin hill 5th that my Father bought in 1964 for Nevada centennial. Never never been opened.
April 27, 2017 at 6:08 am
Have you all tried Virgil Kaine? It’s out of Charleston, SC. Inexpensive, comparable to Bulleit, but with a bit more astringency. Love, love, love Virgil Kaine. (Their rye is my favorite- I skip the flavored stuff they have)
April 29, 2017 at 4:28 pm
Probably off-topic on the “Comments” page, but this reply is to Gordo. Before everyone jumps down your throat for even mentioning a TerrePURE-treated product, y’all should read Fred Minnick’s article from two years ago about changes that are coming to American whiskey, whether we like it or not.
March 8, 2019 at 4:40 am
I really love your site. I am the great+ granddaughter of Frederick Stitzel, so I’m here because I have been researching him. I’m also related to other Louisville distillers, including Jacob Laval, another great+ grandfather of mine.
Thank you for putting this together. I would love to be in touch with all of you in some way.
– Rosalind Lord
March 10, 2019 at 3:35 pm
Where do you live? The Filson Historical Society has the patent model Frederick Stitzel made for warehouse racks. You should check it out if you are in Louisville.
June 25, 2019 at 5:06 pm
Felicia LaLomia here, editorial intern at VinePair.
I am doing some preliminary research for our writing staff on a potential article. I am trying to find the history behind the ‘XXX’ label on moonshine bottles in illustrations throughout history. So far, I have found the three x’s stand for the triple distillation, and they act as a warning, as the contents of the bottle hold close to pure alcohol.
Other than that, I cannot find reliable information on the ‘XXX’ being used outside of cartoons, if it was ever used in real life, its origins etc.
Do you know where I could find this information? Or any historians who may be able to help me out?
June 26, 2019 at 3:18 am
The use of the X mark in liquor is traced back to 18th century Britain, to denote the strength of the ale or beer. By the late 18th century, all ale sold over 10 shillings a gallon was reckoned to be strong and subject to higher excise duty. These kegs or casks were marked by inspectors with an X, signifying ten. By the mid-19th century, many brewers had adapted the X rating to differentiate their type of beer. In the British Isles, X often was used to represent ale, XXX for porter (popular in London 1780s – 1830s) and XXXX for stout. Breweries started brands such as XXXD, XXXB, XXXXX, Etc. When it evolved from being a regulatory excise marking, it developed into unregulated marketing meanings such as alcoholic strength, the strength of flavour (malting/brewing style) to inferred quality standards.
Here in Australia, Tooth’s Kent Brewery in Sydney used X on its beer labels from 1835. Today, one of Australia’s most popular beer brands is XXXX Bitter (pronounced as ‘four-ex’) by Castlemaine Brewery in Brisbane, since 1878. By the mid-19th century in America, many brewery brands used the XXX for both beer and ale, e.g. Herbert’s XXX (Triplex), Schmitz St Louis XXX Beer, etc. In the early 20th century, the X immigrated to spirits. Anecdotal records indicate America during prohibition started using this visual device to represent the stronger proof on the exterior of illicit spirit containers. I suspect cartoonists picked it up as a parody for moonshine liquors, especially the allegedly illiterate hillbillies, infamous for their jugs of sugar and corn liquor. After that, it became part of popular culture. Like the oxymoron, legal moonshine.
June 26, 2019 at 10:43 am
Thanks Chris for your information. I had not seen this before
September 5, 2019 at 6:00 pm
Hi all, I’m looking for a book that goes deep deep into 19th century whiskey distilling in America. What do you recommend? And if there is another book or the with information about the early 20th century that would also be great. Thanks for all the great work!
November 10, 2020 at 3:07 pm
Thank you for sharing your knowledge with us, love reading your articles.
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