American Whiskey Trail
The American Whiskey Trail is a promotional program of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States that promotes the distilled beverage industry of the United States. The Trail was announced to the public on September 28, 2004.
The American Whiskey Trail consists of historical sites and operating distilleries open to the public:
- George Washington Distillery Museum, in Mount Vernon, Virginia
- Fraunces Tavern Museum, in Manhattan, New York
- Gadsby's Tavern Museum, in Alexandria, Virginia
- Woodville Plantation, in Bridgeville, Pennsylvania
- Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey, in Bardstown, Kentucky
- West Overton Museums, in Scottdale, Pennsylvania
- Oliver Miller Homestead, in South Park, Pennsylvania
Operating whiskey distilleries open to the public:
- Buffalo Trace, in Frankfort, Kentucky
- Jim Beam, in Clermont, Kentucky
- Maker's Mark, in Loretto, Kentucky
- Tom Moore, in Bardstown, Kentucky
- Wild Turkey, in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky
- Woodford Reserve, in Versailles, Kentucky
- George Dickel, in Tullahoma, Tennessee
- Jack Daniel's, in Lynchburg, Tennessee
Also included are two rum distilleries:
Sites along the American Whiskey Trail can be visited in any order or sequence desired.
A separate "trail" program run by a different organization, The Kentucky Bourbon Trail operated by the Kentucky Distillers' Association, contains six well-known Bourbon distilleries in Kentucky: Four Roses (Lawrenceburg), Heaven Hill (Bardstown), Jim Beam (Clermont), Maker's Mark (Loretto), Wild Turkey (Lawrenceburg), and Woodford Reserve (Versailles).
History of whiskey in the United States
Whiskey and other distilled spirits, such as rum, played an important role in the economy and culture of the American colonies and the early United States. As early as 1657, a rum distillery was operating in Boston. It was highly successful and within a generation the production of rum became colonial New England's largest and most prosperous industry.
Whiskey production has historically been a preferred way to convert surplus grains into a valuable commodity that is readily transportable and non-spoiling, dating back hundreds of years to the origins of whiskey production in Ireland and Scotland. The practice was then brought to America as European farmers settled in what is now the United States, and American whiskey was produced from whatever local grains were at hand. Since corn is native to America and became a major farming crop, this resulted in the use of corn as a basis for whiskey production. The expansion of a corn belt in Kentucky and Ohio created a glut.[when?] There were no roads in the region and most transportation was by packhorse. It cost more to transport corn or grain than it could bring on the eastern markets, so farmers distilled it into "liquid assets" that could be easily shipped or bartered. Practically every farmer made whiskey and it became a medium of exchange. (See also the history section of the Bourbon whiskey article.)
When the British blockade prevented the importation of sugar and molasses, and thereby disrupted the production of rum, whiskey was increasingly used as a substitute to meet the demand for spirits in general and for provisions for the Continental Army in particular.
A tax on whiskey led to the first significant test of federal power, the Whiskey Rebellion in 1794, which was put down with federal troops ordered in by President Washington. After serving as president, George Washington became probably the new federal union's largest whiskey distiller.
By 1810, there were at least 2,000 distillers producing more than 1.76 million US gallons (6,700 m3) of whiskey. Annual absolute alcohol consumption (including wine, beer, etc.) may have been as high as 8 US gallons (30 L) per person.
- Vogel, Scott (September 28, 2008). "Driven to Drink in Kentucky". Washington Post (Travel: The Washington Post). p. P1.
- George Washington’s Distillery FAQ, from Distilled Spirits Council of the United States.
- Barr, A. Drink: A Social History of America. New York: Carroll & Graf, 1999.
- Grimes, William. Straight Up or On the Rocks: A Cultural History of American Drink. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1993.
- Lender, Mark E., and Martin, James K. Drinking in America: A History. New York: The Free Press, 1982.
- Popham, Robert E. The Social History of the Tavern. In: Israel, Yedy, er al. (eds.) Research Advances in Alcohol and Drug Problems. New York: Plenum, 1978. Volume 4. pp. 255–302.
- Rorabaugh, William J. The Alcoholic Republic: An American Tradition. New York: Oxford University Press, 1979.
- Rorabaugh, William J. Alcohol in America. Magazine of History, 1991, 6, 17-19.
- Roueché, Berton. The Neutral Spirit: A Portrait of Alcohol. Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1960.
- American Whiskey Trail (official web site), Distilled Spirits Council of the United States