CRAFT by Under My Host® Issue No. 17 Made in America: Part II - Page 115

While the principal significance of this act was to lead up to the American Rev- olution, there were a number of interesting side issues. It wasn’t just tea that went overboard that day. It was the British way of life. Tea consumption was curtailed. Rum became a lesser preferred distilled spirit because of British in- volvement in the molasses trade. Fortunately, the colonists did not give up drinking. They just needed a different type of distilled spirit. Enter Rye Whiskey. Since the distillery was essentially a piece of farm equipment, it should be no surprise that by the late 1700’s, there were literally thousands of small grain distilleries each in New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Maryland. In fact, it is estimated that there were between 14,000 and 20,000 distilleries operating in the United States between 1810 and 1840. Rye was the most prevalent grain in colonial America. Rye was considerably more hardy than barley, and much easier to grow. Corn, or maize, was native to America, but only south of the Ma- son-Dixon line, and most of the population was to the north. Two different styles of rye whiskey developed during the colonial era: Pennsyl- vania or Monongahela-style, and Maryland-style rye. Since the bulk transpor- tation of large amounts of grain was not practical during this era, the distillers made whiskey from the grain grown on their farm or from grains grown near- by. Corn was not generally native north of the southern edge of Pennsylvania; hence, the distillers made rye whiskey with no corn in it. Monongahela Rye was known for its ultra-high rye content and its full-bodied and spicy nature. Distillers operating in the southern part of America made Maryland style rye, a mixture of rye with some corn. The rye content in Maryland style rye tended to be about 65%, and it was notably sweeter and more mellow than its northern cousin. Even George Washington had a distillery. From 1797 to 1799, when George Washington ran his distillery, it was reported to have been one of the highest producing American distilleries of its time, selling about 11,000 gallons of dis- tilled spirit in 1799 alone. This distillery principally made Maryland style rye for general sale, although apple and peach brandies were occasionally made for consumption on the estate. In 1799, it was reported that sale of whiskey repre- sented about half of the total profit from the external sale of goods generated by the plantation at Mount Vernon. In March of 1791, the United States government passed into law the first feder- al excise tax on the American people. The tax was raised to retire the debt that the colonies incurred during the prosecution of the Revolutionary War. It was a tax on distilled spirits, commonly referred to as “The Whiskey Tax.” From 1791 to 1794, there arose a rebellion, most notably in Western Pennsylvania, to oppose this tax. Only a small handful of people were injured or killed during the rebellion, but the refusal to pay tax was seen as a major affront to the new US Government and its ability to govern the country. In late 1794, a militia of © Hundred-to-One LLC 2018. All rights reserved.