CRAFT by Under My Host® Issue No. 17 Made in America: Part II - Page 119

Washington built and operated a distillery at Mount Vernon. As noted, this distillery made Maryland style rye whiskey and was one of, if not the largest producer of whiskey in the United States in 1799. This partnership has raised millions of dollars to fund education efforts at Mount Vernon and has resulted in substantial annual press coverage about George Washington, the distillery at Mount Vernon, and rye whiskey. Even with all of the newfound publicity, rye whiskey continued to decline in popularity until 2006. About 2006, the cocktail culture began to emerge in US bars, first in San Francisco, then New York and Chicago. This culture has since been spreading throughout the United States. Bartenders began to research the classic cocktail books like The Bar-Tender’s Guide or How to Mix Drinks by Jerry Thomas and The Savoy Cocktail Book by Harry Craddock. As they researched the classic cocktails, the bartenders rediscovered that many of these classics used rye whiskey. In order to make authentic classic cocktails, the bartenders began to order and stock rye whiskey. Additionally, there were two other emerging trends that influenced the resurgence of rye: the trend toward taste becom- ing more important to the American consumer, and the trend to drink less, but drink better as responsible drinking messages began to have an influence. Largely due to these influences, the category of rye whiskey grew by a surpris- ing 20 percent in 2006 and by 30 percent in 2007. The American craft spirits movement began about the turn of the century with a small handful of cottage producers taking a turn at legally home distilling. From this meager beginning, over a thousand distilleries have popped up all over the United States making every manner of spirit imaginable. Among these distilleries, many are producing rye whiskey. Of particular note, most of the rye whiskeys produced by the small producers are Monongahela style rye. In fact, while virtually every brand in the rye category is experiencing growth, the lion’s share of the meteoric growth is coming from Monongahela rye whiskey. Largely on the back of these Monongahela ryes, the rye category grew about 600 percent between the years 2009 and 2015. Rye whiskey has a rich and full heritage in the United States from the very foundations of the country to the modern era. Our first president was a rye distiller and our brave soldiers from the colonial era to the end of the Civil War fought with the support of whiskey rations. Rye whiskey pre-dates bourbon as a truly American spirit by almost 200 years. It suffered at the hands of the Nobel Experiment and World War II and took a back seat to its cousin bourbon. How- ever, like the fighting spirit that characterizes the American culture, the spirit of rye whiskey never gave up and is mounting a historic comeback, outpacing the growth of the remainder of the American whiskey category. Rye Whiskey deserves to be America’s historic spirit. © Hundred-to-One LLC 2018. All rights reserved.