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Distilling Hand Sanitizer

Distilleries all across America, actually the world are stepping up to help in this time of crisis.  With hand sanitizer flying off shelves and it becoming as scarce as a bottle of Pappy, some people have stepped up.  Distilleries have parts of the distillate that can’t be used for consuming but they can be used for cleaning or cleaning hands.  It’s not as easy as you think.  There are laws and restrictions in place that make it difficult to produce.  Luckily the government, specifically the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau actually waived parts of the law, particularly the part where they had to obtain permits or bonds to create hand sanitizer. This doesn’t mean that the distilleries knew how to make it.  They had to get together with each other, watch webinars and consult online guides in order to make this stuff.  Is does have to be at least 120 proof or 60% alcohol.  We don’t recommend drinking it( just tastes awful) but it does well in killing germs, like covid-19. There has been some talk that you can even make your own whiskey into hand sanitizer as long as it’s 120 proof or more but who would do that?  Here are just a few of the good people that jumping into the fray.  Brown Froman, Woodford Reserve, Old Forester, Rabbit Hole Distillery, St. Augustine Distillery, Proof Artisan Distillery, Jameson, Carve Vodka, Heaven Hill, just to name a few.  A great quote from Matthew Bagdanovich from Fish Hawk Spirits in Ocala FL said “You’d have to be a jerk not to lend a hand if you’ve got the ability to lend a hand”.  Love that.  Another good quote comes from Bill Thomas, owner of Jack Rose Dining Saloon said “And this is absolutely proof that the whiskey drinker is the best kind of human being on the planet”.  That kind of says it all.  So, we here at Whiskey and a Hammock raise our glass to all that are doing what they can to help.  

Where is your whiskey really from?

With the whiskey/bourbon boom it seems that some of those brands out there aren’t giving us the truth. The number of distilleries has gone from 100 to 1400 in the last ten years which means that obviously demand has gone crazy. Well… this being an aged deal, it takes a minute for it to mature and be ready. A short cut many of these brands are using is sourcing it from MGP(Midwest Grain Products). This in itself really isn’t the problem. The problem lies with some of these brands coming out with a great marketing story only to find out it’s false. Come to find out that people don’t like being lied to. Now some brands come right out and say it, that either they don’t distill it themselves or are using this as a starter. It comes down to if it’s good whiskey we’ll give it go but don’t tell us that it comes from some mystical water source or some secret recipe that was found it a collapsed mine. Nobody likes to find out that they’ve been drinking horse pucky.

Chattanooga Whiskey, Whiskey to the People

For the news this month we figure that we’d give you the low down on Chatt Whiskey. First off, they are the first distillery in Chattanooga in over 100 years!  So what we are dealing with here is Tennessee High Malt, 75% yellow corn, the rest is Malted Rye, Caramel Malted Barley, and Honey Malted Barley then aged for 2 years.  Same mash bill for the 91 and 111, single fermentation with 4 barrels at #3 char and toast and 4 barrels with a #4 char and then mix them together.  The big difference, is that the 91 goes into a 4000 gallon solera barrel that has a #1 char to it.  They are a whiskey from Tennessee but not a “Tennessee Whiskey”  the difference is no charcoal filtering.

Plus they have an experimental distillery(the only one in the states to our knowledge) where other distilleries play with 20-30 malts or barleys a year, not Chattanooga.  They play with over 100!  With this experimental distillery they can try things out and make small runs and see how they turn out.  For instance they came out with a maple bourbon and a mead flavored bourbon(no, we didn’t get to try those).  The drawback, these can only be found at their distillery.  If you make drive, take their distillery tour.  I did and it was awesome!  Lots of great information, see their aging cellar and at the end enjoy a flight of what they got and maybe a bourbon forward drink to.  Thanks again to Chris Helmly the Florida State Sales Manager from Chatt Whiskey for taking the time to talk whiskey!  Check out all three videos below.

check them out here:

Prohibition 1925 Gooderham and Worts Whiskey

Our good friend George McDaniel stops by for a visit with a bottle of 1925 Prohibition era Gooderham and Worts Whiskey which he himself, diver extraordinaire, pulled out of the Niagara River in the mid eighties. Get a little history on one of the biggest distilleries in the world at that time.  How people made fortunes “rumrunning” across the great lakes.  How George happened to find it and recounts his whiskey run story.  Thank you George for this once in a lifetime experiences!

What is Straight Whiskey

Ever wonder why it says Straight Whiskey on your bottle? We did so we did some searching. It started with the passing of the 1906 Food and Drug Act

The rules: 1. Has to be a distillation of fermented cereal grains(ex: wheat,millet, rice, corn, barley, oats, and rye). Grains and not molasses because molasses is the base for rum. 2. Once distilled in cannot be above 80% abv(alcohol by volume) and must be 62.5% or lower before barreling. 3. Only water may be added to dilute it any further. 4. Has to be aged in New charred oak barrels. 5. Aged a minimum of 2 years to be considered Straight, preferably 4 years and if blended with 2 and 4 year the youngest has to be on the label.

The only modification before bottling that is allowed is batching whiskey from different barrels(sometimes different distilleries but they have to be from the same state). Chill filtering and adding water to reduce the proof but not below 40% ABV(alcohol by volume).

The horrible unsanitary conditions in manufacturing plants is the reason it came about. Also because of inferior products, fraudulent labels and imitation whiskeys.

In December of 1909, President Howard Taft announced the results of his hearings with the “Taft Decision” that formally defined the types of whiskey still present today. Taft said that for a whiskey to be called “straight,” water was the only thing that could be added. If anything other than water was added to the whiskey, it had to be called a “Blended” whiskey.

What made this interesting is that people called rectifiers (not all were bad) would purchase whiskey in bulk and then dilute it, mix it with other spirits like vodka and gin or for flavoring and coloring iodine, tobacco, caramelized sugar, prune juice and licorice were used. Whatever it took to make people believe it was whiskey.

They didn’t make the mistake like they did with bottle in bond where it wasn’t well publicised and when it came out people didn’t know what it meant. This time, when the Pure Food and Drug Act was passed they got busy marketing Straight Whiskey. It was a badge of honor and you knew you were getting a quality product.

In 1933 when prohibition was repealed. Distilling started up once again and in Kentucky they had learned a valuable lesson with prohibition. Hoping to keep the government from making even tougher regulations, the industry created rules and regulations that were self-monitoring. These rules included the regulations from the Taft Decision defining whiskey, but went further, limiting the way whiskey could be packaged and sold. Barrels were no longer a legal package for the open market, replaced by bottles as the only legal package for distilled spirits sold to the public. The use of bottles meant that brand names and labels became a very important part of the industry.


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