Fight for Whiskey

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“The Whiskey Rebellion” (ca. 1795 Unknown Artist), Metropolitan Museum of Art: George Washington before his march to suppress the Whiskey Rebellion

Some receive fruit of the month club shipments, others receive monthly wine selections as part of a club or membership, and I receive a monthly whiskey shipment (I am pretty sure it beats the fruit of the month club although I have never received that). Every month, I receive a new bottle of whiskey or bourbon from mostly small distilleries that are hard to come by in regular stores (even those specializing in selling alcohol). Each bottle comes with a booklet about the distilling process, the region, the distillery, the history of whiskey or bourbon and more. So it is actually very educational – or at least that is my justification why a bottle of whiskey a month showing up at one’s doorstep makes perfect sense.

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Bottle of Bower Hill Bourbon

This month’s whiskey proves my point. It has taught me about a U.S. rebellion that most textbooks overlook. How come I was not taught about the Whiskey Rebellion when I had to sit through U.S. History?! This month’s bottle is from Bower Hill, and its name shows a clear connection to the aforementioned Whiskey Rebellion. According to the nifty little booklet that comes with the bottle, the U.S. Government decided to create a whiskey tax in 1791. It was the first tax of the federal government levied on goods produced and sold in the U.S. The main goal of the government was to recover the costs of the Revolutionary War, so I guess people must have sold and drunk plenty of whiskey for the politicians to expect the tax income to be large enough to impact the costs of a war.

Farmers, distillers, and other supports – mostly from Western Pennsylvania – came together to resist the tax, and this rebellion lasted several years. It seems to have been serious enough that George Washington himself led an army against the rebels. In July 1794, over 500 rebels attacked the home of John Neville, a prominent tax collector. His estate was called Bower Hill and burned down during this attack (Neville survived the attack, and it seems only a couple of men were killed). Eventually the rebels lost, 170 of them were arrested, and the whiskey tax was enforced until is was repealed under President Thomas Jefferson.

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Historical Marker for Bower Hill (found on Explore PA History)

The Bower Hill bourbon is named after this estate and according to the manufacturer is celebrating the “rebellious spirit” connected to the Whiskey Rebellion. The flags on the bottle are the flags of the Whiskey Rebellion. The bourbon is a blend of bourbons from Lexington, KY and is extremely delicious (smooth and pretty sweet). In addition to receiving a great bottle of bourbon, I also learned a little more about U.S. history – a win-win situation in my book.

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Ready to Enjoy a Taste of Bourbon in front of the Fire

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