Whisk[e]y Talk: Spirit and TaxessteemCreated with Sketch.

in #history5 years ago (edited)

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The histories of scotch, Irish whiskey and, what would come to be known as bourbon are interesting to understate, and not a dialect of miracles and incidents if hyperbole is to be allowed. Each one of the historical phenomena somewhat mirroring that of the other and lending some foundation and noumenal inspiration for the other. You are left with the impression of some extra-phenomenal hand driving the whole thing.

Of these peculiarities, none stand out more than the issue of taxation. From the Irish, the Scots to the Colonist of the then New World, it seemed that the destiny of the spirit was tied to oppression by the Parlament, the Royal Crown and, later, the newly born United States government under then President George Washington. Whether it was because of post war debt or the sugar and molasses interests that, now and again, lobbied Parlament; or the ambition of much larger and commercial distilleries to consolidate their powers, it was the British empire and then, in an ironic twist of history, the United States Government that ultimately would visit the spirit with repression and taxes.

Bow Street Distillery

With the foreign war efforts of the British Empire, the constant rebellion of the colonies and imperial expansionism, saw the Crown and Parliament in debt and looking to have for themselves a slice of the growing whiskey industries. The first of the efforts to tax the spirit could be said to have been the Malt Tax of 1682. The Irish, not seeing much of a way out but not thinking much of the British, decided to subvert it by including unmalted barley but not so the that trick would ruin the whiskey. And so Pot Still Whiskey was born.

An illicit still in the scottish highlands
While in Scotland, where virtually everyone with some surplus barley could distill their own whiskey, the British frowned on the wide spread making of the spirit, putting forward a number of strict measures in 1579 to see this remedied, allowing only the noble and families in the upper classes to produce the spirit while ordinary folks risked penalties. The results were the opposite effect, with many small distillers moving production underground and the elicit product growing steadily. A Malt Tax would later be enacted but unlike in Ireland, that would only work to drive those legal distilleries out of business since they made up the greater part of the taxable bracket and there were said to have been around 200 illegal distilleries at the end of the eighteenth century. It wasn't uncommon to hear gossip and rumors of illicit stills under church buildings.

A tax officer is taken and covered in tar and feathered
In the New World, where they had brought with them the habits of the Old World, including a taste for brandy, rum and madeira, it would seem they had brought something of the old history too. Rum was enjoy among the working classes and military man of the Colonies and proved to be a growing market. The turning point was the enacting of, first the Molasses Act 1733 lobbied for by sugar planters to make French and Spanish molasses more expensive. Then followed the Sugar Act of 1764, replaced by the Stamp Act later. These British aggression resulted in the reduction of the consumption of rum. This opened the market to whiskey and scotch, and the making of the product locally. Since corn was the easiest grain to grow in the Americas, early frontier-men, Irish-Scots, experiment with distilling and making whiskey out of that, west of the Appalachian Mountains.

US officer after quelling the rebellion.
During and after the Revolutionary Wars and post independence, George Washington founded, what would be the biggest distillery in the united Stated towards the end to the nineteenth century. In an ironic turn of history, a grave miscalculation of the natives feelings towards taxation and their patriotism; looking to remedy post war debt, George Washington, thanks to the sweet whispers of Alexander Hamilton, decided to tax whiskey production. Suffice to say, that did not go well with small producers since it seemed the measures favored large distilleries and the taste of British tax imposition was fresh and still bitter in the tongues of the people.

You will be hard put to find a history of the spirit that doesn't include repression by the powers that were. To find a instance of this is to have discovered a robbed pharaohs tomb or the library of Alexander with all but stone and pen.


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Very interesting article @deadsparrow

Super interesting article.. Makes me want to make myself a drink =)

Have yourself a drink, friend. It isnt a sin.

LoL! I agree.

Awesome post friend.
I like your all content because your content type and quality is so good.
best of luck go ahead friend.

Very interesting stuff. The government sees something that people love, like whiskey, and immediately sees an opportunity to start taxing and regulating it so that it benefits them. Greedy politicians and lobbyists have been around a looong time! I love history. And I like booze too lol, although I'm more of a vodka guy.

It is always good to be educative. Yh man this is really awesome! I am so so much in love with your post.

Thank you, @richforever. It's always great having people tell me how much they love the content.

This is a nice post. Nice illustrating pictures you have there.

@seyiodus.

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Whiskey, history and a feel of Christmas. Too great for a quiet evening, cheers man!

Awesome post friend.
really super & mind touch post and pic like it.
I like your all content because your content type and quality is so good.
best of luck go ahead friend.vote,cmmnt back

Well written and an informative, interesting read.

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I was looking forward to reading your whisky posts. I actually did not know the background and the taxation issues. Thanks for enlightening us!

I think that my favorite part is precisely that. There's history in every dram.

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Thank you to @hendrikdegrote. This upvote is much appreciated and has put a fire of zeal in yourself truly.

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big brother has to get his cut

Interesting post. History of whisky is always associated with the history of the state.

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