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Corn whiskey: old as America, new as now

Rich Whiskey-bottle-rgb_400pxBy JACK WEATHERLY 

In the past few years, corn whiskey has made inroads into the liquor menu.

An illegitimate child of the Prohibition Era and still in production in the hills and hollows of Southern mountains, the clear spirit has found a home with millenials.

And craft distillers, such as the Rich Distilling Co. in Canton, aim to oblige.

The libation has deep roots in this country.

» READ MORE: Canton distiller turning out corn whiskey

In 1620, Colonist George Thorpe figured out he could distill a mash of Indian corn. “Wee have found a waie to make soe good drink of Indian corne I have divers times refused to drinke good stronge English beare and chose to drinke that,” he wrote to his cousin in England, according to the Colonial Williamsburg website.

The website says that “about a quarter of a million Scotch-Irish came to the American colonies in the fifty years before independence, making them the largest immigrant group of that century. They brought with them a fiercely independent spirit, abhorrence for government regulation, and an affinity for whiskey.”

The former colonies were saddled with tremendous war debt after they defeated the British, so Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton (225 years before he became the subject of the current Broadway blockbuster musical) in 1791 engineered the whiskey tax, which led to the Whiskey Rebellion (mainly the Scots-Irish) in 1794.

And as Granny used to say in the “Beverly Hillbillies,” the “recipe” ain’t been lost.

Speaking of recipes, David Rich, whose Rich Distilling has been producing corn whiskey for a couple of months, offers this:


1 ounce lemon juice

1 ounce simple syrup

1 ounce Rich Distilling Co. Corn Whiskey

Shake with ice, strain and top with tea.

(Suggestion: try it with the ice.)


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About Jack Weatherly

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