The Social History of Bourbon

By Gerald Carson | Go to book overview

Chapter 1
DRINKS AND DRINKING
IN EARLY AMERICA

LONG before recorded history, primitive man discovered that j the molecular readjustment of the carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms in a watery solution of fruit pulp which had been allowed to stand, produced a beverage which made the world seem a wonderful place. Fermentation was regarded, literally, as a gift from the gods, and seems to have been arrived at by widely separated peoples who used whatever was at hand that would take on the new and magical charm not present in the fresh juice. Dates and honey were tried with satisfactory results, the palms of the tropics, mare’s milk and, in Mexico, the sap of the maguey.

Alcohol is a snap to make. It will even make itself. Julian P. (Pappy) Van Winkle, Sr., at present writing the nation’s oldest active distillery executive, tells the story of a Kentucky fabricator of mountain dew who was apprehended by a revenue officer. The moonshiner insisted that his jug contained nothing but spring water. The federal agent took a swig, choked and insisted that the mountaineer sample the contents.

“What do you know!” the old man sputtered. “The good Lord’s gone and done it again!”

There is some debate as to whether the North American Indians may not have been one of the few peoples of the earth who

-1-

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