You have probably been introduced to whiskey through either an advertisement on television or at a bar. Maybe you snagged a few glasses off the shelf in a mall drink shop. Or, if you were lucky enough to score some small-scale batch from a well-known distiller you likely paid more than you should have. If you are new to making your own liquor, perhaps you decided to go the extra mile and start home-brewed liquor. Regardless of how you got your start, it’s important to understand how to make Pre-Prohibition Whisky, a much older style of whiskey that predates the modern day and is often referred to as American whiskey.
Not only for the history-in-a-glass perspective but also for the flavor-in a nose-encompassing way, what does pre- prohibition rye whiskey mean? To begin with, you must understand the distillation process. In this process alcohol is distilled from any liquid, including water, making everything cleaner and, in a sense, “frying” the essence of the ingredients. This is because no pure liquid is left in the distiller’s tank or vessel, so everything that goes into the making of whiskey is simply vaporized away. The result can be extremely smoky, floral, or even fruity depending upon the specific recipe and method of distillation used.
In contrast, once the alcohol is removed from the distiller’s tank, a new batch must be made, one that is pure and contains no alcohol. This liquid is then sent to a variety of different distilleries where it is mixed with water and then again vaporized. Finally, it is reheated in a further distiller’s tank, resulting in yet another distilled whiskey, this time just slightly less than the original. Clearly, by the time the entire process is completed, pre-prohibition rye is not the same as real whiskey. Of course, this is not to say that today’s varieties are no longer excellent, because quite the contrary is true; these ryes are far superior to the originals.
Why is pre-prohibition rye better? Distilled whiskey has always been much less pure than the “real stuff” and is not nearly as pure today as it was years ago. This makes a powerful case for drinking real whiskey, whether it’s straight whiskey scotch or bourbon. It may not be the same as a nice Manhattan at the bar, but whiskey makes an excellent drink just the way it is, which is why it should be part of every American’s liquor cabinet.
There are many options available when it comes to choosing a whiskey to enjoy. One of the most popular is simply to grab a bottle of good-for-something-when-its-off brand and enjoy. Other options include mixing a variety of whiskeys together (including an Irish whiskey and a lighter whiskey like Blended Bourbon) to create a delicious, floral-flavored cocktail. A nice dill pickle added to a Manhattan or a few sliced dill pickles added to rye or whisked whiskey will have a similarly pleasant taste. And if you really want to get your nose close to nature, you can also make herbal tea out of herbs like Rosemary or marjoram and infuse them into a base spirit to make a wonderful, soothing tea.