Monday, September 30, 2013

1901 - The Hotel Tampa Bay

It's probably obvious that I've been combing through the archives of Life magazine lately. I know I've aired a lot of comic and advertising material from the 20's issues of the magazine in recent weeks, and I have to say the trend is likely to continue for a while. I have an admitted fascination with the early 20th century and I've been indulging it of late. So I hope you'll forgive my continuing the trend.

The Tampa Bay Hotel was built in 1891 by Henry Bradley Plant as the crown jewel in his Tampa transportation empire. The railroad was the fulcrum of Tampa business, connecting the city's downtown with Port Tampa where passengers could embark on a Plant Line steamship to Mobile, Jamaica, Cuba, or Bermuda. Having invested $2,500,000 to build and $500,000 to furnish his opulent resort-palace, Plant went all in to make the Tampa Bay Hotel a success.

Visitors disembarked from their trains directly into the hotel lobby, having traveled a special railroad spur Plant had built specially for the purpose. Once inside, those staying at the Tampa Bay were treated to luxury previously unknown in the Tampa area. The hotel offered suites of 3 to 7 rooms most of which had private baths. Every room was provided with electricity and telephone, luxury items and novelties in the late 1800's. Tampa's first passenger and freight elevators transported guests and their luggage between the hotel's five floors. The furnishings were opulent, featuring Venetian-style mirrors, European sculptures, and furnishings so luxurious as to be described in the hotel's brochures as "a jewel casket into which has been gathered an infinite number of gems."

In an era before the 24-hour/365-day world we live in, the Tampa Bay Hotel's season ran from December to April  and guests were treated to balls, tea parties, and hotel-organized hunts. A guest could start the day with deep sea fishing, spend the afternoon playing a round of golf, listen to John Philip Sousa perform on the lawn, and after dinner attend a grand ball in the hotel's Music Room. The Tampa Bay Casino located on the hotel grounds served as a spa during the day and in the evenings, with its pool covered by a removable floor, transformed into a concert venue which seated up to two thousand people and featured performers such as Nellie Melba, Sara Bernhardt, and Anna Pavlova.

In 1933 the Tampa Bay Hotel became the home of the Henry B. Plant Museum and the University of Tampa and it remains open today for those lucky enough to have an opportunity to visit.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Chandler

Fredrick C. Chandler's company produced luxury automobiles at his Cleveland, OH factory during the 1910's and 1920's. Eventually the company released a "companion" car, the Cleveland, designed for the budget market. In 1928 the Chandler company folded, closing over a half million dollars in debt.

The ad comes from the July 1927 issue of Life magazine and it shows an automotive industry that still hadn't found the way to approach selling their merchandise. The imagery speaks of estates, polo, and idleness. It has a very Great Gatsby vibe. The tag line of "Inwardly and Outwardly Magnificent" fails to help you envision the experience of the Chandler. Exactly what does magnificent mean in automotive terms? What do you mean by "enlivening the nation's highways"? And "unfeigned admiration", really? There's a bit of nice period slang incorporated into the copy, though. "Chandler goes the limit...", I can't remember the last time I heard anything or anyone described as going the limit!

Happy National Coffee Day

Happy National Coffee Day! Here's to that wonderful, caffeinated beverage that lets us say no to that early morning voice that says "kill...kill...kill..."

Oh coffee, early morning accelerator, fog lifter, kick starter of the workday. What would we do without the magical bean? Well, to be honest we'd probably be a lot less jittery and we might get a little more sleep!

While you're waiting in line for your double, grande, venti, macca-chi-whatever with or without extra whatever say a word of thanks to all those who brought you the blessed little beans that are about to help move you out of neutral this morning. And while you're waiting, how about a little morning music to celebrate the day. Take it away, Mr. Ros!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Sheaffer Pens

Love this 1927 ad for Sheaffer's pens and pencils. It took a little digging to to figure out what "skrip" referred to, but I eventually figured out that it is Sheaffer's brand of ink for their fountain pens. To this day you can buy Skrip ink cartridges for your fountain pen.

I'm a little (pun intended) sketchy on the link between original Americans and Sheaffer pens. I mean the graphic's nice and all, but honestly I don't get it.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Apple-Seed John - by Lydia Maria Child

A little John Chapman-inspired poetry from the 1913 book Storytelling Poems.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Hefty Tea!

I nearly let a Foodie Wednesday slide past without an ad! How about a cup of tea, and not just any tea - hefty tea. I guess the word "strong" wasn't manly enough...though I fail to see how "hefty" is manlier. It doesn't make me think of masculinity, it makes me think of beefy guys with knobby knees who wear black socks with their sandals. Frankly the guy at the top doesn't look jumpy and nervous, he looks a little constipated. The guy below? No question he's definitely half lit.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Funnies - Book of the Month (1927)

Life magazine, December 1927

Join the Club

A bit of twenties humor from Vanity Fair's November 1922 issue answering the question "why our clubs are empty". The conclusion seems to be there isn't enough drinking, gambling, and witty repartee going on in the good ol' USA so everyone has to wing it for Paris.

Some part of me has always longed for a club like the one described here. Smartly dressed folks who are, put simply, smart gathering together for a bit of good conversation, a few stiffeners, and dinner in the club dining room where the staff has laid out a buffet of only the best. Makes me think of P. G. Wodehouse's Wooster and Jeeves...

Monday, September 23, 2013

Happy Banned Books Week

Yesterday marked not only the beginning of fall, but the beginning of Banned Books Week. I'll write a bit more on the subject later in the week, but I wanted to send out the word and invite you to read something...dangerous. Go, my friends, commit a thought crime!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Announcement - New Novel: Chimera

A late Sunday update to announce the availability of my dear Kelly's newest novel, Chimera. You can download your copy from Amazon today! Here's the blurb:

In scientific terms a chimera occurs when one fetus absorbs its twin, resulting in fused DNA. In mythology a chimera is a monster. Katherine Tate is certainly the first, perhaps the second. Kath lives and speaks with her unborn sister, as the twin is alive and well inside of her. And her dual nature is expressed in another way; Kath is a child of the west and the east. A Malaysian girl brought up in an American farming community, Kath is unaware that Kali, Hindu goddess of death and creation, is waiting in the land of her birth. Follow Kath through the teaming streets of Kuala Lumpur and the surrounding jungles as she discovers self-enlightenment, love, and her forgotten past.

1922 Maxwell

Here's (most of) a 1922 Maxwell ad from the November issue of Vanity Fair magazine. The Maxwell was manufactured by the Maxwell-Briscoe Company of Tarrytown New York from 1904 up to the mid-twenties. When a 1907 fire destroyed Maxwell's facilities they rebuilt, construction what then was the world's largest manufacturing facility in New Castle Indiana.

Competition eventually caught up with Maxwell, though and eventually Chrysler took over the struggling company.

The 1940 Hudson Sedan

The 1940 Hudson had an back seat that offered more room than a you'd get in first class on a modern airliner. I love the Art Deco lines, the ashtrays integrated into the seat arms and the rear-seat wing windows. It probably felt a little bit like riding around in your living room!

Welcome to Autumn

Ah, the first day of Autumn, it always makes me think of baked beans...

Okay, to be honest it never makes me think of baked beans, but apparently the American Can Company figured, "hey, what's more autumn than beans?" This ad is from the November 1954 issue of Time Magazine and it helps prove that a 50's era photograph can make any food product look disgusting.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Happy Autumnal Exquinox

Today at 8:44 PM the plain of the Earth's equator will pass the center of the sun, making day and night perfect equals. Tomorrow we'll be on the downhill side of the seasonal wheel, heading toward winter's cold sleep.

Enjoy the fruits of your summer's labor and, like the ant, set a portion aside for the lean times ahead and before the day's over, take a moment to savor the seasonal weather.

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Full Corn Moon

The Full Corn Moon or Harvest Moon is aptly named, and if you happen to live in an area where autumn is the time of the harvest you'll understand why. In September the moon hangs fat and low in the sky, lighting the countryside brightly enough that in the days before electric lighting was common it allowed the farmer's work to continue into the evening hours. It's a melancholy moon, kind of a sad farewell to summer's warmth and a harbinger of the frosts and trials to come.

It's probably this inherent sadness that the vaudeville team Nora Bayes and Jack Norworth had in mind when they penned the tune Shine on Harvest Moon for the Ziegfeld Follies of 1908 and the fact many people even know the name of that song says something about its sentiment. I mean, how many other 1908 show tunes can you name? Ruth Etting, dubbed America’s Sweetheart of Song, performed the tune and via the auspices of YouTube here’s a 1931 recording.

And, in case you think I've veered too far off topic, here's The Old Farmer's Almanac's summation of the meaning of the Full Corn Moon.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

How Every Quarterback Feels on Sunday...

Came across this image of Johnny Unitas in a 60's issue of Boy's Life. I think he's expressing a sentiment felt by every NFL quarterback on Sunday.

1938 Plymouth Roadking and De Luxe

1930's does 1950's in this ad for the 1939 Plymouth Roadking and De Luxe sedans. My only problem is that the front end of the sedan seems to be hovering above the driveway. Then again, maybe it's one of those low riders bouncing on its hydraulics. A 15% reduction in steering force...that's your selling point?

The Major Bowes Amateur Hour was a radio talent show that aired on NBC Radio between 1934 and 1952. Bowes managed New York's Capital Theater, though he never was a major, and his use of a gong on the show is said to have been an influence on The Gong Show. Here's a sample of the Major's show taken from the same year as our Plymouth ad.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Happy Friday the 13th!

A bit of old literature and philosophy for the unlucky day!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

GEM Blades!

Shave all your facial features off with GEM Blades! Sometimes I stream Cladrite Radio while writing, and that mean's that occasionally I’m treated to an old GEM Blade radio ad. They have all the subtlety of the modern Head-On ads that used to add extra misery to late night television. “Buy GEM Blades…Buy GEM Blades…” I can't say I've ever actually been tempted to seek out GEM blades.

It hasn't been that long since most men shaved with single-bladed razors like the one shown in the ad. My father used to have a Gillette single-blade. The handle turned to open the razor for blade replacement and it had a real science fiction look.

I'm really not sure why the ad execs decided not to give the illustration a face. It's striking, yeah, but in the same way a mime is - you don't really want to get any closer. Definitely doesn't make me want to shave with a GEM blade, it makes me suspect they may be really dangerous!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Patriot Day 1945

Treet Loaf!

I've written about Treet before, but seeing this ad I had to bring it up again. I can’t manage to see two layers of meat-particle board as a good thing. And what exactly is deviled cream cheese?

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Everything New is Old Again - Drone Attacks

With the smoke and flames of Syria in the air, here’s a little example of drone warfare as imagined in the December 1917 issue of Popular Mechanics. In June of 1944 the Axis would make the theory into a reality with its V1 flying bomb and today US drones unleash Hellfire missiles on targets in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

100 Years Ago Today - The Lincoln Highway

Today we travel superhighways, great six-lane beltways of asphalt and concrete that span thousands of miles of countryside. It’s a banal mode of travel, the most amazing sights you’ll see from the interstate system are billboards advertizing the same handful of fast food joints over and over again. We ride in automobiles that, for the most part, are reliable, safe, and almost identical in every way. A hundred years ago, though, travelling across the country in your merry Oldsmobile or Tin Lizzie was a different affair. In fact, a hundred years ago today the Lincoln Highway became the first paved motorway that crossed the country from coast to coast. The Lincoln Highway was the brainchild of Hoosier Carl G. Fisher and his great road joined New York with San Francisco, crossing thirteen states and spanning 3389 miles in the process.
The Lincoln Highway crossed northern Indiana, starting in Allen County and progressing through Ft. Wayne, Goshen, Elkhart, Mishawaka, La Porte, Westville, Valparaiso, Merrillville, and Dyer before departing into the Illinois plains and to date you still can travel this hundred year old track.

1928 Map of the Lincoln Highway in Northern Indiana
Don’t think of the Lincoln Highway as a highway in the modern sense of the word. Automotive travel in 1913 was a dicey thing; a point brought home by this line is from The Complete Official Road Guide of the Lincoln Highway a promotional guide published in 1916:
“You can drive anywhere between New York and the Indiana-Illinois line either during or after heavy rainstorms without difficulty, but once west of this point it is wise to delay the trip, as many days as necessary, stopping comfortably at a hotel, if heavy rainstorms are encountered. You will make more progress in the end, and you will be saved many disagreeably experience.”
In fact, the guide provides a lengthy list of items the traveler should carry while traversing the Lincoln Highway. The provision section follows with its Donner Party preamble left intact.

It’s always interesting to pour over these old travel guides. Early automotive guides tend to be pretty utilitarian with lots of ads for cars (of course) and the parts to keep them running. There were a couple ads of interest to the native Hoosier, though. 

Hotel Rumely (or Rumley depending on your source) was situated on the Lincoln Highway in La Porte, Indiana and according to their ad they provided “special attention” to “automobile parties”. Somehow I get the feeling special attention means they had parking and maybe bellboys who would help unload the dozens of bags motorists carried. The building still stands today, though it’s now apartments. The Automobile Maintenance Company garage located a block east of the Rumely didn't fare so well and has been lost to time and urban re-muddling. I found a postcard of the Rumely, typical brick and stone behemoth of the era with little architectural detail. You probably could have found a similar hotel in every middling-sized town across the Midwest during the mid-1910’s. By the way, the term European plan used in the Rumely ad might make the hotel sound extra-fancy, but it simply means your meals aren’t included in the cost of your room.

In Elkhart, Indiana motorists could stay at a fancier institution, the Bucklen Hotel. There isn't much information about the Bucklen, except for the fact that like the Rumley its name has had numerous spellings (Bucklen, Bucklin, and Buckland). The Bucklen Hotel connected to the Bucklen Opera House, forming the entertainment center of small-town Elkhart in the mid-1910’s. According to the ad, the hotel was American plan meaning your meals came with the room. Photos I found show the hotel’s slow descent into disuse and decay. In the seventies it looks like there may have been a fire and today a parking lot occupies the corner where the once grand old lady stood.

I’m going to have to plan a trip along the Lincoln Highway this fall. Maybe take in the colors, the cool air, and stop at a few roadside sights. Who knows what provisions I might need, especially if the rains come early!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Hoosier Cookbook...

Reminds me of a certain Twilight Zone episode!

Sports - Defeat and Victory

One week into the NFL season and some of us already can sympathize with the sentiment of this 1941 beer ad. I don't know if defeat actually is sweeter with a beer, but I'd agree that the edge is taken off.

I believe the odd phrasing, a kindly glass of beer or ale, can be attributed to two things: the relatively recent repeal of prohibition and the rise of fascism in Europe. American brewers probably weren't too eager to tread on the smoldering coals of the temperance movement. Doubtless they feared doing so might reignite the passionate fire that drove alcohol underground.  Also, since many of America’s brewers came from Germany, they surely were aware of the frightening prospect of being linked with un-American values and goose-stepping goons. Better to cleave close to mom, apple pie, and the good ‘ol American way of life than take any chances.

In truth the United Brewers Industrial Foundation had been in existence since 1862 and like most trade organizations its chief interest was lobbying for favorable legislation and tax breaks for its members. The organization did some good, supporting the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, but its failure to recognize that the Prohibition Movement and Anti-Saloon League presented a serious threat to the sale of alcoholic beverages proved flawed and from 1920 through 1933 the sale, production, and transport of alcohol became against the law in the United States.

As a little aside, in 1941, when this ad ran, the president of the United Brewers Industrial Foundation was none other than Rudy Schaefer, the owner of Schaefer Beer.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

A Date with a Rocket 88

This ad with its great ride-the-rocket graphic and “Make a date with a Rocket 8” tag-line comes from the May 1950 issue of Life Magazine, making it for Oldsmobile’s first generation Rocket. The 88 was introduced by Olds just one year before this ad ran and it featured the straight-8 engine made famous by the 1988 Dustin Hoffman, Tom Cruise move, Rain Man. The 88 became a staple of NASCAR for its power to weight ratio.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Happy Oktoberfest!

A Reassembled Oktoberfest Snapshot from the September 1955 issue of Time Magazine
Happy Oktoberfest! Well, at least here in the Midwest.

Traditionally Oktoberfest (or Wiesn as it’s known in Germany) is held in Munich and runs from late September to the first weekend in October. At its heart, Oktoberfest is a fair but it started its long history as a wedding reception for Prince Ludwig and his bride Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. On that auspicious day in 1810, the citizens of Munich were invited to attend a celebration in the fields outside the Munich city gates. There was drinking, food, and horse racing and over the centuries Oktoberfest grew to become the celebration it is today.

So raise a stein of extra-strong beer and strike up the band, there’s a polka to dance and sausages with sauerkraut to eat tonight!

Thursday, September 5, 2013


Rinso, Lever Brothers' laundry detergent owned the soap powder market for years until Tide came along. I did a little digging looking for the O'Rourke twins without any success but seeing Mary Ellen (or is it Joan) singing "Rin-So White" brought to mind a little Spike Jones ditty.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


In these days of cronuts, I wanted to introduce you to the first alternative dough - the potato. Spudnuts are exactly what they sound like – spud-based doughnuts. As usual once I stopped laughing, I started researching and found that the doughnut made from potatoes has more than a little history. 

In typical American fashion, Al and Bob Pelton built a business on reinventing something that already existed. They had encountered potato-based doughnuts while in Germany and came home to America with the idea of making the odd little cakes marketable (and themselves rich).  They ran through several formulations before finally coming up with a dry potato mix that let them franchise the Spudnut concept and they went into business in 1940. By 1946 Spudnuts had gone nationwide and by 1952 the Peltons were featured on the cover of the now defunct Mechanix Illustrated.
The Pelton brothers eventually retired, selling Spudnut Industries Inc. and it was eventually bought by Dakota Bake-N-Serv. Within a year of the purchase even the potato mascot of the old Spudnut days had retired but the company seemed to have a bright future – that is until the new ownership wasted the company's funds on shaky land deals and drove it into the ground.
Unlike so many brands of the past, though, Spudnuts persist. According to Google Maps you can satisfy your spud craving at the Spudnut Shop in Richland, WA. If you happen to stop in, please let me know about the experience. I'm intrigued, but about two thousand miles too far away to make the trip!
By the way, if you're interested in making your own Spudnuts, the three recipes below come from The Book of a Thousand Recipes (1912). Supposedly the Peltons revised the recipe quite a bit in their quest for a marketable Spudnut, but they were after a dry mix that could be used to easily and quickly supply a doughnut shop. These more traditional versions lack the detail we've come to expect from our modern cookbooks, but they should put you on the path to glazed bliss.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Sports - NFL Predictions

For those of us who are fans of American football, something like a holiday is about to happen. Preseason has concluded, the bugs supposedly have been worked out and strategies have been established, and now the real thing can begin. The game can really begin, there will be winners and losers, drama and foregone conclusions, and the so-called experts will opinionate and in the end be wrong.

Take heart fans of teams that aren't located on a coast or in a pre-approved championship city. I did a quick search of Super Bowl predictions, and sites as diverse as ESPN, Sports Illustrated, and failed to make a single accurate pick of the Super Bowl champion. 

New York Giants
Kansas City Chiefs
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Oakland Raiders
Seattle Seahawks
Indianapolis Colts
New England Patriots
Carolina Panthers
Pittsburgh Steelers
Seattle Seahawks
New England Patriots
Philadelphia Eagles
Indianapolis Colts
Seattle Seahawks
Pittsburgh Steelers
Seattle Seahawks
New England Patriots
New Orleans Saints
Indianapolis Colts
Chicago Bears
Philadelphia Eagles
San Diego Chargers
New York Giants
New England Patriots
Pittsburgh Steelers
Philadelphia Eagles
Pittsburgh Steelers
Arizona Cardinals
New England Patriots
New Orleans Saints
New Orleans Saints
Indianapolis Colts
Atlanta Falcons
San Diego Chargers
Green Bay Packers
Pittsburgh Steelers
Green Bay Packers
Denver Broncos
New York Giants
New England Patriots

So, regardless of who proclaims themselves an expert and how “complex” their prediction model, in the end it’s all just a guess and one that’s more often informed by fandom than facts.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Happy Labor Day, America. Welcome to the end of another long summer, albeit one that failed to reach the scorching high temperatures of 2012 here in the upper Midwest. Labor Day always has been one of those mystery observances, important only for the fact that its passing means the great wheel of the year has began its final revolution and autumn isn't far away. In my youth, back in the days before year-round schools and making up snow days, Labor Day meant one last camping trip before returning to the drudgery of school. In reality, though, Labor Day is a holiday celebrating, well, organized labor. According to the US Department of Labor website:

“[Labor Day] constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.”

The origins of the observance are debatable, but New York’s Central Labor Union celebrated the first Labor Day on September 5, 1882 and by 1884 the first Monday in September had been designated as the official “workingman’s holiday”. The first official recognition of Labor Day came in the form of local and state ordinances with Oregon the first state to ratify a Labor Day bill on February 12, 1887 and on June 28 of that same year Congress passed an act making the first Monday of September a national holiday.
In the years since its inception, the meaning of Labor Day has transformed. Today being pro-union is out of vogue and if you polled people on the street, most probably would connect the Labor Day holiday with the end of summer instead of the triumph of unions. Humanity easily forgets its past and each generation tends to take what the previous one fought to achieve for granted. In our modern era we assume certain worker’s rights will be respected, that we’ll get a handful of holidays a year, and that we’ll be paid for our work, but it wasn't always that way.

So, to bring it back to reality, here’s a little ditty from Van and Schenck that says it perfectly - the rich get rich and the poor get laid off…

Beer - the Beverage of Moderation

I came across this beer ad while perusing the September 1955 issue of Life Magazine. It’s the sort of thing we usually see when an industry is under attack for the quality or impact of their product. Today we’re treated to television spots white washing high fructose corn syrup, fracing, and clean coal. Apparently, the brewing industry felt it needed to gussy up its image in the 50s with a bit of wholesome square-dancing. When you look at these ads you can always tell what the manufacturer is trying to hide – corn syrup isn’t natural or good for you, fracing is destroying the environment for energy that largely will be shipped overseas, and clean coal isn’t clean at all. The tag line “America’s beverage of moderation” leaves me thinking there was a push against drunkenness in the mid-50s. It probably was part of the Beaver Cleaver-izing of the nation – the push toward white-bread sameness and squelching of anything that didn’t fit neatly into the pre-drawn lines. Then again, it’s hard to argue in favor of public drunkenness, isn’t it?


Sunday, September 1, 2013

Quote for September

But now in September the garden has cooled, and with it my possessiveness. The sun warms my back instead of beating on my head ...the harvest has dwindled, and I have grown apart from the intense midsummer relationship that brought it on.

~ Robert Finch

1954 Dodge

1954 ad for Dodge – any Dodge, just Dodge.

What’s the most striking thing about this ad? The color of the car. What is that color anyway? Sea foam? Pepto-Bismol-blue? Butter mint green?

Happier in a Nash

1940 Nash ad from Time Magazine and the ad executives have taken to iambic pentameter...or at least bad, Robert Frost-esque poetry. As last Sunday's car ad showed, Nash was one of many small car companies in business before World War II. Once the post-war market dried up, Nash couldn't keep pace with the Big Three. They eventually became part of American Motors Company (who brought you the AMC Pacer among other duds) before finally being devoured by the competition.

Like the Hudson, I admire Nash's art deco styling. That proud nose and those bumped-out fenders can't be beat. By comparison everything on the road today is vanilla with flavorless sauce.

National Bourbon Heritage Month

Welcome to National Bourbon Heritage month. There’s nothing like getting sauced before marching out in the woods armed with a shotgun to hunt forty-five pound rabbits! Something about this guy just screams Elmer Fudd and it suggests an alternate reason for the hapless hunter’s speech impediment. The G&W ad is from the November 1937 issue of Life Magazine and I think it features the least realistic rabbit I've ever seen sort of Bugs or Roger.

What makes any particular whiskey bourbon? Well, according to the Fed:
  • Produced in the United States
  • The grain used in its manufacturing must be at least 51% corn
  • It must be aged in new, charred-oak barrels
  • It must be distilled to no more than 160 (U.S.) proof (80% alcohol by volume)
  • Though there isn’t any defined period for aging bourbon, it must placed into the barrel for the aging process at no more than 125 proof (62.5% alcohol by volume)
  • It must be bottled at 80 proof or more (40% alcohol by volume)

The history of bourbon is as convoluted and confused as the dirt roads that wind through the hollows and hills of Kentucky from which the spirit is reputed to originate. The first distillers in Kentucky arrived in Bardstown in the 1770s and most historians agree that by 1783 when Louisville was founded some of the area’s earliest inhabitants had already started distilling whiskey. In the eastern reaches of Old Bourbon County exports of corn whiskey became widely known as “Bourbon”, a name that stuck. At some point the barrels used for aging bourbon were charred, something often accredited to Baptist preacher Elijah Craig, and now the practice of aging bourbon in charred oak barrels has become an earmark of good bourbon whiskey.

So, raise a glass of oak, smoked cornfields, and cold limestone springs and take a moment to sit in the year’s aging sunlight. Soon enough everything will be sleet and snow, but for the moment the mellow fire of summer burns inside and everything is softened.