History of Independence Day
Independence Day is a national holiday in the US that falls on the Fourth of July each year. The US celebrates that this day in 1776, that Continental Congress declared that the thirteen American colonies were no longer subject and subordinate to the monarch of Britain, who at the time was King George III. It was essentially the birth of the US, and therefore an important day for US citizens to celebrate. Here's to you, the US.
History of American Spirits
The history of spirits in the US is also an important history. The Europeans who once travelled across the Atlantic were already heavy drinkers. Water quality meant that alcohol was a safer choice. Making beer was expensive over the pond, so the colonists took to fermenting peach juice and apple cider, as well as drinking rum that had been imported from the West Indies, according to an journal article called Alcohol in America, by W.J. Rorabaugh. Apparently, in the 1770s, the average colonial American consumed about double the alcohol as today’s standards. “Instead of a morning coffee break, Americans stopped work at 11:00 a.m. to drink,” Rorabaugh writes. “A lot of work went undone, but in this slow paced, pre industrial age this was not always a problem.”
There were differing views on drinking alcohol. Ministers in New England declared public drunkenness was a sin, but drinking in public was generally accepted. Puritans called the alcohol the ‘Good Creature of God’ and Protestants demanded total abstinence. There were tussles, with areas banning the sale of hard liquor and citizens getting around it in creative ways, including one chap charging people to see his blind pig, each customer getting a 'free drink' with their ticket. The attitude did slowly start to shift, and by 1850 half the population had stopped drinking.
Apparently, when full prohibition came in, it was partly to do with the First World War. German brewers fell out of favour and there was concern that grain was needed for the war effort rather than brewing. Prohibition ended in 1933, though many states kept it illegal. However, it was only a matter of time before drinking grew in popularity again and now it is a fundamental part of US culture. The US has stamped its mark on the brewing and distilling industries and is renowned for it’s bar and restaurant scene, creating the basis of many modern cocktails, some documented in the infamous Jerry Thomas' Bartenders Guide.
US Whiskey is the spirit the US was renowned for, for a number of years. It is big business and comprises a number of categories. Rye, malt, rye mat, wheat and bourbon are all variants with their own characters due to the character of the grain. Within this, there are sub categories dependent on the ratios and methods. There are other factors to consider too such as the base spirit. Whereas in the UK we commonly use wheat, corn comprises a large portion of base spirit production in the US. Corn is known to have a slightly sweeter profile than wheat, which lends itself well to whiskies. If this here has whet your whistle and you're looking to explore some US whiskies then head to our store, We stock some fine brands including Griffo Stony Point American Whiskey, Griffo Stout American Whiskey, Whistlepig 10 Yr Old Whiskey, and JW Kelly Bourbon. All of our US stock is discounted for Independence Day.
In recent years US gin has really put its stamp on the gin industry. People familiar with them will tell you that their flavour profiles are bold, crisp and full of flavour, in a way that is distinctively different to some of our UK gins. Some of this can be put down to US producers having a little more freedom from the sense of tradition which surrounds UK gins. This freedom extends to making their own base spirit (which some UK distilleries do, but not many), and whilst botanicals from the UK countryside make their way into gins to give a sense of terroir a local distillery, the same happens in the US, and the locally grown herbs, crops and other botanicals used, have a different sense of place. US Gin is fantastic, and a particularly interesting journey for fans of UK gins as there are similarities in the bold nature of some of them, but lots of differences to explore. If you’re interested in giving some a go, then we stock some great examples including Griffo Scott Street American Gin and Griffo Chardonnay Barrel Aged American Gin. We also stock three of the renowned Uncle Val's range, their Restorative, Botanical and Peppered Gin. As above these are all on sale to celebrate the holidays.
Whilst rum has been made in the ‘Americas’ for years, and rum was apparently one of the first spirits to be made and labelled as 'American', the US continent is more renowned for whiskey. One reason for this is the Sugar Tax of 1764, which all but killed off US rum production, clearing a space for whiskey to bloom. Nowadays, there are some fantastic rums coming out of the US, including Montanya Rum, which is lovingly produced in Colorado. The climate difference in Colorado makes for a different aging process and the result is a rum with a unique smoothness and complex flavours. Want to find out more? Head to our site. Our sale is on until 9th July so you've got a few days to grab those bargains.
Are you a fan of US spirits? If you are there why not get involved. Get talking about it on social media. You can always share a picture of your favourite US spirit. Or, if you’re skilled on the bar perhaps you want to create a cocktail for the occasion and share? If you do then we want to see so be sure to tag #YourDrinkBox