How often is it that we see an American film star come home during a movie and pour himself/herself a glass of neat whisky? Often. This may not be representative of the America of today yet it is indicative of the role which the sacrilegious beverage plays in American folklore and culture. Similarly, a classic western film would not be complete without a cowboy throwing litres of bourbon down his neck. This is why 5 of America’s 52 states are now offering the so-called Whisky Tour to tourists who wish to experience the countries love-hate relationship with the spirit.
It is seen as an opportunity to show how important alcohol was in the 1700s and 1800s to American citizens. By 1810, consumption rates had reached 5 times what they are today. This is, of course, related to the changes in lifestyle and levels of awareness of the dangers of alcohol, yet it is undeniable that a whisky tour casts a fair amount of light on America’s past.
The tour involves numerous points and places of interest. Firstly, there is the early whisky rebellion in Pennsylvania which took place in 12 distilleries. The tour inevitably involves a visit to the George Washington distillery, which was turned into a museum some years ago. The 18th century building is not only an attraction for whisky tourists but for historians too. It provides a relatively deep insight into America’s industrial past. There is also the 1657 rum distillery in Boston to visit, reminding us that whisky was and is not the only spirit to pass American lips. Last but not least, there is perhaps America’s most famous alcoholic expert to take into consideration, a certain Mr. Jack Daniels. Visitors of the whisky trail go home with the knowledge of how this beverage is made and how its originator came to make it in the first place.