While going through the Taylor-Hay Family papers today I found an unassuming envelope that had five pages in it. THe first two are a letter to E H Tayor Jr., dated 11 January 1870 from J R Thomson of the firm Paris & Allen, Importers of Brandies, Gins, Wines &c. 31 Broad Street, New York. He discusses the possible increase in the bonding period and how he (along with Taylor) is against it, believing it will cause over production and speculation in new whiskey. He goes on to explain that he is sending a partial letter from a friend that is self explanitory. The partial letter is a request for some old bourbon of 15 or more years of age because a challenge has been made by a Pennsylvania judge that he has some rye whiskey that is better than anything made in Kentucky. The last letter, one page front and back, is a description, probably a press release of sorts, written describing the contest. I thought I would transcribe the letter here for your enjoyment and discussion. I just wish I could have been there for that tasting!
Important decision at Washington!!
Kentucky vs. Pennsylvania.
Old Bourbon vs. Old Rye.
A decision has just been rendered at Washington which cannot fail to be of particular interest to our readers. We give a sketch of the case as related to us.
"An evening not long since at Genl. Butler's residence in Washington, Judge Woodward of Pennsylvania remarked that he knew of some Rye Whiskey over 20 years old that was made in his state which would excel any Bourbon ever distilled. The gauntlet thus thrown down was instantly accepted by the Hon. Wm. Brown of Kentucky. He wrote at once to Mssrs. W.A. Gaines & Co., Frankfort, Ky. - (owners of the celebrated Hermitage Distillery) for a bottle of the finest "Bourbon" Kentucky could produce, while Judge Woodward procured a bottle of the "Rye".
Mssrs. Gaines & Co. after a careful comparison selected a bottle of the renowned "Old Crow" (of which they are also proprietors) made by the old Scotchman himself 21 years ago. As both samples were over 21 years of age, they were fully mature, and though not able to vote were fitting representattions States.
The Court being duly convened with that eminent connoiseur, Genl. Butler as presiding judge, the case was called. Both sides being ready, counsel at once proceded upon the merits and while ably argued, the samples themselves were more spiritually eloquent. After the evidence was all in and well digested, the judgement was rendered in favor of Kentucky's "Old Crow" as being the most mellow, rich, full yet delicately flavored and surpassing in boquet."
We congratulate Mssrs. W.A. Gaines & Co. on their success, which they richly deserve, as they have devoted years of study to the perfection of distillation and spared no expense in pusuit of purity and quality. The "Hermitage" Distillery, of which Frankfort is justly proud, is a result of their labors, and its product though not two years old has an unequalled reputation both at home and abroad.