Quoting from http://www.city.waterloo.on.ca/seagramcollection/index2.html wrote:
During the 1950s and 1960s, the Seagram Company conducted extensive research into [methods of aging and barrel storage]... One was a sort of cradle, in which the barrels were continually rocked. The idea was to imitate the motion of a boat. People first realized that whisky improved with age back in the days of sailing ships when some observant drinkers noted that whisky tasted smoother after it spent a few months crossing the Atlantic in oak barrels. This experiment did in fact speed up the maturing process, but the cost of continuously rocking thousands of barrels ruled out any chance of implementation
As you know, my never-ending quest to find the origins of red likker has led me on a search for a single point of origin in America. Lately I've been looking at how New England rum may have contributed to this development. It's hard to find out much about New England rum, because the real McCoy vanished forever long before bottled and labeled liquor became popular. Prohibition created a huge cavern in the history of bourbon and rye whiskey, some might say a fatal history, as most brands that survived Prohibition did so only as familiar names. But there are examples still of pre-Prohibtion whiskey, and thanks to glass bottles, we can see (and sometimes taste) the differences. There is no post-Repeal New England rum, except an occasional use of that name on a label, but even pre-Pro New England rum was bogus as far as the real thing was concerned. The last of the real New England rum distilleries closed down sometime around 1825 or so, and all of their product was shipped wholesale in barrels (yes, I know WHERE they were shipped; but people drank it here, too).
But I recently learned a couple interesting things about it. For example, "New England rum" was actually a generic term for a certain TYPE of rum, as distinguished from just a particular brand or the location of distillery. New England rum could be made anywhere as long is was that kind of rum. And what was that type? I dunno. Couldn't find that out. Exactly.
But what I DID find out is that another name for "New England rum" was "Dock Rum". Now some folks would say, "Sure, that makes sense. After all, it would be rum found around where ships and docks and stuff are." And of course that's correct. But then, isn't EVERYTHING that's transported by ship sitting out on docks? And is there such a thing as "Wagon rum" or "Mule rum"? But if you listen just a little differently to that voice in your head as your read that, you might hear it as "Dark rum" (especially if you pahk your cah neah the dock). Sure enough, upon further searching I find that the bottled New England rum (made much later, of course) only came as dark rum; there wasn't any "silver" version. Perhaps it was New England rum that crossed the Atlantic, sloshing back and forth in oak barrels all the way (and back), not to Europe, but to Africa. Where the ship's captain, like any shrewd trader, would earn his "commission bonus" by attempting to purchase a ship-load of slaves with as few barrels of rum as possible. Whatever he didn't have to use was his. He could sell it in the West Indies, although he wouldn't get much for it there. But when he got back to Rhode Island those barrels were gold. I believe it was THIS rum, oxidized, red, and aged for anywhere from one to two years, that became so popular. In fact, the more-or-less uncommon habit of charring the insides might have had more to do with conditioning the barrel for sea travel than for adding flavor nuances.
Things that make ya go, "Hmmmm..."
Pop another o' them Lot No. 40's John