World War II and whiskey

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World War II and whiskey

Unread postby bourbonv » Wed Nov 26, 2008 4:59 pm

I am working on an inventory of scrapbooks transferred to Special Collections. One collection of scrapbooks transferred was put together by the Filson during the war with each scrapbook focusing on Kentucky and the war. An interesting article I found today was about whiskey prices in June 1943. The government had set a price ceiling on brands of spirits. This article discusses the fact that new brands were being sold at higher prices. They were breaking the O.P.A. regulations.

The distilleries pointed out that most of these new brands were mostly blends, created to make existing supplies stretch further since nobody knew how long the war would last and until it ended, the distilleries were not making spirits for consumption. The alcohol was being made for the 5 new synthetic rubber plants built in Louisville. After the war ended and 4 years later, there would be supplies of bourbon and rye, but until then, the existing supplies needed to be stretched. Interesting enough, Scotch whisky was available because the British government needed the american dollars more than the alcohol for the war, so Scotch supplies continued to pour into the United States.

Anyway, since the new brands were not on the O.P.A. lists, their prices seem to be higher than existing brands and the government was looking into it to see if price gouging was involved. The lawyers for the distillers were suggesting in the article that the prices for new brands should fall into the same categories as brabds that were similar styles of whiskey. They seem to suggest that if there was a violation of the law it was simply a temporary mistake compounded by the distributer and retailer of the product, because that was the way they were already pricing the product from the distillery.

Now, the question to asked is why new brands? The answer is simply to protect existing brands. The distillers may not have had a blended whiskey in their portfolio and yet to stretch stocks, they were going to have to create a blend. Rather than turn their main brand into a blended product, which would cheapen its image, they would create a new brand to sell during the war.
Mike Veach
"Our people live almost exclusively on whiskey" - E H Taylor, Jr. 25 April 1873
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Re: World War II and whiskey

Unread postby Bourbon Joe » Wed Nov 26, 2008 5:26 pm

bourbonv wrote: The distillers may not have had a blended whiskey in their portfolio and yet to stretch stocks, they were going to have to create a blend. Rather than turn their main brand into a blended product, which would cheapen its image, they would create a new brand to sell during the war.


And hence was born "Swill".
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Re: World War II and whiskey

Unread postby bourbonv » Wed Nov 26, 2008 5:45 pm

Now Joe,
They were not all swill. From what I understand Schenley's Three Feathers brand would have had to rise up about three levels to be considered "swill".
Mike Veach
"Our people live almost exclusively on whiskey" - E H Taylor, Jr. 25 April 1873
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Re: World War II and whiskey

Unread postby Kinsey Worker » Fri Dec 05, 2008 10:08 am

Mike The One Brand I know that Continental Distilling had for Service people in WWII was Gold Star they had a Whiskey and I think later years a Vodka with that brand name. They Also donated great amounts of Whiskey to the troops during the war for free. Publicker was a Company that was very proud to be An American Company always and gave lots of stuff to service clubs for years after the war.
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Re: World War II and whiskey

Unread postby bourbonv » Fri Dec 05, 2008 12:50 pm

I found another article in the World War II scrapbooks that states that during the three, one month "distilling holidays" given by the government to the distillers to distill beverage alcohol, they only made neutral spirits. This would make sense because most of the distilleries were set up for high proof distillation and to make the changes would take too much valuable distilling time. Still, many of the smaller distillers could not reach that high of distillation and were sending their highest proof distillate to the larger distilleries to be redistilled into industrial grade alcohol. During the "holiday months" they could have distilled bourbon. Even so, I have never seen any bottles or warehouse receipts for beverage alcohol from 1942-1945, so maybe neutral spirits is all that was made. After all they would want the neutral spirits for the blends they were producing to stretch their whiskey supplies.
Mike Veach
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