From Prohibition to Microdistilleries: Changing How America Drinks
on 19/02/11 at 10:37 amBooze News
Strong drink is as American as the Fourth of July, and dates back a few years earlier. In fact, U.S. distilleries and their potent products have been part of the national culture since long before the War of Independence and have played a major role in the country’s history.
But America’s troubled relationship with liquor had a huge impact on what consumers expect from their alcoholic beverages, and the devastating aftermath of the 18th Amendment left a barren landscape for liquor lovers. On the bright side, in more recent times, that loss has created a hunger for something better, contributing to a national revival of microdistilleries. Across the country, small companies are opening their doors and producing unique, handcrafted products with local or niche audiences in mind.
Today’s microdistillery trend is a long way from where things stood at the time Prohibition — the so-called Noble Experiment — began in 1920. The passage of the eighteenth amendment forced scores of small distilleries across the U.S. to close their doors. After its repeal, what remained of the country’s liquor industry was consolidated into a few large companies like Canada’s Seagram.
While these behemoths profited greatly from Prohibition, they also lowered consumer expectations. At the time, America’s large but then-underground drinking population wasn’t picky, and many drinkers were all too ready to believe they were getting the real deal from bootleggers or speakeasy bartenders, who often rebottled homemade gin or rot-gut whiskey and sold it as top-shelf liquor.