I remember being chided by some fellow bar patrons for having a misplaced sense of patriotism after ordering a screwdriver made with Russian vodka. This particular political skirmish occurred in September of 1983, a few days after Korean Airlines Flight 007 was shot down by a Soviet SU-15 Flagon Interceptor. My response to the reproach was the rather flip remark of a much younger man, “Gentlemen if I were to give up drinking the alcoholic beverage of every country that I had a beef with, I’d soon have to give up drinking altogether.”
Looking back, I question my earlier wisdom and wonder now if we should be providing aid and economic support to those whose values and behaviors are in conflict with ours. Beyond the moral implications, there is the pragmatic aspect of drinking from the enemy’s well. When the relationship eventually sours either access to the well is denied, or the owner poisons the waters. As the price for a gallon of gas has yet again broken the three dollar mark because of this current round of unrest in the Middle East, Americans once more must question an energy policy that is dependent upon the reasonable conduct of despots, tyrants and thugs.
The seeds of our own revolution were planted in part when Great Britain implemented The Sugar Act of 1769. This burdensome tax on molasses imported from the West Indies led to the ruin of the once thriving rum industry in colonial New England. In response the colonists utilized native crops in order to continue the production of quality spirits. Today that same Yankee ingenuity carries on in the fast-growing field of micro-distillation. Companies like Philadelphia Distilling and Finger Lakes Distilling are among the over two hundred smaller suppliers that are providing their American clientele with premium potables without the words “Imported from…” being on the label.
Perhaps it is time that those in charge of crafting our nation’s energy policy adopt a similar homegrown approach to the problem. I just hope that we don’t ever get into a squabble with Scotland—because I still haven’t found a domestic distiller that can duplicate the distinct finish and flavor of the Balvenie Double Wood.
Posted by: Chris Poh