Should We be Drinking from the Enemy’s Well?

USAF 204th Fighter Wing Over Kuwait - Public Domain Photo

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


By George…the Boys from Finger Lakes Distilling Have Done it Again!


Finger Lakes Distilling - Lake Seneca, New York

“Two hundred gallons of Whiskey will be ready this day for your call, and the sooner it is taken the better, as the demand for this article (in these parts) is brisk.”

Letter from George Washington to his nephew, Col. William A. Washington, 1799

I am just about to crack open my last bottle of the McKenzie Rye Whiskey from Finger Lakes Distilling, so that I might have the proper libation while reading about the lad’s latest adventures.  It seems that Brian and Thomas Earl McKenzie recently returned from a week of working their copper pot magic at George Washington’s reconstructed distillery at Mt. Vernon. They were there as part of a team of handpicked  American craft distillers tasked with the recreation of  our first President’s peach brandy. Click here for that grand tale.

Brian and Thomas Earl McKenzie at Mt. VernonWhile Washington’s main focus was the production of  rye whiskey, he did develop a taste for the fruit brandies early on–and I am proud to say that it was a Scotsman from my home state  that introduced the good General to the virtues of this particular nectar.Robert Laird served with the Continental forces under Washington, and it was  his family that  supplied  the troops with Apple Jack from their distillery in Scobeyville, New Jersey. 

 The McKenzie RyeUnfortunately for me, while I can get plenty of Apple Jack here in New Jersey, the McKenzie Rye is not yet available for distribution in the Garden State, and the word from the distillery is that their cupboards are bare until early 2011. Even If I were to employ the standard Continental Army ration of  1 gill per man, and then limit my consumption to only every other weekend, I would still deplete the McKenzie before Christmas.  

I guess I better find my  recipe for the  Jack Rose cocktail.

Posted by: Chris Poh

Dad is Distilling in the Finger Lakes

Silver City SallySilver City SidFor years I’ve fretted over the wellbeing of these two lost souls that were seemingly abandoned on the side of Route 341 just south of Silver City, Nevada. Who could they be, and for God’s sake where were their parents? Well part of that mystery was solved during a recent trip to the Finger Lakes region of New York State.

There hiding out in a secluded corner of Finger Lake Distilling above the shoreline of Lake Seneca was dear old dad. The irresponsible lout was all polished up and full of rye whiskey. I really couldn’t blame him though, because the rye was the McKenzie. This newly released gem of a whiskey from the distillery is among the best ryes ever made in North America.

Dear Old DadSo after several sips and bit of a scolding, I reminded pop about his kids rusting in the hot Nevada desert. He promised to take responsibility, but that would be predicated on whiskey sales. So please pay a visit to Finger Lakes Distilling and indulge yourself with a bottle of the McKenzie.McKenzie

Do it for yourself…do it for the children!

Look for an upcoming article about the distillery and other sources of good libations in the Finger Lakes in the December issue of American Public House Review.


   Posted by: Chris Poh


Published in: Uncategorized on November 14, 2009 at 3:36 pm  Comments (1)  
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