Thursday, May 17, 2012

Strong Medicine: Prohibition Era Medicinal Rye

One of the few ways to get legal booze during prohibition was to get a prescription (hmmm, sounds similar to what people do today at California's "green pharmacies"). Doctors, dentists and even veterinarians could legally prescribe liquor to cure your tired blood or whatever fake disease you had.

This bottle of Pennsylvania rye is an example of medicinal whiskey. Distilled prior to 1917, by the time this bonded whiskey was ready for bottling, twelve years later, prohibition was upon us. To that end, the back label clearly states, "For Medicinal Purposes Only - Sale or Use for Other Purposes will Cause Heavy Penalties to be Inflicted." Ouch! Just to make sure you know it's medicine, it includes a big Rx and the Latin name Spiritus Frumentt, which means fermented spirits. I'm convinced!

According to the label, this bottle of John Gibson's Son & Co. Ancient Special Reserve Rye was made by the Philadelphia Pure Rye Whiskey Distilling Company and bottled by the Dougherty Distillery.

John Gibson's Son & Co. Ancient Special Reserve Rye, Bottled in Bond, 12 years old, 50% abv.

I really love the nose on this. It's got leather and cologne and some wood. The palate is deep with that spicy sandalwood note that I associate with these old Pennsylvania ryes. It's also got some hops like notes that remind me of Charbay whiskeys as well as some cocoa. The finish in minty with wintergreen.

For as long as this stuff has been around, it's really retained a tremendous amount of flavor, and is my favorite of the Pennsylvania ryes I've been able to taste. This is a medicine I'd gladly take anytime!


tmckenzie said...

Sounds tasty. I have never had any PA rye. Now do not tell me you picked that up at the corner store.

sku said...

Ah, I wish I had a corner store like that.