Whiskey Lore

Drew Hannush

Join Best Selling Author Drew Hannush as he explores the rich stories, myths, and legends that surround our favorite spirit. From the ghosts of the Scottish Highlands, to bourbon legends like Colonel E.H. Taylor, to popular myths around how we taste and experience whisk(e)y - Drew is on a mission to help enrich your whiskey experience by finding the stories that hide behind the labels.

All Episodes

Today, we demand a certain amount of transparency with our food stuffs. But in the 19th Century when it pertained to patent medicines, everything was a cure-all! Even whiskey! Hear the story of an enterprising distiller who decided his product was so good, it could cure just about anything. And he even got the government believing his marketing. This is the story of Walter Duffy and his miracle cure - Duffy's Pure Malt Whiskey. And here more about it in my interview with Clay Risen of the NY Times on Whiskey Lore: The Interviews (available wherever you download your podcasts).

Dec 7

34 min 56 sec

Who was William Johnson?   The high sheriff of the Oregon provincial government seemed to be living a double life. And his moonlighting appeared to be as a trader, using a colorful potion to subdue his trading partners, the local tribes.   Is the legend of Blue Ruin true? And what can it teach us about life on the frontier, the fur trade, and our history?

Nov 22

33 min 13 sec

The question remains, who is the real whisky capital of the world? Was it Peoria, Illinois or Campbeltown, Scotland. Well, in this episode, I will draw a conclusion, but before I do that - I'll give you a better understand of just how big the "wee toon" as it was known, got to be. I'll also talk about the ghost that haunts Glen Scotia, the mysterious painting that appeared on Davaar Island, and find out what remains of Campbeltown's old distilling days with Iain McAlister of Glen Scotia.  And beyond all the rumors and speculation, I'll reveal the forces that really brought this whisky behemoth to an end. 

Nov 8

36 min 29 sec

Step back to the very origins of scotch whisky, to an area that was once hailed as the Whisky Capital of the World. We'll track the first Gaels from Ireland, meet the Lord of the Isles, and learn about a town that was one an ancient capital of Scotland called Dalruadhain, evolved into Lochend, and then boasted the largest collection of distilleries featured in one town, in the history of the British Isles. It's a lot of whisky and a lot of history in this two part journey.

Oct 26

31 min 17 sec

In the powerful conclusion to this story about Joseph Greenhut's Whisky Trust, an infernal instrument of death is set to be deployed at one of the Distillers and Cattle Feeders Company's greatest rival distilleries and the conspirators are brought before the court. And we find out why the Whisky Trust wasn't really a whisky trust after all. And later, we discover what happened to this powerful combination. Enjoy an extended part 3 of Whiskey Lore.

Oct 18

37 min 12 sec

The quest for a solution to overproduction of whisky soon turns into a vehicle bent on total domination of America's alcohol industry. At the center of this quest is the president of the infamous Whisky Trust, Joseph Greenhut. His success is so great during the first year, that he soon becomes emboldened to ratchet up the pressure on his biggest rival. And his methods soon cross the line. And as Standard Oil and other trusts draw the attention of lawmakers, Greenhut makes a shift to keep the eyes of the law off of his business.

Oct 11

35 min 12 sec

Join me for an epic mini-series as we investigate one of the darkest chapters in the history of whisky - the age of the Whisky Trust. Built to help control and out of control industry, the Distillers and Cattle Feeder Trust started simply enough, with a goal of stopping the mass overproduction of alcohol. But soon greed took hold of its founders and soon, any device necessary was used to bring the industry under their thumb. Even going as far as Japan to find resources to help them dominate their competitors.

Oct 4

27 min 15 sec

Is it just clever marketing or is ocean aged whisky really something to behold? Well, aging at sea is actually nothing new. In fact, the history of sea aging goes back centuries. Hear the story of these nautical spirits through the ages and climb aboard a ship may very well have sparked the move to American independence. And catch my interview with Jay Cole of Kaiyo Japanese whisky this Wednesday on the all new Whiskey Lore: The Interviews podcast.

Sep 27

32 min 26 sec

What is a "dusty hunter?" Find out in this week's episode and join me as we talk about the largest collection of Pre-Prohibition whiskey sold at a Christie's auction. Whiskey that sat for a century in two vaults owned by a man who helped put Los Angeles on the map and also brought its citizens plenty of whiskey. And find out where I take 2 bottles of this Pre-Prohibition whiskey during my 6000 mile journey across the country. And find out how to see pictures of these old bottles and get tasting notes from those 2 century old bottles as a Whiskey Lore Society member.

May 24

1 hr 2 min

One morning, I opened my email and read about one of the most fascinating finds any whiskey fan could hope for. A paralegal from Los Angeles who is also a fan of the show, had a client who recently passed away, and within their house was a store of whiskey filled with the most fascinating history imaginable. Not only from the dusty bottles themselves, but also the story of how they got there - a magical gift from the man who created what the Los Angeles Times called in 1919, "the wettest spot in America." It's a story so big, it will spread over 2 episodes. Cheers!

May 17

38 min 22 sec

Continuing my journey through the Mississippi Delta, I made a couple of stops including Rosedale, mentioned in Robert Johnson's Traveling Riverside Blues, and Dockery's Plantation. My final stop was to be the final resting spot of Robert Johnson, but a surprise awaited me - and it would lead to a voice with first hand experience at partying at the juke joints - Poe of WABG-AM in Greenwood, MS.

Mar 15

20 min 51 sec

Join me as I go on a hunt for juke joints in the Mississippi Delta. Along the way I'll taste a hamburger fried in 100 year old grease. I'll talk about the Father of the Blues and the Home of the Blues. I'll search for Robert Johnson's home in the Delta. I'll spend some time relating some of the great information I learned from Roger Stolle and his book Juke Joint Confidential and I'll have someone offer me a building Ike Turner worked in. It was a fun trip from Memphis to Clarksdale, MS and I'm excited to share it.

Mar 8

22 min 52 sec

What a fascinating human being. Robert Johnson didn't live a long life, but he lived a full one for his years. Amazingly, researchers have retraced a large portion of his life and books released in the last 2 years have shown a bright light on who Robert the man was, rather than the legend. In this episode, I will tell the story of that man. From the day he went searching for his father, to the uncovering of myths, and his families quest to bring him peace. Enjoy the finally to the story of Robert Leroy Johnson. "Waiting For a Train" by Jimmie Rodgers is in the public domain.

Mar 1

36 min 23 sec

A lot has been written about Robert Johnson, the legendary blues guitarist of the 1920's and 30's - much of it is based on half truths and legends. One of his most known legends is based in the story of the crossroads when he was said to have sold his soul to the devil in exchange for his guitar genius. But Robert faced more than one crossroad in his life. We'll look at the fact and fiction of Robert Johnson and see if we can find the real man behind the legends.

Feb 22

26 min 50 sec

The story of James Anderson and his journey to becoming George Washington's distiller is a fascinating one. It starts simply enough on a farm in Inverkeithing, Scotland. But circumstances around him dictate his future and he suddenly finds himself bringing his wife and seven children to a new world. Listen to the story of a Scottish farmers journey to Mount Vernon and how he convinced a retiring president the benefits of the whiskey trade. And thanks to Steve Bashore, the Head of Historic Trades at Mount Vernon and the head distiller at Washington's rebuilt Distillery for bringing in some of the knowledge he gained with his research on Anderson and Washington.

Feb 8

43 min 1 sec

The Battle of Bower Hill woke up Philadelphia and created quite a stir in President Washington's cabinet. It would result in George Washington and Alexander Hamilton taking a trip towards Western Pennsylvania and militia men being summons across four states. So what happened to David Bradford and the rebels? And what happened with the dreaded whiskey tax? Find out in this episode as we close out the Whiskey Rebellion.

Feb 1

35 min 42 sec

If you thought it was odd for Robert Wilson to go through torture to live out life as a spy, wait until you hear the comedy of errors that is George Clymer. If Hamilton wanted a war, he was making a pretty good show of it. And the episode ends with an epic battle that would forever be a symbol for the violence that took place in Western Pennsylvania. Enjoy the prelude to the finale. The rebellion is on.  

Jan 25

34 min 37 sec

So what had the farmers of Western Pennsylvania all up in arms? In this episode, I'll take a look at the law that fired up the insurrectionists and I'll give you a view of what 1791 Pittsburgh looked like and talk about one of it's most respected citizens - General John Neville. It wouldn't take long from Neville to go from hero to the object of scorn as men like Daniel and John Hamilton started planning meetings in Pittsburgh and Mingo Creek, discussing how to send the government a message.

Jan 18

26 min 57 sec

When you think of the Whiskey Rebellion, what comes to mind? Farmers not wanting to pay taxes? Alexander Hamilton goading President Washington into putting down an insurrection? Washington on horseback leading an army into Western Pennsylvania. What if I told you that most of these assumptions are wrong? In part one of a series on the Whiskey Rebellion, I'll tell the story of the first victim of the rebellion, the events set up the rebellion, and how what many characterize as a fight for liberty - was actually a fight for survival.

Jan 11

29 min

Mark Twain moves on and an initial silver rush in Virginia City fades. Frustrated financiers look for a way to off-load their investments just before the Comstock yield's its greatest bounty. Meanwhile, two men - John Piper and William Brown find their own fortunes by serving up drinks, food, and entertainment to miners and money men alike. Join Drew Hannush of Whiskey Lore and Chris Wimmer of Legends of the Old West and hear the fate of Virginia City, Nevada.

Dec 2020

38 min 16 sec

This bonus episode is the first of a series of podcasts hosted by Drew Hannush of Whiskey Lore and Chris Wimmer of Black Barrel Media and the Legends of the Old West podcast. In part one, we look at the history of Virginia City and the Comstock Lode, including the namesakes for both. Chris also tells the story of a young writer named Samuel Clemens and Drew gives you a foundation's worth of knowledge about whisky in the Old West. The next episode will move onto a deeper history of the Big Bonanza and the saloons of Virginia City.

Dec 2020

37 min 53 sec

The story of Jack Daniel and Nathan "Uncle Nearest" Green could have been something much different - but in the hands of Fawn Weaver, she looked past headlines and social media to find the story behind the story. And her findings have led her to build a foundation in Nearest's name, a distillery in his honor, and it also brought her and the Jack Daniel's Distillery together to create an initiative that will help change the whiskey industry going forward.

Oct 2020

38 min 24 sec

In 2016, Best Selling Author Fawn Weaver was in Singapore with her movie executive husband, when a New York Times International article caught her attention. Was it possible that in an industry known for its Scots-Irish roots, actually had its biggest selling whisky taught to its founder by a slave? But the accompanying photo told a different story. And what Fawn uncovered, changed her life.

Oct 2020

30 min 24 sec

What does a microscopic North American aphid have to do with scotch and Texas whisk(e)y? Quite it bit it seems. And a man name T.V. Munson is the common denominator. From his home in Denison, Texas, Thomas Volney Munson was summoned to save the Cognac region of France from a vine damaging insect called Phylloxera. And his work would inspire two brothers who would build their distillery and name it in honor of their local hero - a hero that the Cognac region still reveres today.

Oct 2020

29 min 14 sec

Take a journey on the Helena Sloman, a ship en-route from Hamburg, Germany to New York City, carrying the hopes and dreams of John Phillip Nelson, a candle and soap maker who sold everything to give his family a wonderful new life in America. Join me to hear an immigrant's story and how it lead to the most successful Tennessee Sour Mash Whiskey of the 19th Century. I'm joined by John Phillip's 4 times great grandson Andy Nelson, of Nelson's Green Brier Distillery and producer of Belle Meade.

Sep 2020

30 min 7 sec

It is amazing how much the real estate market of 2008 and the scotch whisky industry of the 1890s have in common. Rampant speculation, inflated prices, and so many people caught up in the action that they couldn't see the coming disaster. And at the center of the whole affair were two brothers who had taken over their father's dairy business, turning it into a whisky blending house and then getting caught up in greed, success, and incredibly bad business practices.  This is the story of the great Pattison Crash.

Sep 2020

26 min 23 sec

Whiskey loves its firsts. From the first person to char a barrel for aging, to the first mention of whisky in the exchequer rolls, there seems an obsession with finding out where things started. And they are usually positive subjects. But what about something like Prohibition? Which was the first state to go dry? That question raised its head when I heard about a famous shootout that led one state to jump to prohibition a full eleven years before the Volstead Act. Were they the first? I'll investigate, in this week's episode.

Sep 2020

29 min 47 sec

Have you ever had an occasion not to order or talk about a particular whisky, simply because you were a little concerned about your ability to pronounce it? In this episode, I'll help you get over your fear of mispronouncing scotch whisky names by showing you some simple examples and helping you understand the origins of these names. It will all lead to a fable about a whirlpool, a knight and a maiden performed by actor Tom Wylde. Charles MacKay's "The Kelpie of Corryvreckan."

Aug 2020

31 min 9 sec

During my interview with Lori Carcich, the founder of Country Smooth whiskey, she brought to my attention a detail about women in the whiskey industry that took me totally by surprise. In this episode, I'll look at some of the pioneering women of whiskey like Helen and Elisabeth Cumming, Catherine Carpenter, Dr. Rachel Barrie, and I'll begin my search for the first female whiskey founders.

Aug 2020

33 min 12 sec

After Dr. Crow and Oscar Pepper passed away, the history of Old Crow would take a dramatic turn. James E. Pepper would be the new generation taking over the old distillery, but Old Crow would move on, with a little help from Colonel E.H. Taylor. In this episode, I'll take a look at 130 legendary years that followed this tumultuous period. And I'll talk with David Meier of Glenn's Creek Distilling, the current owner of the Old Crow Distillery ruins, about what he is doing to preserve the legacy of Dr. James C. Crow.

Aug 2020

24 min 19 sec

Amazing, for all of the people who talk about him in the bourbon industry, Dr. James C. Crow's life is somewhat of a mystery. Born in Inverness, Scotland in 1789, he moved to America and landed in Kentucky. When people say his name, they usually talk about two things, his work with the sour mash process and his Old Crow whiskey. But his influence on the bourbon industry can't be understated. Yet there are no biographies about his life. In fact, there is little written about him at all. In the season 3 premiere episode, I'll talk about how Dr. Crow made his way to Kentucky and what happened when he got here. I'll also set up a discussion about the brand and whiskey he was instrumental in creating - a whisky that was considered one of the greatest and then suddenly lost its place among America's great bourbons. Find out on this week's episode.

Aug 2020

21 min 36 sec

Last week we looked at the growth of one of the biggest bourbon making areas in Kentucky - an area that at its peak had nine distilleries, but at the turn of the century had just about forgotten its whiskey past. Join me this week as we examine the area's downfall, the Kentucky Whiskey Trust, the families as they faded away, and the future of New Hope. My special guests are Wally and Charles Dant of Log Still Distillery. Listen to what they have in store for this once great whiskey area.

Jun 2020

29 min 52 sec

One of the great centers of the bourbon industry in the late 1800's started with humble beginnings in the deep woods of Kentucky near present day Pottinger's Creek. But drive around the area today and you would hardly know that this place was once the home of upwards of nine distilleries - selling whiskey from Boston, Massachusetts to San Francisco, California. This is the origin story of New Hope, Kentucky and the surrounding area. It features the names Basil Hayden, J.W. Dant, George Willett, and other bourbon whiskey legends. Featuring special guest J.W. "Wally" Dant of Log Still Distillery in New Hope.

Jun 2020

28 min 16 sec

I've heard people defending why you should spell whisk[e]y with an "e" and without an "e" - but I haven't heard anyone give me a good explanation of where these two spellings originated or why each has found its own hooks in certain countries. So in this episode, I'll take a look at the origins of the word and see if we can determine the best way to navigate this spelling minefield.

May 2020

28 min 39 sec

This week I look at two mysterious tragedies in the history of scotch whisky. One takes place at the Laphroaig Distillery on Islay and the other at Glenturret Distillery. I also provide details about several steps in the process of making scotch whisky. Join me and Lucy Armstrong, Development Manager and unofficial historian for Glenturret Distillery and we learn of the tragic story of Grace Gow and find a silver lining in an otherwise sad tale.

May 2020

22 min 58 sec

What is the source of this "father of" obsession we have? Who was the Father of Baseball; who was the "Father of the Internet;" who was the "Father of Radio;" and who was the "Father of Bourbon?" There is a highly publicized answer that graces a bourbon bottles and historic signs around Kentucky, the Reverend Elijah Craig. I'll take a look at his life and see if we can spot his relationship to the origins of "America's Native Spirit."

Apr 2020

25 min 47 sec

In this week's episode, I investigate a couple of legends built around whiskey barrels, distillery cats, bourbon, and scotch whisky. I also head to Glenturret Distillery in Perthshire, Scotland to ask questions about the most famous and prolific distillery cat of them all, Towser. I'll also unveil the background on the name of the whisky Monkey Shoulder.  

Apr 2020

22 min 38 sec

This week, we look at New Orleans and Bourbon Street as a potential source for the name of "bourbon" whiskey. We'll cover the theories that suggest this famous street's influence on bourbon's name and unveil a secret about Bourbon Street that most people are not aware of. Elizabeth Pearce of the Drink and Learn podcast joins me as we dig into the origins of the name of bourbon whiskey.

Apr 2020

24 min 52 sec

In this modern world of brands and brand names, it is hard to fathom that no one seems to know the story behind bourbon whiskey and how it got that name.  In this episode, we'll dive deeper into names and the history surrounding the name "Bourbon" in America - and we'll look at two sources that could lead us learning how bourbon got its name.

Apr 2020

22 min 58 sec

False facts are all around us. And one that has been with us for almost 80 years is the "tongue map." That little visual we were shown in our textbooks as children is not quite as true as we've been led to believe. Join me as we talk tasting history, learn how to we taste, and apply that to how we approach experiencing whisky and writing our tasting notes. Cheers!

Mar 2020

29 min 34 sec

An entry in the Exchequer Rolls of Scotland in 1494 points to Friar John Cor and a group of Tironensian monks as the likely source of the first aqua vitae provided to the king. This record has brought the home of these monks, Lindores Abbey, fame as the spiritual home of scotch whisky. But is it? Join me and Drew McKenzie-Smith, founder of Lindores Abbey Distillery, as we look further into the history of distillation on this historic property.

Mar 2020

28 min 47 sec

There has long been a quote attributed to President Lincoln, when he was pressed about his decision to put a potential drunkard in charge of the Union Army. Is this legend true? We'll look at the origins of the quote, the drinking history of Ulysses S. Grant, the quandary that Lincoln found himself in, and see if we can make a connection to Old Crow whiskey. (Be 21+) 

Feb 2020

26 min 49 sec

The Four Roses brand you know and respect today, may have literally been your grandfather's and great-grandfather's favorite whiskey. But at the peak of its popularity in 1958, it was inexplicably removed from American shelves and remained a distant memory for almost 50 years. Join me as I invite Four Roses Brand Ambassador Al Young to help me tell the story of the rise and fall and rising again of Four Roses.

Jan 2020

26 min 10 sec

In Part 1, Ernest Shackleton is knighted for his attempt at the South Pole. Carelessly he leaves some whisky behind that is discovered and recreated by Richard Paterson. In Part 2, Sir Ernest Shackleton attempts to trans-navigate the continent of Antarctica, only to lead his men through one of the most incredible (if not THE most incredible) survival adventures in mankind's history.

Dec 2019

30 min 54 sec

This is the story of two men. One, a Polar explorer affectionately and respectfully referred to as “The Boss;” and the other, a master showman and master distiller whose uncanny ability to blend and analyze scotch whisky earned him the nickname “The Nose.”  And at the beginning of this decade, these two would have their paths cross in a most unusual way - over three bottles of scotch whisky, a set of handcuffs, and a century of patient waiting.

Dec 2019

24 min 15 sec

As we come up on the 100th anniversary of the enforcement of the Volstead Act, it's time to look at some of the weird and diverse laws that govern spirits across the United States. With a 10th Amendment that allows each state to create its own laws, there is no wonder figuring out where to buy your bottle in each state can become quite the mystery.

Dec 2019

24 min 22 sec

When you see a bottle of Cù Bòcan Single Malt Whisky know that the name was inspired by a spectral beast that roams the Highlands of Scotland. Is it wolf? Is it a ghost dog? Hear the legends that compel villagers to take extra precautions when driving the hills of this beautiful Scottish town.

Dec 2019

27 min 47 sec

007 James Bond often takes the blame for the decline of whisky sales in the 70's and 80's. But is he really to blame? We'll take a look at the man who defines cool for many and see how much influence he really wielded. And we'll look at the man who personified cool before Bond, James Bond. A fun story looking back Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack in Las Vegas.

Dec 2019

27 min 16 sec

Food fraud was a rampant in the 18th and 19th Centuries. The Industrial Revolution had taken food quality out of the hands of the individual and on to business owners. Adulteration and food fraud would find its way into whiskey and one Kentucky distiller decided to fight back.

Dec 2019

26 min 54 sec

Why do a podcast around whisky history? There are so many great stories to tell. And it's not just what is in the bottle, it's what happened to help create that bottle, or bring that bottle to you. It's about the mysteries and lore that has been built up around brands, distilleries, and the whiskies themselves. And in this episode, you'll see how these stories can touch you in ways you'd never imagine.

Dec 2019

15 min 35 sec