Whiskey on The Eastern Shore

, 1814 : No doubt about it, whiskey was a vital requirement for American soldiers. This is a letter, located at the Maryland Historical Society, from Sergeant Joseph Frazier to Solomon Lowe, requesting a delivery of whiskey rations to men on guard in Easton, Maryland.
Source: Maryland Historical Society; Special Collections Reading Room MS1846


 New York Advertising Maryland Whiskey

, 1803 : Maryland Whiskey was a distinct product and famous up and down the east coast. This note from the Evening Standard in New York advertises 30 Gallons of Maryland Whiskey for sale.
Source: The Evening Post. (New York, New York) • 05-24-1803


 Whiskey Delivered to Men on Guard in Western Maryland

February, 28 1800 : The Maryland Historical Society houses letters that show how important Whiskey rations were to men on guard. Letters reached commanders letting them know that whiskey was on its way. In this example, William Darke wrote to Captain Joseph Tidball.
Source: Maryland Historical Society


 George Washington’s Mount Vernon Distillery Established

January, 1798 : George Washington established a gristmill to produce flour and cornmeal. In 1791, Washington's farm manager, James Anderson, suggested he build a distillery. By 1797, Washington's distillery was the largest in America and by 1799 it produced 11,000 gallons of whiskey a year. The photo above is Washington's meticulous plan for rotating crops on one of his Mount Vernon Farms.
Source: American History. Feb2004, Vol. 38 Issue 6, p64-78. 11p.


 The Still is Down!

, 1797 : The Shriver Family of Western Maryland was known for distilling whiskey. This letter from the Maryland Historical Society is a note from one brother to another that the family still was down. It would cost $5 to fix.
Source: Maryland Historical Society, Shriver Family Papers


 Rye Whiskey Famous Before Bourbon

, 1796 : Henry Crowgey's book, Kentucky Bourbon, uses multiple sources to show that between 1796 - 1812, rye whiskey was the preferred beverage and distillate to corn-based spirits. A Lexington firm wanted to hire a distiller with "good clean rye," and a Louisville grocery store offered both Old Rye Whiskey and common rye whiskey. He writes, "Writers of a later day have been somewhat remiss in referring almost solely to corn distillates."
Source: Crowgey, H. (2013) Kentucky Bourbon, the Early Years of Whiskey Making. University Press of Kentucky. 44.


 Jacob Beam Sells Whiskey

, 1795 : According to, Jacob Beam sold his first barrel of "Old Jack Beam" in 1795.

 Whiskey in Ledgers

, 1795 : The Shriver Family ledgers run from the late 1700s to the mid-1800s. They cover all payments and sales of the family business in Western Maryland. Whiskey was always on the docket.
Source: Maryland Historical Society; Shriver Family Ledgers

 George Washington Pardons the Whiskey Rebels

, 1795 : A year after the Whiskey Rebellion, President George Washington pardoned the participants of treason.
Source: ProQuest Copyright © 2014 All Rights Reserved.


 Whiskey Rebellion

February, 28 1794 : The Famous uprising of Farmers and Distillers in Western Pennsylvania. Years of aggression between citizens and tax collectors led to the big protest. Besides a few flesh wounds, no one was hurt, and it demonstrated the strength of the new Federal government.


 Kentucky Founded

, 1792 : Kentucky was established as a state on June 1, 1792.
Source: Wikipedia - Kentucky


 The Whiskey Tax

, 1791 : On January 27, 1791, Congress voted in favor of the "Whiskey Tax." The vote was 35-21. Believe it or not, George Washington opposed this tax initially, but local government officials were in favor of it (maybe because they agreed with Alexander Hamilton that whiskey was a luxury!) Washington shared these sentiments with Congress and they passed the bill.
Source: Crom, K. (2013) The Whiskey Tax of 1791, Accounting Historians Journal, Vol. 40, No. 2,


 Jacob Beam Travels the Cumberland Gap

, 1790 : According to family accounts, including Fred Noe III, Jacob Beam and Mary Beam traveled through the Cumberland Gap in Western Maryland toward Kentucky, bringing his distilling equipment on a wagon. Jacob and Mary were two of over 300,000 people to move west from 1775 to 1800. The image above is an oil painting of Daniel Boone, the trailblazing pioneer of the Cumberland Gap.
Source: Daniel Boone Escorting Settlers through the Cumberland Gap (George Caleb Bingham, oil on canvas, 1851–52;


 Bourbon County Founded

, 1786 : Bourbon County was original founded in the Commonwealth of Virginia. According to historians, a month after the founding, the court set "tavern rates" for whiskey and brandy.
Source: Public Domain, Digitized

 Frederick Maryland – You need a license!

, 1786 : Six years before Hamilton's famous Whiskey Tax, Frederick, Maryland needed to impose retailer rules! Looks like there were already a fair number of distillers in Western Maryland and the local government needed to monitor expansion.
Source: The Maryland Chronicle or the Universal Advertiser (Frederick, Maryland) • 03-22-1786 • Page [1]


 Annapolis Whiskey

, 1785 : A note from a "Baltimorean" to a Maryland legislator about "The Act for Founding a College on the Western Shore." Two clauses specifically mention whiskey and require that the retailer has a license to sell it.
Source: Maryland Journal. (Baltimore, Maryland) • 08-16-1785 • Page [2]

 Potomac Canal Made with Whiskey

January, 1785 : President George Washington signed off on a whiskey delivery to Potomac Company employees. The Potomac Company was created to improve the navigability of the Potomac River, improving infrastructure with the goal of linking the East Coast to Ohio via tributaries. The Maryland Historical Society has an invoice signed by George Washington himself, requesting over 40 gallons of whiskey for the workers.
Source: Maryland Historical Society


 40 Bushels of Rye Wasted!

, 1780 : Historians agree that almost all of Kentucky's original distillers, started distilling in their native colonies - Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia - first. The letter above, for example, is written to a lawyer in Bedford County, Virginia. A citizen is seeking financial assistance because his rye and malt burned on the kiln!
Source: Crowgey, H. (2008) Kentucky Bourbon. They Early Years of Whiskey Making. University Press of Kentucky.


 Colonel Evan Shelby moves from Maryland to Tennessee

, 1771 : Colonel Evan Shelby was the father of Kentucky's first governor. After moving from Maryland, he set up his distillery in Tennessee and operated an inn and tavern. Many famous frontiersmen, such as Daniel Boone and Colonel Henderson stopped in to his shop to pick up necessities for their long journeys.
Source: Crowgey, H. (2008) Kentucky Bourbon. They Early Years of Whiskey Making. University Press of Kentucky.


 Jacob Beam Born in Pennsylvania

, 1760 : Born Johannes Jacob Beam on February 9, 1760. Jacob was the fourth of five children. His parents were Nicolaus and Margaretha Boehm. It's thought that his father changed their last name to "Beam" to make it more American


 The First American Whiskey Tax Was Earlier Than You Think

January, 1756 : The Supply Bill was the first tax on distilled spirits meant to help illeviate English debt. The tax was controversial among colonial legislators and led to the growing spirit in the colonies to split from England.
Source: Maryland State Archives


 Annapolis-Based Club for Imbibing

, 1745 : The Tuesday Club was founded in Annapolis as a place to celebrate its members ability to imbibe, especially with whiskey. It looks to have been disbanded when Alexander Hamilton died in 1756. 
Source: Maryland State Archives


 Port of Baltimore Established

, 1706 : The original Port of Baltimore was established in 1706 in the present day Inner Harbor, a deep water harbor that served as a hub for trade and commerce. Later, it would expand to the Fells Point neighborhood and include Recreation Pier, the the second largest immigration Port to Ellis Island. Many Scottish, Irish, and German immigrants entered the United States via this terminal, bringing with with them their penchant for distilling spirits.
Source: View of Baltimore by William Henry Bartlett, circa 1840.


 Pennsylvania Founded

January, 1681 : Pennsylvania was founded in 1681 by William Penn. Soon, Scotch-Irish and German immigrants would move west and start distilling rye whiskey known as "Monongahela Whiskey."


 Maryland Colony Settled by English

January, 1632 : King Charles I grants land to George Calvert, Lord Baltimore

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