blog | 12/4/2020
Although for most of us having a drink with family and friends during the holiday season may be tradition, we haven’t always been afforded that opportunity. Prohibition, the nationwide constitutional ban on the production, importation, transportation, and sale of alcoholic beverages was ratified by the states on January 16, 1919 and officially went into effect on January 17, 1920, with the passage of the Volstead Act. Then, 13 years later, on December 5, 1933 came the repeal of the 18th Amendment and the end of Prohibition.
During Prohibition, the only way to get Four Roses was for “Medicinal Purposes Only.” It went something like this: doctors obtained special prescription pads and would issue them to patients in need, for a fee. The patients would then take their prescription to a druggist who would fill it, for another fee. The whiskey used to fill the prescriptions often came from consolidation warehouses, which were where most producers were forced to sell their aged whiskies in order to make what little profit they could during this time.
Innovative forms of packaging for retail sale had always been a trademark of Four Roses, which continued throughout Prohibition. After combining with the Frankfort Distillery in 1922, the company patented a fiberboard box with a tamper-proof seal to make sure that the contents were as advertised when it left the bottling facility.
Following the repeal, Four Roses soon became a top-selling Bourbon during the 30s and 40s. In 1943, Seagram purchased the Frankfort Distilling Company in order to obtain one of the most recognized names in the industry at that time – Four Roses Kentucky Straight Bourbon.
Today, Repeal Day is yet another reason to be joyful during this time of year. It’s remembered as not only a nod to the preservation of our Constitutional rights, but also as a celebration of the long tradition, artistry and skill that goes into the craft of the spirits industry, from the time it starts as grain or other ingredients until the moment we lift a glass of liquid cheer.