Now for something a little different. If you know anything about the history of American whiskey, you probably know that for about four decades, from the Forties through the Eighties, it went through a dark period in which the most popular brands were blended whiskeys. It’s not unfair to say that most of these blends tasted like whiskey-flavored vodka because that, in essence, is what they were — mainly grain alcohol with a small amount of straight whiskey added for flavor.
The American palate wanted a smooth, unchallenging spirit, and that’s what the blends provided.
But the trend toward blends started with Prohibition, when some of the only whiskeys available were blends imported illegally from Canada and Scotland. Marketers of straight bourbons and ryes tried to regain a foothold post-Repeal, but the Second World War put the kibosh on that, as most distilleries were repurposed for making grain alcohol for the war effort.
Today’s ads feature two straights and two blends, and it’s interesting to look at how they’re marketed. But enough talk.