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Excerpts From The Book Of Bourbon
  • An Uncivil War and Its Aftermath
  • The Boy From Kentucky
  • Whiskeygate
  • Reconstruction of the Whiskey Business
  • A Matter of Trust
  • The Noble Experiment
  • The Roaring Twenties
  • The Reawakening of the American Whiskey Business
  • The New Deal
  • America "Lightens Up"
  • Whiskey at the Close of the Twentieth Century
  • The New Deal

    On May 29, 1933, Franklin Roosevelt declared a national emergency that had been brought about by a series of events that culminated in the stock market crash of 1929 and the massive unemployment that followed. In order to "put people to work," Roosevelt proposed a "New Deal" for the country. As part of this deal, Congress passed his National Industrial Recovery Bill that effectively suspended anti-trust laws and compelled industries to write their own fair trade codes, the idea, in general terms, was to make each industry share the available work among as many people as possible. Just over six months later, when Prohibition was repealed, the beer, wine and spirits industries had to devise codes of their own.

    Owsley Brown (Brown-Forman), Frank Thompson (Glenmore) and a group of other concerned distillers met with attorneys from the Wholesale Liquor Dealers Association in Washington, D.C. Their aim was to unite the entire distilled-spirits industry, write a code of conduct that would be acceptable to all and convince everyone to sign it. The idea was that the distillers would show their willingness and ability to police themselves from within and prevent post- Prohibition bars from becoming the seedy, unregulated dives they had been prior to 1920. To a large extent, it worked.

    In December of that year, the Distilled Spirits Institute (DSI) was formed in the New York offices of the Schenley Products Company. DSI went on to merge with the Licensed Beverage Industries (formed in 1946) and the Bourbon Institute (formed in 1958) to become the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) in 1973.

    Also in December 1933, President Roosevelt formed the Federal Alcohol Control Administration (FACA), an agency charged with establishing codes to which any company in the beverage-alcohol business was legally compelled to adhere. Luckily for the distillers, the FACA was controlled by Joseph Choate, a man who had been against Prohibition from the outset and who said that he intended to use "as little external control as possible." The FACA became the Federal Alcohol Administration in 1935, and the following year, it issued updated classifications of all liquor. This agency eventually became part of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

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