The Evolution of Straight Whiskey

Have you ever wondered why the word “straight” is disappearing from some whiskey labels? Michael Veach has the answer!


Many people see the word “Straight” on a whiskey label and do not realize that single word represents decades of struggle to protect consumers from adulterated whiskey. The story of the term “straight” starts in the middle of the nineteenth century. Aging whiskey in charred barrels had become very popular with consumers and therefore profitable to distillers. This meant time sitting in the barrel taking on color and flavor from the wood. There was loss of product through evaporation as well as a lag time between producing the whiskey and the reaping of the profits.  Some producers found this bothersome.  The result was that by the 1860s there were people taking shortcuts using artificial flavoring and color, amongst other things, to make whiskey. There were no regulations at that time so they could label their product “Bourbon” or “Rye” as they sold it to the consumer. These “Recitifiers” were often…

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