Food - Drink
The Whiskey Of The 1800s 'Wild West' Probably Tasted Horrible
By CHRIS SANDS
The Wild West is an infamous period in U.S. history that took place during the late 1800s, and straight whiskey was the most popular drink at the time — but that doesn’t mean it was any good. With nicknames including "coffin varnish," one can only imagine how unpleasant this drink was, and poor ingredients and regulations were to blame.
According to Serious Eats, many past issues with whiskey can be traced back to a lack of production regulations. Middlemen, or “rectifiers,” would buy whiskey directly from distilleries and add ingredients like tobacco, rattlesnake heads, or even sulfuric acid, in an attempt to make the drink more enticing to saloons and wholesale buyers.
Whiskey wouldn’t become regulated until the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, and before then, in the Wild West, only a few saloons in Tombstone and Virginia City offered well-made whiskies. In smaller towns and camps, your whiskey would taste like snakes, river water, or blackstrap molasses, because that's literally what was used to flavor it.