Scanning Around with Gene: It's Whiskey Time!
I've needed a stiff drink a couple of times lately -- not for the alcoholic properties, but for the symbolism. A glass of even the strongest Cabernet can't bellow a toast for your best friend or drown the tears of loss. No, for those moments you need something stronger.
After a quick survey of the options, I decided on whiskey -- a serious drink for serious times. But what kind?
A trip to even the smallest neighborhood bodega presents an astonishing array of brown-colored fluids distilled from grain products. There is Bourbon whiskey, Canadian whiskey, Irish whiskey, Scotch whiskey and on and on. They can't even agree if it's spelled "whiskey" or "whisky." All of today's images are from advertisements that date from 1943 to 1965. Click on any image for a larger version.
Most whiskies are advertised as being either old or as appealing to men of distinction. I'm assuming older and more distinct are better. But to me, bottle shape and label design are just as important.
Lord Calvert is "so rare, so smooth, so mellow it is invariably found in the company of those who can appreciate, and afford, the finest." One of those who had the cash in 1952 was Mr. George G. Blaisdell, the industrialist who turned a $260 investment into Zippo Lighters. His hobbies were sports cars and golf.
Mr. Donald Healey, designer of the Austin-Healey sports car and another a man of distinction, was featured in 1955. As was Vladimir Golschmann, conductor of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra.
These 1945 ads show even more men of distinction. "If you can't afford it, buy something else," is the message from this company.
Oddly, Lord Calvert was also one of the first whiskey makers to feature women in its ads, although it tried to tempt the ladies with a slightly "softened" (and presumably more affordable) blend. Still, "a lady can even drink Soft whiskey straight," says the ad.
Sunny Brook whisky also featured men of distinction, though I'm not quite sure what their distinctions were. Maybe they were just as "cheerful as its name."
Imperial went after the rugged individualist in these ads showcasing big-game hunters and world-class fishermen. There's nothing quite like killing something to whet the palate for a good swig of "the whiskey among whiskies."
And in what must have been an embarrassing licensing tie-in, Jim Beam, an American whiskey, managed to snag Mr. Cool (but British) himself, James Bond.
Then there are the old whiskies. Here, from 1956 is an ad for Old Fitzgerald, followed by Old Grand-Dad, and finally Old Crow.
White Horse managed to be both cool and old at the same time. Here is one in a series of "cool guys on white horses" ads (1956), and one highlighting that the company has been in business since 1746.
I decided that if it's still available, I'm going with Park & Tilford Private Stock, America's luxury whiskey. I love the type, borders, and colors, and while not a smoker, I can appreciate why, along with a good stiff drink, many people feel the need to light up. This ad is from 1949.
I consider my current state to warrant about one bottle, though I hope to nip it in half a bottle (or a pint-sized one). Who knows, though. I may take up golf, deep-sea fishing, big-game hunting, sports cars, and international espionage. Then I'll have to drink even more.