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DBA Rancocas Wine & Spirits
Corner of Mt. Holly ByPass
313-315 Rancocas Road
Mount Holly, NJ
609.265.9900 fax 265.8800
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The name is obviously American, written twenty-five years after the English settled on the island in 1651. It is quoted in The Academy, "The chief tipple they make in the island is Rumbullion, alias Kill-Divil, and this is made from distilled sugar canes, in which the end product ends up a hot, hellish, and terrible liquor."

This is the earliest-known allusion to the liquor rum; the word is held by some antiquaries in what seems rather a strained explanation to be the gypsy rum, meaning potent, or mighty. The word rum was at a very early date adopted and used as English university slang.

The oldest American reference to the word rum (meaning the liquor) was in May, 1657, prohibiting the sale of strong liquors "whether knowne by the name of rumme, strong water, brandy, etc., etc." In some localities in America rum was called in early days Barbadoes-liquor, occasionally also Barbadoes-brandy.

The Indians called it ocuby, or as it was spelled in the Norridgewock, tongue, ah-coobee. Many of the early white settlers called it by the same name. Kill-devil was its most universal name, not only a slang name, but a trading-term used in bills of sale.

We have gone to great lengths to research the origins and history of some of the most popular liquors in the world, below you will see information on Vodka, Rum, Gin, whisky, pernod and many more.


Vodka found its origins in Eastern Europe. The name comes from the Russian "voda" (meaning water or, as the polish would say "woda.") The first documentation of vodka production was in Russia to wards the end of the 800's, but the first known distillation was at the Khylnovsk about 200 years later, as reported in the Vyatka Chronicle of 1174. Polish distillers have claimed to have distilled vodka even earlier in the 800's. The first identifiable Polish vodkas appeared in the early 1100's they were then called gorzalka and were originally used as medicines.

During the Middle Ages, liquor distillation was widely used for medicinal reasons, as well as being a minor ingredient in gunpowder production. In the latter half of the 1300's a after sampling the vodka a British Ambassador to Moscow described it as the "Russian national drink" and by the middle of the 1500's it was established also as the national liquor in Finland & Poland.

Since early production methods were crude, vodka often contained impurities, so to mask these the distillers flavored their spirits with fruit, herbs or spices. The mid 1500's saw the first appearance of pot distillation in Russia. Prior to that, seasoning, aging and freezing were all used to remove impurities, around this time vodka started to be produced in large quantities and the first recorded exports of Russian vodka were to Sweden. Polish 'woda' exports started nearly 100 years later.

The various varieties of vodkas produced included - acorn, anisette, birch, calamus root, cherry, chicory, dill, ginger & hazelnut, horseradish, juniper, lemon, mint, mountain ash, oak, pepper, peppermint, raspberry, sage, sorrel, wort and water melon.

In St. Petersburg around the 1700's a professor discovered a method of using charcoal to purify alcohol filtration. Felt and river sand widely used at this time in Russia for filtration.

The spread of awareness of vodka continued throughout the 19th century, helped by the presence in many partdrunkennesss of Europe and Russian soldiers involved in the Napoleonic Wars. Increasing popularity led to escalating demand and to meet this demand, lower grade products were produced based largely on distilled potato mash.

After the Russian Revolution, all private distilleries in Moscow were confiscated by the Bolsheviks. because of this most of the chief vodka makers emigrated to other countries, taking all their knowledge and recipes along with them. Of the those who left one of the main distillers started a distillery in Paris, using the French version of his family name - Smirnoff.

In the 1930s one such exile emigrated from Russia to the U.S bringing with him the secrets to one of the popular makes of vodka in the world today.

Through his dealings with another Russian who had emigrated, the first vodka distillation plant in the U.S was set up in the early 1930s. Although at first not particularly a successful venture, it was then sold on to an entrepreneur who then turned it around and made a it a success in the 1950s with a vodka-based cocktail - the Moscow Mule. Vodka wasn't widely popularity in the West until the 1960s and 1970s when many more brands were created in the U.S and the U.K.

The number of vodka cocktails are almost matches the number of those made with gin and are seen in the same exclusive circles and stylish bars through out the world.


The trouble that gin had, just to be popular.

The first recorded instance for the production of gin is the early 1600's in the netherlands, although it has been speculated that distillers in in italy have made it before then. The dutch produced gin as a medicine and sold it to chemists in order to treat a variety of complaints such as stomach pains, gout and gallstones. To make it taste less harse, the Dutch started to flavor it with juniper, which also has medicinal properties of its own.

The british troops fighting in the Low Countries during the Thirty Years War, were given "Dutch Courage" during the long campaigns in the damp weather through the warming effects of gin. Eventually they started brining it back home with them, where already it was often sold in chemists' shops. Distillation was taking place in a small way in England, but it began on a greater scale, though the quality was often very dubious. The new drink became a firm favorite with the poor.

By the mid 1730's London had approximately 7,000 shops that exclusively sold spirits. Alcohol abuse by the poorer classes at this time became a major problem, which was tackled by introducing The Gin Act at midnight on 29 September 1739, making gin very expensive to buy. The Prime Minister, Sir Robert Walpole and Dr. Samuel Johnson were among those who opposed the Act,they knew it could not be enforced without the backing of the people. They were right.

Riots broke out over the city and it seemed that there was no respect for law and order, the Gin Act was finally repealed in 1742 and a new policy was implemented with the help of distillers, reasonably high prices, reasonable excise duties and licensed retailers under the supervision of magistrates. This the same practice that exists today for those bar owners who posses a drinks license. Since then many companies established themselves as well-to-do manufacturers and the gin became the drink of high quality.The first recorded instance for the production of gin is the early 1600's in the netherlands, although it has been speculated that distillers in in italy have made it before then. The dutch produced gin as a medicine and sold it to chemists in order to treat a variety of complaints such as stomach pains, gout and gallstones. To make it taste less harse, the Dutch started to flavor it with juniper, which also has medicinal properties of its own.


The cultural choice for the decerning drinker. The pirates liquor. The origin of the word rum is a slight mystery, there have been several theories put forth over the years, it is thought to have derived from the word rumbullion meaning "a great tumult or uproar". Another theory is the name comes from a large drinking glass that was used by Dutch seamen back in the 17th century known as rummers, from the Dutch word roemer. While other postulates include contractions of the words saccharum, which basically means sugar in latin, or arôme which is french for aroma. Regardless of the actual source, the name had come into common use by the mid 1600's when the Court of Massachusetts past the law making it illegal to sell any kind of strong liquor.

Rum is a distilled drink made from sugarcane by-products such as molasses and sugarcane juice by a process of fermentation and distillation. The result, a clear liquid, is then placed aged in oak and other casks. While there are rum distillation plants all around the world such as Australia, India, Reunion Island, the most rum is produced in and around the Caribbean and South America

Rum is made in a variety of different styles. Light rums are usually used in mixed drinks(such as cocktails), while golden and darker rums are appropriate for use in cooking but could also be used to makes cocktails. The premium grade rums that are made today are slightly different, they are made to be consumed neat or on the rocks. There are many varieties of Rum listed below are some of the most popular rums in the world.


Cachaca is made from raw sugar cane and the major difference is that the lighter rums are more commonly made from whats known as molasses, (A thick syrup produced in refining raw sugar and ranging from light to dark brown in color) this is a by-product from boiling the cane juice to extract as much sugar as possible. It is made from fresh sugarcane juice that is fermented and distilled.

Cachaça is Brazils national spirit and the key ingredient in the classic cocktail caipirinha, the history of Cachaça goes back nearly 5 centuries when plantation owners began serving Cachaca to their slaves after seeing that it increased their vigor. Over the next lot of years better Cachaças were being distilled and soon people started drinking it in colonial Brazil while having dinner at home. Shortly after this slavery was banned in 1888, when Brazil was declared a modern Republic.


Bacardi was founded in Cuba, during an era when most of its population was illiterate. During this time emblems were used to identify the different liquors. Bats were identified closely with rum, this was because during the night the berry-eating bats would crawl their way into the vats, drink the fermenting rum and would be found drowned in the morning. The first thing the rum workers would do at the start of the working day would be to fish the dead bats out of the rum containers


Bacardi Silver(Superior) is the world's greatest rum product, bacardi silver, the heart and soul of the Bacardi empire a high-quality and sociable liquor made with the passion of almost 150 year of rum distillionation know how. Bacardi Silver is the corner stone of Bacardi's authenticity, origin and craft, it has carried the Bacardi Bat as its symbol since 1862.


Bacardi Gold rum is a very distinctive, smooth, and mellow golden rum that has a unique flavour combined with some classic Bacardi quality. It is just the very best Bacardi rum for those who enjoy a relaxed atmosphere, good fun and good times that comes from being with friends and family and mixing it with cola or with juices gives it that special Caribbean feeling.


Bacardi Limon rum is the original modern icon from Bacardi. It’s chic, innovative, and desirable. Bacardi has crafted Limon to reflect the long-standing tradition of drinking Bacardi rums on the rocks with a squeeze of fresh lime. Limon is for those who are always on the go and enjoy a busy social life, such consumers who appreciate and demand only the highest quality products that have a slick appearance and sharp taste that complement the way they live their lives.


Bacardi 151 is an exceptionally high-proof rum. The 151-proof liquor is approximately 75.5% alcohol by volume, it is also referred to as "overproof rum" because of the high level of alcohol. Bacardi 151 is notable for being one of the strongest liquors in the world the only liquor that would be stronger is everclear which is between 95 - 100% alcohol. As with all drinks of this strength, consuming the rum straight is not recommended, rather, it is typically used as an ingredient in cocktails.

Bacardi 151 is extremely flammable and is the key ingredient in many flaming drinks. An infamous drink using Bacardi 151 is the "Flaming Dr. Pepper", which is said to taste just like the Dr Pepper drink despite being completely made of alcohol. This drink calls for the lighting of the highly-flammable Bacardi and as such has been banned as excessively dangerous from alot of bars and restaurants.


Havana Club is a brand of rum, made in Santa Cruz del Norte, Cuba. The brand was established by José Arechabala in 1878 and was nationalized after the Cuban Revolution in 1959. Since 1993 it has been produced by Havana Club International, a 50:50 joint venture between Pernod Ricard and the Cuban government.


The type of rum depends on whether or not the producer uses fresh cane juices or molasses for the fermenting process. Almost all rum produced today is aged in oak barrels that once held whiskey or bourbon which is where the dark color of rum is developed - the longer it is in the barrel the darker it will become. Although some rum is bottled fresh most is aged for a least a year, then blended before it's bottled which produces a smooth taste. Rum fresh from the still tends to have a harsher taste not recommended for the novice. After the bottling process is complete the aging process is over. Don't think because your father has a bottle from the '60s that it will taste any better than one right off the supermarket shelves and don't let the sweet taste and the pineapple tidbits fool you, rum can vary in strength from 80 to 150 proof.



The origin of Irish whisky is a little cloudy, no one is actually sure when it was 1st created, it is surmised that brewing started sometime in the 12th century. Irish whiskey is barley, malt whiskey made in Ireland. Irish whiskey resembles Scotch whiskey in that its ingredients and formulation is slightly different.

Note that Irish whisky is written differently. Peat is almost never used when malting Irish whisky, resulting in a whiskey with a smoother, sweeter flavor. In most Irish whiskeys, the smoky, earthy flavors of Scotch are absent.

Common wisdom says that the Irish invented whisky, but it is speculated that the Scots perfected it. Both claims are open to doubt, if "beauty is in the eye of the beholder," then "perfection is on the tongue of the glass holder." In other words it is a question of taste. The word whisky comes from the Irish Gaelic term "uisce beatha" which translates as "water of life" ("uisce" is pronounced ish-ka).

There are fewer Irish whiskey distillers than there are Scotch distillers. Economic difficulties in the last few 100 years have led to great number of distilleries closing or merging. Currently there are only three distilleries operating in the whole of Ireland (although each produces a number of different whiskeys.)

Irish whisky, like Scotch, comes in several forms. Like Scotch whiskey, there is single malt, (100% malted barley and grain whiskey. Grain whisky generally tends to be lighter in color and have a lighter flavor than single malt whiskys and is almost never bottled as a single grain. It is however used to blend with single malt whiskys to produce a lighter blended whisky.

Unique to Irish whisky distilling and something that the scotch have never followed on, is pure pot still whisky (100% barley, both malted and unmalted, distilled in a pot still). The "green" unmalted barley gives the pure pot still whisky a spicy, unique Irish quality. Like single malt, pure pot still is sold as such or blended with grain whisky.

Irish whisky is thought to be one of the first distilled beverages in Europe, dating to the mid-12th century). The Old Bushmills Distillery have also laid claim to being the oldest licensed distillery around the globe since gaining a license in 1608.


The term whiskey is known to be from the Gaelic uisge beatha or usquebaugh meaning "water of life." Gaelic is a different branch of Celtic spoken in the Scottish Highlands. It's believed that whiskey was produced in Scotland long before 1400s. It wasnt until the early part of 19th century that people had the knowledge to tell the difference between brewer and distiller by the definitions we have today.

The first evidence of Scotch whiskey production was in the beginning of the 17th century. The documentation of this comes from the will of John Denoon, merchant of Tain recorded his possession of a spirit stand and give glasses valued at just over 4 pounds. Some historians speculate that whiskey production emigrated to Scotland from Ireland around the 16th century.

Whisky had increased in popularity to such a level where the local production in Tain could not keep up with the demand. In the early 1660's the town council had gone so far as to ban the purchase of malt used for the production of whiskey.

After 1725, there was an increased amount of evidence for action against individuals brewing and malting whiskey without prior permission as the authorities attempted to enforce the Malt Tax. In early 1740's a group of people in Tain were cited for illegal distillation of scotch whiskey, they attempted to hide their stills in garrets, bed-chambers and wardrobes. Later on that same year the number of people to be convicted of such a charge had risen sharply, stills having been found in cellars, lofts, byres and bedrooms. Despite this the towns folk continued to distill whiskey behind closed doors in order to avoid paying any tax. It was not just the poor burgesses and county folk who were involved in the illegal activities but some of the more well to do got their hands dirty as well.

In 1779, Malt tax's were sharply increased, and again in 1780. In the spring of 1802, taxes went even higher as the government tried to raise the revenues available in order to finance the war against Napoleon and his allies. However the major commercial distillers had noticed a loophole in the law and were importing higher quality English barley into Scotland, malting it but still only paying the smaller Scottish rate of duty. At the same time as agitation was growing over the levying of the Malt whiskey Tax.

In the early 1900s, Lloyd George failed in discouraging drunkenness among munition workers and doubled tax on whiskey instead. During the prohibition of the United States, whiskey distillers made deals with bootleggers, and it was because of this that over 100 distilleries were back in full swing by 1920s. However the General Strike of 1926 hit the whiskey sales in Britain hard. After the repeal of Prohibition in 1933, distillers still struggled due to the high taxes set in by the government for the military funding.

Today there are more than 2,500 Scotch whiskey brands sold to more than 200 countries worldwide.


Sour mash is not a category or flavor of whiskey like most people think.It is however the name for a process in the distillation process, not unlike the making of sourdough bread. It was developed by Scottish chemist Dr. James C. Crow, while he was employed at the former Old Oscar Pepper Distillery (now the Woodford Reserve Distillery) in Woodford County, Kentucky. When the whiskey is blended as a sour mash, a portion of the old or "sour" mash, is added to the new mash. (The old mash is also called "feed mash," this is because the old grains are used as an ingredient in animal feed.)

Mash is a combination of grain, yeast and hot water that the actual whiskey is made from. This process is done to improve the quality of the liquor, so that every bottle tastes exactly like the next one. In addition to this the acid introduced by using the sour mash controls the growth of bacteria that could damage the quality of the whisky. Sour mash is popular in bourbon whisky and Tennessee whisky. A couple of popular examples of sour mash whiskys are Jack Daniel's and Jim Beam.


Bourbon is America's own spirit,steeped in time from as much as 300 years ago, dating back to some of the early settlers, this unique American product has continually evolved and been refined over the past 200 plus years to become the bourbon that most of us enjoy today.

The first settlers to bring their whisky traditions to this country were Scotch/Irish of Western Pennsylvania. Although whiskey was produced throughout the colonies (George Washington himself even turned his hand to the distillation of said whiskys), with these settlers the bourbon legacy begins.

To help finance the revolution, the Continental Congress put a tax on the distillation of whisky. So infuriated were the settlers that they refused to pay and tax levied. To restore order among the ensuing "Whiskey Rebellion" of 1791 to 1794, Washington was forced to send the Continental Army to quell the uprising.

This turned out not to be a far more daunting task than was first perceived and save the government from a potentially embarrassing political situation and to avoid further difficulty with some of the more hard line elements in society, a settlement was agreed, giving incentives for those who would move to Kentucky, the significance of this is that the early whisky was made primarily from rye, this was about to change with their move and "Bourbon" would be born.

Thomas Jefferson who was the Governor of Virginia at that time, offered pioneers sixty acres of farm land in Kentucky if they would build a permanent structure and raise "native corn" it was also surmised that no family could eat sixty acres worth of corn a year and it was too perishable to transport for sale so the genius behind the idea was simple the corn were turned into whiskey, both problems would disappear. This corn based whiskey, which was clearly distilled, would become "bourbon" only after two coincidentally related events happened.

In West Virginia, which was then the county of Kentucky, was at this time subdivided in 1780 and again in 1786. One of these subdivisions was named Bourbon, after the French Royal House. Kentucky was awarded stateship in 1792 and Bourbon became one of its counties.

In 1783 It is documented that Evan Williams might have been the first commercial distiller in Louisville although nothing has yet been proved, The legend goes that Evan Williams was a penny pincher and used old barrels to transport his whiskey to market in New Orleans. He charred the barrels before filling them, thus after his whiskey made the long trip to market, it had "mellowed" and taken on a brown color.

In 1964, a congressional resolution protected the term "Bourbon" and only since then has the product been defined. The basic elements of Bourbon are that they must be a minimum of two years old, distilled under 160 proof, and be made from a mash of at least 51% corn. It must be aged in charred new oak barrels. 99% of Bourbon Whiskey comes from Kentucky.

The next stage of Bourbon development is how the elements of production, storage, aging and bottling are handled, If the mix of small grains in the mash changes, or the yeast strain used is different, the product changes also. Many distill and age their bourbon at a different proof, Some crack the corn and some roll it.

There are those that pay attention to every detail from the growing and preparation of the grain to the proper rack house barrel rotation. In all premium bourbons you can find a unique point of difference and it is these subtle differences in the end product that make all the difference.


Absinthe or also absinth is a distilled, highly potent, anise-flavored liquor derived from herbs, flowers and leaves of the medicinal plant Artemisia absinthium, also named grand wormwood. Absinthe it is sometimes incorrectly associated as a liqueur, absinthe is not bottled with any added sugar and is therefore more specifically classified as a liquor.

Absinthe is often referred to as la Fée Verte "The Green Fairy" because of its color, which is usually a light green tint. Due to its high proof and concentration of oils, absintheurs or absinthe drinkers would add 3 to 5 parts ice-cold water to a measure of absinthe, which then causes the drink to turn cloudy, water is often used to dissolve the added sugar to decrease the bitterness.

This preparation is considered an intricate part of the absinthe drinking experience, so much so that it has become ritualized, complete with special slotted absinthe spoons and other accessories. Absinthe's flavor is very similar to other anise-flavored liqueurs which is why it is often disassociated as being a liqueur, which have a lighter bitterness and greater complexity imparted by multiple herbs.

Absinthe originated in Switzerland as an elixir, it was used at this time as a medicine to treat a variety of minor ailments and would be used later in the United States. However, it is better known for its popularity in late 19th - early 20th century France, particularly among Parisian artists and writers whose romantic links with the drink are still prominent in popular culture.

At the peak of the absinthe popularity, the best known and most liked brand of absinthe worldwide was Pernod Fils. It was only when the name absinthe grew worldwide was it portrayed as being dangerously addictive, psychoactive drug, the chemical thujone was blamed for most of its deleterious effects. By the early 20th century it was banned across most of Europe aswell as the U.S.

Even though it was vilified, no evidence shows it to be any more dangerous or psychoactive than ordinary alcohol. A modern absinthe revival began in the 1990s, as countries in the European Union began to reauthorize its manufacture and sale.


Pernod is an aniseed-based liquor that has been enjoyed in France for approximately 200 years as an aperitif and a zesty cooking ingredient. During the Babylonian era aniseed drinks were known as elixirs with unique qualities to cure a variety of stomach and digestive dissorders. It has long been recognized that when you combine wormwood and aniseed plants it contains certain healing powers and has been known to have mood-altering effects just like most liquor.

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