VOL. 132 | NO. 144 | Friday, July 21, 2017
History in Our Whiskey
By Dan Conaway
GOOD WHISKEY ISN’T DRUNK. IT’S REMEMBERED. Good whiskey and good stories age well. I wrote that a while back when I was hired to write a bit about whiskey. I thought about all of that on the porch looking at the night over a bit of whiskey with the dog. I was drinking whiskey; the dog was just looking at the night. We both liked the moment.
Whiskey is like friendship. It doesn’t happen overnight.
Whiskey is like marriage. If you rush into it, it’s likely to leave a bad taste behind.
Whiskey is like making love. Slow and steady makes the end worth waiting for.
Whiskey is returning to Memphis, and the family bringing it home is one of our oldest, the one that brought it here in the first place in 1866.
The Canales are bringing Old Dominick back.
The Canales’ history, and ours, will be in every ounce. There’ll be a little water from the Bay of Poets in Italy and some from artesian wells in the Memphis Sand. There’s fruit in there from Domenico’s street pushcart, a pinch of Peter’s confectioner’s sugar, barrels of beer, something from every aisle of a grocery store, and fabled bourbon from Kentucky, fabled whiskey from Tennessee, and the skill to make both and understand the difference. There are generations and generations. There are Canale lawyers and judges, football stars and civic leaders, icons and Con Canale’s iconic ham sandwiches, wars and recovery, bottles broken in prohibition and filled in hope.
Even the first bottle – opened in a few years that will come from barrels being filled today on Front Street – is aged 151 years.
Good whiskey is truth. Anything else is hard to swallow.
We won’t know for a while just how good the new Old Dominick will be, but it couldn’t be better that it’s being made right here. While we don’t know if it’ll be worth drinking. and even if you don’t drink at all, what it will be worth to our city psyche to turn an old building into a new distillery to give an old Memphis brand new life Downtown could buy rounds for everybody.
Good whiskey takes the time to be worth yours.
The distillery looks like it’s been there forever but it’s brand-new. The distinctive neon sign and strutting rooster on the roof are proud reminders that a brand that hasn’t crowed in almost 100 years is back in style. Beneath the rooster, Old Dominick is crafting Tennessee Whiskey, High Rye Bourbon and Wheat Whiskey, and a couple of vodkas, and resurrecting the Memphis Toddy from their family recipe.
Folks swear by bourbon whiskey, born and raised in Kentucky and made only in America from sour mash, aged in oak. Tennessee whiskey, born and made only in Tennessee from sour mash, aged in oak, and maple charcoal-filtered has a sweeter disposition and a warmer personality, some folks argue.
We have just the place to have a drink and settle the argument.
I’m a Memphian, and Memphis is getting a shot.
Dan Conaway, a communication strategist and author of “I’m a Memphian,” can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.