Monday, August 13, 2012

Gotta Hankerin' For Some Whiskey

On Saturday I attended a lecture, "Discovering the Records of Tennessee, Kentucky & Whiskey Stills" presented by J. Mark Lowe. I really didn't know what to expect before I got to this lecture, but I figured I wouldn't be disappointed... and I wasn't.

Mark discussed terminology for various different types of travelers. This could be the why's and how's of people who moved first, moved as a group, the ones that stayed behind, the mysterious outlier individual that shows up moving with a group, and women. He also briefly discussed some research principles when tracking an individual.

Various still designs were also discussed, with illustrations provided showing the distilling process. In this case the focus was on whiskey. I also learned that Tennessee sipping whiskey is filtered through charcoal before going in the barrel. Is it surprising that I was suddenly keen on having a whiskey tasting? Could that be the end of the day surprise??

Next we moved onto maps. We spent a lot of time analyzing topographic maps and soil maps. Now you may wonder what does this have to do with genealogy? Well, topographic maps can help you determine why your ancestors choose to travel to a court house a farther distance away, rather than the one that was closer. If there was swampy land between your ancestor and the closer court house, compared to dry flat land to the farther court house... which do you think they would pick? The dry flat land of course. Who wants to chance getting stuck in a marshy critter infested swamp?? Knowing soil conditions is also helpful. Let's face it, many of our ancestors were farmers or land owners, that settled on land/soil that was familiar to them, from either the home country or elsewhere.

Finally, we looked at agricultural schedules. Mark gave us some hints to figure out who may have been producing whiskey. I was really curious about the ratio of grain produced compared to animal stock. Another words, what ratio of corn/wheat/rye/other grains grown would be used to feed the animals owned, what is used to feed the family, and what is the surplus used to make whiskey or some other liquor? I grew up on a sheep farm and it has been many years since I was involved with ordering grain and hay to feed them. My  memory is a little rusty on this. I also don't know what is involved with feeding cows or pigs, i.e. pounds of feed needed per head.

Anyway, the one consuming thought at the end of the day was whiskey. I was really wanting to do a whiskey tasting. I've been to countless wine tastings and a couple of cognac tastings (yum). However, I don't think I've ever done a whiskey tasting.

So did I have whiskey that night? No. Instead I went out to a sushi dinner with my husband, saw the new Bourne movie, and ate too many Milk Dud's. Overall, it was a great day!

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