Mad Men, it’s a television gold mine for AMC and has made the character Donald Draper synonymous with style, class and the fading era of stoicism amongst over-worked executives. Alcoholism is rife in almost every minute of the show and the lack of consequences for these suits is perhaps a little disturbing. (Apart from that one guy that was fired for his problem back in season 1)
Don’t worry this isn’t a post preaching about systemic alcoholism in the corporate world or how we are relating drinking all day to having money and success. It’s about a much smaller, more interesting issue;
What is Don Draper actually drinking?
The very first episode has Joan telling Peggy that “Mr. Draper drinks rye.”
“Rye. That’s Canadian right?”
“You’d better find out.”
From then on we always see Don Draper pouring from a vintage Canadian Club bottle into those Dorothy Thorpe replica tumblers. So he drinks rye right?
We-ell… brace yourselves… Canadian Club isn’t actually Canadian. It’s originally from Detroit Michigan.
Hiram Walker started distilling cider vinegar and whiskey in the 19th Century and soon had a reputation for a smooth, well-aged product favoured by gentleman’s clubs, hence becoming “Club Whiskey”. Prohibition starts to take over Michigan and Mr. Walker shifts his distillery across the river to Ontario and the label “Canadian” begins to appear.
It has no rye in it. It’s not actually Canadian… It’s not rye?!?!?
Peggy Olson you just failed.
So what is Don Draper supposed to be drinking? What is Rye anyway? Is it Canadian?
What is rye gets answered in my post cleverly titled “What is Rye?” And no it’s not Canadian. Most Canadian whiskies do have rye in them. In fact Canadian Club and Royal Crown aside, most are genuine rye whiskies.
However “rye” is a type of whisky named for the major grain component (oddly rye corn), not a location or region. It’s not the same as scotch, cognac or tequila. Rye is being produced all over the world and most rye whiskies are from the U S of A.
However this September the first genuine Australian Rye whisky is being released from Belgrove Distillery in Tasmania. You can pre-order it here and get on it quickly as this first release will become collectable at only two hundred bottles or so. People on my mailing list will also get the chance to purchase one of three of the 12 special release cask strength bottles that have a very unique expression inside.
I played a part in blending this whisky together and it is probably my favourite rye on the planet. Having spent more than $300 a bottle on vintage, micro or “premium” ryes before, I can safely say it is far better than its more expensive pedigree competitors.
Back to the point!
So Don Draper is drinking what?…
Well, in theory, brown vodka. A once decent spirit made with care and aged for the benefit of the consumer’s palate, has become a highly filtered, altered, crappy whiskey now made by Jim Beam and only called rye rather than bourbon because it moved across a river.
In practice? He’s drinking iced tea…
Thank you for putting up with my facebook trolling, reading the post and (hopefully) getting a bit more curious about rye whisk(e)y. For being patient and letting me have my fun go ahead and put in “iced tea” in the coupon code box and get any Rye I’m selling at a a couple of dollars on cost price for the next month. I hear it makes the best bacon cocktails!