Morewood’s Usquebaugh: Our historic revival spirit is a recreation of the common farmhouse spirit found across the British Isles in the 16th and 17th centuries. A grain neutral spirit with spices and botanicals, this spirit is as complex as it is vibrant.
Proofed at 92.75 (46.375% alcohol by volume) this farmhouse spirit presents a visible saffron color and predominant flavor on the front of the palate, then transforms into a complex balances of anise, citrus, and savory Fall spice notes. While we find Morewood’s Usquebaugh to be easily consumed as-is, following Morewood’s own recommendation to serve with “the finest lump sugar” provides a lovely sweeter approach to the drink. Likewise, we recommend the spirit be consumed around 60-64ºf to maintain an authentic approach; though a few ice cubes can also help adjust the flavor for your own palate.
Before there was whiskey, there was usquebaugh.
As we find in Holinshed’s chronicles, and again in Samuel Morewood’s lengthy titled tome, “A philosophical and statistical history of the inventions and customs of ancient and modern nations in the manufacture and use of inebriating liquors; with the present practice of distillation in all its varieties “, usquebaugh was an umbrella term for all compounded spirits of the time, referring to the decades circa 1550 to 1600. While the term usquebaugh was documented (as uske bagh) in Holinshed’s chronicles in 1587, it wasn’t until 1838 where we find a specific recipe for usquebaugh finally documented in Samuel Morewood’s writings. We find the documentation of the recipe so far out from the time period in which it was used, mainly due to heavy oral traditions along side the fact that most recipes were micro-regional, often used only by family attached to the farms where the drink was made. As one would expect, many family recipes would be lost to time and oral tradition. While Morewood makes reference to “many recipes” for usquebaugh, he only documents one, which he notes is “among the best”. It is from this documented recipe that we have recreated our own pre-Victorian replica Usquebaugh.
Morewood goes on to also explain that the usquebaugh he documents was unlike the whisky beverage of his day, noting that the liquor of the pre-Victorian era used savory spices to impart the maker’s own preferences and judgments into the drink. We’ve taken this same focus and built our replica using Morewood’s recipe with minor tweaks to adjust the flavor profile to what we believe is an accurate representation of the flavor profiles experienced in the late 16th century.
While the majority of spices are used during the distillation process, the recipe specifically calls for a large quantity of saffron to be used only as the spirit is coming over (re-condensing) and flows through a satchel of saffron attached to the end of the condensing worm, thus infusing both flavor and color as a tincture in the final spirit. It is this final use of saffron that gives Morewood’s Usquebaugh the distinct coloring and initial savory flavor before the rest of the complex assortment of spices and botanicals impart their own balance to the palate.