Whiskey: Just what the doctor ordered

The idea of alcohol as medicine is not new. As historian W. J. Rorabaugh wrote, Americans in the early 18th century classified whiskey, rum and other liquors as “medications that could cure colds, fevers, snakebites, frosted toes, and broken legs, and as relaxants that would relieve depression, reduce tension, and enable hardworking laborers to enjoy a moment of happy, frivolous camaraderie.” Even the dour Puritan minister Cotton Mather, fearful enough of sin and subversion to help purge Salem of witches, believed that alcohol, used in moderation, could be “a Creature of God.”

Once Prohibition took effect, many doctors championed alcohol as medicine. “I have always maintained that every family ought to have an alcoholic stimulant in the house all the time,” one physician told the New York Times. “There is nothing more valuable in emergency.” The doctor himself always took a drink at the end of the day—”It braces me up,” he explained—and often prescribed it for patients stricken with “nerves.” For pneumonia, he recommended a shot or two of whiskey. [source]

Dr. Cahn’s interest in scotch began in his early 30s, because his parents enjoyed it.  Read below, a little “bourbon banter” Q&A:

How did you get started, or what got you interested in bourbon?

About 4 years ago I went to a friend’s house who was a bourbon fanatic. After completing a bourbon/rye tasting of top shelf bourbon I was hooked. Subsequently in October 2019 my wife and I went for a weekend on a bourbon tour in Kentucky with several other couples. We hit three distilleries including Buffalo Trace, Bulliet and Four Roses. It was a fantastic time.

Do you have a notable story about any particular one in your collection?s

While on our bourbon adventure I was able to sample lots of different types of bourbons/ryes. While waiting for our friends I stopped at the bar at the Omni hotel where we were staying. I asked the bartender (who had been there for five years) what was the best bourbon for an old-fashioned cocktail. He said Jefferson’s Ocean, which spent time on a cruise ship. This allowed the bourbon to be in almost continuous motion for several months. This allows the bourbon to stay in contact with the entire surface of the inside of the barrel. He made the cocktail and it was fantastic. I was sold and have gotten every voyage since (each voyage goes to different port and has a different flavor profile and strength).

Favorite daily bourbon? Favorite special occasion bourbon?

Daily bourbon: Woodford Reserve

Special occasion: Jefferson’s Ocean collection (when bourbon lovers come over we do a tasting of voyages 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 23, 25)

Whether you own it or not, what are your top five all time bourbons?

Of the ones I’ve personally sampled:

Pappy Van Winkle 12 year old bourbon

Whistle Pig 10 year old rye

Jefferson’s Ocean Voyage 17

Four Roses Single Barrel Cask Strength (only seen at the distillery)

Calumet Farms 15 year old bourbon

As a Doctor, we have to ask… are there any health benefits to enjoying a glass of bourbon?

Everything in moderation!!!

  • Weight Loss – low calories and minimal carbs, perfect for that low carb diet.
  • Reduces Stress – calms nerves effectively
  • Controls Diabetes – ellagic acid has been shown to help regulate insulin and glucose release from the liver
  • Promotes Healthy Cholesterol – it increases your HDLs (good cholesterol)
  • Prevents Heart Disease – ellagic acid is an antioxidant and helps get rid of free radicals
  • Reduces Risk of Cancer – ditto above
  • Boosts Immune Function – helps dilate blood vessels which in the nose acts as a decongestant
  • Boosts Cognitive Performance – 1-6 drinks per week shows decreased dementia
  • Reduced Hangover Symptoms – least amount of hangover symptoms of any alcohol


Do you have any Whiskey Home Remedies?

Grandma’s Homemade Cough Syrup:

Honey, Whiskey, Lemon – in a 1 ounce per ingredient every 6 hours (vit C from the lemons, honey soothes the throat, and whiskey helps suppress the cough)

Teething Baby – Dip a finger in the bourbon/rye and rub on the teething babies gums will give them pain relief and help them sleep. My parents used scotch on my siblings and me. I used bourbon on my children and it worked like a charm. Plus when they finally fell asleep I was able to have some for myself.

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