[OSBURN ON TAP] Who Is Jeremiah Weed?

I decided to take a break from beer this month in favor of the World of Spirits. It is almost Halloween after all.

“Sippin’ as smooth as a southern drawl that wants something from ya.” Those are the words of Jeremiah Weed. If youOsburn on Tap by Chris Osburn don’t know who Jeremiah Weed is, don’t feel too bad. I have to admit that up until about a month ago I had never even heard of Jeremiah Weed or his products. If you had mentioned the name Jeremiah Weed I would have assumed you were talking about some Civil War General that I had completely glossed over in middle school or some brand of herbal pharmaceutical popular in California. Technically, Jeremiah Weed is a brand of bourbon whiskey based products manufactured at the Jeremiah Weed Distilling Company of Norwalk, Connecticut. But, who is Jeremiah Weed?

There are many legends surrounding the so-called creator of this brand, Jeremiah Weed. According to an article published in the Syracuse Post-Standard in 1981 (the year I was born), Weed was a loner, a female magnet, a prankster and a soft-spoken gentleman. The writer, Bob Greene based this on print advertisements at the time. He pointed out that Weed seemed like “a guy I felt like knowing”. Sadly, he would never get a chance to meet Weed. Just like the Dos Equis guy (who is really just an actor who isn’t all that interesting if you still don’t know), Jeremiah Weed was never a real person.

“We wanted to create an image to associate with this new brand,” said then brand manager David Boyle. “We wanted something to compete with Wild Turkey and Yukon Jack and the rest.” They figured that if they created an image of a rugged, fun, ladies man who people would want to hang out with, they didn’t even need to stress how good the product actually was.

In a marketplace literally (figuratively) saturated with bourbons and whiskeys, they needed to find a way to make their product more desirable than others. Creating a person named Jeremiah Weed was the way to do it. Unlike the “most interesting man in the World”, Weed never even appeared in television or radio commercials. They banked on using the mystery of whether or not he existed to sell the product.

Jeremiah Weed makes blended bourbon whiskey (90 proof), cherry mash flavored blended bourbon whiskey (90 proof), bourbon liqueur (100 proof), original sweet tea (with vodka), sweet tea peach (with vodka), sweet tea bourbon (with vodka and bourbon), lightning lemonade premium malt beverage (5.8% ABV), spiked cola premium malt beverage (5.8% ABV) and roadhouse tea premium malt beverage (5.8% ABV).

The reason that this brand is relevant right now is because of the fact that the company’s malt beverages were just recently released in 2011 and are very popular among twenty and thirty-somethings (At least in the northeast where I live). I haven’t had a chance to try it, but I have seen multiple people imbibing JW’s spiked cola and everyone seems to enjoy it. I’m not a big fan of malt beverages, but it’s on my list of beverages to try.

Although there are many legends about the man himself, there are also many legendary (and true) stories involving the bourbon itself. Apparently, every United State Air Force fighter squadron has a lounge where pilots hang out and drink beer and play cards after completing missions. In the refrigerator of every single lounge is a bottle of Jeremiah Weed. The story goes that in the 70’s two pilots survived a plane crash during a routine mission and discovered a bottle of Jeremiah Weed upon their return to their base. They decided to drink the bourbon after every completed mission for good luck and ever since every USAF fighter pilot has adopted the same superstitious routine.

*This article originally appeared on drinkingmadeeasy.com. I write a column about what’s going on in the World of Alcohol every other week.

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