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November 10, 1923


JAMA. 1923;81(19):1611. doi:10.1001/jama.1923.02650190041017

In the days before the passage of the Volstead Act, the query, "What is whisky?" rarely awakened serious reflections. According to the current definition, the term whisky is applied to distilled spirit made from grain, colored and flavored by storage in charred barrels or by addition of caramel and suitable flavor. It usually contains from 40 to 50 per cent, of alcohol. The untoward results of overindulgence in a beverage of this description have usually been ascribed to its alcoholic content, although now and then ill defined "by-products" of fermentation present in the distillate have been charged with a toxicity out of all proportion to the quantities ordinarily present. In protesting the innocence of alcohol, the defenders were wont to point to the indefinite "fusel oil" or to furfurol as the pernicious ingredient—usually without convincing evidence. In properly made and suitably aged whiskies, such constituents could at most play only

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