Rebel Yell (the bourbon)


All you had to do was look at the label and it was right there in maroon letters on a parchment ground: “Especially for the Deep South.” There was a time, and that time stretched as late as the 80s (the 1980s, not the 1880s) when you literally could not purchase this bourbon anywhere north of the Mason-Dixon line. It wasn’t just legend, it was fact, and woe betide the distributor who tried cross it. History does indeed record at least a half-dozen skirmishes between bootlegging agents of rogue distributors and hastily mustered irregulars determined to defend the distillery’s wishes at any cost in border towns like Delmar, Maryland and Cheat Lake, WV.

Speaking of the label, it was a wordy one, making this bourbon a great drink for college students because along with your hooch, you’d also receive a brief history lesson, reprinted here in full:

“The rebel yell, one of the most enduring legends of the war between the states, was infused with passion, commitment, and honor. Those same qualities are what make Rebel Yell Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey the true taste to embody our country’s storied history. Fourteen years prior to the great battle of Chickamauga, Georgia, the first bottle of Rebel Yell was produced. Its heritage still lives on to this day.”

At the time, I was “able” to drink an entire bottle of this over the course of a weekend–half on Friday night, half on Saturday night. Rather than fuss with the expense and maintenance of a glass or even a red Solo cup, I seem to remember walking around various dorm mixers and parties with a bottle of this in one hand and a chilled can of Coke from the laundry room vending machine in the other. I would basically take a swig of bourbon and then chase it with Coke, repeating as necessary until incoherent and unable to stand. I believe the medical term for this type of behavior is “Acute Assholism.”

These days, the geographic embargoes seem to have been lifted as I recently had no trouble at all purchasing a bottle in the liberal, heathen West Coast city of San Francisco, and for only $14 to boot! Thankfully, this time around I managed to consume this tasty throwback to the past in a much more civilized manner.