Frank E. Whitcombe (1930’s Whisky Maker)

Whitcombe Whiskey

Details are a little sketchy, but Frank E. Whitcombe of New Jersey, USA allegedly set up an illegal distillery for making Whiskey in the early 1930’s. The operation was eventually closed down by federal officers.

Prohibition in the US was a nationwide constitutional ban on the production, importation, transportation, and sale of alcoholic beverages from 1920 to 1933.

Prohibitionists attempted to end the trade and heal what they saw as an ill society beset with issues caused by alcohol. Many communities introduced bans but enforcement was much debated. Opposition rose, including from the German Lutheran communities, but their influence was receded following entry of the US into WW1 against Germany.

Laws were passed, often only by a slim majority, leading to the Volstead Act, which set down the rules for enforcing the ban and types of alcohol prohibited. Not everything was included; for example, wine for religious use was permitted and some states allowed private ownership and consumption.

Critics attacked the policy on the grounds that Protestant religious values should not be imposed on ‘Urban’ America. Whiskey has been around since the 1600’s, early settlers in the US produced, traded and consumed it during the 1700’s and the arrival of the Scots-Irish in the 1800’s meant it was available almost everywhere – George Washington insisted supply of it for solders.

Prohibition ended with an updated amendment on December 5th, 1933 (though it continued in some states), and is generally regarded as the only amendment that passes for the purpose of repealing another.

President at the time, Woodrow Wilson, wasn’t a fan of the ban and tried to veto the a prohibition act. Shortly before it came into effect, he moved his personal supply to his Washington residence. His successor, Warren G. Harding, relocated his own large supply into the White House after his inauguration.

In the same year prohibition ended, Frank created a company called Stanley Manufacturing Company, leased a building, hired half a dozen workers including a manager, installed equipment and started brewing.

Local Sheriffs grew suspicious of an illicit whiskey plant (which might have had something to do with covering the building with tar paper, closing up windows and doors, erected partitions and installed tanks, filters, boilers and heating units).

State officers visited in March, May and June of 1937, but they could never find anything. However, they kept tabs on it and eventually stopped a truck leaving one afternoon on which they found a large hidden tank with intake and outlet value concealed behind the drivers seat. It smelled of alcohol. An argument ensued and the state officers called the federal officers who took possession of the building after finding the hidden brewing equipment.

They were arrested a found guilty of 6 counts of breaking the law, although one was later dismissed as the government hadn’t given sufficient notice for the checks. Not registering the distillery and forgetting to pay tax was the main gripe of the government. Frank didn’t turn up to the trial and was convicted in absence.

Credit and reference: Wikipedia and Casetext