Monday, June 30, 2014

It's Not 'Monk' or 'Mork,' It's Old Mock


Old Mock is a whiskey produced before Prohibition and sold as medicinal whiskey during Prohibition by A. Ph. Stitzel and the Wathen family's American Medicinal Spirits Company, both of Louisville . People know about it because Mike Miller, the owner of Delilah's in Chicago, acquired a supply some years ago and sells it for about $50 a drink at the bar.

Because of the odd name and the odd typeface used on the bottle, some people think the name is 'Old Monk.' There is, in fact, a brand of rum called 'Old Monk,' but that is something else entirely. Others think it's called 'Old Mork,' which would be funny but it's not true.

No, the name is Old Mock, but no one has ever explained its origins.

Many products, of course, are named after people, and that appears to be the case here. In Athertonville, in Kentucky's LaRue County, there were several distilleries beginning as early as 1800. Thomas Lincolon, Abe's father, reportedly worked in one of them. The final chapter in Athertonville's story was a distillery called Cummins-Collins that was last owned by Seagram's. It closed for good in 1987. In 1933, the company's officers included Arthur Cummins, of course, but the secretary and treasurer was E. J. Mock.

The Mock family has been in Kentucky since the earliest days. According to a family publication called "The Mock Family Historian," William Randolph Mock came to Kentucky in 1796 and settled near Danville on a farm of 550 acres. He established a distillery there in 1842, which was continued by the family until about 1899. It was never very big, mashing at most 50 bushels a day. Old Mock was their brand. Someone, possibly E. J. Mock of Athertonville, kept the brand alive after 1899, until it came to rest with Stitzel after 1920.

Cecil says Old Mock was merely bottled by Stitzel using whiskey obtained from a variety of sources but he didn't know what those sources were. The Mock family has located a full-size bottle apparently produced by Stitzel-Weller after Prohibition, but its run was clearly short.

Miller still has a Prohibition pint on his back bar in Chicago.

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