Prohibition: A Piper-Hiedsieck Story

Prohibition – what on earth were they thinking? The US government’s ‘noble experiment’ of totally banning alcohol for more than a dozen years from 1920 to 1933 was a total bust. Absolutely no one stopped drinking so all it achieved was to drive the partying underground and encourage the rise of organised crime – as the gangs were the main beneficiaries from the trade in smuggled illegal liquor.

But there was definitely an upside! In a delicious irony, Prohibition also tied the enjoyment of alcohol with music, dancing and general naughtiness in such a way that we often still enjoy them all together even today. Hands up all those in favour of a Prohibition era work party – looks like the ‘oh yeahs!’ have it.

Of course, these illegal parties needed venues so ‘speakeasies’ sprung up all over the US where you needed to know a special knock in order to get your flapper dress into where all the drinking, jazz, Charleston-dancing and other general excitement was going on. These proved so popular that the decade where Prohibition loomed largest is universally known as the ‘Roaring Twenties’. There are plenty of movies that give us a taste of the times including; The Untouchables, The Great Gatsby and Once Upon A Time in America.

But while most Prohibition-era movies tend to focus on the bootlegged whiskey aspect, there was also a lot of champagne smuggled into the speakeasies and some of it was the very best stuff, like Piper-Heidsieck. This French winemaker was insanely popular in America as they had been shipping hundreds of thousands of bottles of their finest champagne into the country since at least the middle of the 19th century. So Prohibition was going to see them lose out on an awful lot of business!

At first they brought out some Piper-Heidsieck seasoned chewing tobacco so their customers wouldn’t forget one of their favourite flavours. But, as Prohibition dragged on for year after year, Piper-Heidsieck realised this wasn’t going to cut it anymore so they needed to join the whiskey bootleggers in smuggling their champagne into America on the sly. And join in they did, shipping crates of champagne to the New French territory of Saint Pierre and Miquelon, off the coast off the Canadian island of Newfoundland. From here the bottles were transferred into salt-filled jute bags to be dumped into the sea off New York. Then, once the salt dissolved and the bottles floated up to the surface, the bootleggers retrieved the bottles and brought them ashore to deliver to the thirsty dancers in the local speakeasies.

As you can imagine; Piper-Heidsieck are very proud of this tradition and, since Prohibition started 100 years ago, they have pulled out all the stops to bring out a very special Prohibition era champagne to celebrate the occasion.

 

Visit Glengarry to purchase now.

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