The picture to the left is a picture taken of a commercial whiskey still known as Blue Blazes Whiskey still. You can read about that still here. The still that is famous for the death of two Federal Agents is now revered as part of the cultural past. Let me be fair, as I grew up in North Carolina and am an avid NASCAR fan. NASCAR has its roots in moonshiners. One of NASCAR’s founding figures, Junior Johnson, served federal time for being caught “firing up” a still that his family owned. Allow me to say that I do not believe those that were moonshiners were ‘bad’ people. I do believe they were misguided in their idea of hard work. I know that the land in Wilkes County was not conducive for agricultural trade, but many other people that lived in Wilkes County made a living without being moonshiners. While it is a cultural ingredient of the county, it must be admitted that liquor, moonshine or not, certainly has ruined many lives.
My daily perusal of our local paper revealed an article concerning liquor that caught my attention. If you are like me, I only glance at the headlines and then read the articles that catch my attention. In the article Burbon Boom I found out that the liquor industry is certainly selling it by the barrels. Let me remind our readers that this article only deals with “straight whiskey” and does not report on vodka and rum, or Scotch whiskey. The article enlightens its readers as to the ‘boom’ of the whiskey industry and gives verifiable statistics. Allow me to give you some simple “cuntry rifmatic” concerning this industry and the US Population.
In the article it reports the sale of ‘straight whiskey’ as 14.7 million 9 liter cases. This does not account for the sales of vodka and rum, which the article reported were more than straight whiskey. Neither does it account for Scotch whiskey, which the article reported was less than straight whiskey. Let’s be fair as we examine the numbers. We know the sales of straight whiskey was 132.3 million liter’s of straight whiskey was sold in the United States. While the article reported that vodka and rum were ahead of ‘straight whiskey’ sales we will allow that at least 132.3 million liters of vodka and rum were sold. Also, since the article reported that Scotch whiskey was less in sales, we will be fair and report one-half, or 66.2 million liters were sold. That means that 330.7 million liters of ‘straight whiskey, rum, vodka, Scotch whiskey were consumed in the United States last year.
According to the latest figures I could find, in 2006 we had 300 million residents in the United States. In these statistics we find that 24% of the population is under 18 years of age. Thus, we have 225 million people residing in the United States over the age of 18. As you know the legal age to consume this beverage is 21 years of age in most states. What does the numbers tell us concerning the sales of whiskey in the United States? One shot of whiskey, rum, or vodka is equivalent to one ounce. There are 33 ounces of to a liter. Let’s say that after two shots of straight whiskey, rum, vodka, or Scotch whiskey you would be very close to the legal limit of being considered drunk. Now, let’s do the math. 330 million liters comes out to 1.5 liter per person over 18 in the United States. According to a Barna survey in 2007, 36 million people admitted to being intoxicated at least once in the past month. Here is where my “cuntry rifmatic” breaks down. According to Barna, 36 million people, or 16% of the population in the United States, admits to consuming enough alcohol to get intoxicated within the past month. According to the Beverage Information Group, the Whiskey industry has sold, at least, 330 million liters of either, “straight whiskey, vodka and rum, or Scotch whiskey in the past year. This means that 36 million people purchased a case of whiskey in the past year.
What does this say about alcohol and America. First, this survey does not cover beer or wine, something some consider less intoxicating than straight whiskey. Second, the increase in sales is something that we will continue to see as the economy gets worse. Why? I believe people who drink will not be able to afford to go out to drink and will sit at home to drink.
How will the church respond? Will we continue to sit around and lament the virtues of abstaining, something we must do, or will we add to the lamenting practical ways to engage the culture and reach out to that person that buys a case a year? I can tell you from personal experience that one who looks inside a bottle for fulfillment is one that just wants someone to love them as they are. Jesus is that someone and He loves you just as you are. You can respond to His love as He draws you to Himself. Or you can reject His revelation of Himself to you and stay in that bottle. Remember, when you come to Jesus, He loves you too much to leave you as you are. I can tell you that the bottle is a lonely place.
America seems to be more and more lonely as she drifts down the Whiskey River all the time singing; Whiskey river don’t run dry you’re all I’ve got take care of me in the whiskey barrel.