While looking for information on food, I stumbled across this Civil War time recipe.
We have heard about the horrible drinks served as whisk(e)y. This explains how some was made.
CHEAP IRISH WHISKEY
(Makes About 30 Gallons)
30 gallons cheap whiskey, 80-90 proof
3 qt. tincture Grains of Paradise (see note 1)
2 ounces catechu (see note 2)
10 drops creosote (see note 3)
5 gallons water.
Oatmeal or rice, 3 parts
Wheat flour, 1 part
Combined, enough to fill a whiskey barrel about 1 ft. deep
See note 4 before actually assembling ingredients
Mix the whiskey, Grains of Paradise and water, then add the remaining ingredients. Pass through a bed composed of ground oatmeal, or of ground rice, of a mass composed of three parts of unground rice, to one part of wheat flour. This bed should be about twelve inches in depth, and for convenience can be arranged in an empty whiskey barrel. The spirit should pass with rapidity through the filter, and if it comes off too highly charged with starch, it should have clean spirit added until the starch becomes dissipated, or is not perceptible to the naked eye; or if the spirit should be too heavy, or cloudy, run through the sand filter alone until it comes out bright. The amount of flour necessary to impart the
desired flavor to the spirit, is not distinguishable to the naked eye; and neither should the liquor have the slightest tinge imparted to its original color.
From Manufacture of Liquors by Pierre Lacour, 1853
Note 1: "Grains of Paradise" is another name for pepper seeds, either guinea pepper or melegueta pepper. Cayenne would probably work about as well. Grind pepper and soak 1 to 1 and 1/2 lb. in a gallon of pure alcohol such as Everclear. Seal bottle tightly and soak for days or weeks as desired. Strain carefully to prevent muddiness, and add from one to two quarts to whiskey recipe above. This was a common method of making fake liquor seem stronger than it was, since the sting of the pepper simulated the bite of alcohol.
Note 2: Catechu is the bark of an East Indian acacia plant, recommended by Lacour for addition to fraudulent liquor as it constricted the throat like strong alcohol. Where you would find this today we have no idea, and no intention of investigating.
Note 3: Creosote is the stuff the use to coat telephone poles to keep them from rotting in the ground. Lacour's recommended dose was 60-80 drops per 100 gallons of fake booze. Unless you like drinking tar, the recommended dose is zero.
Note 4: Please read notes 1, 2 and 3. This is an authentic recipe of stuff that was made by cheating sutlers and sold to soldiers stuck in camp or field who were so desperate for a drink they would buy the godawfullest rot you can imagine. This recipe is included for historical interest ONLY and we trust our readers to have the good sense God gave a goat and not to actually make this dreadful stuff.
"I can resist everything - except temptation" Oscar Wilde
For me temptation is Hannibal Heyes, especially in chaps!