Bush Pilot’s was the best whiskey I ever tasted. It then suddenly and completely disappeared from stores in America around 1998.
I found a bottle in 2000 at Skates on the Bay and I begged them, no pleaded, to sell it to me. They of course refused but I don’t think they realised at the time they may have been one of the last known places to have it on the menu. Fortunately I don’t think anyone else realised either because I often went back and always found a bottle of Bush Pilot’s waiting for me. The day it finally was emptied I held a little farewell on the pier. Unfortunately they refused to sell me their empty bottle. Laws, they said, prevented it.
So then I was left to wonder how such an amazingly smooth 13-year-old corn whisky with hints of oak and vanilla could disappear. I called in friends and family in the search. Distributors, distillers, caterers, all came up empty-handed. One caterer swore he could find anything. But no Bush Pilot’s was found and I gave up hope.
Finally I have answers for Bush Pilot’s demise from CanadianWhiskey.org.
Someone at the St. Louis-based beer giant, Anheuser-Busch, took exception to the name “Bush Pilot’s,” claiming it was too easy to confuse with Busch beer. At first the charges seemed so ludicrous that Smith and Denton just forged ahead. But eventually, realizing that Anheuser-Busch was dead serious about forcing Bush Pilot’s off the market and had the money to do it, they acquiesced. With that decision, Bush Pilot’s soon disappeared from the shelves and a whisky that was a legend in its own time became the Canadian whisky aficionado’s Holy Grail.
What they mean is a big-box corporation was ready to spend a huge amount of money to prove that Americans are unable to distinguish a plant from an airplane. The big-box probably would not have won the case (pun not intended) on merits but that didn’t matter since they could just threaten the small whiskey brand into financial oblivion from legal fees alone. Such a sad story, it begs the question whether Bushmills, a distillery traced to the 1600s, should force Anheuser-Busch to change its name?
Alas, now the world is without one of the best whiskies ever made. Another sad example of American regulation of food gone awry (pun not intended).