Over the next several decades, a distinctly American whiskey culture developed. It began inland with farmers putting their excess grain to work, and it got a boost from the British blockade of colony ports. The blockade stopped the flow of molasses into the many rum distilleries that dotted port towns. Once the colonists realized the molasses wasn’t coming back, they switched over to making whiskey and never looked back.
Before Prohibition began in 1920, Irish whiskey was the most popular hard alcohol in the U.S. and much of the rest of the world. However, two world wars, a global depression, Ireland’s battles for independence, and revived oppressive distillation taxes from the U.K. all resulted in a significant decline in production of Irish whiskey. The number of distilleries dropped from 1,000 in the 19th century to just three by the 1960s. (There are currently nine, with more coming online soon.)
Canadian whisky came on strong due to the void left by U.S. Prohibition, as it was both legal to produce and easy to sneak across the border. It remained popular after our “national experiment” ended in 1933. Indeed, whisk(e)y was the world’s most popular distilled spirit until vodka usurped the crown in the late 1960s.