Home > History of Wine > The Alcohol Content of Blackburn, Brammin, and Wanderer Madeira as Well as Palmer and Margaux in 1835

The Alcohol Content of Blackburn, Brammin, and Wanderer Madeira as Well as Palmer and Margaux in 1835

In looking for early descriptions of the color, aroma, and taste of Madeira I came across a fascinating chart in the 1835 article Researches on Wines and other Fermented Liquors.[1]  It is not the specific alcoholic percentages that fascinates me rather the specific Madeiras which were sampled.  Anyone immersed in the history of Madeira will recognized the names “Blackburn”, “Brammin”, and “Wanderer”.  Some of you may even recollect the Rare Wine Co produced a Wanderer Madeira with Vinhos Barbeito.  You may read the technical pdf here.  New to me is sample #5, the 40 year old “Farquhar” Madeira.  It appears that James Farquhar was a merchant in New York City who was active from at least the 1786[2] and into 1805 when his son Charles W. Farquhar joined him in the business.[3]  The business then became known as James Farquhar & Son.  The advertisements fall silent after 1807.[4]

Table showing the proportion of alcohol percent, by measure, contained in several kinds of wine and other liquors.

In 1831 parcels of “old Farquhar Wines” appear on the market at G. E. Taylor.[5]  In addition he sold Madeira from Payne & Co., the Wanderer, Felles East India, Sercial, vintage 1818, and vintage 1824.  James Farquhar must have passed away by June 1832 for David M. Hubbard was selling “a selection from the old stock of the late James Farquhar, Esq….some of which are upwards of 30 years old.”[6]  The research article was published by Dr. Lewis C. Beck of the University of the City of New York so he may have very well obtained his samples from the merchants already mentioned.  In observing the various claims about intoxicating powers of various beverages and how they are consumed, Dr. Beck concludes “I am inclined to believe, that, after all, the difference is rather apparent, than real.”

[1] Beck, Lewis C. “Researches on Wines and other Fermented Liquors”, The American Journal of Science and Arts, Volume 28. 1835. URL: http://books.google.com/books?id=RLOcAAAAMAAJ&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=false
[2] Date: Tuesday, July 25, 1786   Paper: New-York Morning Post (New York, NY)   Issue: 734   Page: 3
[3] Date: Wednesday, May 29, 1805   Paper: New-York Gazette (New York, NY)   Volume: XVIII   Issue: 6005   Page: 3
[4] Date: Saturday, April 25, 1807   Paper: Evening Post (New York, NY)   Issue: 1677   Page: 1
[5] Date: Tuesday, October 18, 1831   Paper: American (New York, NY)   Volume: XII   Issue: 3995   Page: 3
[6] Date: Wednesday, June 6, 1832   Paper: Commercial Advertiser (New York, NY)   Page: 1

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