Mr. Bob Arnold was a known bootlegger in the Groveton area throughout the 1920's in New Alexandria. His son, Pat Arnold, made the well-remembered corn whiskey recipe available.

The first necessary ingredients are corn meal and 50 pounds of sugar and water. These are combined in two twenty gallon barrels along with a large yeast cake which makes the heat for the fermentation process, The mixture is left in the barrels for about eight days and near the end of these days Mr. Arnold said, "You can see bubbles coming to the top of the barrels and bursting." When the bubbles burst, the sediment goes to the bottom of the barrels and then this is bucketed out for further processing. The fermented com meal is then put in the still where it is heated. The steam goes up through the copper coils where it cools and the process ends by letting the sediment run through to a bucket of water. As Mr. Arnold finished explaining the procedure he said, "That's where the alcohol is-in the bucket at the end."

This recipe for corn whiskey is about 140 proof and makes about fifteen gallons. For really good whiskey though, the process did not stop here, but the alcohol was transferred into charcoal barrels and stored. This gave the whiskey a hearty charcoal flavor. "Course you had to leave it in there a year or two," conveyed Pat Arnold.

If one were eager to find a large whiskey supply In the 20's, the place to go would have been the Arnold's rose arbor. According to Mr. Arnold it was filled with barrels. He said, "We'd dig up the ground in the arbor and put the barrels in the ground and cover'em up with dirt. Leave 'em in there six or so months and then bring them out for Christmas."

Among the most regular customers of the Arnold's business were the prominent people from Alexandria. In the 20's a ½ gallon of good whiskey, "which ours was," Mr. Arnold said assuringly, costs maybe two or three dollars.

To some, the business might sound fairly easy and most profitable, but things did not always run smoothly. The revenuers were not a big problem, but they did make a show of face now and then. When this problem arose, the Arnolds were first to know about it because for access to the known areas of alcohol preparation, the Arnold's Daddy's boat was always needed. While the revenuers were out paddling in the boat, the Arnolds were up on their house roof shooting off the gun and waving the sheet as warning about the oncoming, uninvited visitors. It sounded as if the revenuers were fighting a losing battle.

With the creation of the 18th Amendment though, the bootlegging business for the Arnolds and many others culminated. People found it easier to buy their liquor from the government. Bootlegging wasn't a very profitable activity after this time, but Mr. Arnold assured us, "Course many had stills in those days but they would never tell ya."

Volume Two, Table of Contents
Snake Hill to Spring Bank Homepage

Share This Page

Library Resources

Your Library card is your ticket to premium resources:


Suggestions and comments can be sent to Library Customer Service.

The Fairfax County Public Library web publishing team invites you to "Keep in Touch."

Subscribe to Library eNewsletters

Library logo


Search our events calendar

To request reasonable ADA accommodations or alternative format of materials presented in this site, please contact Library Customer Service.

Contact Fairfax County: Phone, Email or Twitter | Main Address: 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, VA 22035
Technical Questions: Web Administrator

ADA Accessibility | Website Accessibility
Awards | FOIA | Mobile | Using this Site | Web Disclaimer & Privacy Policy | Get Adobe Reader
Official site of the County of Fairfax, Virginia, © Copyright 2015

Website Feedback Website Feedback    Globe with various flags representing Web site language translations   Language Translations

Return to Graphic Version