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Estate Bourbon | "The Legend of Bootsie Magou" | Award Winning Libation

Bootsie Magou Estate Bourbon

The Legend of Bootsie Magou Estate Bourbon

"Excerpts" -

WHO was Bootsie Magou?

Flapper by "day". Bootlegger by "night". Wily coyote by life in the 1920's and 30's.

All he did was mispronounce her name. "Mr. MacLardy," she said coldly, as he lay stunned at her feet, "it's pronounced 'Mah-gaow.' Not 'Muh-goo.' If you disrespect my name again, you'll suffer a fate much worse than lying on a barroom floor. "Do we understand each other Sir?"

Stakes were high in the 1920’s bootlegging scene, and Bootsie was on edge. She was being hunted - and she knew it. By the way, MacLardy soiled himself. Neither he, nor anyone else in that room, would ever mispronounce her name again.

Bootleggers Trail was no place for the faint of heart and Bootsie broke many of such during her run. Flapper by “day” and Bootlegger by “night”, she was an existential threat to the heartless traversing Bootleggers Trail.

To me, it was not a mystery why she was so successful. Everyone wanted a piece of Bootsie Magou, friend or foe, and her Bourbon was the closest you could get.

WHEN did she disappear, did they catch her?

Details of such are sketchy and rife with false narrative - only few were in the know. Bootsie disappeared during the Summer of 1932.

For days it had felt like something was amiss, so it was no surprise when he showed up at my door. Prior to his arrival, I frequently observed Bootsie deep in thought, her gaze intense, distracted, and her movements deliberate. I knew better than to interrupt.

"He" was Eldrid Alan Asker, perhaps the only person who may have had a clue. Bootsie's circle was small. There were few people she trusted, but "Ellee," as she called him, was one of them. He was a southern gentleman who lived in New York City and had relatives scattered along the Gold Coast of Long Island.

Eldrid proceeded to tell me that Bootsie was nowhere to be found. He handed me a box saying he'd been instructed to deliver it to me personally if she ever disappeared. His look and tone were somber, and yet something about his energy, his countenance, exuded what could only be interpreted as excitement. Maybe even hope. What was going on, I wondered. Did he know where Bootsie was? Was her absence planned?

The box contained four items, well, actually five:

1. A copper penny with a mature, umber brown, honey caramelized appearance

2. A candle with the aroma of woody oak char, vanilla-soaked ripened berries with a hint of herbaceous spice

3. A taste of chocolate glazed with caramel, ripened berry puree, vanilla drizzle, roasted nuts

4. A handwritten note, "My Love, I wish to feel your warm embrace. We will be together again"

Oh, and the 5th item? A bottle of Bootsie’s Bourbon to finish.

WHAT did Bootsie do to cause trouble?

Ruffled feathers. During prohibition, Bootsie’s bourbon “rocked the cradle” of most everyone along Bootleggers Trail.

By early 1929 it was widely known that Bootsie was a “wanted woman.” She was being hunted, not only by law enforcement, but also by intrepid bootlegger racketeers. Problem was, only intimate few knew what she looked like and her true identity. Her pursuers were chasing the lore of Bootsie and coming up empty-handed over and over and over again.

Simply, every time the police showed up, they were greeted by an empty room void of anything, except for the bar top. Bootsie always left an empty glass and a single bottle of her Bourbon, ready-to pour when informed of an impending raid. Afterall, she was never one to be rude to her establishment guests, even the ones trying to find and punish her.

My opinion, the officers appreciated her gesture, although it infuriated Capt. Babsky. They understood her struggle was against the political establishment, not the men and women that kept the streets of bootleggers trail safe.

By this time, law enforcement and the masters of Bootleggers Trail wanted to shut her down. Bootsie’s booze had taken over the underworld scene of high society libation. She was the hotbed of hooch but never left a trace of impropriety for others to latch unto.

In spite of, and perhaps, because of the mystery that surrounded her, the legend and stature of Bootsie's bourbon grew as the heat was turned up on her operation. It became a symbol of defiance against the oppressive restrictions of prohibition.

If you had a Bootsie in hand, you were one of us, one of the people. It was maddening to those trying to hunt her down, and the booze (and Bootsie) lovers among us took joy in knowing that.

We felt lucky to have trusted friends in high places…and in low ones.

WHERE did Bootsie run her operations?

Bootsie first set up shop in Indiana. She was last seen out on Long Island, New York’s Gold Coast.

“Kentucky this, Kentucky that…you’re all a bunch of backward shuckers if you ask me”, Bootsie answered when asked if she wanted to set up shop and distribute in Kentucky. The gentlemen at the table did not seem pleased, although no one challenged her assertion as she continued with logic. Later on, those Kentucky boys and Bootsie developed an unbreakable bond

You see, the success of Bootsie’s operation was that she maintained a small crew in areas of the Country that did not bring attention from unwanted others. Kentucky was on everyone’s bootlegger radar, but its next-door cousin Indiana was not - and that’s where it all began for Bootsie.

Being just across the Kentucky border presented a distinct advantage. Bootsie was able to source her material from the Beauvalou, a French-Canadian crew who used Indiana for their growing and distilling needs. (pronounced “Beh-u-va-loo”, not “Beh-u-va-laow”)

The climate was perfect. The soil was abundant in life. The territory was off the beaten path of those sniffing around. It also didn’t hurt that Bootsie spoke fluent French. Claude Beauvalou wanted nothing more than to be the apple of Bootsie’s eye. We met a couple of times. You could pick him out in the crowd because he walked with a limp and a nuanced annoyance. By the way, I swore to Bootsie that I was not the one that knocked over the copper still can that he tripped over in the Barn.

As of the day of her disappearance, Bootsie’s operation extended from Canada through Iowa, Chicago, and Indiana. It continued along the border of Kentucky, through Tennessee and finally up to the shores of Long Island. It was there, at an inlet known as Ships' Hole, that Bootsie was said to have been spotted prior to her disappearance. It made sense; Ships' Hole was tucked along Bootleggers Trail

WHY is Bootsie's Bourbon so good?

Bootsie’s crew crafted a mash bill using a “whistled tune”. The song provided the secret cadence for brewing bourbon bliss.

She inspired trust, confidence and action. It’s as simple as that. Bootsie’s crew was second to none and her Bourbon was the child they were raising together - each person with their own responsibility reliant upon each other no matter the circumstance. They were the heart and soul of Bootsie’s operation.

Interestingly, when at work they created a tune that, when whistled, provided the cadence for crafting the Bourbon - each step always in tempo with the whistled song: three beats for the pour, two beats for a stir and so on and so on.

Bootsie made sure only her crew knew the intricate nuances of the whistle. Infiltrators could be identified immediately by the crew master by just listening to the whistle along the mash line, without even having to nose the mash.

The crew would riff off the whistle’s beat, making it their own when the mash was passed to their individual station. Each person had their own musical style – some sang, some banged, some brushed, some hushed, and with everyone together, it made Bootsie blush - she was always very thankful.

Crafting bourbon is a delicate intimate process, not a masculine muscling, as exemplified by Bootsie. She used the phrase “a lady’s touch” a lot in her daily life. Whether she was entertaining as a flapper, or rolling up her sleeves as a bootlegger, Bootsie believed that the world was a better place when blessed with a lady’s touch.

In hindsight, her bourbon was that special touch.


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