One of the most gratifying aspects of writing and posting articles about the more educational side of Scotch is the interaction with enthusiasts from far and wide. I’ve had on-line discussions with servicemen stationed in Afghanistan, new-to-whisky folks in several countries in Europe, and what turned out to be a fascinating research project from a couple in a small town in northern Maine.
Maureen and Corey were asked to help sort through boxes following the death of a relative. Among the treasures were bottles of whisky gifted to the relative by the Canadian Pacific Railroad as Christmas gifts – all unopened, dating to the mid-1950s. Sadly, none were exceptionally rare or valuable; in fact, the most unique bottle was not about the Dewar’s Special it contained or its price tag of $5.70, but with the closure. In all my years’ of interest with whisky, I had never seen anything like it, so I reached out to a whisky friend, Paul Bissett for help. Paul responded quickly with a link to a site about bottle closures, and the Kork-N-Seal cap in particular.
Known also as a lever type closure, the Kork-N-Seal was used on medicine and pharmaceutical, food, whisky and wine bottles. The closure’s heyday was from about 1911 to the mid-1960s. An interesting aspect of the seal was that it was sold separately, in sets of three, for use on bottles with no way of resealing after the original cap was opened. Kork-N-Seals were made by the Williams Sealing Company of Decatur, Illinois. The company is no longer in business, but vintage ads featuring the company’s motto, “Kiss corkscrews goodbye” are nostalgic to read. Case in point: Directions for use are: Press lever upward. Press down on entire surface of cap as hard as possible with heel of hand as shown here. Still pressing down, turn down lever. It is important that cap be seated evenly and firmly over bottle top. Re-use cap on same bottle.
Thanks to Corey, Maureen, and Paul, I have been able to learn a bit more about a time gone by, when innovation lead the way to today’s taken for granted features on our whisky bottles.