Donald Trump has nicknamed Mitch McConnell “Old Crow,” and the Senate minority leader is proudly embracing the epithet. As he should.

“It’s my favorite bourbon,” Mitch told the Washington Examiner.

Old Crow whiskey is produced by the parent company of Jim Beam in Kentucky, McConnell’s home state. It has a long and storied past, including among its accolades, as McConnell pointed out, having been a favorite of fellow Kentuckian Henry “The Great Compromiser” Clay.

Trump is a notorious non-drinker who apparently never had the varnish of his teeth singed off by bottom-shelf bourbon during a rowdy frat party....

Donald Trump has nicknamed Mitch McConnell “Old Crow,” and the Senate minority leader is proudly embracing the epithet. As he should.

“It’s my favorite bourbon,” Mitch told the Washington Examiner.

Old Crow whiskey is produced by the parent company of Jim Beam in Kentucky, McConnell’s home state. It has a long and storied past, including among its accolades, as McConnell pointed out, having been a favorite of fellow Kentuckian Henry “The Great Compromiser” Clay.

Trump is a notorious non-drinker who apparently never had the varnish of his teeth singed off by bottom-shelf bourbon during a rowdy frat party. Nor did he evidently spend much time sneaking swigs from a secret stash of some lush uncle whose taste buds had long ago been rendered useless by a pack-a-day of unfiltered Camels (the doctors’ choice!). Otherwise, The Donald might know to counter McConnell’s proclaimed preference by noting that the senator’s “favorite” bourbon is likely not what Clay was quaffing back in the day.

I recently attended a “History Pub” event at a local distillery, wherein the packed house enjoyed — along with some samples of locally crafted whiskey — a presentation on “Bourbon – America’s Spirit,” which chronicled how “the history of bourbon is the history of America.”

I learned that the earliest documentation of a whiskey-like substance came from Captain James Thorpe, a colonial missionary who distilled something with Indian corn he claimed rivaled English beer. It was likely some sort of “corn beer,” but “whatever his product actually was,” the Distilled Spirits Council informs us, “it was strong enough to get a whole bunch of Native Americans so drunk they scalped and killed [Thorpe] in 1622.”

Fast-forward to 1835 or so, and Dr. James Crow, a chemist from Scotland, got the sour mash process down pat, popularized it, and was credited with standardizing the method by which we make bourbon today.

Beam Distilling’s website brags that the pioneer’s brew “was found at the tables of United States presidents like Ulysses S. Grant and on the desks of renowned American writers like Mark Twain. This historic brand is one that started ’em all, making it unlike any of ’em.” An oft-repeated but unsubstantiated legend has it that some critics were complaining to Abraham Lincoln of Grant’s heavy Old Crow consumption. The president is said to have inquired where the general procured his whiskey, “because, if I can find out, I will send every general in the field a barrel of it!”

Old Crow’s priceless vintage ads claimed to be the choice bourbon of a long list of famous writers — Jack London, William Faulkner, Walt Whitman, Hunter S. Thompson — and other prominent historical figures — Daniel Webster, Buffalo Bill, Andrew Jackson, James Polk.

That was the old Old Crow. GentlemenRanters.com refers to Old Crow as we know it today as a “bargain bin bourbon brand.” The website explains, “Shortly after World War Two, Old Crow was the No. 1 selling bourbon in the country. But several mishaps in the 1970s and 80s brought this well-regarded and historical brand low.” Contamination during the mash process led to fermentation problems “that led to off-flavors making it into finished bottles,” from which the company never recovered.

Critiques of the whiskey are amusing, as is the fact that people take the time to scrutinize this diluted-looking, $10 potable fuel whose label appears to have been designed during the Nixon administration. Nick Leghorn, for instance, a reviewer at ThirtyOneWhiskey.com, notes that the sample he acquired “was packaged in a plastic bottle that proudly proclaims itself to be a ‘lightweight traveler’ size with a built-in pouring spout,” proving Old Crow to be for industrious types who don’t mess around. Leghorn goes on to describe the whiskey itself as “a slightly more pleasant version of cough syrup” and “painful fire.”

Perusing online liquor retailers reveals such gems as “on the non-pay day weeks this is the best move for Bourbon lovers!” “Jack D. old #7 is my drink but the price of Old Crow pleased me.” And many drinkers, presumably besieged by high taxes, inflation, and other social ills, extol Old Crow as “not exactly a sipping bourbon,” but “a great mixer,” deliciously paired with Coke, Diet Coke, ginger ale, and nice to have on hand to light your charcoal cookfire with during the summer.

If bourbon is indeed America’s Spirit, then Old Crow is America’s brand of bourbon, because the drink’s history is not unlike that of America herself. Once the sterling standard in a league of its own, venerated by the greatest artists, adventurers and statesmen on earth, both really started to go south in the 1970s and 80s, and nobody bothered to fix either one.

Nonetheless, people still buy Old Crow — and into America — because even when it’s “bad,” it’s still pretty good.