Days Gone By - stories from the past

Wolf Brand – made in Shelby County, Alabama in the 1930s



S. J.


editorial board

Woodrow Hand1

Shelby County voted dry in the recent (1939) prohibition issue and the people chorused: “Whiskey, whiskey everywhere; and not a drop to drink.”

But they were only kidding. They knew that Shelby County was the one and only home of “Wolf Brand,” that powerful beverage concocted from “shorts,” or wheat bran, and whatever else chooses to fall into the mash pot.

Liquor stills in Alabama ca. 1950s (by Photographer Roy Green, Jr. Alabama Department of Archives and History)

Wolf Brand Whiskey

“Wolf Brand” cannot date its heritage from away back as can the whiskeys advertised so prettily in all the leading magazines. It is instead, a child of the depression, and as such is popular; as people are popular who blame the depression with a lot of things.

These “would-have-been millionaires” say: “I’d be rich today if the depression hadn’t come when it did.”

“Wolf Brand vendors say: “It’d be corn whiskey if the depression hadn’t come when it did.”

Actually, neither could be without the other. If the “would-have-beens” could afford better whiskey, they’d buy it. Then “Wolf Brand” would be no more.

“Wolf Brand” can be had for fifty cents a quart anyplace in Shelby within five minutes after the desire is known. It is a miracle of the retail trade.

Progressed to a fine art

When the moonshiners discovered that “shorts” could be distilled in the same manner as corn, their only problem was to temper it down so that it would wait until inside the drinker before exploding.

“Wolf Brand” distilling has progressed to a fine art during the past ten years, being now of such delicate texture that it hardly ever removes the skin from inside the throat.

Its appearance has improved also. It is now a tempting red-muddish hue when “charred,” but many prefer its virgin color; which isn’t a color. It used to look like skimmed milk.

The name “Wolf Brand” has been under controversy as to origin. Some claim that the original distiller got drunk and while trying to say “wheat bran” twisted his tongue and said “wolf brand.” Others say that the wildness of the country in which it is made gave its name by the expression: “Its a wolfish whiskey from a wolfish country.”

1During the 1930s, Great Depression era, many writers were employed to interview people and write stories about life in the United States. The program was named the U.S. Work Projects Administration, Federal Writers’ Project and it gave employment to historians, teachers, writers, librarians, and other white-collar workers. The story above is a transcribed, unedited story from a WPA writer Woodrow Hand, Alabama.

ALABAMA FOOTPRINTS Confrontation:: Lost & Forgotten Stories

Prior to statehood, Alabama was a vast wilderness with a large Native American population. It is only natural that when new immigrants from other states arrived, conflicts over the land would arise. Soon, these small conflicts exploded into war.

Alabama Footprints Confrontation is a collection of lost and forgotten stories that reveals why and how the confrontation between the Native American population and settlers developed into the Creek-Indian War as well as stories of the bravery and heroism of participants from both sides.
Some stores include:

  • Tecumseh Causes Earthquake
  • Terrified Settlers Abandon Farms
  • Survivor Stories From Fort Mims Massacre
  • Hillabee Massacre
  • Threat of Starvation Men Turn To Mutiny
  • Red Eagle After The War

About Donna R Causey

Donna R. Causey, resident of Alabama, was a teacher in the public school system for twenty years. When she retired, Donna found time to focus on her lifetime passion for historical writing. She developed the websites www.alabamapioneers and All her books can be purchased at and Barnes & Noble. She has authored numerous genealogy books. RIBBON OF LOVE: A Novel Of Colonial America (TAPESTRY OF LOVE) is her first novel in the Tapestry of Love about her family where she uses actual characters, facts, dates and places to create a story about life as it might have happened in colonial Virginia. Faith and Courage: Tapestry of Love (Volume 2) is the second book and the third FreeHearts: A Novel of Colonial America (Book 3 in the Tapestry of Love Series) Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1) is the continuation of the story. . For a complete list of books, visit Donna R Causey

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One comment

  1. Wolf Brand could be no worst than Mr. Ed, which my Uncle Charlie from Selma turned me on to many years ago. It would probably take the polish off of shoes.

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