National Bootlegger’s Day | January 17
(Last Updated On: January 10, 2023)


National Bootlegger’s Day on January 17th recognizes an era when bootleggers became legendary. 


Templeton Rye Whiskey shares its January 17th birthday with bootlegger Al Capone and the son of another bootlegger, Meryl Kerkhoff.

During the 1800s, the term bootlegger came into use in the Midwest. The word described the act of concealing flasks of liquor in a boot top when going to trade with Native Americans. The term found its permanent place in the American vocabulary when Congress passed the Eighteenth Amendment prohibiting the manufacture, transportation, and sale of alcohol in 1920.

Despite now being illegal, thirsty Americans still had a demand for liquor. So while some distilleries switched their production to something legal, others started bootlegging.

Bootleggers helped fill the demand by smuggling various brews from Canada and Mexico and later distilling their liquor in backwoods and secluded areas. Finally, they brought their loot back to sell to speakeasies, individuals, and other establishments.

Other terms, such as rum-runner and moonshiner, became popular during this time as well.

The legend of bootlegging grew to mythological qualities. The Mafia arose out of the illegal and coordinated activities of bootlegging. Glamour, danger, and mystery surround storied names like Al Capone, Lucky Luciano, Alphonse Kerkhoff, and Bugs Moran. 

In 1933, Congress ratified the 21st Amendment repealing Prohibition and the “noble experiment.”


Explore the history of the Prohibition Era. Listen to stories or watch old movies surrounding the time of the bootlegger. While you do, share a bottle of Templeton Rye with friends. Be sure to post photos on social media using #BootleggersDay or #TempletonRye.


Infinium Spirits founded National Bootlegger’s Day in 2015 to celebrate the birth of Templeton Rye and explore the history of the bootlegger. 

The Registrar at National Day Calendar proclaimed by the day 2015 to be observed on January 17th, annually.


When Prohibition outlawed the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages on January 17, 1920, many enterprising residents of a small town in Iowa chose to become outlaws. They began producing a high caliber and much sought-after whiskey known as TEMPLETON RYE, It was also called “THE GOOD STUFF” to those in the know. Alphonse Kerkhoff was one of those Templeton outlaws.

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Over the course of its storied history, Templeton Rye became Al Capone’s whiskey of choice, quickly finding its way to the center of his bootlegging empire. Templeton Rye is based on the original Prohibition-era Kerkhoff recipe. It is aged in charred new oak barrels for a smooth finish…and a clean getaway.

January 17th is not only the birthday of Templeton Rye, but it is also the birthday of Al Capone and the original Bootlegger’s son, Meryl Kerkhoff.

Bootleggers FAQ

Q. How old was Al Capone when he went to prison?
A. Al Capone was 33 years old when he went to prison for tax evasion and prohibition charges. He was sentenced to 11 years and served his time at Alcatraz. He was released after seven years.

Q. What is bathtub gin?
A. During the Prohibition Era, people steeped grain alcohol in large tubs (sometimes a bathtub) to get around the 18th Amendment, which expressly prohibited the manufacture, distribution, and sale of distilled alcohol.

Q. Does bootlegging apply only to alcohol?
A. No. Bootlegging is the illegal manufacture, distribution, or sale of goods. It can apply to counterfeit products such as designer brands, electronics, cosmetics, and other products such as food, pharmaceuticals, movies, concerts, and music recordings.

Q. What are other words for bootlegging?
A. Counterfeiting and pirating are types of bootlegging.

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