The Whiskey Rebellion was an interesting episode in the history of alcohol taxation and regulation in the United States as well as setting various legal precedents with respect to federal tax law. It was prompted by the establishment of an excise tax in 1791 on all distilled spirits.
The purpose of this tax was to reduce the federal deficit, but it was nonetheless unpopular outside the temperance movement. This tax was particularly onerous in the frontier economy of western Pennsylvania, where distilled spirits (generically called whiskey) were actually used as a medium of exchange rather than paper currency. Thousands of farmers rebelled against the tax and actually defended themselves against attempted tax collections by armed rebellion, hence the term Whiskey Rebellion. This also marks the beginning of attitudes towards alcohol taxes that influence the popular culture of the Appalachians.