atm-logoWhat is Taos Lightning?

Mike Scott
Saugus, Massachusetts

Taos Lightning was a particularly spicy brand of whiskey concocted by mountain man Peg-Leg Smith and partners in 1824. From the early 1830s until his death in 1847, Simeon Turley, who grew and milled wheat on New Mexico’s Rio Hondo (just north of Taos), sold the brew, which was known as aguardiente (fiery water). It was the drink of choice for the mountain men who used the town as a base for entertainment when they weren’t trapping for beaver. The trappers claimed it was strong enough to grow hair on the hide of a Chihuahua and made one feel as if he had been struck by lightning.



Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian. His latest book is Wyatt Earp: Showdown at Tombstone.  If you have a question, write: Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327 or e-mail him at

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