Watch Guerilla Whiskey. In 1791, the newly formed federal government levied its first tax on a domestic product—whiskey! The tax could be paid in two ways, either by the gallon or a flat fee. The large distillers could pay the flat fee, making their tax per gallon much less than what the smaller guys paid. Many historians believe that Hamilton did this on purpose, to protect big business at the expense of local entrepreneurs. Sound familiar? Cronyism between politicians and big business started early in our country.