Bourbon Whiskey, our native spirit – Bernie Lubbers

Bourbon Whiskey, our native spirit. By Bernie Lubbers

Bourbon Whiskey, our native spirit. By Bernie Lubbers

Another book on American whiskey from the pile. I don’t remember where I picked this up and I can’t find it on my main book supplier ( so it might have come from anywhere.

Anyway, this book is, like The Kings County Disitllery book, part personal story, part history of the drink and part ‘other information’. Of course, there is the mandatory chapter on what bourbon is and how it’s made. There’s a lot of information about reading labels too. . In this case, the other information is about places to go in Kentucky, when you’re on holiday there (very tempting in itself).

The personal story about how Bernie grew up, his environment and how he became a ‘Bourbon Professor’ after having been a comedian for two decades is interesting and a good read. He’s very open about his father’s drinking, how he didn’t like bourbon until later and that his mother gave him a beer when they were watching the moon landing (at the age of ten). It’s nice to read about people growing up in what, to us, is another culture.

Bernie Lubbers

Bernie Lubbers

The chapter on the production process is a bit of a simplified one, while still being interesting to people who have read a book or two on it (like me). What I learned is that the first distillation run is done unfiltered with the grains still in the mash. Well, actually the mash is distilled, not just the wort. Anyway, it’s pretty interesting. Some differences between each major distillery is highlighted to showcase the different products a little bit too.

The chapter on reading bourbon labels is something I have never encountered before. It takes the legal requirements that are in place for labeling bourbon and explains what it actually means when it’s on a bottle, and then takes about two examples of each variable to highlight is. What you should think of are the words Kentucky, Straight, Bourbon, Whiskey, bottled in bond, ‘distilled and bottled by’, and so on. While I got the just after a few examples, it is still an interesting take on things.

I only leafed through the part on traveling Kentucky. While I find that highly interesting and it’s quite high on my bucket list, I didn’t read it just yet. Mostly since it’s been a crisis and there’s a high chance quite some venues, bars and restaurants no longer exist, it’s also because I’m not likely to remember all of it when the information will come in handy. I’ll just pick up this book again when it’s about to happen!

All in all, a very interesting read that covers just about all aspects of the world of bourbon. The historic bit is a bit short with most of the information being from during and after prohibition. It’s rather light and focuses more on being a complete guide with different angles than being an in depth handbook on how the bourbon industry works.

If you’re interested in bourbon and you’re not sure where to start, or want to know more about it when you know a thing or two on Scotch, this is a very good place to start. Highly recommended!

Bourbon Whiskey, our native spirit. Bernie Lubbers.
Available from for £ 12.19

About Sjoerd de Haan-Kramer

I'm very interested in booze, with a focus on whisky. I like to listen to loads of music and play lots of Magic: the Gathering, and board games too. I'm married to Anneke, have two daughters Ot and Cato, a son Moos and a cat called Kikker (which means Frog, in Dutch). I live in Krommenie, The Netherlands.
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3 Responses to Bourbon Whiskey, our native spirit – Bernie Lubbers

  1. shai says:

    As someone who’s been to Kentucky a number of times, I can tell you that I’m glad I first went there before I went to Scotland. While the bars are excellent (especially the holes in the wall full of toothless ex coal miners and branch water to match each bourbon), the distillery tours offer way less than they do in Scotland. First and foremost comes the realization of just how few distilleries there actually are, and how much the different labels are due to fancy marketing. Second, the pride is in the ingredients, mashing, and aging, not in the distillation, which is typically continuous. Coming from the gorgeous hand hammered stills of Islay, this can seem a bit “cheap” and underwhelming. There just isn’t all that much to see. You’ll have a much better time adopting bourbon as a culture, not a craft- bourbon is sitting on a covered porch, listening to the banjo, an old guy with 3 teeth showing you his prosthetic leg. It’s not about pride in the process, and that’s ok.

  2. Pingback: Still Stories, by Hans Offringa | Malt Fascination

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