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 (play.com) 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.
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 Amazon.co.uk for £ 12.19