View Full Version : The Evolution of the Bourbon Industry in Kentucky
Has anyone have any opinions on this book yet? I just found it on Amazon as I was going to pick up a copy of Chuck Cowdery's book.
It is a great book for people who are seriously into the details and history of bourbon...however it is kind of poorly organized.
This is a book that requires the kind of dedication that could also lead to one wearing a straight jacket...
I had the privilege to know Sam Cecil. He was a terrific guy and very dedicated to the heritage of the industry. I'm glad he did the book and it contains information that isn't available anywhere else, but you have to use it very judiciously and be a little skeptical about everything, because Sam was not as careful as he might have been. Part of that is because the person whose work he was building on--Whit Coyte--also was not as careful as he might have been.
As a person who toils in these fields himself, all I can say is that we all do the best we can.
In defense of Coyte, he died while working on the manuscript for a book and it was his family that passed his notes and such on to the University of Louisville Archives. That is where Sam went ot use the manuscript. Coyte was not even close to finishing his research when he passed away so he might have done much more research before he published.
In defense of Sam, he was in his 70's when he published his book and I am impressed that he did as well as he did at that age and questionable health. Still, Chuck is right - you should use the Cecil book as a starting point in research, not the final word.
I agree with Mike completely, but it's important to know these facts about the book and its genesis.
Well, my first two general Bourbon history books are on the way. They are: "Bourbon Straight": The Uncut and Unfiltered Story of American Whiskey" by none other than Mr. Cowdery and "Kentucky Bourbon: The Early Years of Whiskeymaking" by Henry Crowgey. Beyond that I've read "But Always Fine Bourbon" and am certainly open to suggestions on more books on the subject.
Crowgey's book is good but a bit dry, Chuck Cowdery's is the standard, and Sally V.W. Campbell's is a great specialty book on Pappy and the wonderful mystique surrounding him and his whiskeys. I'd recommend another addition to your library: Ron Givens' "Bourbon at its Best." It has a lot of great pictures and illustrations but is more than just a coffee table book. I particularly like the Beam family tree showing how pervasive were/are the Beams throughout the history of the bourbon industry.
I eventually want to check out "American Still Life" by F. Paul Pacult as well.
I picked up "Bourbon at its Best" and am a little suspect of the editor. One of the first things I caught was a picture caption of a guy filling barrels. It spoke about how stainless steel fermentation vessels were becoming more common but went on to say that "many bourbons are still placed in barrels so they can capture the more complex flavors of the charred-oak interiors" Is that caption suggesting that some bourbons are not placed in oak barrels...wtf?
Also from the tasting notes section: Four Roses Single Barrel is represented by a picture of Four Roses yellow label. Old Forrester Birthday is shown as a regular bottle old Forrester. And how do you miss this one: Rowan's Creek is represented by a picture of VWFR Lot B.
It sounds like he is mixing up cypress fermentation vats with barrels for aging the distillate. Yeah, I'd be suspect too.
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