View Full Version : "But Always Fine Bourbon"

02-05-2004, 13:49
I'd searched for several months for an affordable copy of Sally Van Winkle Campbell's remembrance of her grandfather, Julian "Pappy" Van Winkle, but could only discover a $60+ used copy on Amazon (and even that's gone now!). But happenstance brought me across a website called "A Taste of Kentucky" the other day, and lo and behold!, there was a brand-new "But Always Fine Bourbon" at what was probably the original issue price -- $29.99 plus shipping. Coffee-table-size, the inside covers are papered with reproductions of Stitzel-Weller bourbon labels, and the book itself has dozens of historic photos. Ms. Campbell's warm descriptions of both Pappy and her father, Julian Jr., are accompanied by a history of one of the most storied -- and missed -- bourbon franchises. I'm sure some of you already have this book, but if not, consider it.
An exerpt from Pappy, at his 75th birthday bash on the 100th anniversary of the Weller company:
"I do not believe we deserve so much praise, because, after all, we have simply tried to be honest and make a good product. I was taught to be honest, but I was not told there was to be a premium on honesty, but rather a penalty for dishonesty."

He surely did deserve it.

A Taste of Kentucky books (http://www.atasteofkentucky.com/ProductList.asp?ID=&Category=Books&Subcategory=Bou rbon_Books)

02-05-2004, 14:20
Amazon used to sell it for about $30. When I ordered mine it said 3 copies remaining... After they ran out, they never seemed to get them in again. It is a wonderful book, with wonderful history in it. Anyone who does not have it I would say consider getting it if you ever have the chance.

02-05-2004, 14:45
I agree 100% That book is so beautiful, everything about it. And because I've spent years in the printing industry, I just need to tip my hat here. You could just tell...all the craftsmen involved in putting this book together, just loved what they were doing. Elegantly done.

Pappy must have been a hellava guy... http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/toast.gif I love the wheat, and S-W played a major part in the development of the wheat mashbill.

That distillery and the people that worked there are part of my growing up years. I went by the old Stizel-Weller complex (my parents sill live close) several months ago. Was gonna shoot a photo of the 'always fine Bourbon' sign that still hung at the entrance. Thought ya'll would like to see it... I was told by the guard (that called the lady inside) that Mr. VanWinkle had recently taken it.

I smiled to myself (go Julian!) and got back in the car. Glad there's still people in the industry that appreciate real history, not just the stuff pumped out by the marketing department.

02-05-2004, 15:32
I agree, a must-have for any bourbon-lover's library. Great photos too, some very precious insights into a family history. I couldn't put the book down. (kinda sounds like a book review http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif ). If you don't own this book, go out and get one now!


02-05-2004, 19:33
I have an extensive home bar and about 200 bar books, including "But Always Fine Bourbon."

My wife always complains that I bring home (buy) more and more bar books. I have about a dozen bourbon-specific books, some fairly old. Now that I know how much some of the good bourbon books can fetch, I have another excuse to buy even more of them. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif


02-06-2004, 12:46

I agree that its a wonderful book. I was lucky enough to get a copy signed by Julian at last years WhiskyFest in NY.


02-06-2004, 13:27
I have the same problem, except multiplied by the fact that my partner also loves grabbing up books so we end up with quite a few bookcases.

I called up Sally a few months ago and got 5 copies of the book for the store, kept one for myself. She even was kind enough to sign them for me. A wonderful account of a wonderful family. Really draws you in and makes you proud to drink up ORVW. Touched me personally to see a family struggle and stick together. Besides, it's worth buying the book just to see Julian in those cute short pants as a little boy. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif

I'm looking forward to catching the second edition she's coming out with that's gonna include a chapter on Julian and hopefully we'll hear more about how his son is getting involved, as well.

02-06-2004, 14:44
I would love it if you would share with us some of your more obscure bourbon titles.

I recently acquired a copy of Irwin Cobb's Red Likker.

02-08-2004, 19:02
I would love it if you would share with us some of your more obscure bourbon titles.

I recently acquired a copy of Irwin Cobb's Red Likker.

My two most obscure bourbon titled books are:

"Bluegrass, Belles and Bourbon", 1967, by Harry Harrison Kroll and
"Kentucky Bourbon -- The Early Years of Whiskeymaking", 1971, by Henry G. Growgey

I have never seen either of these books since I acquired them.

The "Kentucky Bourbon..." book is by far the most researched account of bourbon I have found, to date. It references old books, newpaper articles, personal family accounts and other interesting information, that puts forth a strong case for the first "bourbon" that is different from tradition. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the history of bourbon. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif

I also have all the more recent books from Rip Van Winkle, Jim Beam, Makers Mark, Buffalo Trace, The Regans, Jim Murray, Sam Cecil, etc.

I hope this is what you wanted to know.

By the way, how is Irwin Cobb's "Red Likker" and what is the publishing date and substance of the book? http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/bowdown.gif

02-08-2004, 21:22
Red Likker by Irvin S. Cobb was published in 1929. ABEbooks had quite a few copies listed at reasonable prices when I obtained mine. It's the story of the fictional Bird family of Kentucky, the Bluegrass region specifically, who are early distillers. The principal character is one Attila Bird, who after fighting for the Confederacy returns to Kentucky to establish a distillery. He lives long enough to see everything he has worked for destroyed by Prohibition, during which bleak period the surprising climax of the story unfolds.

How is it? Not very good, actually. The word hokum comes to mind. Some of it is truly painful. But it paints a picture the way fiction does that even the best history book can't achieve. As the only novel I know of that covers this subject matter, it doesn't have to be good, since it's the best.

02-10-2004, 06:05
I may put this one off for a while. I don't read a lot of novels. It does sound interesting, though.


02-13-2004, 15:05
My sister Sally has written, with my help, another chapter to the book. It covers the Van Winkle business from my father's death til the present. She is down to just a few dozen copies which she wants to hang on to. That's why Amazon does not carry the book anymore. We plan on having the new edition out in June or July. The book will be available on our web site also.

02-13-2004, 17:31
Thanks Julian, that's good to know as I have been trying to find a copy lately with no success. While I enjoy reading historical accounts of the bourbon industry, I also want to know how things work today. I look forward to the additional chapter! http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/toast.gif

02-13-2004, 19:41
I will almost certainly buy a copy of the new edition for the extra chapter, but am still glad I found a copy of the original. As a lifelong collector -- of this, that and another thing -- there's something special about originals of anything. It's no secret to you, Julian, how specially interesting your family is, but please convey my (our?) appreciation to your sister for her part in preserving it.

02-14-2004, 19:12
I just picked up a copy from "A Taste of Kentucky".
Thanks for the info.I also concur with your thoughts about
Sally and Julian.

01-19-2005, 16:58
I'm in the process of ordering a copy from A Taste of Kentucky.com We are just working out the final shipping costs now. (The initial shipping quote was more than the book.)
It doesn't say if it is the updated edition or the original - time will tell...

I'd also like to add my thanks to Sally & Julian for giving us the opportunity to read about their family http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/toast.gif

01-20-2005, 08:21
The books that "Taste of KY" has in stock now are the new edition. The book is also available at the Buffalo Trace gift shop.You might want to check with them to compare shipping costs.502-696-5926.

01-21-2005, 20:04
Julian, thanks for the information - I did get the shipping sorted not long after making my post. US$9 instead of US$33

I tried looking for the book in the gift shop at Buffalo Trace.com but couldn't find it. I found it easily enough on the Van Winkle web site though... http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/confused.gif

02-02-2005, 00:12
The book arrived today - it is the updated edition, and, I have to say that it is one of the best presented & best looking books I've seen. A true credit.
It (and Chuck's book) will take pride of place & be on display when the downstairs bar is finally finished.
And now, I'm off to start some very enjoyable reading.......

02-02-2005, 13:43
Out of interest - does the ribbon with the Kentucky Blue Grass seeds attached in a little bag come with the book, or are they something A Taste of Kentucky put around it?
It was definately a neat idea http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/cool.gif

***wonders if I plant them in a pot, will they grow? http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/confused.gif

02-03-2005, 05:03
I don't see why they wouldn't.

I don't know where you're going to find a lawn mower that small though. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif

02-04-2005, 14:14
Damn, that's a good idea. Wish I'd thought of that.
(we did have a bag of rye on the 13-year rye hang tag when it first came out)
But no, that was "Taste of Kentucky's" idea of using the KY Blue Grass.

02-04-2005, 15:25
This is how it looks.
(actually, I'm suprised the seeds made it through customs..)

02-05-2005, 17:54
Hey, who knows. Maybe this is your chance to completely destroy the island ecoculture by introducing an alien grass species.