View Full Version : Regans' "The Book of Bourbon and Other Fine American Whiskeys"
I just bought a copy of this on Ebay for under $20 (Amazon.co.uk has one used copy of the same edition for over $200; domestic Amazon.com has one new copy with a different cover for $92). I already have the Regans' "Bourbon Companion" and have found it a useful reference. Can anyone tell me anything about this book? Chuck (I see you have it on your reading list)?
I don't have the book at hand to check but I think Chuck may be listed as a source of material. It's a good book I think. I don't own a copy but one is in our public library. Some hereabouts have taken issue with some of their tastings. Of course that's to be expected.
Certainly it will not hurt to read or own that book. In so much as they do it, they pretty much cover everyone equally, so one finds a lot from the one source. Some of the sections on individual distilleries read as though they have been written by the distilleries themselves, you may or may not notice that. That' s as critical as I can be.
Full disclosure. Gary and Mardee are friends of mine, and I consulted with Gary on the book in its early stages. That said, I think it is the best of the encylopedia-style bourbon books. It is intelligently organized and contains a lot of good information. Because Mardee is primarily a food writer, it also contains a large number of recipes, for food as well as for drinks, which is a little unusual. Tasting notes are subjective so some disagreement is inevitable. If it has any limitation it is that the Regans, especially at that time, were just learning about bourbon and acting mainly as reporters, so they were at the mercy of their sources, which primarily were the distilleries. It is a substantial book and $20 is a good, fair price for it.
Thanks for the info, Chuck. I look forward to getting and reading the book. For whatever it's worth, I combine (maybe 'meld' is a better word) the knowledge base of several different bourbon books to guide me toward a new bourbon, then judge if for myself without the references at hand, then, after several tastings, go back and see how my opinion jibes with the 'experts'. Not an empirically proven method of discovery, granted, but I've found it a good way to both give my own tastebuds free rein while, at the same time, honing them with the viewpoints and terminology of others more knowledgeable.
In other words, it's kinda like reading the SB.com forums.
I hope you enjoy the book. We bought it in 1996 as we were really starting to get enthusiastic about bourbon and still keep it very handy. We read it shortly after we read The Book of Classic American Whiskeys by Waymack and Harris. Shortly after reading the Regan book, we just HAD to take a trip to Bardstown (and did)!
This is a "pretty good" book, but don't consider "some" of the stuff as fact, (cause it ain't). Just because somebody wrote a book on bourbon, doesn't mean that it's a "bourbon bible"...
http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif Only if Chuck Cowdery writes it http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif
http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif Bettye Jo Boone http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif
Joseph L. Beam
First Master Distiller at Heaven Hill and one of the first original incorporators of Heaven Hill.
I will flat out say this. Gary Regan, learned most all of what he knows, about bourbon, from Chuck Cowdery.
The History Channel did the show on Rumrunner's, Moonshiner's and Bootleggers. Aunt Jo and my Mom are in this documentary. The "authority figure" in that documetary, was Gary Regan. That's fine, but they overlooked the most knowledgeable of all, Chuck Cowdery.
There it was http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif, I was watching in disbelief, a man with a very stong "Scotland?" accent given "front and center" of the history of American's early days of moonshining...Should have been Chuck Cowdery sitting in that chair right beside him.
This show runs quite regular on the History Channel... (I have it on tape) Take note...When he says Kentucky...Hmmmmmmmm...Can-tu-key...Just blows me away every time I hear that...
http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif Bettye Jo http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif
Thanks for the caveat. With your expertise, if you think it's "pretty good," it's probably great for novices like us who are still becoming familiar with bourbon basics comparatively. Hopefully, the inaccuracies didn't mislead us in any significant way. We really enjoy it more now as a collection of tasting notes to which we compare and contrast our own impressions. When we first read it, it really sparked our interest in bourbon, which was great for us, too!
Just out of curiosity, are the inaccuracies more historical? Involving the manufacturing process? Both? Other stuff?
Dave & Tina
Bettye Jo, I spent 25 years in the newpaper business -- "grain of salt" cynicism is SOP for a reporter, and rumor control/verification/debunking is a large part of the job description. I promise I will use this book as a resource, not a bible.
(False) modesty prevents me from responding except to say Thank You.
(And stay tuned for my book, coming soon.)
It's mostly little stuff here and there, mostly attributable to misinterpretation of something they were told. Nothing too terribly serious that I recall. I'll tell you, it's tough to get it all right. I've never read anything on the subject that didn't contain a few mistakes, and I'm not talking about differences of opinion but actual errors. I do think the Regans did a better job than Waymack and Harris, though. I thought W&H were a bit too fawning.
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