View Full Version : Review: BOURBON, STRAIGHT

08-23-2004, 09:50
Allright, hope everyone doesn't mind if I start a new thread for reviews.

Here's my initial review of Chuck’s book in a format that should be vaguely familiar to fellow straightbourbon.com members. As someone new to bourbon within the past year or so, I look forward to words of wisdom from Chuck. Note: As I just received the book this weekend, I have not had a chance to experience this book in it’s entirety. I’ll complete/revise this review once I’ve finished the book.


Name: BOURBON, STRAIGHT: The Uncut and Unfiltered Story of American Whiskey

Copyright Date: 2004

Pages: 266

Publisher: Made & Bottled in Kentucky

Price: $22.95 for straightbourbon.com members.

Book/Cover: Burgundy-colored trade paperback. The simple and straightforward front cover displays the title as well as a yellow-graphic depicting a bourbon warehouse. The back cover provides a summary of the book’s content as well as a short biographical sketch of Charles Cowdery.

Nose (Initial Flip): On taking an initial flip through the book, I am immediately drawn to the insightful words that make up Chuck’s signature and inscription, instantly giving this book a special place in the personal library. After doing so much via the computer these days (work, audio books via the web, e-magazines, etc.), this book is delightful to hold. The serif typeface (courier?) is incredibly readable and inviting, drawing me in to further explore this book.

Taste: After an initial read of the introduction, and a few of the whiskey reviews that make up the later pages in the book, I am delighted. The book thus far is what Chuck has promised in his introduction, straight and simple. A mix of personal anecdotes and experiences, history, and humor make the read delightful thus far.

Finish: While I’ve actually just begun this book, the honest and straightforward approach sticks in my head, pushing me to find time to garner my next taste of this book.

Overall: Well-done Chuck. The book is great so far. As a bourbon newbie, compared to many of the straightbourbon members at least, I look forward to learning more about whiskey in America. Chuck’s honest approach seems to be a great place to start.

08-30-2004, 16:52
This weekend I had the pleasure of reading Chuck Cowdery’s new book “Bourbon, Straight – The Uncut and Unfiltered Story of American Whiskey.” As a long term subscriber to his newsletter, “The Bourbon Country Reader”, I have always enjoyed his writing style. We here at straightbourbon.com get a good taste of his vast knowledge about Bourbon delivered with humor. This book is just like that with added strength of being able going deeper into the subject that the newsletter or discussion board allows. The book doesn’t just give the history of the Bourbon industry but rather tells stories about bourbon and many of the unique individuals that became part of its history. In addition to the stories I especially enjoyed Chapter Eight, An American Whiskey Sampling Guide, and the reviews at the end of the book. Be sure and read his review of Knob Creek.

So pour a glass of your favorite bourbon, sit back in a comfortable chair, and read about the story of American whiskey…


08-30-2004, 17:48
My review: Chuck Cowdery's book is a detailed, authoritative look at the history of bourbon whiskey written in Chuck's signature clear and accessible style. Important aspects of the drink's social, economic and business history are covered. The book benefits because Chuck is both an industry insider (having worked in aspects of the business for years) but also an outsider in the sense of being an independent writer who calls it as he sees it. Chuck as he said with typical directness has "poked around" many corners of the whiskey world and the varied knowledge and experience he has gleaned show in spades. As averred in the introduction, the book is also Chuck's personal take on the drink and we benefit from a number of entertaining digressions and stories. The humor is there and elsewhere too, e.g., when Chuck debunks the arcana of tasting ritual and points ratings (which he rightly terms "bull"). Not surprisingly, he knows the different brands and the taste notes ring true and never sound contrived or faux-literary. His tasting of a series of pre-Prohibition whiskeys is fascinating in particular. The descriptions of the figures and families who founded the main whiskey labels are equally interesting and informative. Particularly refreshing, and again showing Chuck's typical candour and perceptiveness, is his statement that while bourbon is often given a pedigree reaching back to the misty Scottish glens and sylvan Irish vales, in truth the drink and the companies are the products of a diverse group. It includes to be sure Scots immigrants such as Bill Samuels, Jr.'s ancestors but also German-American, black American and Jewish-American distillers, producers and intermediaries. Bourbon is withal an American product, and story.

This is a book which is not just satisfied to look back at U.S. whiskey but also notes the major trends and predicts what bourbon will look like in decades to come.

Read this book thoroughly and there is little if anything you will want to know about bourbon that isn't in it. It is a must for any enthusiast of whiskey or whiskey history.


08-30-2004, 19:58
My Review: Having had the pleasure of meeting Chuck at the Sampler, I had the unique experience of imagining his voice reading the book to me as though a bedtime story to a young child. It reminded me of the days when my grandmother would sit with me on the porch swing and talk about family history and the stories would all just flow from one to the next. Chucks words have the same feeling of longing for the days gone by mixed with the pleasure of living today. I especially enjoyed his reviews of many products I have actually tried that mixed factual information with his own personal views and tasting notes that were not too complex for a novice such as myself to follow. All in all, this was a very pleasant reading experience and I hope to see more in the future from our author emeritus. And as I said before, the matching bookmark was a real bonus for someone who takes great joy in simple things.

08-31-2004, 06:16
I have finished reading your book and all I have to say is well done! I don't agree with everything you say - after all we have been debating the origin of "Bourbon" since we met so that should be no surprise to you, but your arguements are well founded and based on facts, so they are well worth reading. My only real question is: When are we going to get volume two?
Mike Veach

08-31-2004, 12:17
After meeting both Chuck and Dane at the Sampler, I now have this bizarre image of Chuck dressed like a grandma, reading a Dane in feety PJ's the book. TMI

08-31-2004, 12:52
Maybe that will be the sequel: Chuck Cowdery's Bourbon Bedtime Stories.

08-31-2004, 20:10
Maybe that will be the sequel: Chuck Cowdery's Bourbon Bedtime Stories.

Shouldn't that be Colonel Cowdery's Bourbon Bedtime Stories?

It has a better ring to it. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif

08-31-2004, 22:09
You know how I hate to pull rank. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/smirk.gif