View Full Version : A Good Whiskey Library
Looking through old posts I saw a number of threads reviewing specific books, but none addressing the overall question:
What books belong in a good whiskey library? I'm most interested in books that are relatively easily available.
I've got a handful, including Murray's Complete Guide to World Whiskey, Classic Bourbon, Tennessee and Rye, and Classic Blended Scotch; Jackson's Single Malt guide, and Hills' Appreciating Whisky. And just today I placed an order with Amazon that should bring me American Still Life, Murray's Classic Irish Whiskey and 2004 Whiskey Bible, The Alaskan Bootlegger's Bible, and, of course, Chuck Cowdery's Bourbon, Straight.
That should keep me busy for a while http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif but nevertheless, I would like opinions: what else do you recommend?
Particularly with regard to Scotch, there are lots of "coffee table" type books out there with pretty pictures but not much solid information. I am hoping by your recommendations to separate wheat from chaff.
Jackson's, "World Guide To Whisky" (1988, Running Press) is essential.
malt whiskey, by Charles MacLean (revised edition)
A very good overview of Scotch Malt (both historical and practical), some tasting notes (perhaps out of date) some very good distillery information and historical photos.
> Looking through old posts I saw a number of threads reviewing specific books,
> but none addressing the overall question:
> What books belong in a good whiskey library? I'm most interested in books
> that are relatively easily available.
A quick detour through the "Search" function turned up these two great
threads about whiskey books:
I'm sure others will pipe in with their favorites, though.
According to my Amazon.com search, Sam Cecil's "The Evolution of the Bourbon Whiskey Industry in Kentucky" is still available. Its on my short list of books to get, if I ever stop spending the money on whiskey instead.
Jackson's, "World Guide To Whisky" (1988, Running Press) is essential.
Absolutely, it was the starting point for all my research and, really, the only book available at the time that gave a good account of all of the world's major whiskey producing regions.
"The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks" by David Embury. Probably out of print. First published in 1948; my copy was printed in 1961. A GREAT book on booze. Only one chapter specifically on Bourbon, but worthwhile to get an expert view of things from that period in time. Very witty, extremely well-written, great fun to read. If you are interested in 'cocktails' and mixology, not to be missed.
Richard, thanks for this suggestion, I have heard about this book but haven't found a copy as yet. Can I ask if Embury talks about straight rye whiskey? Any particular insights there if he does, e.g., does he compare it to bourbon or Canadian whisky?
Embury does not go into any depth on Rye, except to make the following points 1) American whiskies are his favorite, and of those Bourbon is tops, 2) buy only Pennsylvania ryes, 3) he dislikes Canadian whisky, because to him it tastes like a blend of rye and Scotch, 4) Mount Vernon Rye was the best rye ever made.
Interesting, many thanks. The days of Pennsylvania rye whiskey are long gone, unfortunately. What remains is Old Overholt as made by Jim Beam. Not a bad drink, but it was better 10 years ago. This is the one category that has not been addressed really by the distillers, i.e., median-aged rye. We have 4 year old rye (Beam, Overholt, Rittenhouse, Wild Turkey, the elusive Fleischman Straight Rye Whiskey of Barton); we have well-aged rye: ORVW 13 year old rye and the Saz 18 year old rye, and the yet older Classic Cask, but where is 6-8 year old rye? That Overholt at 8 years would (to use Whisky Magazine terminology) be a "cracker" especially at 90-100 proof. Ditto Rittenhouse and probably the others. I think Embury was referring to such ryes, not the youngest, not the oldest, where the char and tannin get in but do not dominate. Thanks to Ken by the way for that fascinating overview of those experimental whiskeys. Wow.
On reading this thread I thought I would update the contents of my “bourbon library” that I had listed in August of 2003. Since then I have had three main additions Gary and Mardee Regan’s “The Book of Bourbon And Other Fine American Whiskeys” (I found a brand new signed copy of the book on E-bay.), F. Paul Pacult’s “American Still Life – The Jim Beam Story and the Making of the World’s #1 Bourbon”, and of course Chuck’s new book, “Bourbon, Straight – The Uncut and Unfiltered Story of American Whiskey” (A must read - I received it in the mail on a Thursday and had it all read over the next weekend.). In addition to these but not listed would be various magazine articles and newsletters obtained over the years.
Reading and learning about bourbon, its industry, its history, and maybe must fascinating its people continues to bring interest and enjoyment to me.
Here is my current Bourbon Library:
Books by people in the industry or report on the industry:
“But Always Fine Bourbon – Pappy Van Winkle and the story of Old Fitzgerald” by Sally Van Winkle Campbell [1999, Limestone Lane Press] (signed by Sally Van Winkle Campbell and Julian P. Van Winkle III)
“Maker’s Mark My AUTOBIOGRAPHY” by Bill Samuels, Jr. [2000, Saber Publishing] (signed by Bill Samuels, Jr.)
“The Evolution of the BOURBON Whiskey Industry In Kentucky” by Sam K. Cecil [1999,2000, Turner Publishing Company] (signed by Sam K. Cecil)
“American Still Life – The Jim Beam Story and the Making of the World’s #1 Bourbon” by F. Paul Pacult. [2003, John Wiley & Sons, Inc.]
“Bourbon, Straight – The Uncut and Unfiltered Story of American Whiskey” by Charles K. Cowdery. [2004, Charles K. Cowdery] (signed by Charles K. Cowdery)
Books that evaluate and rank the different bourbons:
”The Book of Bourbon And Other Fine American Whiskeys” by Gary and Mardee Regan. [1995, Chapters Publishing Ltd.] (signed by Gary and Mardee Regan)
“The Bourbon Companion – A Connoisseur’s Guide” by Gary and Mardee Haiden Regan. [1998, Running Press Book Publishers]
“Classic BOURBON Tennessee & Rye Whiskey” by Jim Murray [1998, Prion Books Limited]
“The Complete Guide to Whiskey – Selecting, Comparing, and Drinking the World’s Great Whiskeys” by Jim Murray [1997, Carlton Books]
“The Classic WHISKEY HANDBOOK – An essential Companion to the World’s Finest Whiskies” by Ian Wisniewski [1998, Anness Publishing Limited]
Books on general bourbon history:
“The Social History of Bourbon – An Unhurried Account of Our Star-Spangled American Drink” by Gerald Carson [1963, Dodd, Mead & Company]
“The Spirit of Old Kentucky” by James Boone Wilson [1945, Glenmore Distilleries Company, Incorporated]
“Made & Bottles in Kentucky – The Story of Bourbon Whiskey” documentary film by Charles K. Cowdery [1992, Charles Kendrick Cowdery] (in DVD format)
I’m always looking out for new additions.
Quite a nice list. Ben just gave me THE SOCIAL HISTORY OF BOURBON as a gift. I haven't cracked it, yet. Still reading and rereading passages from Chuck' book.
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