I am indebted to whoever mentioned this book. It took me a while to find it through a used book store online, and it took a while longer before I got around to starting to read it. Once I started, I found myself rearranging my life around it. I intended to write a short review immediately after I finished it a week or so ago. I hope my recall of details is accurate at this point.
It is a novel with a copyright date of 1929. Many aspects of the story reflect a long-ago time, sometimes wistfully, sometimes painfully. In fact the story begins a couple of centuries earlier, but the heart of the story begins in the mid-nineteenth century.
Needless to say, bourbon is a major factor in the development of the story line; Col. Atilla Bird, the main character, is the founder and operator of the Old Blockhouse Distillery, in existence from around 1865 through the climax of the book, during Prohibition.
He is a brave and honorable man, although some of his ideas would be widely condemned today. He believes that producing quality bourbon is an honorable calling, and he has little patience with those who condemn its moderate use or those who produce cheap substitutes.
His sense of honor leads him to make what most of us would call difficult choices regarding his family, his business, his property, and his life, and yet he makes those choices automatically, as a reflection of who he is.
This is a classically structured novel, of a style I don't think anyone writes any more. It builds to a shattering climax, even as Col. Bird grows old and infirm, and ends with a denouement that is probably even more touching today that when it was written.
I have deliberately refrained from describing specific events in the plot so as not to spoil it for the new reader. I wish you luck in finding a copy; I won't be turning loose of mine.