I just hope my book is as good as your video.
I just hope my book is as good as your video.
Your point is a very good one. All of the writers worked very hard to write an unbiased book. The problem may be that when you consider how great the people are who make the bourbon and how hard they work to maintain what they consider a fine product, then it becomes hard to say anything bad about the product. Another point is who is to say what a "bad" bourbon is? All of these companies are making money with their products which means somebody out there likes and buys their products. One man's meat is another man's poison. Linn is the perfect example of this with his extreme dislike of wheated bourbons whereas I love a good wheated bourbon. This is why I am sticking to the history of the companies and do not plan to publish any type of tasting notes.
Now let's talk about some real bad books. There is a book titled "Belles, Bluegrass and Bourbon" by Kroll which has lots of nice pictures but is horrible history. I have also seen several people refer to Carson's "Social History of Bourbon". This is an interesting read but filled with bad history due to poor research. The biggest problem with these books are their lack of research. The information was out there but the writers did not try to find it.
Mike said, "Another point is who is to say what a "bad" bourbon is? All of these companies are making money with their products which means somebody out there likes and buys their products. "
Hello? HEL-LOWWWW? It sure is good to read that. I've taken a lot of (good natured) flack for that very attitude from youse guys. Tickets to my vindication party will go on sale shortly. No bad bourbon will be served :-))
Seriously, though... How can anyone say "[such-and-such] is as a bad bourbon" today? There are only eight bourbon distillers left (nine if you count L&G as separate from Brown-Forman, seven if you consider that Four Roses is a goner). And they're all successfully making more money than you or I ever will.
"One man's meat is another man's poison. Linn is the perfect example..."
Another example is Jim Murray. Jim is widely respected for the accuracy of his tastings, but he'd be the first to tell you (which he does, often) that your experience may vary widely. Jim absolutely hates Barton's Colonel Lee. He calls it the worst bourbon whiskey made. It's the only bourbon in his book for which he has nothing but distain. It's not snobbism; Jim calls Rittenhouse Rye "supurb" and "a classic". I think Rittenhouse Rye is the least interesting rye whiskey I've ever tasted (and I'm using that word loosely). On the other hand, I think Colonel Lee is the best "cheap" 100-proof bourbon out there, and the second best bourbon Barton makes (after Kentucky Gentleman). I can already hear the moans of dissent, but the point is that none of these are bad bourbons. In fact, we all pretty much agree on stuff like Rare Breed and Knob Creek, so the only really interesting things to discuss on a forum like this ought to be cheaper brands that folks either love or hate :-))
As Jerry Dalton said at the Heritage Panel " There isn't any bad bourbon anymore." Which is to say that any bourbon legally distilled and sold is no longer any medical threat in the lethal sense. However there are bourbons that do taste BAD! Bad bourbon is any bourbon that tastes bad to you. To me some very bad bourbons are: Maker's Mark, Rebel Yell, Fighting Cock, Mc Cormicks, Old Crow, Weller, Benchmark, I.W.Harper, Henry McKenna, Even Williams, Beams Choice, Jack Daniels. These are all whiskeys that I do not like at all. I do not buy them. They are "Bad Bourbon" to me. There are others that I do not care for but I don't consider them to really bad just poor.
Have Shotglass. Will Travel.
Please allow me to offer my enthusiastic endorsement of Chuck Cowdery's "Blues Legends". Great photos and layout whith Chucks characteristic prescise & compact prose. In his bourbonic writings Chuck is detached, dispassionate and objective. Blues is another matter altogether, here the love shines through. His use of quotations is masterful. "Oh. I had religion, Lord, to this very day, but the women and whiskey, well, they would not let me pray." - Son House
Have Shotglass. Will Travel.
Four Roses is a goner? I wasn't aware the company was doomed or in any trouble. In the past I have chatted with Jim Rutledge and consider him a class act, always helpful and informative. I've tasted his amazing single barrel (export), Jim Murray feels the same way (gave it a 9 on his taste notes).
What's the story?
I agree with you on Kroll. Oscar Getz's book is pretty bad too. But give me some examples of Carson's failings? For a "popular" history, he provides an unusual depth of footnotes and sources. Even Downard, who is probably the most serious historian to tackle the subject, fell prey to some of the marketing hype passed off through the years as history. Everyone's primary source seems to be trade journal articles, which are notoriously unreliable due to their dependence on materials supplied by the subject companies.
Then there is Sam Cecil's book, which contains some great information but is so disorganized and undocumented that it is very difficult to use.
Thanks Mike and Linn. I blush. Thanks Linn for reminding me of that great Son House lyric. I want that on my tombstone.
Omar asked, "Four Roses is a goner? I wasn't aware the company was doomed or in any trouble"
Nothing's wrong with the whiskey. Far from it. And the only thing "wrong" with the company is that it's become quite successful in another field (entertainment) and has attracted buyout attention. But the distillery is likely headed the same direction as Stitzel-Weller or Old Crow, or even Seagram's Louisville plant where Four Roses used to be made. Seagram's immenent purchase (it may already have BEEN purchased; I'm notoriously behind in these things) is pretty much only for its entertainment industry business. None of the potential buyers intend to keep its beverage alcohol holdings, so they will in turn go up for sale. Seagram's is mainly known for Canadian whiskey; Bourbon is a very very small part of their repertoire. I'd like to think someone would be interested in it, but didn't see a whole lot of them lining up to buy any of the other dozens of distilleries that aren't anymore.
Then again, it's a really beautiful building; and for probably less than what you've already committed yourself to for your Japanese shopping trip..........
I don't own a copy of Carson and it has been a while since I read it. The U.D. archive had a copy and I remember reading it and finding many mistakes and I did not have much confidence in his footnotes. Those I checked into were not the best. Even so I should probably get a copy of the book because it does have some merit.
My biggest complaint about Sam's book is that he relies heavily upon a collection in the University of Louisville Archives that is not, how should a put this, reliable. The collection is from a man who was writing a book very similar to Sam's book but he died before he got very far into his research. He did not double check all of his sources and there are some mistakes in the collection. Sam should have been taking these facts with a bigger grain of salt if you know what I mean. Other than that Sam's book is very interesting even if it is not laid out well and needs an index.