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New Book, "Bourbon Empire", by Reid Mitenbuler

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Tony Santana

Sorry, got sidetracked before I could post it.

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Kartofel

I will say that excerpt does a pretty good job of selling the book to me, anyway.

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Richnimrod
I will say that excerpt does a pretty good job of selling the book to me, anyway.

Now, having read that short excerpt, I would totally agree with you, Kartofel.

I had pretty much decided to give the book a shot anyway; but, having read this, I find the prose informational, without being dry, and containing enough wit and slant to give the writer an identity, without changing the meaning... a sure sign of a good mind, as well as deft hand. I expect to enjoy it and learn something in the reading.

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risenc

Sorry for the late chime-in. Obviously, my hand is already shown, but Reid is the real deal, and his book is solid. Aside from doing great original research, he spent a lot of time talking with Veach, Chuck, Chris Morris, and all the various folks who know from whiskey history. I've read all the whiskey history books, and nothing holds a candle to Bourbon Empire.

As for the NPR piece -- I'll be the first to report that non-whiskey experts almost always get things wrong, even when their base of information is someone as informed as Reid. We all forget how confusing it can be to an outsider, and how tempting it can be to retreat to generalities.

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Harry in WashDC

For those of you still on the "maybe" list, I bought the Kindle version for $12 right after reading Chuck's comment. The parts I like best so far (Intro and several chapters in) in no particular order are: RM does a nice job of integrating the dry history (just the facts, Ma'am) with the stories we on SB know all too well (It all started in some preacher's barn in 1793 when he set fire to a barrel by mistake or something like that); he spends awhile, as we do here, talking about how hype vs. quality vs. advertising vs. personal tastes are more complicated than any rating scheme (just like Pappy) can capture and concludes (spoiler alert) that the best way to figure out if a bourbon is good is to taste it and the best way to decide if it's worth the cost is to taste it and look at your wallet and reach for the money or not (my characterization of what he wrote); he brings in cultural and political events (the Civil War's effect due to the need for money and food for the war effort competing with distillers' needs and with lines of commerce (including but not limited to how whiskey got shipped around)); he discusses the effects of actions on whiskey even though those actions were directed at other interests (the unintended consequences phenomenon); he integrates the political & corporate shenanigans into the story without malice and without being so judgmental (IMO) as to distract from the history he is reporting; he includes even in the Kindle version an excellent "Selected Bibliography" that contains works well known and owned by me and likely owned by most of you reading this; AND he includes an excellent "Index" even in the Kindle version.

Bottom line? On Wednesday when we go to dinner at our favorite restaurant near the bookstore, I'm buying the hardcopy. It'll cost about what a 750 of BT costs, and I already know I'll get as much fun and satisfaction from it as I would from the BT. Which I already have several of, anyway, but I can always use another history book.

Edited by Harry in WashDC
typos, of course - baseball is on TV & I don't multitask well

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squire

Ah Harry, a man of my generation if I may lop you in there, had a conversation with my son this afternoon about buying this very book. He suggested a kindle version.

Me . . . refresh my memory son, what is a kindle?

Him . . . Dad, Dad, you're hopelessly mired in the last century!

Me . . . you mean the 19th?

There really is no substitute for holding a book in your hands.

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dcbt

There really is no substitute for holding a book in your hands.

I'm with you there even though we're different generations. Newspapers too. Hell, if I want to read a lengthy blog article I actually print it out. Your son probably would gasp at that. When I read on a screen I feel like I have to hurry through it, maybe because I work all day in front of a computer and thus it's hard to relax that way. But reading hard copies, books, magazines, etc is leisurely and much more enjoyable.

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Harry in WashDC
. . . There really is no substitute for holding a book in your hands.

Squire (et al), THAT'S why, even though I have the Kindle version (eBook to you other guys my age), I want a hardcopy of this for the shelf. I do this whenever I really like an eBook I own.

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CL

I am enjoying the book. It arrived today and I am the intro and two chapters into it. I started learning off the bat in the intro - I didn't know the back story on the 1964 resolution and Lewis Rosenstiel's role. I've read about George Thorpe before and his use of corn, but the first chapter gave a much more complete picture of Berkely. Ditto on GW - I've read about this still before, but learned new things. I liked how the author interweaved the politics of Hamilton and Jefferson into the story.

Who knows, maybe I had previously read and forgotten all that this author has provided. But, I don't care. I am enjoying the book and is worth my time so far.

P.S. I enjoyed a glass of SA VOS 14 while reading. :-)

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fc0171

I also just finished reading the book and found it to be very interesting from the perspective of our nation's history and the role whiskey has played throughout. From when rum was our drink to the switch to distilling whiskey due to the unwillingness of the distillers to pay Britain's newly enacted Sugar Tax up through the current Craft movement, it chronicles the role whiskey has played in each phase of our history. From that perspective, it's worth the read. And, it is well written.

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CL

I'll follow up my earlier comments and second fc0171's. I found the book to be very interesting and enjoyable. It's been a while since I've read Chuck C's and Michael V's books, so I can't compare them accurately. But, I can tell you I liked "Bourbon Empire" much better than Dane Huckelbridge's book, "Bourbon: A History of the American Spirit".

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flahute

I picked this up recently as well after reading a few of the exceprts and articles about it that were mentioned above. I haven't cracked it open yet as I'm currently reading Chuck's first book.

Oh - I bought the hard copy also. I'm young enough to be tech adept, but old enough to remember the days before all this tech, so like squire, Harry, and others, I prefer to have a book in my hands. I must have an old soul.

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CL

I prefer books as well, particularly because you have no restrictions on how you use it - I can loan it, donate it, or display it.

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Harry in WashDC

T'storm wiped out a previous post to CL's comment #36. Here's some of what I wrote - I have BOTH a Kindle version and a hardcopyof BE. Also, sku wrote a nice review (scroll down his posts - it's last week or so). mBE encouraged me to go back an reread Mike Veach's book. I also have hard copies Chuck's books and Clay's and Fred's (including 'Camera Boy' which isn't about bourbon). Makes for a nice reference library.

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Kartofel

For those of you who have read this book and The Social History of Bourbon by Gerald Carson, how do they compare?

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gmrv4

I found the book quite fascinating. Now this is coming from a guy who hasn't read much on the history of bourbon and other spirits so keep that in mind.

Therefore I can't offer comparisons to other writing on the topic.

I did find it interesting that in 1883 "almost every newspaper reported the whiskey prices daily next to the prices of coal, steel, and pork bellies."

Interesting times and I enjoyed the read.

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CorvallisCracker

I finished it a couple of weeks ago.

From a historical perspective, the best I've read on the subject.

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