Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Guest **DONOTDELETE**

Jim Murray's Classic Bourbon, Tennessee & Rye Whiskey

This topic has been inactive for at least 365 days, and is now closed. Please feel free to start a new thread on the subject! 

Recommended Posts

Guest **DONOTDELETE**

Hi Ryan,

Concerning Gary & Mardee Regan's books...

Well, I guess that will serve as a good enough example of not sucking up to the subject. I don't suppose you could have come up with anything negative to say, to offset all that praise?

Seriously, I liked "The Book Of Bourbon and Other Fine American Whiskeys" (not the sequel so much, though). It really wasn't aimed at the same audience as Jim Murray's definitive work. It's more an introduction into exploring bourbon for folks such as those who I hope are hanging out in this forum reading what us loudmouths (loudfingers?) keep writing. I don't remember whether I read it in their introductory notes or learned it during conversations with them, but neither Gary nor Mardee (nor I, nor any of the master distillers I've spoken with) subscribe to what I call the "tasters' lexography". At the risk of alienating some of my friends who are true believers, I find it silly and more than a little pretentious. It reminds me too much of the wine snobs of the early '70s and their successors, the Single Malt Aristocrats of the early '80s. But the publishers insist on tasting notes. American readers want tasting notes. No notes -- no book. Got it? With an ultimatum like that, even I'd start writing of "hints of chamomile wafting over the nutmeg nuances", or whatever it took.

=John=

http://w3.one.net/~jeffelle/whiskey

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest **DONOTDELETE**

John,

I agree with you on this. I like the Regan book. They did put more emphasis on the history of the brands and the industry than other books published since then. As far as tasting notes are concerned, I have always said that such notes need to be taken with a grain of salt because everybody has different taste.

Mike Veach

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest **DONOTDELETE**

The only rating system I pay attention to is the Linn Spencer system. I might not always agree, but I know it will be very entertaining.

Mike Veach

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
cowdery

I agree to some extent with all of you. I know the Regans and consider them friends. Their fault, as I see it (and the rye article cited is an even better example of this than their books) is that they play to the preconceptions of their editors in order to sell articles. If the editor wants them to uncover a hot, new trend, they uncover one (i.e., make one up). If the editor wants tasting notes, tasting notes it is. If the editor wants recipes, they have recipes. They are writing articles and books for the purpose of selling them and they are selling them.

--Chuck Cowdery

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest **DONOTDELETE**

The Regans write books intended for bartenders and for consumers interested in expanding their limited knowledge to include American whiskey. At the time they wrote "The Book of Bourbon and Other Fine American Whiskeys" there wasn't any StraightBourbon.com discussion forum; there wasn't any "Classic Bourbon, Tennessee, & Rye Whiskey"; Waymack & Harris' book was published, but not widely available, and so poorly produced that it would never have attracted general public attention anyway. It's a shame that the sequel, "The Bourbon Companion" is such a step in the wrong direction. It's as if the publisher said, "Whatever you were writing, forget it. Jim Murray's book is a hit. Give us something just like that, and we want it Friday!". Even the cover looks like a blatant knockoff. That's not their fault. The fact is, as Chuck pointed out, the Regans sell books. None of the rest of us do.

What some of us (including Chuck, of course) do is sell magazine articles. Unlike a book, a sort of single-barrel offering which must be everything the publisher wants in one package, a magazine has the luxury of being able to blend (oops, I mean mingle) different writers and styles so as to produce an issue with something for a more widely varied reader base. Chuck, Lew Bryson, Stephen Beaumont, Jim Murray, John Hansell, and the Regans all sell articles to the same magazines. The publishers of those magazines (who, like John Hansell, are often writers themselves) know that some of their readers buy the magazine just to see what Chuck Cowdery has to say and completely skip over anything with Stephen Beaumont's name on it. It's only us warped Bourbomaniacs who study every word written by everyone, including the travel agency ads on the back pages.

I looked at the Wine Enthusiast piece that Stotz pointed out. I thought it was done well. Obviously, the assignment was to work up an article to spotlight Old Potrero and Sazerac Rye, since they're both expanding their marketing right now and most likely the editor received back-to-back press releases just recently. But I thought the article was entertaining and informative. If it were my magazine, I'd want that article in it. Of course, if American Rye Whiskey was to be the general theme for that issue, I'd also include one from Chuck and, of course, Jim. And if it were really my magazine, there'd be one by Linn Spencer in there, too.

=John=

http://w3.one.net/~jeffelle/whiskey

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest **DONOTDELETE**

John,

Your point is very well made. When the Regans wrote their book there was very little material out there on the subject. The Regans are also friends of mine and they are a class act. At least I never heard them being insulting or rude about other authors and their book. I can't say the same for Jim Murray.

Mike Veach

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
RyanStotz

John:

> Well, I guess that will serve as a good enough example of not sucking up to

> the subject.

I do try to be educational when I can.

> I don't suppose you could have come up with anything negative to say, to

> offset all that praise?

I could've picked on Gary's beard. Looks like he's almost finished eating Don King feet-first. But given my hair -- or severe lack thereof -- I've no room for talking about hair no matter where it is.

But really, I do have both their books, do use them frequently (that chocolate bourbon pecan pie recipe in the big book is worth the purchase price alone) and would recommend them to people who just want a cursory knowledge of bourbon. Their enthusiasm for the subject shows, especially in the historical parts of the book, and can be fun to read. But the writing...yeesh. As a former journo, maybe I'm being too picky, but their reliance on clunky/cutesy phrases like referring to prohibition as "the noble experiment" over and over again drives me nuts. And the factual errors are just plain inexcusable in a second (paperback) edition.

Stotz

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
RyanStotz

Chuck:

> Their fault, as I see it (and the rye article cited is an even better example

> of this than their books) is that they play to the preconceptions of their

> editors in order to sell articles.

And as a former journo myself, I realize this and should have said it. In fact, the reason there's a "former" in front of that "journo" in the previous sentence is primarily for this reason; my editors, for the most part, were idiots and their preconceptions were ones which I couldn't play to in good conscience. My field of writing was mainly music, so there were a lot of audience types for whom I could write; with the Regans writing for a much narrower range of people, it must make their job that much harder. If they can stomach all that and make a living doing it, more power to them.

Still doesn't excuse the poor writing skills, though.

Stotz

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
RyanStotz

John:

> I looked at the Wine Enthusiast piece that Stotz pointed out. I thought it

> was done well. Obviously, the assignment was to work up an article to

> spotlight Old Potrero and Sazerac Rye, since they're both expanding their

> marketing right now and most likely the editor received back-to-back press

> releases just recently.

Yep, obviously a one-sheet-driven story. That's not necessarily what bothers me, given the nature of the industry and the magazine. What bothered me were some of the factual errors and such. I don't think I need to explain what's wrong with the sentence "High proof usually makes for high flavor, and this whiskey is no exception to the rule." They also fail to note that one of the stars of the article, Old Potrero, is a 100% malted rye which, IMO, is a very significant omission. Some of the blame must fall on their editor(s), but as for the above sentences...I mean, really.

> And if it were really my magazine, there'd be one by Linn Spencer in there,

> too.

In there? Hell, any magazine with the word "enthusiast" in the title ought to have Linn on the cover...or maybe more likely a centerfold.

Stotz

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest **DONOTDELETE**

"I could've picked on Gary's beard. Looks like he's almost finished eating Don King feet-first."

ROTFLMAO!!!!!!

"But given my hair -- or severe lack thereof -- " Alas, I'm afraid I've also given my hair, I just can't remember to whom...

=John=

http://w3.one.net/~jeffelle/whiskey

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest **DONOTDELETE**

Stotz said, "...I don't think I need to explain what's wrong with the sentence 'High proof usually makes for high flavor, and this whiskey is no exception to the rule'... "

That's kinda what I mean by different interpretations. Of course you don't need to explain that to a technical expert.

But for most of us, well...

Suppose you name for us a single bourbon which is bottled above 100 proof which is NOT high in flavor?

=John=

http://w3.one.net/~jeffelle/whiskey

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
kitzg

I hate to wade in here but here I go. This is NOT meant as criticism of ANY posts in this forum. It is meant as perspective.

As someone who writes (for love and money) I simply don't criticize other writers. I'd remind everyone that we have several different sources from several different authors about bourbon. Each has a different perspecive and each must satisfy an editor.

Without Chuck, the Regans, Jim Murray, Waymack, Sam Cecil, and Paul Jeffers we'd have no source to turn to other than ourselves and a few magazine. God bless those (or may the gods shine on them) who've taken the time to write about bourbon.

I'd include Sally VanWinkle Campbell in the list since I LOVE her book and will plug it every chance I get but it is a family story, not a book on bourbon like those above.

Greg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
kitzg

Gold bless editors, too, who proofread and keep "perspective" from appearing as "perspecive" as it did in my previous post!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest **DONOTDELETE**

That's what I like best about this forum Greg, it's just like live radio & TV used to be! Oh and by the way God bless editors and not Gold bless, :-)

Linn Spencer

Have Shotglass. Will Travel.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
RyanStotz

John:

> Alas, I'm afraid I've also given my hair, I just can't remember to whom...

Man, you guys did drink a lot at the Bourbon Festival, didn't you? Have you looked in, say, Virginia yet?

Stotz

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest **DONOTDELETE**

Thank You Gents! Twenty five years ago I *was* a centerfold! I've never been a cover boy though, but I'll take the job if anyone offers. I'll also write you a short story for a reasonable fee. I don't do "articles".

Linn Spencer

Have Shotglass. Will Travel.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest **DONOTDELETE**

Right you are sir! It's just oatragous!

Linn Spencer

Have Shotglass. Will Travel.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
RyanStotz

John:

> That's kinda what I mean by different interpretations. Of course you don't

> need to explain that to a technical expert.

Ah. My interpretation of the "High proof usually makes for high flavor remark" was within a distilling context; that is, bourbons distilled out at higher proof have more flavor, which, needless to say isn't true. AAMOF, I believe a few of us noted on our bourbon wish lists here a while back that we'd like to have a bourbon distilled to a lower proof for that very reason.

If we're talking bourbons bottled at higher proof, I'd have to agree with them. This only speaks to my problem with their writing. They should have made the context clearer. Unless I'm being particularly dense on this or something.

> Suppose you name for us a single bourbon which is bottled above 100 proof

> which is NOT high in flavor?

Stumped.

Stotz

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest **DONOTDELETE**

"> Suppose you name for us a single bourbon which is bottled above 100 proof

> which is NOT high in flavor?

Stumped."

Ditto! That's why I challenged. I think that's what most end consumers would have understood them to mean, and from that viewpoint they're right on target. Sometimes we bourbomaniacs forget just how "into it" we really are, which, of course, means how "out of it" we can become to ordinary citizens. Strangely, you don't hear the folks who are really insiders, like say, Jimmy Russell or Elmer Lee, make that mistake.

=John=

http://w3.one.net/~jeffelle/whiskey

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.