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Comment: Former library book, clean pages, good binding, mild cover and edge wear
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American Whiskey, Bourbon & Rye: A Guide to the Nation’s Favorite Spirit Hardcover – November 5, 2013

4.6 out of 5 stars 135 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"This book will delight those interested in learning about the history, traditions, and comparative taste of whiskey, and the gorgeous images will conjure up memories of grandfather's old favorites. A fascinating read as well as a valuable reference guide." - Library Journal (Starred Review)


"Risen rates and describes 200+ whiskeys in direct honesty, and delivers a fine, concise history and guide to American whiskey. Tuck it in your hip pocket and go drinking." - Lew Bryson, managing editor, Whisky Advocate

"Candid, lucid, and invariably dead-on, this guide is the essential compass in navigating the bewildering terrain of the whiskey aisle at your local liquor store." - Wayne Curtis, author of "And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in 10 Cocktails"

"Risen is immensely able, both as cohort and guide." - Charles K. Cowdery, author of "Bourbon Straight: The Uncut and Unfiltered Story of American Whiskey"

"[Risen] offers takes on the excellent whiskies, and doesn't hold back while describing the bad ... lending authority to his assessment of an overwhelming number of choices." - Publishers Weekly

"New York Times editor Risen . . . deftly combines history and assessment in this informative volume that covers more than 200 of the titular spirits . . . . This book will delight those interested in learning about the history, traditions, and comparative taste of whiskey, and the gorgeous images will conjure up memories of grandfather's old favorites. A fascinating read as well as a valuable reference guide, this work is sure to be a hit, especially in regions where the beverage is gaining popularity." —Library Journal (Starred review)

"[An] accessible and useful reference . . . He then reviews more than 200 American brands currently on the market, ranging from staples such as Jack Daniel's and Jim Beam to boutique bourbons such as Black Maple Hill Small Batch Bourbon, one of the few to receive all four stars from Risen. He offers takes on the excellent whiskies, and doesn't hold back while describing the bad . . . lending authority to his assessment of an overwhelming number of choices. The book will help whiskey lovers single out the good-to-great, but Risen also offer suggestions for lower tier whiskeys like Evan Williams that are perfectly fine for mixed drinks." —Publishers Weekly

" . . . a whiskey novice's best friend, describing the characteristics of American whiskey, how to taste it, and how it is produced, as well as providing a detailed history of the spirit. The book also includes reviews and photos of more than 200 American whiskeys, their tasting notes, and information on the producers. After reading Risen's guide, I now feel emboldened to order a whole list of new favorites, from woodsy Hudson Manhattan Rye to fruity and floral Russell's Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon. It's a book I plan on keeping around for constant reference." —Saveur

About the Author

Clay Risen is a veteran spirits journalist, having written for such venues as The New York Times, Men's Journal, and the Atlantic.com. He is an editor at The New York Times and the author of "A Nation on Fire: America in the Wake of the King Assassination" and the forthcoming "Bill of the Century: The Epic Battle for the Civil Rights Act." He lives with his family in Brooklyn.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Sterling Epicure; November 5, 2013 edition (November 5, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1402798407
  • ISBN-13: 978-1402798405
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 5.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (135 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #212,675 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book clearly needs to be made into an app. Why? The hundreds of tasting notes alone will come in handy for anyone who has stood in a liquor store aisle, confused over which whiskey bottle to buy, or for bartenders or serious enthusiasts who need a helpful reference guide to what they're pouring. What's more: Risen provides a deeper, elucidating look into the intricacies of whiskey-making, its history, and why it has now resurged after years of relative neglect by American drinkers. And all of this in a beautifully designed book that looks and feels like an absolute treasure in your hands. It's an essential bookshelf or bar-side addition for whiskey drinkers everywhere.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Several reasons whiskey lovers need this book alongside their bottles. Mr. Risen confirms his reputation as a serious and insightful critic that he built through the years with his Atlantic beer and whiskey blog. He gives credit where due but is not afraid to call out a fad. This lends credibility to the Michelin style star system. Also, the history of American whiskeys here is outstanding. And the book itself is a work of art, a beautiful piece to display on your bookshelf or your bar.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you are interested in a credible, well written introduction, the first section is excellent. If you have already spent time reading reviews and discussions on the better blogs, and have some tastings under your belt, I would suggest you probably will find little value added by purchasing this.
"Canadian Whisky" by Davin de Kergammeaux" Covering similar territory from our northern neighbor was more enjoyable and rewarding in both content and format.
A quibble with Risen's book is why with so much blank page space, the font size is so small and almost grey scale.
For those new to the subject, this would be a nice stocking stuffer.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Clears up a few misconceptions, makes choosing hard-to-find whiskies less risky, and draws connections between distilleries and their master blenders and related "house" styles. All in all, very useful, and less prone to repeat advertising ballyhoo. Enjoyable and reliable - not a bad combination. Add this to yur whiskey library soon!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a fun book. It starts with 70 pages about whiskey. What it is, how it is made, and the history of its ups and downs in America. The Whiskey Rebellion, excise taxes, prohibition, World War II, the decline of whiskey in the 70s and 80s, and the recent return to popularity. Then there are 200 pages about individual whiskey brands and expressions. Each whiskey is rated on a four star system and a brief description of the nose, color, body, palate, and general. I have a hard time detecting all of the flavors that he does. There are few paragraphs about each brand. If I were doing the ratings, I would rank some a little higher and some a little lower, but in general the ratings are useful. The author says it is for novice and intermediate whiskey drinkers – experience people already know what they like.
It is an attractive book with pictures of each bottle. The font is smaller than necessary, and some people will really wish that it was larger.
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Format: Hardcover
I'd really prefer to give it 3.5 stars, but since I can't, I'll go with 4. Here's why.

It's a great resource and it covers most of the expressions from the big names, and a remarkable number of craft distillers. For me personally, I'm not as interested in the craft listings because 1) in many cases the products are only available in the craft distiller's home market, which means not near me and 2) my experience with craft whiskey has been poor; they try something different(which I get) but end up with an expression too far out of the mainstream.

I took one whole star away because the tasting notes, which are a big part of the book, are useless. I don't say that because I think Mr. Risen's notes are wrong, I say it because each person has their own palate, and what Mr. Risen thinks is too spicy, sweet, or bitter is most likely different than what I think. Until I sit down with Clay and try some whiskey together, I don't know what his definition of those words tastes like. I'd take another half away because as others have mentioned, there are some errors in the printing.

Overall though, the book opens with a nice history of spirits in America, and does serve as a fine encyclopedia of available spirits.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I love this book. Gives a history of where each brand of whiskey is from and how it's made and tastes and average cost of each bottle. It contains every bottle of whiskey sold in the market. A lot I have never heard of but after reading this, I have a good sense of what's involved in whiskey making and the history of it. It makes me more appreciate my spirits each time I take a sip of my drink.
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Format: Hardcover
I bought this at my local bookstore on Oct 31, 2015 after reading the many good reviews here on Amazon. I am 56 yrs old and a "newbie" at drinking bourbon. This book had been a tremendous help to my understanding the history of bourbons in America, how they're made, who makes them, and what I should be looking for in the store as I browse the bourbon isle.

I carry in my car and use it whenever I shop for bourbon - it is THAT good as a reference! In my opinion, this book is a MUST HAVE for any serious bourbon enthusiast.
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