- Hardcover: 288 pages
- Publisher: William Morrow; First Edition edition (April 1, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0062241397
- ISBN-13: 978-0062241399
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 9.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 56 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #604,632 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Bourbon: A History of the American Spirit Hardcover – April 1, 2014
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“[A] raucously entertaining history. ... Drink deeply from Huckelbridge’s free-flowing stories, and you’ll soon be besotted with the honeyed history of bourbon.” (Publishers Weekly)
“A mirthful, erudite appreciation of bourbon and its striking history. …. [An] entertaining tour d’horizon of bourbon’s birth and long, healthy life. … Huckelbridge knows his bourbon. … A snappy history of the popular spirit’s rise and continued ascent.” (Kirkus Reviews)
“A wonderfully entertaining look at American history as seen through the lens of Kentucky’s famous brown water. A must read.” (BILL SAMUELS, JR., President Emeritus of Maker's Mark Distillery and 4th generation Kentucky bourbon maker)
“Made from New World corn and Old World techniques, Bourbon is the American Spirit. Dane Hucklebridge takes readers on an intoxicating romp through the history of bourbon from its humble colonial origins to its craft-driven current revival.” (EDWARD J. LARSON, Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for History)
“A witty and informative account of America’s much-loved national beverage. Dane Huckelbridge is the sage of sour-mash.” (JOHN BAXTER, author of The Perfect Meal: In Search of the Lost Tastes of France and The Most Beautiful Walk in the World)
“Pour three fingers, crack open Dane Huckelbridge’s Bourbon, and prepare to be taken along on a strange tale of moonshiners, gun-slingers, hair-metal bands, and Brooklyn hipsters. The results: smooth.” (PAGAN KENNEDY, New York Times Magazine columnist)
“Refreshingly entertaining. ... Tells our nation’s entire tale with a big splash of Kentucky’s finest. You’ll learn a f*ckload about the Pilgrims, the Founding Fathers, the Civil War, the Wild West and beyond, and you’ll actually enjoy it.” (MTV.com)
“Informative. ... What part hasn’t bourbon played in American history? And what does that corn-based spirit say about this country’s character? Huckelbridge has done a well-researched but laid-back job answering. (Memphis Flyer)
“Sure, you might have enjoyed a sip of bourbon before. Possibly on Bourbon Street. While eating a bourbon-glazed pork chop and wearing bourbon-scented aftershave. But until you read this 288-page historical treatise on the amber nectar, you’ll never know the whole story.” (UrbanDaddy)
“An engrossing song to America through an alcoholic beverage.” (Washington Post)
“Let’s raise a glass to Dan Huckelbridge for putting together the definitive history of bourbon, the penultimate American whiskey.” (Sacramento Bee)
“Bourbon would be a delightful companion to take along on a trip to... the great Kentucky distilleries.” (Cleveland.com)
“Although Bourbon is most certainly a history book, you won’t even realize [it]. That’s because Dane Huckelbridge brings bourbon to life with the sort of witty, character-rich zeal AMC writers might employ if they took over the History Channel.” (Toledo Blade)
Bourbon the book, like bourbon the drink, has a special spirit. ... Lighthearted, friendly, easy to take and enjoy. ... Try it; you’ll like it.” (Lincoln Journal Star)
From the Back Cover
“THE DEFINITIVE HISTORY OF BOURBON.”—Sacramento Bee
A Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance Bestseller
A ROLLICKING BIOGRAPHY OF BOURBON WHISKEY THAT DOUBLES AS “A COMPLEX AND ENTERTAINING” (WALL STREET JOURNAL) HISTORY OF AMERICA ITSELF
Few products are so completely or intimately steeped in the American story as bourbon whiskey. As Dane Huckelbridge's masterfully crafted history reveals, the iconic amber spirit is the American experience, distilled, aged, and sealed in a bottle.
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"Almost mind you. Because before bourbon can settle its spurs fully in the modern world, there are still a few wild corners of the country left to be tamed, and still a fair number of whiskey drinkers out on the range who know more about six-shooters than they do about stock prices. And thanks to the new fangled railroads, getting there is only a hop, skip, and a few whistle stops away. So saddle up and get ready, because the west didn't get Wild by sipping Coca Cola, and America didn't cut its teeth on Dentyne gum. Long before there was a car in every driveway and a chicken in every pot, there was a saloon on every corner and a bullet with your name on it. Hi-yo, bourbon! Away!" (pg.143, loc. 1566) (even the text is 'at least 51% corn'.)
The read is punctuated with a good number of illustrations that add interest and tie the text to the nostalgic past. You will, however, be disappointed if you expect a 'technical' education on bourbon, details such as: variances in the recipe, the distiller's art, specific effects of aging, the nature of the oak's chemical contribution, the analysis and comparison of its modern examples, etc., are not here (or very lightly treated). (For that, Cowdery's Bourbon, Straight: The Uncut and Unfiltered Story of American Whiskey is much better.) More about the 'concoction' of the spirit itself and a bit less of its cobweb filled ancestry might have made this read more fulfilling. In any event, this is a recommended read, but take the title literally - this is a HISTORY of Bourbon - the All-American corn mash whiskey.
This is an enjoyable book to read for someone looking for that kind of information. The author begins at the beginning - in this case it happens to be in the year 1265 when the first discovery was made that led to the development of distilling processes and the variations in liqueurs that we enjoy today. But the focus on the book is the history of the development of bourbon in the United States, in the Appalachian mountains (I didn't know that the famous Hatfield and McCoy feuds were related to bourbon, but it turns out that they were). It continues to the present day, where we have both the very large producers of bourbon (Jim and Jack, of course) as well as the growing numbers of small batch producers, boutique operations that market their brews as 'special' and attempt to command accordingly higher prices.
Enjoyable and informative, worth reading from a historical perspective as well as for the bourbon connoisseur's bookshelf (or kindle library, as the case may be).
His keen eye for detail vivifies bourbon's rich history, while his extraordinary gift for storytelling makes for a thoroughly entertaining read. Like cool branch water to any of Bardstown's best, Huckelbridge's prose is the perfect accompaniment to the history itself: wholly realized, refreshing, and revelatory.