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Kentucky Bourbon: The Early Years of Whiskeymaking Paperback – February 1, 2008
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""When I began reading the book, I was a mere consumer of the brown substance known as whiskey. After reading this book I n not only have the pleasure consuming it, I know a little more about how the substance became what it is today. Consumers and historians alike would enjoy reading this book and making it an addition to their library." ―William John McDaniel III, Kentucky Beverage Journal"
""As an imbiber of this tasty product, this reviewer feels this short volume is a must for any Kentuckian interested in our state's heritage." ―Karl Lietzenmayer, Northern Kentucky Heritage"
""The book is the first of its kind to carefully trace the early years of bourbon in Kentucky and to draw from extensive research of 17th and 18th century newspapers, court records, diaries and journals." ―Kentucky Alumni"
""The well-researched book tells the story from its subject's roots and gives an insight to early-day Kentucky." ―National Barbeque News"
"Crowgey got his hands dirty. He read letters from people in the late 17th and early 18th centuries, he dug up long out of print newspapers, scouring both the news and advertisements. He got hold of production and sales figures, government records, and eyeballed maps. In short, he did an awful lot of work in order to enable him to paint a full picture of who made Bourbon, how, where and why...Anyone who wants to claim any knowledge of whiskey in early America should grab hold of a copy." ―alcoholreviews.com"
About the Author
Henry G. Crowgey was professor of history at University of North Carolina-Wilmington.
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Top customer reviews
One major omission seems to be the origin of the word "corn" and the historical signifigance of the distillate "korn" and its influence on north american whisk(e)y development.
Best read with a glass of 12 year old KY Bourbon!
1 - Woodford Reserve
2 - Four Roses Small Batch
It's heavy on the details of wills, bills of laden and store inventories and somewhat light on the narrative exploration the topic deserves. Still (pun intended), I'm sure more has been written and it's nice to see such well-researched history presented. It's an interesting read and the resistance to the excise tax -- perceived as overreach by the federal government -- seems prescient today given the charged political environment.
Lots of great nuggets though, about how this particularly American tradition came to be. Definitely fuels my interest in learning more about the industry and possibly visiting the area for a tour of the "bourbon trail." And it makes me wish we could resurrect the practice of taking a constitutional sip for breakfast:
"... a morning draught of either [peach or apple brandy] was considered as essential to good health as a breakfast."
There is, of course, much here for those interested in Kentucky history and the history of distilling. However, through his study of early bourbon making, Crowgey also tells us a great deal about early American agricultural history and the settlement and development of the frontier. Originally published in 1971, this is a wonderful little book that deserved to be reprinted.
If you're looking for mixed drink recipes or techniques on how to make the latest shooter, you're in the wrong place. If you're truly interested in the wheres and whys of the origin of Bourbon, you'll be in heaven.
Crowgey's writing style can get a bit pedestrian at times but the facts and details here come through loud and clear. He debunks some of the myths, he lays out the facts as they were, and we're better Bourbon connoisseurs for having read him.
You can enjoy Bourbon without reading this book, but you'll understand Bourbon better if you do.