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Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey: An American Heritage Hardcover – February 18, 2013

4.5 out of 5 stars 48 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey adds significant new information to our understanding of the history of the Kentucky whiskey industry."―Charles Cowdery, author of Bourbon, Straight: The Uncut and Unfiltered Story of American Whiskey

"Historian Michael R. Veach has done the research necessary for a factual but readable history of Kentucky Bourbon. He has crafted it into a storyteller's envy that is both enjoyable and well told."―Al Young, Brand Ambassador, Four Roses Bourbon and author of Four Roses: The Return of a Whiskey Legend

"Manages to make the history of Bourbon entertaining while providing plenty of insight into how the spirit has gone from lowbrow to top-shelf...A must-read for any Bourbon lover."―Wine & Spirits

"[...] the book to to add to your whiskey library if you can only choose one this year."―Epicurious.com

"If you haven't had the pleasure of attending the [Bourbon] Academy, I encourage you to enroll. Until then, reading Mike's book is a close aproximation. This is no dry historical tome (pun intended). Like the Academy, the book takes you on a fascinating journey from the Whiskey Rebellion of the 1790s to the bourbon boom of today, commandingly demonstrating the spirit's inexorable tie to the history of Kentucky. Each chapter is a fine mix of conversational narrative, historic documents and photos, and pull-out boxes of trivia. ― Bourban Babe"―Bourbon Babe Tumblr

"The text highlights often over-looked aspects of the industry, such as the technology behind the spirit's production―and includes a few of Veach's own theories that may even surprise bourbon afficionados."―Smithsonian Magazine

"Veach's factual interpretations and possible explanations for myths are quite welcome on a topic with so few other experts... Veach is without question an expert on bourbon whiskey...This book is certainly accessible to a general audience, and is a quick and hearty read for those interested in the history of American whiskey...any library interested in collecting Kentucky history, or Appalachia and the American South more broadly, may also find this text valuable."―Tennessee Libraries

"Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey...does more than tell the hisotry of Kentucky bourbon...Veach's concise history will appeal to popular readers, those consumers who enjoy craft bourbon and whiskey tourism. Teachers of United States history will also find much to like about this book."―Ohio Valley History

"Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey: An American Heritage, by Michael R. Veach (University Press of Kentucky), is a masterpiece by one of the country's top Bourbon authorities that merits a prominent place in dad's library."―Stone Mountain Lithonia Patch

About the Author

Michael R. Veach is associate curator of Special Collections at the Filson Historical Society. He is a bourbon historian and a member of the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Kentucky (February 18, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813141656
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813141657
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #45,385 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By D_shrink VINE VOICE on April 2, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book imparts a substantial bit of knowledge about bourbon and whiskey in general while being a light and fun read with the statistics woven into the narrative. The author beings the history by explaining that whiskey became popular in America as the populace moved from the East Coast inland and found that rum and gin, the alcoholic beverages of choice at the time, were too expensive to transport, leading to small batch distilling on a far more local basis.

The author also gives a nice discussion of how sweet and sour mash differ and why they yield slightly different end products. One of the bits of trivia included that I found interesting was what the difference in spelling of WHISKY and WHISKEY implied. The lore is that WHISKY spelling supposedly implied distillers who originally had ties to England as Canada and Scotland, while those allied with the colonists as the Irish spelled it WHISKEY. It turned out to be marketing lore, but it still makes for a good story.

The manufacturing principles of distilling with many early recipes are given.

What I found to be a most interesting section was on some of the early innovators in the business of making bourbon and even how bourbon supposedly got it name. For instance we learn that a Louisville physician named Jim Crow made several improvements to the distilling process and was credited with using a thermometer to record the temperature which allows greater accuracy in distillation and allows various cogeners to be included thereby affecting the desired end flavor; he also was credited with using a hydrometer to more accurately assess the true ABV level; and he used litmus paper at various steps in the process to prevent bacterial buildup from spoiling a batch.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book provides a very interesting chronological history of bourbon from early distillation of whiskey that evolved into bourbon and the industry it spawned. The author discusses the impact of whiskey and bourbon on many of the critical periods in US history - wars, prohibition, taxation, and the Great Depression. It is well organized, clearly written, informative, and concise.
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This is not the be-all, end-all, absolute gospel of everything about bourbon. Like the whiskey itself, it is a mellow and flavorful journey on the periphery of a mountain of information on the subject. Leave it on your end table next to your favorite chair, and take your time taking little sips of knowledge from the book. I wager that you won't be able to resist buying a bottle of a really good bourbon along the way.
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I started drinking Bourbon a few years back, looked at my local bookstore for some books on the subject. Was sad to find only books from 20+ years ago or books written by the distillers (they serve a purpose, but it seemed too slanted a view).

This is a very well researched, very well written book covering a few hundred years of Bourbon in a book you can read in a weekend. Thanks to the author for taking the time to not just cashing in on the recent Bourbon boom.
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If you are interested in bourbon this is a must have. Michael Veach has spent much of his career working in or studying the bourbon industry and presents this excellent overview of bourbon and its makers in an independent way without any allegiance to a particular sect of the industry. He does a masterful job covering the history of the industry in a factual way but still includes the many interesting stories that have become part of the lore of bourbon and discussing how these traditional claims may or may not be true. When you finish the book you will have a thorough understanding of the early history of bourbon, how the government with its taxation, prohibition and world war negatively impacted the bourbon industry and almost brought it to its knees. How business decisions made by the bourbon industry in the 60's and 70's harmed its image and impacted its market share. You will leave with an understanding of many of the key players that were critical in bringing bourbon back to a leadership role in the whiskey industry and the huge growth it is experiencing today. I found this book to be an interesting, well written, and factual book that addresses many of the myths of bourbon in an entertaining manner. I highly recommend it.
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The current boom (some say "bubble") in the popularity of bourbon has precipitated a rash of articles and a few books on bourbon recently. Michael Veach has been writing and lecturing about bourbon and its history for years - long before the rash appeared. This is one of, maybe, three or four on the subject that I consider a "must read". I could be wrong, now, but several decades (more than three) of reading books on American history tells me otherwise. His writing is easy to read and his stories and historical reports, although straightforward, are entertaining and informative. I know that bourbon aficionados (some call us Geeks) love this book, and I expect that the casual bourbon fan as well as those interested in the growth of the US in the 1800s would like this book - at least the ones I've talked to like it.
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