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In Bourbon, Dane Huckelbridge tells the story of the development of bourbon from the corn beers of the Aztecs to the finest sipping whiskeys of the twenty-first century. His fun, entertaining, and casual style masks a well-researched study of the history of American whiskey and the part it played in our society. The books is easy to read because Huckelbridge quotes diaries, letters, and historical documents and breaks up the text with fabulous old photographs and period advertisements.
I enjoyed this short history of the quintessential American drink and learned quite a bit about bourbon and its role in American history. Here are few things I discovered:
- George Washington had multiple whiskey stills; not surprising considering that the farm manager of Mount Vernon was a Scotsman.
- Moonshiners made a fortune selling whiskey to soldiers during the Civil War; a canteen full of bourbon cost at least $10.
- Many of the brands of bourbon we drink today have roots more than 150 years deep.
- Most of the whiskey sold in the Wild West saloons was bourbon, although not all of it was the good stuff from Kentucky.
- Within an hour of the passing of the Volstead Act, a "medicinal whiskey" supplier had been robbed of $100,000 worth of bourbon.
- Bourbon distilleries were used to produce industrial alcohol during World War II.
Thanks to Huckelbridge, I think I'm going to have to take a drive along the Bourbon Trail, tasting my way through Kentucky. I wonder if I can talk Mr. BFR into being the designated driver.
Published by HarperCollins / William Morrow, 2014
Source: Review (see review policy)
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