Bourbon Empire: The Past and Future of America's Whiskey

Viking. May 2015. 320p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780670016839. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9780698145405. BEVERAGES
Despite whiskey's origins in European cultures, the story of bourbon is especially American; Congress affirmed its national character decades ago. The book opens at that point, then jumps back to the early days of colonization when abundant corn was used to produce New World variations on Old World spirits. The author successfully intertwines the changing nature of bourbon production and consumption with major historical events, including the Revolutionary War, Civil War, and Cold War, touching on issues such as taxation and patriotism. Abundant and even surprising detail is bundled with sharp writing that doesn't hesitate to criticize (a modern bourbon's aroma is likened to a garbage bag of sugar melted in a microwave). Centuries of U.S. history are filtered through a whiskey bottle for the enlightenment and entertainment of readers.
VERDICT This terrific account of the rich heritage behind a classic American beverage is recommended for those who enjoy reading histories of foodstuffs of all sorts.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing