In this raucously entertaining history of the spirit, writer Huckelbridge imbibes deeply of the heady stories of the pioneers who discovered the golden nectar and who bottled it and passed it around for all to enjoy. Huckelbridge credits the Catalan mystic Ramon Llull with developing a method of “producing hard liquor from fermented drinks low in alcohol.” In the American colonies, Captain George Thorpe produced the first corn-based liquor that resembles today’s bottle of Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark. Huckelbridge traces the story of the golden liquid up through the American Revolution through Prohibition and up to the present. In 1897, the Pure Food and Drug Act defined what constituted real bourbon, while the Bottled-in-Bond Act provided the government’s seal of authenticity for bottled whiskey, allowing bourbon to be marketed readily. Drink deeply from Huckelbridge’s free-flowing stories, and you’ll soon be besotted with the honeyed history of bourbon. (Apr.)
A mirthful, erudite appreciation of bourbon and its striking history. Journalist Huckelbridge may sound like a blend of Sam Elliott's gravelly chuckle and the down-home narrator of old Disney cartoon movies—"So here we are—arriving at last at that ‘big bang' moment your Faithful Author promised the eager reader at the chapter's onset"—but the man knows his bourbon from his rye and his small-batch ambrosia from his grain alcohol cut with sulfuric acid and cream of tartar. In this entertaining tour d'horizon of bourbon's birth and long, healthy life, the author dispels plenty of bogus history—bourbon is not America's Founding Drink; that would be rum—on his way to uncovering the drink's roots, its peregrinations, its popularity and its recent rebirth as the boutique booze of choice, "with its contrived authenticity and hints of ironic hipsterdom." Bourbon became the nation's hard drink for one reason: corn. By the time the colonists had survived their first Jamestown winter—the few who did, that is—they had figured that out, and 400 years provided ample room for a number of good bourbon stories to take shape, which Huckelbridge tells with éclat: how the drink fueled the Hatfield-McCoy fight, its part in the settling of the frontier by the Scots-Irish, how the long journey to market gave it the aging the impatient distiller neglected, and how distilleries played a part in the war effort ("Plan on softening up those fortifications on Guadalcanal before your boys go? For each and every 16-inch naval shell that comes off the line, 19¾ gallons [of industrial alcohol] are required"). In one of the more sharp-eyed chapters, Huckelbridge tells the tale of how class and ethnic bigotry played a leading role in the passage of Prohibition and how the need for tax revenues made Congress see the light through the amber liquid. A snappy history of the popular spirit's rise and continued ascent.
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.
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.
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.
An engrossing song to America through an alcoholic beverage.
Let’s raise a glass to Dan Huckelbridge for putting together the definitive history of bourbon, the penultimate American whiskey.
Bourbon would be a delightful companion to take along on a trip to... the great Kentucky distilleries.
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.
Bourbon the book, like bourbon the drink, has a special spirit. ... Lighthearted, friendly, easy to take and enjoy. ... Try it; you’ll like it.
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.
A wonderfully entertaining look at American history as seen through the lens of Kentucky’s famous brown water. A must read.
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.
A witty and informative account of America’s much-loved national beverage. Dane Huckelbridge is the sage of sour-mash.