Book Review: Bourbon, Straight

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Book Review: Bourbon, Straight

Unread postby bourbonv » Mon Oct 18, 2004 6:38 pm

Bourbon, Straight: The uncut and Unfiltered Story of American Whiskey, by Charles K. Cowdery. Chicago: Made and Bottled in Kentucky, 2004. Contents, Bibliography, Index. Pp. 266

Charles "Chuck" Cowdery is best known as the publisher of the "Bourbon Country Reader" and the documentary "Made and Bottled in Kentucky. He has taken this extensive knowledge and created a very good bourbon book. It is a paperback book without any illustrations but does have a very good index. It looks simple but the contents belies its looks.

There are many very intersting chapters in this book. It is not quite a history book if you are looking for a chronological history of bourbon, but it is rich in historical information. It is not a tasting book even though Cowdery does put some tasting notes in the final chapter. What the book is very simply: A very good read which will leave you wiser for the effort. Cowdery's real talent in this book is to take sections of history that are very confusing even to those who have studied the history of the industry, and made sense out of them. A prime example of this is titled "Haydens, Wathens and Old Grand-Dad". The history of these families and the Old Grand-Dad brand is very confusing with many twist and turns that leave most people shaking their heads and puzzled. Chuck puts order to the madness tells their story clearly. His history is very sound and his arguments are based upon facts and not marketing.

Cowdery also includes a chapter that every bourbon should read titled "Why Ratings are Bull". He argues that rating systems are phony because there is no reasonable base line and all spirits (not just bourbon ratings) are judged above average. He also points out that they are also a matter of taste and what one person my like, others may not like and all for the same reason. One person may love barrel tones and woody flavors from extra aged products while another may find them too tanic and bitter. If the person rating the whiskey is part of the first group, then a person of the second group will not like his ratings.

Following the chapter "Why Ratings are Bull", Cowdery then gives the reader some "Product Reviews". These are not ratings and Cowdery does not try to rate these reviews as better or best - He simply gives his opinions of the product being tasted. Most of these products are the products that can be found today, but Cowdery does review some bourbons that were bottled over 50 years ago.

On the whole this book should be a standard reference for a personal bourbon library. The only fault in the book is a lack of footnotes defining where Cowdery found his information. This is only partially made up for by his bibliography.
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Unread postby tlsmothers » Mon Oct 18, 2004 11:19 pm

Great review. I've been reading and rereading ever since I got the book from Chuck at the Festival. My favorite part is the story about the political guy in Mississippi who tries to bring to light the b-s that Prohibition really was. I only wish the book could have been hardback, but I'm sure that woulda cost us all much more. I have a tendency to accidentally bend my covers all up while reading.
"Drinking just to get drunk is like having sex just to get pregnant." --Robert Hess
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Unread postby bunghole » Tue Oct 19, 2004 9:56 am

:thumbright: Thanks for the review, Mike. I read mine the same day it arrived. I think it would make an excellent 'first book' for anyone new to bourbon. It gives you a great quickie history in bits and pieces throughout the entire book without getting bogged down or losing the 'non-historical' reader. Even if the reader absolutly hates history they'll learn something fun to know. A must read.

ima
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Unread postby NeoTexan » Tue Oct 19, 2004 10:14 am

Every chapter was a delight. Well written. I will paraphrase some else .... there sure are a lot of begates.
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Unread postby bourbonv » Tue Oct 19, 2004 11:21 am

I am glad you all liked the review. I am planning to do a series of reviews of books from my library. I do hope that others will join me and reviews of books they might have that I don't have in my library.

Mike Veach
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Unread postby cowdery » Wed Oct 20, 2004 12:24 am

Needless to say, thanks Mike.
- Chuck Cowdery

Author of Bourbon, Straight
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Unread postby bourbonv » Wed Oct 20, 2004 9:07 am

It was my pleasure Chuck. I hope you do a second book down the road sometime. With that in mind, you John and I need to get together and do some more "Historical tastings" of old bourbons and rye for your next volume.
Mike Veach
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Unread postby Stoopsie » Wed Oct 20, 2004 9:32 am

bourbonv wrote: With that in mind, you John and I need to get together and do some more "Historical tastings" of old bourbons and rye for your next volume.
Mike Veach


I know you meant to include "Howie" in that last post, but it just slipped your mind. :D

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Unread postby bourbonv » Wed Oct 20, 2004 9:36 am

Actually, Howie, I left you out on purpose... You have been too quiet on the subject and I wanted to see if you are listening! I guess it worked, but I still have not heard from our Elkton friend...

Mike Veach
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Unread postby dgonano » Wed Oct 20, 2004 11:00 am

And don't forget your Baldwin friend. We can do a rye tasting also. :wink:
Dave G.
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Unread postby bunghole » Wed Oct 20, 2004 11:22 am

HEY! Wait-a- minute!


Has anyone seen my pants?

ima - did I hear someone say "PANTS AWAY!" :?:
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Unread postby Stoopsie » Wed Oct 20, 2004 12:34 pm

Thats two pair of pants gone so far in this forum alone.

Howie
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Unread postby bunghole » Wed Oct 20, 2004 1:31 pm

Stoopsie wrote:Thats two pair of pants gone so far in this forum alone.

Howie


It's all about the pants, Howie, it's all about the pants!

ima - PANTS AWAY!
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Unread postby bourbonv » Wed Oct 20, 2004 1:51 pm

Do we really need a REASON to get together to drink bourbon?
Mike Veach
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Unread postby cowdery » Tue Oct 26, 2004 12:51 pm

Looking for the perfect gift for a lover of American whiskey? Okay, whiskey is the perfect gift, but click below for some suggestions that are a close #2.

http://gifts.bourbonstraight.com
- Chuck Cowdery

Author of Bourbon, Straight
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