Book Review: The Evolution of the Bourbon Whiskey Industry

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Book Review: The Evolution of the Bourbon Whiskey Industry

Unread postby bourbonv » Wed Oct 20, 2004 6:56 pm

THe Evolution of the Bourbon Whiskey Industry In Kentucky, by Sam K. Cecil. Paducah, Kentucky: Turner Publishing Company, 1999, Second Printing, 2001. Contents, Preface, Index, Illustrated, pp 160.

The Distilling Industry in Kentucky has vaery rich history that dates back to the first settlers coming to the state. It is also a very chaotic history with companies selling out to other companies with brands ending up split between multiple companies in the process. It is also filled with many myths and legends that add to the marketing of bourbon, but distract those who wish to know the history. Sam Cecil has made an attempt to put order to this chaos in his book.

The first edition released in 1999 had some faults that were corrected with the second printing. The most glaring fault was the lack of an index. It was truely hard to find what you were looking in this chaos for without an index. The ilustrations in the second edition were also done with a better quality process and are clearer and crisper in the second printing.

There are some short chapters giving brief histories of the industry as a whole, the Kentucky Distillers Association and Master Distillers, but the real heart of the book is the individual histories for the distilleries. They are listed by county and by their registered distillery number, or numbers, as in many cases. The problem there is some of the information is not quite correct. Cecil relied heavily upon the Coyte collection at the University of Louisville archives. This collection was donated upon the death of Coyte who was working upon his own distilling history book and his notes are often incomplete or have wrong information that needed to be followed up with other sources. An example of this is the Moore and Selliger, Max Selliger & Co. RD #1&2 of Louisville. Cecil states that Schenley bought the distillery (the present Bernheim Distillery) from Selliger's estate in 1933. The truth is Selliger did not die until 1938, but had sold the distillery to two Chicago businessmen, Gerngoss and Schwartzhaupt in 1933, who in turn sold it to Schenley in 1937.

Sam Cecil is a very good historian with a long background in the distilling industry. He worked for many years at Maker's Mark and has first hand knowledge of that distillery's history. He is also well know at the other distilleries in the state and is an excellent source of information about distilleries of his era. His problem with the book is that he attempted a task that would daunt a person of half his age. The results is a book with some flaws, but still a book that is a must for any distilling library.

Mike Veach
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Unread postby tlsmothers » Wed Oct 20, 2004 10:40 pm

sold the distillery to two Chicago businessmen, Gerngoss and Schwartzhaupt in 1933, who in turn sold it to Schenley in 1937.


Seems like our dear Chuck got that one right in his book. I was just reading that part last night.

Thanks for another great review.
"Drinking just to get drunk is like having sex just to get pregnant." --Robert Hess
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Unread postby bourbonv » Thu Oct 21, 2004 9:13 am

Thanks, for the kind words. There are more to come. I have a fairly large library and I think it would be nice to do reviews on most of the books. I always wanted an internet resource to find such reviews and I am going to take advantage of Mark and Chris to create such a source here. I hope they don't mind and I do hope others will contribute as well.
Mike Veach
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Unread postby tlsmothers » Thu Oct 21, 2004 12:24 pm

Great idea for the internet resource. Ben (my better half) and I were discussing last night that we'd like to list more books and reviews on my web site, as well. Once I get that part of my site up and running, maybe I can beg your permission to post a few of your reviews there, as well. I'm slowly building up a little book buying corner of the store. My daydream is to have a little wood-burning stove and a rocking chair (no rockin' Turkey in this section:lol: ) where folks can browse books, but that is only a fantasy right now. Maybe when I "expand" into bigger space. :roll:
"Drinking just to get drunk is like having sex just to get pregnant." --Robert Hess
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Unread postby bourbonv » Thu Oct 21, 2004 12:29 pm

I have no problem with you using my reviews, but technically they now belong to Mark and Chris as they run the website. If they grant permission, you have my blessings. Or maybe a simple link to this website would be an easier answer.
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Unread postby tlsmothers » Thu Oct 21, 2004 2:32 pm

Great idea! See my new posting I already made under "Suggestions."
"Drinking just to get drunk is like having sex just to get pregnant." --Robert Hess
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Unread postby cowdery » Thu Oct 21, 2004 4:03 pm

I have no problem with you using my reviews, but technically they now belong to Mark and Chris as they run the website.


The lawyer in me reacted to this. My writing remains my intellectual property regardless. I can assign copyright to someone else, but the mere act of posting something on a web site is not a de facto assignment of copyright. Mark and Chris could make assignment a condition of registration, but they have not done that. In other words, your reviews do not belong to Mark and Chris, "technically" or in any other sense, unless you have done something to assign those rights beyond merely posting the reviews on this bulletin board.
- Chuck Cowdery

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Unread postby bourbonv » Thu Oct 21, 2004 4:05 pm

Thanks, Chuck, That is good to know.
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Unread postby Dave » Thu Oct 21, 2004 6:04 pm

The cover photo and photos of bourbon bottles throughout the text are sure HOKEY. I got my copy through Amazon. Took about three weeks but was worth the wait for the interesting perspective the book has to offer.
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Unread postby bunghole » Sat Oct 23, 2004 9:47 am

I bought my copy from Sam during the '01 bourbo-fest. While I refer to it as a reference, I'm not knowledgable enough to know what is accurate and what isn't so I'm leary to quote from it.

:arrow: ima :smilebox:
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