Book Review: Kentucky Bourbon: The Early History...

Check in here for reviews of whiskey related books and other materials

Moderators: Brewer, brendaj

Book Review: Kentucky Bourbon: The Early History...

Unread postby bourbonv » Wed Oct 27, 2004 6:59 pm

Kentucky Bourbon: The Early Years of Whiskeymaking, by Henry G. Crowgey. Lexington, Ky.: The University Press of Kentucky, 1971. Contents, Introduction, Bibliography, Index, Illustrated, Pp.172.

Crowgey wrote his Doctorial Thesis at the University of Kentucky on the early distillers and distilleries of Kentucky. This book is the shortened version of that thesis. It is a scholarly work with footnotes and a bibliography but it is also very readable. Crowgey has done a wonderful job of making the history of this Kentucky industry interesting. At the same time he tackles some of the myths that are associated with the industry.

Kentucky Bourbon looks at the growth of the distilling industry until about 1820. It is well researched with many primary sources and newspapers contributing to his knowledge. He discusses the earlist distillers in the east in Pennsylvania and Maryland and the migration into Kentucky. He discusses the improvements in the product and the whiskey rebellion. He looks to the origin of "Bourbon" and whether Elijah Craig really created it.

Using newspapers he looks for advertisements that first use the term "Bourbon whiskey" for sale. The first known advertisement he found was 1821. This is long after the claim of bourbon being created 1789 by Elijah Craig. He then procedes with his arguments as to why Craig did not "create" bourbon whiskey. He then looks at the first distiller in Kentucky question and declares that as unknowable due the lack of records with probably a dozen candidates of equal merit to the claim.

The book has some black and white photographs in the book, but not many and they were placed as if an afterthought to the text. Even so this book is a must have to any good bourbon library. It gives good solid history with footnotes.

Mike Veach
User avatar
bourbonv
Registered User
 
Posts: 4048
Joined: Thu Oct 14, 2004 7:17 pm
Location: Louisville, Ky.

Unread postby bourbonv » Sun Jun 03, 2007 3:01 pm

At the urging of myself and others, the University Press of Kentucky is looking to reprint this book. I will keep you informed as I hear more, but it would be great to have this scholarly work available to the public.
Mike Veach
"Our people live almost exclusively on whiskey" - E H Taylor, Jr. 25 April 1873
User avatar
bourbonv
Registered User
 
Posts: 4048
Joined: Thu Oct 14, 2004 7:17 pm
Location: Louisville, Ky.

Unread postby bourbonv » Tue Jun 05, 2007 3:24 pm

It is definite that they will reprint this book in 2008.
Mike Veach
"Our people live almost exclusively on whiskey" - E H Taylor, Jr. 25 April 1873
User avatar
bourbonv
Registered User
 
Posts: 4048
Joined: Thu Oct 14, 2004 7:17 pm
Location: Louisville, Ky.

Unread postby gillmang » Tue Jun 05, 2007 4:22 pm

Is Crowgey still living, Mike?

Gary
User avatar
gillmang
Vatman
 
Posts: 2109
Joined: Mon Jan 24, 2005 4:44 pm

Unread postby bourbonv » Tue Jun 05, 2007 8:01 pm

Gary,
The last I heard he was teaching college in North Carolina. I am not sure which University, but it was not one of the big ones (Duke, UNC, etc.). I know that Sam Thomas once talked to him about his papers from his doctorial thesis and they stillexist in his attic somewhere but he had not looked at them for 30 years.
Mike Veach
"Our people live almost exclusively on whiskey" - E H Taylor, Jr. 25 April 1873
User avatar
bourbonv
Registered User
 
Posts: 4048
Joined: Thu Oct 14, 2004 7:17 pm
Location: Louisville, Ky.

Unread postby gillmang » Wed Jun 06, 2007 2:09 pm

This gentleman should visit one of our gatherings! Maybe make him an honorary guest at one of the Bourbon Society meetings.

Gary
User avatar
gillmang
Vatman
 
Posts: 2109
Joined: Mon Jan 24, 2005 4:44 pm

Unread postby bourbonv » Wed Jun 06, 2007 6:13 pm

Gary,
That is a very good idea. Maybe when they reprint his book the University Press will bring him to Kentucky for some promotions and we can work that into his schedule.
Mike Veach
"Our people live almost exclusively on whiskey" - E H Taylor, Jr. 25 April 1873
User avatar
bourbonv
Registered User
 
Posts: 4048
Joined: Thu Oct 14, 2004 7:17 pm
Location: Louisville, Ky.

Unread postby gillmang » Wed Jun 06, 2007 10:41 pm

The reprint might well be the best occasion, since as you say it might involve visits to Kentucky. Certainly he is a pioneer in the field and it would interesting to obtain his insights (if he is so minded) not just on purely historical aspects, but how the industry and social ethos of bourbon have developed since around 1970. E.g., I wonder if he would have foreseen the revival of interest in high-end bourbon products (small batch, single barrel, etc.) and in straight rye whiskey.

Gary
User avatar
gillmang
Vatman
 
Posts: 2109
Joined: Mon Jan 24, 2005 4:44 pm

Unread postby cowdery » Fri Dec 28, 2007 10:18 pm

I started a new thread on this subject but thought I would bump up this one too. All due credit to Mike. All I did was happen to notice that Amazon is accepting pre-release orders.

The link to Amazon is here.

I won't lie. If you buy it using this link, you will put a few pennies in my pocket, but the cost to you is the same.

Especially at the price Amazon is offering, you can't afford not to buy this if you have any interest in bourbon history. I'll be buying a copy since I have been working for all these years from a photocopy I made of a library copy.
- Chuck Cowdery

Author of Bourbon, Straight
User avatar
cowdery
Registered User
 
Posts: 1586
Joined: Tue Oct 19, 2004 1:07 pm
Location: Chicago

Unread postby gillmang » Sat Dec 29, 2007 1:14 pm

I think it is must to get into touch with this gentleman, gents.

Gary
User avatar
gillmang
Vatman
 
Posts: 2109
Joined: Mon Jan 24, 2005 4:44 pm

Unread postby bourbonv » Thu Jan 17, 2008 2:38 pm

I just received an email from the University Press of Kentucky. They are in contact with Mr. Crowgey who is still alive at the age of 91! I ahve his daughter's email address and I have sent here an email. I hope to get into contact with him and discuss some history via email. I will keep you informed on what I find out in these discussions.
Mike Veach
"Our people live almost exclusively on whiskey" - E H Taylor, Jr. 25 April 1873
User avatar
bourbonv
Registered User
 
Posts: 4048
Joined: Thu Oct 14, 2004 7:17 pm
Location: Louisville, Ky.

Unread postby Bucc58 » Thu Jan 17, 2008 7:23 pm

That talk would be worth a field trip to see him in person if he would agree to see you. :lecture: What a great treasure his knowledge & experience must be at 91 yo!
Joe Young
User avatar
Bucc58
Registered User
 
Posts: 153
Joined: Fri Jun 29, 2007 4:45 pm
Location: Fort Smith, AR

Unread postby cowdery » Thu Jan 17, 2008 9:41 pm

Let's not wet ourselves. The guy wrote his doctoral dissertation on the subject. It was published in 1971. For all we know, and by all evidence, he went on to do other things and never studied the whiskey industry again. He wasn't a distiller, didn't spend time with distillers. He just read a lot of old documents and wrote a paper. Don't get me wrong, it's an important work, and has been very valuable to me personally, but there's no reason to believe he knows one iota more than what is in the book.

I am surprised to hear he's 91, which makes him like 54 when the book was originally published. Either he finished his PhD relatively late in life or there was a big gap between when he did the initial PhD work and when the book came together. Nothing wrong with any of that and it's not uncommon for someone to rework their dissertation into a book years after the dissertation itself was written.

It would be interesting just to learn what prompted him to do that subject and what the reaction to it was, both from his committee and then from the broader audience when the book came out.

Mike can speak to this better than me, because he's in the university libraries down there more than I am, but you would think that lots of history graduate students at Kentucky universities would look at whiskey-related subjects, but very few do.
- Chuck Cowdery

Author of Bourbon, Straight
User avatar
cowdery
Registered User
 
Posts: 1586
Joined: Tue Oct 19, 2004 1:07 pm
Location: Chicago

Unread postby Bucc58 » Fri Jan 18, 2008 12:51 pm

BUZZ KILLER! :)
Joe Young
User avatar
Bucc58
Registered User
 
Posts: 153
Joined: Fri Jun 29, 2007 4:45 pm
Location: Fort Smith, AR

Need help!!!!

Unread postby Bree Bixler Bryant » Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:05 pm

Hello you all seem to know what youre talking about!!! I was just curious to see if anyone could help me find more history about the Ky distilleries . My Grandfather John "Johnny" Bixler worked for the one I believe in Fairfield, I saw the name Coleman Bixler and thought maybe he could be a relative of mine I would love to know more because I dont know much about my dads side of the family. Thanks, Bree
Bree Bixler Bryant
Registered User
 
Posts: 1
Joined: Mon Apr 14, 2008 3:24 pm

Next

Return to The Library

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest