Book Review: The Bourbon Companion: A Connoiseur's Guide

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Book Review: The Bourbon Companion: A Connoiseur's Guide

Unread postby bourbonv » Fri Oct 29, 2004 6:36 pm

The Bourbon Companion: A Connoiseur's Guide by Gary Regan and Mardee Regan. Philadelphia: Running Press, 1998, Contents, Introduction, Glossary, Bibliography, Index, Illustrated, Pp.191.

This is the second bourbon book published by the Regans. The difference between this book and the Book of Bourbon is the emphasis on tasting notes. There are chapters that deal briefly with the history of the product, how bourbon is made and how to taste bourbon. These chapters make up less than 33% of the book.

There are two major sections of this book and they are the A-Z guide to brands and the A-Z guide to distilleries. The section on brands have tasting notes for each brand and then they rate the brand on what the reader assumes is a 1-100 scale. The problem with that is on a scale of 1-100 the average is 55. It would be assumed then that an average brand is then rated between 50 and 60. That is not the case here. The lowest rating seems to be 70 and there are a lot of brands in the high 90's. Maybe the scale is based upon some formula using the square root of proof plus price as a base instead of averages based upon quality of product? Even so the tasting notes are well written and the brands have nice illustrations of the labels.

The information on the distilleries is more useful with a brief history of the distillery and the mash bill for the product (or at least the mash bill that they were told by the distillery). They also give contact information for the distillery and whether they give tours or not. Some very usefull information to have if planning a trip to Kentucky.

The book ends with a very useful glossary of terms and then a listing of the bourbon by their ratings system. There is also an index to make finding the information in the book easier.

This is book that looks good in your library if you believe in ratings for whiskey. For those that believe as Cowdery does, that "Ratings are bull" then the Book of bourbon would be the better choice of the Regan books.

Mike Veach
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