Unless we've overlooked it in perusing the "Library" forum, we noticed that there is one media offering that deserves its own thread but hasn't gotten one yet - Chuck's fabulous 1992 one hour documentary, "Made and Bottled in Kentucky." A recent viewing gave us new appreciation for how unusual and remarkable it really is.
Initially, the footage and narrative are predictable (though enjoyable) - some basic bourbon information that we've all heard or read dozens of times. However, the film quickly transitions into a series of segments that are anchored by fascinating interviews with bourbon industry/history leaders and icons. In doing so, the film walks a nearly impossible fine line of maintaining the interest of the enthusiast but remaining entirely accessible to the novice. We have yet to take a distillery tour or read a whiskey related article or book (including Chuck's later work "Bourbon, Straight") that handles this balancing act so deftly.
The interviews themselves are unusual in that either through expert guidance, editing, or both, industry leaders of the time (Jerry Dalton, Jimmy Russell, Owsley Brown II, and even Bill Samuels, Jr,) talk about the art and the history of the spirit without so much of the marketing-speak and gloss to which we have become accustomed in the new millenium of bourbon. Those of you who have been enjoying bourbon culture for more than a year or two (IE, most of you) will find the interviews particularly enjoyable. If Chuck ever decided to do a DVD edition of the Bourbon Country Reader, we could envision these types of interviews fitting perfectly with the "idiosyncratic" style of the publication. The whole is not greater than the sum of the parts, but Chuck expertly weaves the parts into a narrative that works.
There are many fun visual nuggets interspersed among the interviews as well. We particularly enjoyed seeing the cooperage and the pre-restoration Oscar Pepper (Woodford) distillery. The latter, though somewhat fleeting, gives the enthusiast viewer a sense of how much Brown-Forman accomplished between 1992 and 1996 with Labrot and Graham/Woodford.
There are a few things about the documentary a purchaser should know before buying-
1) Although nicely transferred (as Chuck points out in his DVD notes!), the footage is shot on video, not film.
2) This is a no frills DVD. There are no extras, no commentary, etc. You get the one hour documentary on a DVD, and that's it.
3) The enclosed DVD notes summarizing updates in the industry from 1992-2003 are similarly no frills. There are nine bulleted items (e.g., "United Distillers closed the Old Fitzgerald distillery shortly after we shot there in 1992") of significant change.
So, without the frills, at $26, is it worth the price? We say absolutely yes. This is a documentary you can screen as part of a tasting with seasoned enthusiasts or use to introduce a newbie to bourbon. Perhaps we could compare it to Chuck's review of the 21 yo Rittenhouse Rye - we're not sure where you can get anything else quite like this at any price. This part of our small bourbon library brings the history alive in a way that no book can. You can see and hear Mr. Sam Cecil and Booker Noe talking about bourbon - is that worth $26? $50? $100? Who can say? But, most importantly, it's a fun viewing that goes well with your favorite pour.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! Great work, Chuck!
Dave & Tina