Book Review: Bourbon In Kentucky: A History of Distilleries

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Book Review: Bourbon In Kentucky: A History of Distilleries

Unread postby bourbonv » Sun Jul 12, 2009 1:11 pm

Bourbon in Kentucky: A History of Distilleries in Kentucky, By Chester Zoeller, Louisville, Ky.: Butler Books, 2009, Contents, Bibliography, Ilustrated, pp.271.

Chet Zoeller has created the book that Sam Cecil attempted to create with his "The Evolution of the Kentucky Bourbon Industry in Kentucky". They are very similar in goal. Both books are trying to list every known distillery in Kentucky and get into print whatever knowledge there is about these distilleries. In many case the only knowledge is the fact that the distillery existed. Zoeller has exhausted the sources and done a very good job of finding the remote Kentucky distillers of bygone days. It is an impressive task when you have to consider that many of these distilleries were quite small and literally disappeared when prohibition became the law of the land. All that remains is a name in a corporate index or city directory and often with a vague address as to where the distillery was located. This book is a very good reference book for anyone wanting to find out just how many distilleries there were in Kentucky, but make no mistake, there are distilleries that did not make it into the book or with additional information to be found. The author even makes a plea for additional information and has set up a web site for those who wish to send him that information.

The book itself is a very attractive book filled with illustration both in color and black and white. It is not only a very handy reference book for the bourbon historian, but also an attractive "coffee table" book. The book itself has a bit of dual personality. It begins with a few pages of prologue discussing how the information on the distilleries is arranged and some of his sources of information, but then it jumps into on how to drink whiskey a brief historyb of the industry as a whole, what are distilled spirits and their categories and finally how bourbon is made. Then it jumps back to the bulk of the content and the real heart of the book, the listing of the distilleries by Internal Revenue District and the countyu in the district. It is easy to understand why these early chapter were added as the publisher probably insisted that they be added "to add some intrest" to the book - in other words make it marketable to a wider range of consumers. These chapters are very brief and they really do come across as an after thought for Zoeller, whose real intrest was the distilleries. There is nothing wrong with what was wrote, but other people have done them better and in more detail. If these subject are what the reader is looking for, then there are better books, but if the reader has an interest in distilleries, the old photographs in this book alone will be worth the purchase price.

For the serious Bourbon historian or distillery enthusiast, this book is a must have in their library.
Mike Veach
"Our people live almost exclusively on whiskey" - E H Taylor, Jr. 25 April 1873
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Re: Book Review: Bourbon In Kentucky: A History of Distilleries

Unread postby bourbonv » Sun Jul 12, 2009 1:31 pm

Jeff,
I always put the page count is in the review in this case it is "pp.271". I don't have a cost because the book was a gift from Chet, but I also try to avoid the cost of the book anyway since much of what I have reviewed is out of print and of variable cost. In todays world od ebay and amazon, even new books can be of a vairiable cost.

The book is not without mistakes, but it is better than Sam's book. I really think this is the book Sam would have done if he had been 2o years younger. My big complaint is the lack of an index, but Chet did say that the cost of adding the index would have doubled the printing cost (and book price) because there are simply so many distillery names, place names and people names in the book - throw in subject headings and you are looking at a 50+ page index. The good thing is that if you know the county where the distillery was located, then it is easy to find using the table of contents. Still, I would recomend that if he does a second printing, an index of just distillery names should be added. If nothing else burn the index to a CD and add it to the book - cheaper than print and most people these days have access to a computer, making the index for the book a handy tool.
Mike Veach
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Re: Book Review: Bourbon In Kentucky: A History of Distilleries

Unread postby bourbonv » Sun Jul 12, 2009 1:46 pm

It is out and being sold at some of the distillery gift shops. I believe Chet also has a web site where it can be ordered.
Mike Veach
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Re: Book Review: Bourbon In Kentucky: A History of Distilleries

Unread postby bourbonv » Fri Jul 17, 2009 11:34 am

I have been in touch with Chet and he sent me this for people wishing to order the book:
The links to purchase the book would be www.butlerbooks.com or www.kentuckydistilleries.net.
Mike Veach
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Re: Book Review: Bourbon In Kentucky: A History of Distilleries

Unread postby bourbonv » Tue Sep 15, 2009 9:50 am

Chet is a great guy. He knows that the book is not perfect and appreciates any new information that turns up. He hopes to update the book in the future. He will be selling the book at the Bourbon Festival. If you don't have a copy and are at the festival, I suggest you stop by the Getz Museum and get a copy (signed of course).
Mike Veach
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Re: Book Review: Bourbon In Kentucky: A History of Distilleries

Unread postby cowdery » Tue Sep 15, 2009 9:47 pm

Okay, Jeff, but what did you find wrong on the second page?
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Re: Book Review: Bourbon In Kentucky: A History of Distilleries

Unread postby cowdery » Wed Sep 16, 2009 11:58 am

I certainly don't think you went overboard. The book has a lot of problems. It's a bit of a data dump, which we are left to sort through, almost exactly like Cecil's. The gist of my crack above is that you can open it to just about any page and find issues such as those you raised.
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Re: Book Review: Bourbon In Kentucky: A History of Distilleries

Unread postby bunghole » Wed Sep 16, 2009 2:16 pm

And, if you've ever bought a book by anyone that wasn't totally accurate, then PLEASE call the law firm of COWPOLK and SHITZSLINGER -WE can and will sue the barrel hoops off their sorry bungholes!
"A Kind Word Never Broke A Tooth."
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Re: Book Review: Bourbon In Kentucky: A History of Distilleries

Unread postby WhiskeyBarLeela » Thu Jul 22, 2010 10:18 am

It seems like a pretty positive review. Believe it or not, I'm a bourbon (whiskey) enthusiast and don't actually have any books dedicated to what I love. I wouldn't mind picking this book up among a few others. I do believe there was a link that was listed to purchase, correct?

On top of that, I've been meaning to increase my book collection. What other books do you think would suited well for a girl like myself? I'm not fanatical, but I definitely AM a fan (willing enough to join a forum and discuss the many aspects of whiskey lol).

One more question: Do you think Chester will be in the Indianapolis area, anytime soon? I know, shot in the dark, but I was curious. :mrgreen:
Nothing better than a Scotsman Ice Machine. :D
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Re: Book Review: Bourbon In Kentucky: A History of Distilleries

Unread postby bourbonv » Tue Sep 28, 2010 11:17 am

The new edition is out with an index.
Mike Veach
"Our people live almost exclusively on whiskey" - E H Taylor, Jr. 25 April 1873
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Re: Book Review: Bourbon In Kentucky: A History of Distilleries

Unread postby cowdery » Wed Oct 06, 2010 11:26 pm

There was an entirely unflattering, and not entirely untrue, review of this book in this thread that has been excised by the moderators. You can see references to it in various posts addressed to Jeff, but Jeff's words have gone away, as has he.

Zoeller's book, like Sam Cecil's, is primarily a reference book. It's not something you can sit down and read to learn about bourbon. It's for geeks like me who want to know everything about every distillery that ever was.

I will immodestly recommend my book Bourbon, Straight but if that seems too self-serving, get the newly-reprinted Gerald Carson book.
- Chuck Cowdery

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Re: Book Review: Bourbon In Kentucky: A History of Distilleries

Unread postby delaware_phoenix » Thu Oct 07, 2010 7:41 am

I think I'll order my copy today.

:idea: I want me some tubs! A few strong folk to fill 'em and help empty 'em. And the same wages and workers comp and insurance rates those fellow had too!

I'll keep the fancy still and boiler I have now, if you please. :roll:
Cheryl Lins - Proprietor and distiller, Delaware Phoenix Distillery, Walton, NY
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Re: Book Review: Bourbon In Kentucky: A History of Distilleries

Unread postby Bourbon HQ » Wed Oct 13, 2010 10:09 am

I have a copy of this book. It is very good and thorough.


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