A Book & A Beer – Bourbon Empire by Reid Mitenbuler

Of course the book of the month is about bourbon. Reid Mitenbuler looks at bourbon through slightly jaded eyes in Bourbon Empire.

The sub-title gives the scope of the narrative, The past and future of America’s whiskey. Overall Mitenbuler does a succinct job of pulling back the curtain on the business of bourbon detailing how the beverage looks way more artisanal than the business structure behind it actually is.

I did find the constant referencing back to Jefferson v Hamilton a bit overdone and a little too easy to boil things down to local and agrarian v business and industry. I also felt there was a missed opportunity to show the way that bourbon spun out of prohibition in comparison to beer and wine. I would almost prefer less time spent in that era and more in modern times detailing the new small distilling operations that have sprung up mostly because the chapter on Coppersea Distilling was quite interesting.

This book excels when it is busting myths and showing how the sausage is made without a PR firm spin to it. The fact that done brands were actually traded between competing firms was new news to me.

To drink with this book, I suggest getting yourself a California Common or the Kentucky version and compare it to Anchor Steam. That copyrighted name and its fallout is a close cousin to some of the business going on in bourbon.

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