Have just finished reading this book. So far, this is not only the best whisky-related book I've read, it was a book I couldn't put down! Thank you to Harry who ordered it for me!
Fantastic book that excels at illustrating the historical development of the bourbon industry with paticular attention to historical figures - many of whom have brands names after them (Booker, Baker, Elmer T. Lee, etc). The author did a good job using history to illustrate how and why the industry is where it is today as opposed to giving before and after snapshots.
I now also understand what "bottled in bond" means, what the term referred to origonally, and what it currently means in our modern marketplace. I realize where the term "proof" came from and how the term came into use.
Mr Cowdery has my respect in sticking his neck out in terms of voicing opinions about things such as the validity of scoring whiskies ("why ratings are bull") and calling Jack Daniels no 7 boring.
I heartily recommed this book to anyone who has more than a passing interest in bourbon. It is great to be able to read about historical figures whose names adorn the bottles we drink and how they contributed to bourbon history. It was also great to be able to put into focus how companies came into being, which brands survived and which are now produced by another distillery.
I do not believe this is a book for the casual fan who does not have an interest in the field, for without sustained interest it is easy to become lost in the various Beams, Bohemes, Noes, Taylors, Crows, and Browns in the book. For those who have their interest piqued by what they have found in the bottle, I think this book illustrated why the bourbon products and industry look like they do today. Understanding of basic brewing and distilling concepts are useful for getting the most out of this book, although not essential. Chapters are short (up to ten pages) but are packed with information that encourage one to mull over what was written.
For those who wish to find out more about bourbon, I highly recommend this book!