Unraveling the many myths and misconceptions surrounding America's most iconic spirit, Bourbon Empire traces a history that spans frontier rebellion, Gilded Age corruption, and the magic of Madison Avenue. Read more...
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Unraveling the many myths and misconceptions surrounding America's most iconic spirit, Bourbon Empire traces a history that spans frontier rebellion, Gilded Age corruption, and the magic of Madison Avenue. Whiskey has profoundly influenced America's political, economic, and cultural destiny, just as those same factors have inspired the evolution and unique flavor of the whiskey itself.
Taking readers behind the curtain of an enchanting--and sometimes exasperating--industry, the work of writer Reid Mitenbuler crackles with attitude and commentary about taste, choice, and history. Few products better embody the United States, or American business, than bourbon.
A tale of innovation, success, downfall, and resurrection, Bourbon Empire is an exploration of the spirit in all its unique forms, creating an indelible portrait of both bourbon and the people who make it.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-03-30
- Reviewer: Staff
In this savory history of bourbon whiskey, journalist Mitenbuler recounts the journey of this archetypal American libation: distilled from a mix of half corn and half rye, wheat, or other grain, and aged in charred-oak barrels. The narrative follows from bourbon’s backwoods origins, through its patriotic ascension in the late 18th century over British-associated rum, to its modern maturity (after a flirtation with gangsterism during Prohibition) as the creature of multinational corporations. Mitenbuler engagingly explores the science and lore of whiskey-making and the resulting subtleties of taste, both lampooning the new wine-style whiskey connoisseurship and wallowing in it (let the “concentrated bursts of honey, spice and vanilla flavors unwind on your tongue,” he murmurs). But bourbon’s convoluted cultural associations fascinate him just as much: its protean links to cowboys, blue-collar joes, and Wall Street bankers, and the fake advertising backstories about rugged individualist founders sprouted from Kentucky hollers. Mitenbuler’s prose is relaxed and mellow with a shot of wry; his entertaining, loose-limbed narrative revels in the colorful characters and droll hypocrisies of capitalism at its booziest. (May 12)