Calling all bourbon aficionados! Is the lure of your amber-hued companion sparking your curiosity?
Have you ever wondered about the captivating tales steeped into each drop of this golden spirit? Are you intrigued by the rich history, the meticulous craft, and the passionate people behind your favorite pour?
Perhaps, you aspire to elevate your whiskey discourse from mere appreciation to insightful knowledge, to uncover the fascinating secrets tucked away in distilleries, or to comprehend the subtleties that make bourbon a timeless classic.
Look no further! Our meticulously curated list of the best bourbon books in 2023 promises to quench your thirst for knowledge, deepen your appreciation for every sip, and transform you into a true connoisseur. So pour yourself another glass, sit back, and get ready to immerse yourself in the captivating world of bourbon.
What Are the Best Bourbon Books?
Choosing the best bourbon book can be a bit like picking a favorite bourbon—personal preference plays a significant role. With that in mind, we’ve broken down the best bourbon books of 2023 into three different categories, each serving a unique purpose:
Best Book for Bourbon History: Bourbon Empire: The Past and Future of America’s Whiskey by Reid Mitenbuler. A riveting narrative that intertwines the history of bourbon with American history, offering a comprehensive overview of the spirit’s past and its promising future.
Best Book for Home Distillers: All American Whiskey Home Distillation: Step-by-Step Guide to Making Whiskey, Bourbon, and Rye in Your Own Distillery by Martin Reeve. A clear, concise guide that demystifies the home distillation process, making it an essential companion for aspiring home distillers.
Best Book for Tasting and Appreciation: The Complete Whiskey Course: A Comprehensive Tasting School in Ten Classes by Robin Robinson. An enlightening resource that guides readers through the nuanced world of whiskey tasting, deepening their appreciation for bourbon.
|Bourbon History||Home Distillation||Tasting and Appreciation|
|Bourbon Empire: The Past and Future of America’s Whiskey||All American Whiskey Home Distillation: Step-by-Step Guide to Making Whiskey, Bourbon, and Rye||The Complete Whiskey Course: A Comprehensive Tasting School in Ten Classes|
|Author: Reid Mitenbuler||Author: Martin Reeve||Author: Robin Robinson|
Written by renowned whiskey educator Robin Robinson, this book takes readers on a global tour of the ever-expanding world of whiskey. The content is structured into ten robust “classes,” offering an intuitive progression from basic to more complex whiskey concepts.
- Comprehensive coverage of whiskey history and its influence on global styles
- Detailed insights on aging and finishing processes
- Nosing and tasting guide
- Country-wise whiskey analysis, including American, Craft, Scotch, Irish, Canadian, and Japanese whiskey
- Themed tastings organized by price categories
This valuable addition to your whiskey library comes at a price of $18.99.
Pros & Cons
- Suitable for beginners and seasoned whiskey lovers alike
- Offers insider information on how distilleries create unique offerings
- Comprehensive and up-to-date
- Might be too detailed for casual readers interested in a light overview
2. “Art of Mixology: Bartender’s Guide to Bourbon & Whiskey – Classic & Modern-Day Cocktails for Bourbon and Whiskey Lovers” by Parragon
An immersive journey into the world of bourbon and whiskey cocktails, this book is an essential guide for mixology enthusiasts. It combines bartender secrets, essential equipment, historical context, and, most importantly, enticing cocktail recipes that will transform your home bartending experience.
- Comprehensive mixology guide: From classic to contemporary recipes
- Skill-building: Teaches mixology basics including shaking, stirring, layering, and muddling
- Educational: Offers insights into the histories of Irish whiskey and Scotch whiskey
- Occasion-centric: Includes cocktail recipes for various occasions from romantic dinners to summer days
- Wide appeal: Cocktail recipes that cater to all generations and ages
This all-in-one cocktail guide is available for $13.99.
Pros & Cons
- Excellent for beginners and experienced mixologists alike
- Provides a wide variety of cocktail recipes for any occasion
- May not delve deeply into the intricacies of bourbon and whiskey production
- Not as focused on the history and heritage of bourbon as some other option
“Bourbon: The Story of Kentucky Whiskey” is a visually stunning guide that immerses you in the history, craft, and appreciation of Kentucky bourbon. Whiskey expert Clay Risen explores bourbon’s origins, its evolution, and its integral connection to the people and land that produced it, making this book an absorbing read for bourbon enthusiasts.
- Rich history: Explores the origins and evolution of America’s distilling craft and culture
- Comprehensive: Details how bourbon is made, how best to enjoy it, and how to build your own collection
- Profiles of Distilleries: Includes profiles of the distilleries and makers that form the landscape of bourbon country
- Visually appealing: Beautifully illustrated, making the reading experience even more enjoyable
You can add this beautifully boxed set to your collection for $53.99.
Pros & Cons
- Comprehensive and detailed history of bourbon
- Visually appealing with beautiful illustrations
- More expensive than some other options
- Might be too detailed for a casual reader, making it more suitable for serious enthusiasts
Fred Minnick’s “Bourbon: The Rise, Fall, and Rebirth of an American Whiskey” presents an engrossing chronicle of bourbon’s evolution. Minnick, a renowned bourbon historian, reveals fascinating insights into the economic, cultural, and political aspects that have shaped the bourbon industry. The book offers an in-depth look at bourbon’s history, from its origins to its current resurgence.
- Detailed History: Traces bourbon’s entire history, providing a comprehensive understanding of this spirit.
- Unique Insights: Offers unique insights into the cultural and political history of the nation as it relates to bourbon.
- Authoritative: Written by an award-winning whiskey author, providing reliable and accurate information.
- Rich Visuals: More than 100 illustrations and photos complement the engaging narrative.
Priced at $16.29, this book offers immense value to anyone interested in the history and influence of bourbon.
Pros & Cons
- Comprehensive historical narrative of bourbon
- Written by an expert, ensuring high-quality and reliable information
- May be too in-depth for readers seeking a casual introduction to bourbon
- The focus is primarily on the history, offering less about tasting and appreciating bourbon itself.
5.“Big Whiskey (The Revised Second Edition): Featuring Kentucky Bourbon, Tennessee Whiskey, the Rebirth of Rye, and the Distilleries” by Carlo DeVito
Big Whiskey” by Carlo DeVito is an encompassing tour of the American whiskey scene, expertly weaving together stories of classic distilleries and the bourbons they produce. The revised edition includes an exploration of the resurgence of rye whiskey. This book is an exciting resource for anyone interested in the vibrant whiskey landscape of America.
- Detailed Distillery Profiles: Features over 100 distilleries, offering in-depth insights.
- Interviews: Contains fascinating interviews with master distillers, providing firsthand perspectives.
- Comprehensive Tasting Notes: Includes tasting notes for hundreds of expressions, aiding in whiskey selection and appreciation.
- Beautiful Photography: The book is rich with original, behind-the-scenes photography.
The book is priced at $35.00, providing a wealth of information and insights into the world of American whiskey.
Pros & Cons
- Comprehensive coverage of American whiskey, including bourbon, Tennessee whiskey, and rye
- Rich, behind-the-scenes content, including interviews and photography
- Detailed profiles of over 100 distilleries
- The book focuses mainly on Kentucky and Tennessee, limiting its scope somewhat
- May be too detailed for casual whiskey enthusiasts.
6. “Buffalo, Barrels, & Bourbon: The Story of How Buffalo Trace Distillery Became The World’s Most Awarded Distillery” by F. Paul Pacult
“Buffalo, Barrels, & Bourbon” by F. Paul Pacult is an in-depth exploration of the captivating story of the Buffalo Trace Distillery. The author weaves a compelling narrative about the distillery’s rise to prominence and its significant contributions to the bourbon industry. It’s a definite must-read for those interested in the artistry behind some of the world’s finest bourbons.
- Detailed History: Provides an extensive history of Buffalo Trace Distillery, from its founding to its present-day achievements.
- Important Characters: Introduces the larger-than-life personalities that shaped the distillery.
- Impact of Global Events: Explores how world events, including wars, depressions, and weather-related incidents, influenced the distillery.
The book is priced at $27.00, offering an in-depth exploration of one of America’s most influential distilleries.
Pros & Cons
- Comprehensive account of Buffalo Trace Distillery’s history.
- Explores the creation of award-winning brands.
- Highlights the influence of global events on the distillery.
- The focus is solely on Buffalo Trace Distillery, which may not appeal to readers interested in a broader perspective on the bourbon industry.
- May be too detailed for those with a casual interest in bourbon.
“Bourbon 101” by Albert W. A. Schmid serves as an excellent entry point to understanding the rich world of bourbon. This book simplifies complex subjects related to bourbon without compromising on depth, making it the perfect guide for beginners embarking on their bourbon journey.
- Comprehensive Introduction: The book offers a detailed overview of bourbon history, production, and cultural identity.
- Educational: Introduces new enthusiasts to the language of bourbon and provides insights into developing their palate.
- Personalized Approach: Schmid’s personal experiences and interactions with bourbon experts add an intimate touch to the book.
“Bourbon 101” is available at a price of $27.99, providing valuable insights for beginners at a reasonable cost.
Pros & Cons
- A beginner-friendly approach to understanding the world of bourbon.
- Personalized storytelling through the author’s experiences.
- Introduces readers to the culture and vocabulary of bourbon.
- May not be as useful for advanced bourbon enthusiasts.
- Focuses mainly on bourbon’s history and culture, leaving some practical aspects unexplored.
“Pappyland” by Wright Thompson is a touching journey through the bourbon-making tradition of the Van Winkle family. The book not only brings to life the story behind the renowned Pappy Van Winkle bourbon but also delves into the timeless aspects of family heritage, craft preservation, and life’s meaningful pursuits.
- Inspiring Narrative: The book tells the moving story of Julian Van Winkle III’s dedication to preserving his family’s bourbon legacy.
- In-Depth Coverage: Readers are invited to explore the world of bourbon making and the intricacies of maintaining a brand’s unique taste.
- Life Lessons: Beyond bourbon, the book provides valuable insights about honoring one’s heritage and craftsmanship.
“Pappyland: A Story of Family, Fine Bourbon, and the Things That Last” is priced at $16.53.
Pros & Cons
- Engaging storytelling that combines the world of bourbon with life’s timeless values.
- An intimate exploration of the Van Winkle family’s bourbon legacy.
- Insights into the challenges of preserving a distinct bourbon taste.
- The storytelling approach may not appeal to readers seeking a more technical or historical bourbon guide.
- Limited coverage of the broader bourbon industry.
“Bourbon Empire” by Reid Mitenbuler presents a detailed account of bourbon’s evolution, entwining it with American history. By debunking myths and exposing truths about the bourbon industry, Mitenbuler offers readers an expansive view of the so-called bourbon empire.
- Historical Insights: The book traces the development of major bourbon brands and their impact on America’s economic history.
- Behind-the-Scenes Look: Mitenbuler exposes the reality behind the industry’s presented narratives, from its links to organized crime to contemporary questionable business practices.
- Contextual Understanding: The book provides a comprehensive context to understand the current craft distilling movement and the future of bourbon.
“Bourbon Empire: The Past and Future of America’s Whiskey” is priced at $17.99.
Pros & Cons
- An enlightening exploration of the intertwining of bourbon and American history.
- Exposes the realities behind the bourbon industry.
- Provides a comprehensive understanding of the current and future state of bourbon.
- The focus on the darker sides of the industry might not appeal to some readers.
- Might not be the best choice for readers looking for a simple introduction to bourbon.
“The Birth of Bourbon” is a beautifully crafted book by Carol Peachee that offers a unique, visual exploration of bourbon’s origins. Through Peachee’s lens, readers experience the early distilleries that gave birth to this beloved spirit, promoting a deeper understanding and appreciation of its history.
- Unique Visual Experience: This photographic tour of early distilleries presents a unique perspective on bourbon’s history.
- Appreciation for History: The book promotes an understanding of bourbon’s rich past and the importance of preserving historical distilleries.
- Stunning Photography: The use of high-dynamic-range imaging offers vivid, richly detailed photographs that highlight the beauty of these ancient facilities.
“The Birth of Bourbon: A Photographic Tour of Early Distilleries” by Carol Peachee is priced at $29.95.
Pros & Cons
- Offers a unique visual perspective on bourbon’s history.
- Promotes the appreciation of bourbon’s rich past and the importance of historical preservation.
- Features stunning, high-quality photographs.
- May not appeal to readers looking for a more text-based, factual approach to bourbon history.
- Some readers may find the focus on distilleries rather than the bourbon production process less informative.
“Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey: An American Heritage” by Michael R. Veach presents a comprehensive chronicle of the history and heritage of Bourbon in Kentucky. It’s a captivating read for anyone who wants to understand how Bourbon became a significant part of American history.
- Detailed History: The book meticulously tracks the history of bourbon from the Whiskey Rebellion of the 1790s to the present day.
- Analysis of Key Events: Veach explores aspects of bourbon that have often been overlooked, including the technology behind its production, the effects of the Pure Food and Drug Act, and how Prohibition contributed to the Great Depression.
- Demystifying Myths: While the true origin of bourbon may remain elusive, Veach separates fact from legend, offering a compelling new theory.
“Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey: An American Heritage” by Michael R. Veach is priced at $27.95.
Pros & Cons
- Offers a detailed and comprehensive history of bourbon.
- Provides analysis of key historical events related to bourbon.
- Clarifies myths and proposes new theories about bourbon’s origins.
- Some readers may find the detailed history and analysis overwhelming.
- The book might not appeal to those seeking a more casual, lighter read about bourbon.
12. “The Bourbon King: The Life and Crimes of George Remus, Prohibition’s Evil Genius” by Bob Batchelor
“The Bourbon King: The Life and Crimes of George Remus, Prohibition’s Evil Genius” by Bob Batchelor is a compelling biographical narrative that tells the story of George Remus, a lawyer who turned into a bootlegger during Prohibition. It’s an engaging read for those interested in the intersection of Bourbon’s history with America’s Prohibition era.
- Detailed Narrative: The book breathes life into the largest bootlegging operation in America, an empire greater than that of Al Capone.
- Historical Context: Batchelor offers an intriguing look into Remus’ roaring lifestyle, which epitomized the Jazz Age.
- Fascinating Legal Story: The book highlights one of the most sensational murder cases in American history, in which Remus invented the condition of “temporary maniacal insanity” to win his freedom after murdering his wife.
“The Bourbon King: The Life and Crimes of George Remus, Prohibition’s Evil Genius” by Bob Batchelor is priced at $22.99.
Pros & Cons
- Provides an intriguing narrative about one of America’s most notable bootleggers.
- Gives historical context about the Prohibition era and the Jazz Age.
- Highlights an interesting legal defense tactic that shocked the nation.
- The focus on Remus’ life and crimes may not appeal to readers seeking a broader history of bourbon.
- Some readers may find the story’s criminal elements distressing.
13. “All American Whiskey Home Distillation: Step-by-Step Guide to Making Whiskey, Bourbon, and Rye in Your Own Distillery” by Martin Reeve
“All American Whiskey Home Distillation: Step-by-Step Guide to Making Whiskey, Bourbon, and Rye in Your Own Distillery” by Martin Reeve is a comprehensive guide for those interested in distilling their own whiskey. Reeve’s step-by-step process offers a meticulous guide for aspiring home distillers, allowing them to fully experience the bourbon-making process.
- Detailed Guide: The book provides a comprehensive step-by-step process for distilling whiskey at home.
- Comprehensive Knowledge: Reeve shares everything he knows about distilling whiskey, bourbon, and rye.
- Troubleshooting Advice: The book provides solutions for common issues encountered at each step of the process.
“All American Whiskey Home Distillation: Step-by-Step Guide to Making Whiskey, Bourbon, and Rye in Your Own Distillery” by Martin Reeve is priced at $9.95.
Pros & Cons
- Offers a practical, hands-on approach to making whiskey.
- Provides detailed instructions and troubleshooting advice.
- An affordable guide for aspiring home distillers.
- May not appeal to those simply looking to understand bourbon history or appreciation.
- Does not include information about the broader bourbon industry.
14. “Whiskey Master Class: The Ultimate Guide to Understanding Scotch, Bourbon, Rye, and More” by Lew Bryson
Whiskey Master Class: The Ultimate Guide to Understanding Scotch, Bourbon, Rye, and More” by Lew Bryson is a comprehensive guide that explores the world of whiskey. The author’s vast experience and insights make this book a great asset for those wanting to deepen their knowledge of various types of whiskey, particularly bourbon and rye.
- Thorough Knowledge: Bryson shares his extensive knowledge, covering different types of whiskey, including bourbon, scotch, and rye.
- Insightful Interviews: The book includes numerous interviews with master distillers and other industry professionals, giving readers unique perspectives.
- Tasting Notes: Throughout the book, Bryson provides tasting notes, helping readers refine their taste and identify new whiskeys they might enjoy.
Whiskey Master Class: The Ultimate Guide to Understanding Scotch, Bourbon, Rye, and More” by Lew Bryson is priced at $23.99.
Pros & Cons
- Comprehensive coverage of different types of whiskeys.
- Provides behind-the-scenes photography for an immersive experience.
- The author’s experience lends credibility to the book.
- It may be too detailed for casual readers or beginners in whiskey appreciation.
- Although it covers a wide variety of whiskeys, its broad focus may not appeal to readers interested exclusively in bourbon.
“Bourbon: The Evolution of Kentucky Whiskey” by Sam K. Cecil is a detailed exploration of the history and development of bourbon in Kentucky. This book offers a thorough understanding of how bourbon has significantly influenced Kentucky’s culture and economy.
- Detailed Historical Account: The book provides a comprehensive history of bourbon in Kentucky, from its early days to modern times.
- Comprehensive List: It features an extensive list of world-renowned bourbon companies, giving readers a wide spectrum of bourbon makers to explore.
- Unique Kentucky Perspective: The author showcases how Kentucky’s unique climate, water, and work ethics have shaped the taste and quality of its bourbon.
“Bourbon: The Evolution of Kentucky Whiskey” by Sam K. Cecil is priced at $17.56.
Pros & Cons
- Provides a comprehensive history of bourbon in Kentucky.
- Highlights the influence of bourbon on Kentucky’s economy and culture.
- A great read for anyone interested in the history of Kentucky’s bourbon industry.
- Some readers might find the book too specific to Kentucky.
- May not delve deeply into the general process of bourbon production.
What Is Bourbon
Bourbon is a type of American whiskey, a barrel-aged distilled spirit made primarily from corn. The name derives from Bourbon County, Kentucky, and while it may be made anywhere in the United States, it is strongly associated with the American South in general, and Kentucky in particular.
According to the U.S. Federal Standards of Identity for Distilled Spirits, to be classified as bourbon, a spirit must meet several criteria. It must be made from a grain mixture that is at least 51% corn, aged in new, charred oak containers, distilled to no more than 160 proof (80% alcohol by volume), entered into the barrel for aging at no more than 125 proof (62.5% alcohol by volume), and bottled at 80 proof or more (40% alcohol by volume). These regulations help maintain the distinctive flavor and character of bourbon, distinguishing it from other types of whiskey.
Bourbon has a rich, deep history intertwined with that of the United States, and its legacy is celebrated and studied in numerous books and resources. Whether you’re a bourbon connoisseur or a casual fan, there’s always more to learn about this unique American spirit.
How Can Bourbon Books Benefit You
Bourbon books can significantly deepen your understanding and appreciation of this uniquely American spirit. They provide detailed historical context, production processes, and tasting profiles that you may not encounter in a casual drinking experience. By reading about bourbon, you can enhance your sensory appreciation, identifying distinct flavors and aromas that contribute to the overall enjoyment of the beverage.
Moreover, these books often delve into the cultural and historical significance of bourbon, exploring its influence on American society and its impact on economic and legislative trends. This knowledge adds depth and richness to your appreciation of bourbon, turning each sip into a nuanced experience.
Additionally, some bourbon books offer practical guidance on distillation and tasting, providing useful tips for those interested in home distillation or aspiring to become more discerning bourbon connoisseurs. In essence, bourbon books can transform your relationship with this spirit from mere consumption to a deep, informed appreciation.
Buyers Guide: How We Conducted Our Research
To curate our list of top bourbon books, we implemented a meticulous research process that took into account the following factors:
- Author Credibility: We looked at the expertise and background of the authors, prioritizing those with a deep understanding of bourbon, whether through professional experience in the industry or recognized academic research.
- Reader Reviews: We examined reviews and ratings by readers on various platforms. This helped us gauge the general perception of the books and determine their value in terms of content quality, readability, and overall impact.
- Content Quality: We analyzed the depth and breadth of the content in each book. Some books focus more on history and culture, while others delve into the technical aspects of distillation and tasting. We aimed to present a balanced list that caters to different reader interests.
- Price: We considered the pricing of each book to ensure we included options for different budgets.
- Publication Date: We noted the publication dates to provide a mix of both contemporary and classic works on bourbon.
- Availability: We confirmed the availability of each book in various formats like hardcover, paperback, and e-book.
- Refund Policy: While this typically applies to sellers rather than the books themselves, we considered the refund policies of the platforms where these books are sold, as this can impact the purchasing decision of potential buyers.
Through this systematic and thorough research process, we are confident in our selection of the best books on bourbon currently available.
In conclusion, the world of bourbon is a fascinating realm that offers a unique blend of history, culture, science, and of course, exceptional flavors. The books listed above present a multi-dimensional perspective on bourbon, enriching your understanding and appreciation of this iconic American spirit.
Our goal was to curate a comprehensive and versatile list that caters to different reader interests, whether you’re an aspiring distiller, a history enthusiast, a culinary aficionado, or simply a bourbon lover seeking to deepen your knowledge. We believe that these books, chosen through a meticulous and systematic research process, offer invaluable insights into the world of bourbon.
Remember, every bourbon book holds a story just as intriguing as the spirit itself. So, whether you’re a seasoned connoisseur or a curious beginner, there’s always more to learn and discover. Happy reading and sipping!
Q1. Why should I read a book about bourbon?
A: Reading a book about bourbon can provide you with in-depth knowledge about the history, process, and culture surrounding this iconic American spirit. It can enhance your appreciation and enjoyment of bourbon.
Q2. Can a book teach me how to distill bourbon at home?
A: Yes, some books like “All American Whiskey Home Distillation” provide step-by-step instructions for home distillation of bourbon and other whiskies.
Q3. Are there bourbon books suitable for beginners?
A: Absolutely. Books like “Bourbon Curious: A Simple Tasting Guide for the Savvy Drinker” are written with beginners in mind, offering straightforward explanations and tasting guides.
Q4. Do bourbon books only focus on the history of bourbon?
A: No, while many bourbon books do delve into the history of this spirit, others focus on areas like tasting notes, recipes, production process, or even the business and legal aspects of the bourbon industry.
Q5. Are bourbon books expensive?
A: The cost of bourbon books can vary. Some are available for less than $10, while others might be priced over $30. It depends on the book’s length, depth, and special features like illustrations.
Q6. Do these books include bourbon recipes?
A: Yes, some bourbon books include recipes, both for making bourbon and for dishes or cocktails that incorporate bourbon.
Q7. Are there books about specific bourbon brands?
A: Yes, there are books that focus on the history and production methods of specific bourbon brands. “Pappyland: A Story of Family, Fine Bourbon, and the Things That Last” is one such book.
Q8. Are all bourbon books based on American authors?
A: While many bourbon books are written by American authors, there are also books by authors from other countries who have an interest in bourbon.
Q9. Can these books help me become a better bourbon taster?
A: Yes, many bourbon books provide tasting notes, flavor profiles, and guides on how to appreciate the nuances of different bourbons, which can enhance your tasting skills.
Q10. Do bourbon books discuss the legal aspects of bourbon production?
A: Yes, some books like “The Bourbon King: The Life and Crimes of George Remus, Prohibition’s Evil Genius” delve into the legal aspects of bourbon production, including the Prohibition era.
Q11. Are there any books that focus on the science behind bourbon?
A: Yes, books like “Whiskey Master Class: The Ultimate Guide to Understanding Scotch, Bourbon, Rye, and More” delve into the science behind whiskey, including bourbon.
Q13. Are there any digital versions available for these bourbon books?
A: Most of these books should be available in digital formats like Kindle, in addition to traditional print versions.
Q14. Can reading a bourbon book enhance my enjoyment of the spirit?
A: Absolutely. Understanding the history, process, and nuances of bourbon can greatly enhance your appreciation and enjoyment of the spirit.
Disclosure: Our blog contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. However, this does not impact our reviews and comparisons. We try our best to keep things fair and balanced, in order to help you make the best choice for you.