7/18/15

Book Review: The Art of American Whiskey


If you love visual history books, then you will love The Art of American Whiskey by Noah Rothbaum.  

About:

A visual history of American whiskey, as told through hundreds of whiskey bottle labels, from early, pre-Prohibition-era days to the present.

Just as wine is to the French or beer is to the Germans, whiskey--especially bourbon and rye--is  an integral part of the history and culture of the United States. The Art of American Whiskey traces the arc of this beloved, renowned spirit--from its earliest days in the Colonial era, through the Civil War, Prohibition, Great Depression, and up to the current craft-distilling boom. Illustrated with 100 full-color modern and historic labels from the most iconic bottles ever made, The Art of American Whiskey is an instant collectible and a fantastic gift for any whiskey enthusiast or design lover. Captions, sidebars, profiles and short histories tell the story of the pioneers and places behind the labels, and each chapter features era-appropriate recipes from all-star bartenders and cocktail experts that will tickle any tippler's fancy.




Impression:
As somebody who doesn't know much about the history of alcohol, I was actually surprised when I chose this book to review and the depth of coverage within these pages. There is so much to learn. So much history lies within these pages and the story of how American Whiskey came about. This book covers 100 different labels showcased through the years. 
The images in this book are everything. You get a genuine feel for the authenticity of the information written through the photos. The photos alone tell a story.  The author did an amazing job at including mini history lessons about Prohibition also.  

An example from pg 49:  
The United States hit rock bottom in 1933. At the worst depths of the Great Depression, roughly a quarter of the country's population was left unemployed, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. And many of those who were lucky enough to have jobs were only working part-time.  
At that point, it was hard to deny that the Prohibition was a colossal mistake. Shutting down distilleries, breweries, bars, and all the ancillary businesses that they supported was no longer justifiable. That's not even to mention the crime, corruption, and extreme violence caused by bootlegging. 

From pg 103:
To paraphrase Charles Dickens, it was the best of times and the worst of times for the American whiskey industry in the 1970s. All-time bourbon sales peaked in 1970, but the brands were beginning to lose ground and control of the market. 


I love that this book includes Cocktails of the Time sections which give a recipe for different cocktails in different eras.  Here is an example of one from the late 1940s-1050s, which was not an easy time to be a whiskey drinker, because bartending took a long time to recover from Prohibition and World War II, so drinks were often made into the form of a cocktail. Here is a recipe as seen on pg 79:



Manhattan
Contributed by Jim Meehan-bartender

2oz Old Grand-Dad 114 Barrel Proof Bourbon
1 oz Martini Rosso Sweet Vermouth
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
Garnish: 3 brandied cherries on a metal stick
Glas: Coupe

>>>Put all the ingredients in a mixing glass and fill with ice. Stir and then fine strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with the cherries.



I also was a big fan of reading about the different Distilling Legends. This book highlights individuals and families I have never heard of before, such as: Frederick Booker Noe II, Julian P. "Pappy" Van Winkle, The Shapira Family, and Bill and Margie Samuels, and their respective stories. 

I found this book to be HIGHLY informative and engaging. I loved the collection of labels. 


Some labels had interesting back stories. Jack Daniel's nephew Lem Motlow filed a trademark application in 1908 for the term "Old No.7" which the whiskey label still uses proudly. 

The labels included in this book are as follows:

Jack Daniel Old No.7 Whiskey
Old Forrester
Early Times Old Style Sour Mash Whiskey
Old W. L. Weller Pure Rye
Belle of Lincoln Straight Whiskey
Jack Daniels No. 7 Whiskey (Bottled for Medicinal use only in 1910)
Geo.A. Dickel & Co. Cascade Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Old Hickory O.P.S. Rye Whiskey (Labeled in 1903, befits Andrew Jackson whose face is on the label)
T.W. Samuels Bottled in Bond Whiskey
Echo Spring Whiskey
Four Roses + Four Roses Adverts from 1934 & 1941
Old Stagg Whiskey
O.F.C. Whiskey
Mirror Brook Old Style Bourbon
Golden Wedding Brand Rye Whiskey
Stagg's Elkhorn Old Style Kentucky Whiskey
Old Fashioned Mountain Corn Whiskey
Henry Watterson Whiskey (Pulitzer Prize Winning editor crafted this)
Old King Cole Whiskey
Walnut Hill Whiskey
Old Barbee Whiskey
Monticello Special Reserve Rye Whiskey
Bourbon Falls Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Old Polk Brand Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Old Forman Brand American Type Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Bottled In Bond Old Rip Van Winkle Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Old Haven Hill Springs Distillery Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey +10 artist renderings
Maker's Mark Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Old Polk Brand Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Old Forman Brand Whiskey-A Blend
Bourbon Falls Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Very Xtra Old Fitzgerald
Bourbon Star Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Crown of Nelson Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Cream of Nelson Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Beam's Private Stock Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey (La Posada Inn Santa Fe, NM)
Jim Beam Manhattan Cocktail
King Corn Kentucky Corn Whiskey
Kentucky Nobleman Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Booker Noe's Bourbon
St. George Single Malt Whiskey
Cork & Bottle Private Stock Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Beam's Choice
Beam's Private Stock Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey (Kung Pei Cocktail Lounge Albuquerque, NM)
Bonded Beam Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Colonel James B. Beam Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
J.W. Dant Special Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Marion Corn Corn Whiskey
Old Tub Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey (Jim Beam's company prior to Prohibition)
Chicago Yacht Club James B. Beam Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
George Dickel Tennessee Sour Mash Whiskey Merle Haggard Jug
George Dickel Tennessee Sour Mash Whiskey Powder Horns (Coolest bottling, imo.)
Wild Turkey Liqueur With Honey
Colonel E.H. Taylor Single Barrel Straight Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey
Pappy Van Winkle's Family Reserve 15 Years Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
(Hardest bottle to get your hands on)
Old Rip Van Winkle Handmade Bourbon Aged 10 Years 
Maker's Mark Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whisky (These bottles come dipped in red wax.)
Jim Beam Honey
St. George Single Malt Whiskey
St. George Single Malt Whiskey 30th Anniversary Edition
Elmer T. Lee Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
(Every bourbon drinker should know the name Elmer T. Lee. He created the world's first single barrel bourbon, Blanton's when he was a master distiller at George T. Stagg. In honor of his retirement in 1986, the distillery introduced Elmer T. Lee Single Barrel, for which Lee helped select the casks until his death in 2013.)
Four Roses Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Angel's Envy Cask Strength Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Maker's 46 Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey
Old Blowhard Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey
Barterhouse Kentucky Bourbon
Booker's Bourbon Batch No. 2014-1
Jim Beam Devil's Cut Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Wild Turkey American Honey
Hillrock Estate Distillery Single Malt Whiskey (Impressive Decanter)
Koval Single Barrel Millet Whiskey
Few Bourbon Whiskey
Ragtime Rye American Straight Whiskey
Willett Pot Still Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Templeton Small Batch Rye Whiskey (Al Capone was supposedly partial to this whiskey.)
Hudson Single Malt Whiskey
Noah's Mill Bourbon Whiskey (114.3 proof)
Balcones Baby Blue Corn Whisky (Made from roasted blue cornmeal.)
Balcones Brimstone Texas Scrub Oak Smoked Corn Whisky
Michter's 10 Years Old Single Barrel Straight Rye Whiskey
Corsair Triple Smoke Single Barrel American Malt Whiskey
Larceny Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Whippersnapper Oregon Spirit Whiskey
Tincup American Whiskey
Henry Duyore's Straight Bourbon Whiskey
High West Son of Bourye Whiskey
Old Potrero Single Malt Straight Rye Whiskey (This fun label has a pair of mythical jackalopes on it.)
Old Potrero Single Malt Straight Rye Whiskey
Kings County Distillery Chocolate "Flavored" Whiskey
Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey


My father-in-law and I taking a shots of Jim Beam Honey! So smooth, so good!



More photos from inside the book:








In conclusion, after reading about this fantastic spirit, it's history, and every single label listed in this book, I have decided that this book does not belong on a shelf. This book belongs on a coffee table for display, so everybody I know can see it and learn something new or old, depending on how you look at it!  This is a fantastic book. I enjoyed it very much and I rate it 5 stars because of it's depth. There is so much to enjoy here.





For more information:

Retails for $13.45 on Amazon
$19.99 in bookstores

The Art of American Whiskey
by Noah Rothbaum
Hardcover: 192 pages
Publisher: Ten Speed Press (April 28, 2015)
ISBN-10: 1607747189
ISBN-13: 978-1607747185
Weight: 1.2 lb
Dimensions: 8.8 x 0.8 x 6.3 inches



*FTC DISCLAIMER: I received this book complimentary from Blogging For Books, in exchange for my honest review!*