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How bourbon came to be, and why it's experiencing such a revival today.
In Bourbon Empire, Reid Mitenbuler captures the story of bourbon, America's most iconic style of whiskey, as it really is - not as the bourbon brands would want you to believe. Behind claims of ancient family heritages and adventurous frontiersmen is a saga of shrewd capitalism far more interesting than any of the legends.
Mitenbuler traces the big-name brands - Jim Beam, Maker's Mark, Even Williams, and more - back to the past, profiling the individuals behind bourbon's founding myths and great successes. He reveals, too, the ways savvy businessmen have changed the drink, from frontier merchants who popularized the aging process to the messy soup of spirits that passed for bourbon after the Civil War. Ever since, the history of whiskey has remained colorful and controversial. The mid-twentieth century saw the whiskey industry become a favorite target of the U. S. Justice Department.
Today, a nascent craft distilling movement promises to revolutionize whiskey for the better, but not without difficulties. Many take advantage of the excitement surrounding the craft and locavore movements while employing questionable business practices, either by masquerading whiskey made elsewhere as their own or by shortcutting proven production standards.
Bourbon Empire definitively chronicles the rise of American whiskey and the industry surrounding it, unravelling how the spirit has helped shape America's political, economic, and cultural destiny, just as those same factors have inspired the evolution and unique flavour of the whiskey itself. Laced with commentary about which bourbons are worth the money, the story that emerges is as enchanting as the myths, but often more surprising.
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