• Bourbon

  • The Rise, Fall, and Rebirth of an American Whiskey
  • By: Fred Minnick
  • Narrated by: Jamie Renell
  • Length: 7 hrs and 35 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (273 ratings)

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Bourbon

By: Fred Minnick
Narrated by: Jamie Renell
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Publisher's Summary

Once and for all, America learns the likely inventor of its beloved bourbon.

Bourbon is not just alcohol - this amber-colored drink is deeply ingrained in American culture and tangled in American history. From the early days of raw corn liquor to the myriad distilleries that have proliferated around the country today, bourbon has come to symbolize America. In Bourbon: The Rise, Fall, and Rebirth of an American Whiskey, award-winning whiskey author Fred Minnick traces bourbon's entire history, from the 1700s with Irish, Scottish, and French settlers setting up stills and making distilled spirits in the New World through today's booming resurgence. He also lays out in expert detail the critical role this spirit has played throughout the cultural and even political history of the nation - from Congress passing whiskey-protection laws to consumers standing in long lines just for a glimpse of a rare bottle of Pappy Van Winkle. And most importantly, Minnick explores the mystery of who most likely created the sweet corn liquor we now know as bourbon. He studies the men who've been championed as its inventors over time - from Daniel Boone's cousin to Baptist minister Elijah Craig - and, based on new research and never-before-seen documentation, answers the question of who deserves the credit.

©2016 Fred Minnick (P)2017 Audible, Inc.
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

What listeners say about Bourbon

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Warning: hard copy is visual

I was interested to learn more about bourbon, as it is uniquely an American spirit. This book certainly provided the detailed and expansive history I was looking for. The narrator spoke clearly and at a good pace, but it was a little tough to discern when it was narration and when it was a quote.
Though, be warned, the book itself is very visual. I decided to get a hard copy in order to flip through it a bit easier and review the facts. It was only then that I found out the physical book is loaded with pictures of old whiskey bottles, vintage ads, whiskey stills, and other cool photos. So, if you’re on the fence about the audiobook vs. a physical copy, I would definitely advise going with the hard copy.

13 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Good entertainment for bourbon geeks

The beginning was fascinating with the stories and research around who is credited with inventing bourbon. One small nit pick from a Kentucky native is that certain location names and words were mispronounced. Otherwise a great way to pass time on a long drive.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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For the bourbon connoisseur

Great book on the history of bourbon, excellent performance from the narrator. If you really like bourbon and history, this was made for you.

2 people found this helpful

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Review

Very informative and well written history of bourbon.

it was well read by the narrator.

1 person found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Not sure why it went beyond 4 chapters

Seriously, the first 4 chapters were good. The Forward was great, the rest... worthless and if no value.

1 person found this helpful

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Seemingly Great History, At Least In Audible Form

Seemingly Great History, At Least In Audible Form. Yes, I read the Audible of this - mostly on my commute to and from work over the month of October 2022, though I finished it after work on Halloween day itself. So I can't speak to all the pictures and such that some complained about in the text version of this tale. And I also can't speak to how well documented it is - the Audible version doesn't exactly have footnotes. :)

With the above caveats though, I found the actual history presented here to be interesting and informative, though as others noted, perhaps a bit tedious in some spots ("bonded" is used long before it is clear exactly what this term means) and perhaps with some hand waving in other spots (the Whiskey Rebellion, and even Prohibition outside of its particular application to whiskey generally and bourbon specifically). It even manages to cover some of the more modern issues in the liquor business, at least through the mid-2010s when the book was originally published, including the GenX / Millenial shift away from whiskey and dark liquors to more vodkas and lighter liquors.

Note On The Narration, specific to the Audible review: Renell's reading of this seems to have possibly elevated the actual text - which is always a great thing for a narrator. His particular inflections and stylings were quite good in bringing out various idiosyncrasies of the histories in particular.

Thus, overall this truly is a strong history that anyone remotely interested in the subject (and not already well-versed in its history) will likely find informative and interesting. Very much recommended.

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Light on substance

This book claims to offer a comprehensive history of bourbon but large parts of it are just regurgitations of federal laws and advertisements. The substantive information is sprinkled lightly throughout and is mixed in with so much fluff it’s hard to distinguish. The author’s biases are obvious and distracting. This is not an impartial, historical account of bourbon. It is a colorful advertisement for a handful of bourbon brands and distillers with very little discussion about how bourbon is actually made. A very disappointing read. I have read two books by this author and will not be reading any others.

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Good book

I not only love whisky and bourbon, but also love books about drinks and history. This is a good one, but more a group journalistic piece than a book. Compared to books as ‘The Search for God and Guinness” and “Shadows in the Vineyard”, about Bourgogne, this one lacks more people and brand history in favor of dates and regulatory aspects. Anyhow, it is a good book for those who love the drink, in special because of its beautiful edition with photos and poster.

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good history, middle gets dry

I found the beginning and end to be very interesting. The middle was not so much.

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Medicinal Whiskey, is it for you?

It was a fascinating history, however, like most history it had it's slow parts. If you like Bourbon or just spirits in general, I highly recommend this book. I worked with Bourbon and spirit barrels in the beer industry for many years and it was great to learn the origin stories of some of the brands of barrels I worked with.

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  • Jamie
  • 01-06-22

Interesting in parts

Being a whisky fan, I was keen to know more about bourbon. And while there are some interesting and very informative parts, there is a lot that gets lost in lists and detail that are just not interesting to a listener. About 25% of this is worth a listen and would make a great history podcast, but just listing out information is just boring and not at all engaging. A shame, as there is a lot that could be genuinely engaging, and the reader is good with the material.