Review: Bourbon by Fred Minnick
Fred Minnick, Bourbon: The Rise, Fall, and Rebirth of an American Whiskey, (Minneapolis: Voyageur Press, 2016), 240 pages $25.00 ISBN 9780760351727
Fred Minnick is the author of five books, three of which are about whiskey and the history of bourbon. His book Whiskey Women earned a Gold Medal at the ForeWord Reviews Book Awards and a Silver at the Indie Publisher Awards. Minnick serves as a judge for the San Francisco World Spirits Competition and the World Whiskies Awards. Minnick is also an Iraq War veteran where he served as a U.S. Army public affairs photojournalist.
Minnick’s newest book, Bourbon: The Rise, Fall, and Rebirth of an American Whiskey is a thorough history of bourbon, which for over 200 years has been one of the nation’s most important spirits. The book is broken down into 12 chapters that chart, as the subtitle says, the rise, fall and rebirth of an American whiskey. Minnick quickly jumps into contested waters by exploring who has the most legitimate claim to be called the “Father of Bourbon.” Unlike many other whiskey books that just repeat marketing myths, Minnick has done the work of diving into the historical record and offers a better picture of the history of bourbon than has been seen in some time. He traces the large social movements as well as the lives of individuals that supported and fought the bourbon industry throughout U.S. history.
In an attempt to appeal to more readers, the pages are illustrated, and Minnick uses quite a few sidebars in each chapter to give quick details or extrapolate on an interesting moment or person in bourbon history. Bourbon is one of the best histories on the subject to come along in a while.
Originally published in Distiller Magazine (Winter2016): 151