Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Life's a Veach: Michael Veach's Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey - An American Heritage
Michael Veach may be the world's only full-time, professional bourbon historian. He began his career working for distilleries as an in-house historian and now works at the Filson Historical Society in Louisville, Kentucky. Anyone who has read his comments on fourms like StraightBourbon or BourbonEnthusiast knows that he is an amazing wealth of information.
In Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey: An American Heritage, Veach offers up a slim, readable jaunt through bourbon history, from bourbon's origins to today. Despite the succinct nature of the history, he manages to pack in a fair amount of information, making it a fantastic survey course in bourbon history.
Veach sheds new light on a number of area, but what struck me the most is how little we know about early bourbon history. We don't know who first distilled bourbon, who first put it in oak barrels, who first charred those barrels or even why it's called bourbon. Veach tackles each of these questions, debunks the origin myths surrounding them and offers a few possible answers including a number that I had never heard before, but in the end, there is a lot that we just don't know.
My only complaint about Veach's work is that it left me wanting more. I appreciate the effort that went into making this such a great read and a streamlined history, but I've read enough of Veach's various writings to know that he is brimming with information, and I'd love for him to share a bit more of it. He concedes in the introduction that this work isn't meant to be exhaustive, but now that he's written this excellent survey, I would love to see Veach take a microscope to some small facet of bourbon history and share more of his very valuable knowledge and insights.
In any case, if you're a fan of bourbon or just good history, Veach's book deserves a place on your shelf.
Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey: An American Heritage ($15.81)
Michael R. Veach
University Press of Kentucky