The Book of Bourbon

by: Gary Regan and Mardee Haiden Regan

Houghton Mifflin
Historical, Ingredients, Recipes,

Unlike some of the other compendiums of Bourbon tasting notes available, Gary and Mardee provide a view of this spirit that is not only educational, but highly entertaining as well. They bring a lot of their own personal spirit into this volume, with a wry sense of humor that allows you to enjoy your reading every time you pick this book up. The result is what feels like actually joining the Regans as they travel through Bourbon country, not only tasting the spirit, but learning about the history and culture of this classic American product as well.
I was pleased to see that in addition to providing the requisite tasting notes for each of the brands discussed, they also included an entire chapter which describes how the reader can approach the tasting process for their own personal edification and participation.

In the back of the book, they include a wealth of recipes that make good use of the whiskey's they have just introduced you to. In their section on cocktails, they not only include very good recipes for such classics as the Mint Julep, Old Fashioned, and the Sazerac, but they also include a recipe for homemade Orange Bitters, a classic ingredient in many cocktails but almost impossible to find now days. In addition to cocktails, they also list a very enticing handfull of cookery recipes that use bourbon in various ways.

I do however wish that they had made a point of including pictures of the individual bottles or at least labels of the whiskeys being discussed, after all, when you are looking at a crowded shelf in the liquor store, it can often be difficult to carefully read every label.