Bourbon Justice: How Whiskey Law Shaped America by Brian Haara

I state in my Statement of Ethics that, if I ever discuss a product that is produced by one of my friends, I will disclose it at the beginning of the article. I also state that I will disclose if I received a review copy. Brian Haara is a friend of mine. I did buy the book to support his work, but I also received a review copy prior to the publication date as well. All opinions on the work are my own, but it won’t hurt to keep in mind that I might be biased.

I had been reading SippnCorn.com (now housed on BrianHaara.com) long before I met its author in real life. It was, and is, a great resource into bourbon history. I interviewed Brian Haara, lawyer and the proprietor of the site back in 2015. In it, he let loose the secret that he was starting to write a book and ever since that time, I have been eagerly waiting for it to arrive.

Back in April, it finally hit Amazon as a pre-order. I immediately placed my order, without even knowing the publication date, and settled in to wait for my copy to arrive. Interestingly, the publisher reached out to me to see if I wanted a review copy of the book. Since I was anxiously awaiting the book, I decided to accept so that I could read it early.

Let me tell you, Bourbon Justice: How Whiskey Law Shaped America is a great book! Brian Haara tells us the fascinating story of how many very litigious bourbon folks ended up, often accidentally, crafting a new and different American commercial society that is still with us today. Lawsuits that started with bourbon ended up affecting industries as far reaching as women's lingerie and mouthwash.

Brian covers topics such as the development of Trade Mark and Brand Name rights, advertising and "puffery," consumer protection, and truth in labeling. And along the way, he delves into the history of many familiar Bourbon brands and distilleries. He even included topical tasting notes. In the end, you will learn something about bourbon, you will learn something about business, and you will learn something about the less talked about history that made America the country it is today. I highly recommend that you run right out and buy it.

But one of you won't have to do that! Remember how I said I had preordered it, but that I ended up with a review copy? Well, I like supporting my friends so I wanted to make sure that I still bought a copy. But as you might expect, I do not need two of the same book. My purchased copy is set to arrive on Monday and as soon as it does, I'd like to ship it off to one of my readers. If you'd like an opportunity for that to be you, enter below! The winner will be drawn on November 7th, 2018 and notified via email. I’m sorry, but I can only ship this to addresses in the United States and Canada due to international shipping costs. Good Luck!


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Bourbon+ Premiere Issue

I state in my Statement of Ethics that, if I ever discuss a product that is produced by one of my friends, I will disclose it at the beginning of the article. Fred Minnick is my friend. And while I don’t know his exact relationship with the publication he is Editor-in-Chief of, I did buy the subscription to support his work. All opinions on that work are my own, but it won’t hurt to keep in mind that I might be biased.

It’s been over 15 years now since I started my career. My second career, actually. My first was as a shipping coordinator at a metal stamping factory. Eventually, the grind of factory work wore on me to the point where a change was needed. Enter college and a fancy degree in graphic design.

My first real job in my new career was as one of a team of designers for a log home magazine. I eventually worked my way up to the Design Director position. I had a team of designers and was in charge of how the magazine looked and the experience our readers had as they interacted with it.

One of the proudest moments of my working life was when I walked into a random Barnes & Noble, in a part of the country that was nowhere near home, and found one of “my” issues of the magazine on the newsstand. If the world had developed smartphones yet, I would have probably snapped a photo of the page with my name on it.

Eventually, that job went away, and I moved on to other areas of design work. First newspapers, then agencies, marketing departments and now freelance. But my love of magazines never went away. Somewhere in the back of my head was a little dream that one day I would make my own. So it was with great interest that I learned that my friend Fred Minnick was going to be the Editor-in-Chief of a new Bourbon-focused publication. If I wasn’t going to realize my little idea, I couldn’t think of a better person to vicariously realize it through.

Bourbon+ Premiere Issue

Purchase Info: I subscribed to this at a $35 yearly subscription price. I see on the Bourbon+ website that you can do it for $30 if you so desire.

Nose: The delightful odor of ink on paper.

Mouth: Are you kidding? I’m not tasting this… I will however keep tasting the Four Roses OESQ single barrel that I was sipping on while I read the issue.

The issue is delightful. The book is a satisfying nine by eleven-ish inches in size. The paper feels like it has a slightly “soft-touch” coating to it. Most people like this…I’m not a fan, but I can live with it. The issue is beautiful. The layout is easy to read, with large and luxurious margins. It’s filled with beautiful large full-page, full-color photos. Even the ads are good looking. And the content?

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Well, the content is fantastic. I mean, with names like Fred Minnick, Carla Carlton, Chuck Cowdery and Lew Bryson in the issue excellent content is expected. And the excellent content was delivered. There are departments and columns covering everything from entertaining to cocktails to craft distilling. Feature articles include a profile on Maker’s Mark’s Bill Samuels Jr., the science of corn, and even rum. This is a wide-ranging and comprehensive read covering all of the interests of the bourbon lover. I loved it and can’t wait until the next issue.


BourbonGuy.com accepts no advertising. It is solely supported by the sale of the hand-made products I sell at the BourbonGuy Gifts Etsy store. If you'd like to support BourbonGuy.com, please visit BourbonGuyGifts.com. Thanks!

Barrel Strength Bourbon: The Explosive Growth of America's Whiskey by Carla Carlton (and other stuff I'm giving away)

It’s Bourbon Heritage Month and as such, I am celebrating all things bourbon. Not just the liquid, but travel, books, and merch as well. Tonight we talk about a book that I’ve had on my reading list for over a year now.

I have had Barrel Strength Bourbon: The Explosive Growth of America's Whiskey by Carla Carlton on my Reading List for over a year. I bought the book right after it came out. Possibly even pre-ordered it since I tend to do that. The book arrived and I set it in a pile of other books to read the next time I went on vacation.

Eventually I went on vacation. And I promptly lost the book. But the funny thing was that I didn’t realize I lost the book until I was packing for the next vacation and tried to find it. I knew that I had been too busy to read on the previous trip, but it wasn’t in my travel bag. And it wasn’t in my office…or my living room…didn’t get brought down to the library I keep in the lower level…it wasn’t even in my bedroom with the stack of books I keep in there.

So I bought the book again on my Kindle to read on my way to Kentucky last week. Upon my return home…I found the book on the bookshelf in my office where I keep my bourbon books. I couldn’t find it because I had put it away.

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But guess what? I do not regret buying the book twice. It’s a damn fine book. It is informative, yet written in an approachable and entertaining manner. The author draws on both other recognized sources as well as interviews with people inside the bourbon industry. In other words, you can trust that she knows what she is talking about. I’d say this is a fantastic book for those just getting into bourbon history. And even if you already know all there is to know about the subject, it is still a fun read. I highly recommend you go buy it. Maybe even twice like I did.

However, even though I purchased the book twice, I find that I don’t need both a physical and a digital copy. And since the digital copy takes up less room, I’d like to pass the physical one along to one of my loyal readers. Not only that, but I’d like to give you a lot of other bourbon stuff that I’ve gathered over the years. These are either items that I thought were cool enough to buy (but never ended up using) or items that I was given along with samples/while attending events. (None of these were provided by the brands or authors for the purpose of giving away and they are not affiliated with the give away. I just wanted to be nice.)

For a view of what is being given away, see below the entry form. Contest ends on Friday, September 28th and winners will be chosen randomly after the contest conclude. Winners will be notified via email. Good Luck!


BourbonGuy.com accepts no advertising. It is solely supported by the sale of the hand-made products I sell at the BourbonGuy Gifts Etsy store. If you'd like to support BourbonGuy.com, please visit BourbonGuyGifts.com. Thanks!

Mead: The Libations, Legends, and Lore of History's Oldest Drink by Fred Minnick

Disclaimer: Fred Minnick is a friend of mine and in my statement of ethics I promised to disclose when I am reviewing one of my friend’s products and to only review them when it was truly something I really liked. This is one of those times.

I first became aware of mead as a drink in my mid-twenties. I was reading American Gods, the new book by my soon-to-be favorite fiction author Neil Gaiman. In the book, there is an early scene where the characters seal a contract by drinking mead. The characters are not impressed with the quality of the drink describing it as "evil, vile fucking mead" and as tasting of pickled honey. 

Needless to say, as my first real exposure to the concept of mead, I wasn't in a real big hurry to try it. That's even if I could have found any in the small Western Wisconsin college town, that unbeknownst to me, I shared with the author of the book.

It wasn't until I happened upon a meadery on my way to a family reunion in extreme Northern Wisconsin many years later that I once again considered mead as a drink. At the time I favored dry white wines and craft beers as my libations of choice. I was ready to expand the range of my palate though and picked up a bottle of the dry mead they were producing. I found it a delicious addition to the family festivities. 

And sadly, that was where my mead drinking experiment ended for the time being. I knew of it, knew I could find it, but soon moved on to spirits, found bourbon, and forgot to pick it up again. 

Until right now. Bourbon legend, my friend, and Wall Street Journal-Bestselling Author, Fred Minnick had released his seventh book. And it just so happens to be about Mead. Reading it, inspired me to go to the liquor store and finally pick up another bottle of Mead. This one is a sweet Mead, but I will be keeping my eye out for a dryer version as I am not really a fan of sweet wines, ciders, or apparently Meads. 

If you are at all interested in Mead (or just like Fred's writing style) I highly recommend you pick up Mead: The Libations, Legends, and Lore of History's Oldest Drink. As the subtitle suggests, it goes into the history and legends about the drink's origins. But it also gives you information on bees and honey, the brewing of mead, and some cocktail recipes where you might want to use some of that home-brewed mead.

You can pick up Mead: The Libations, Legends, and Lore of History's Oldest Drink at your local bookseller or on Amazon for somewhere around $25.


BourbonGuy.com accepts no advertising. It is solely supported by the sale of the hand-made products I sell at the BourbonGuy Gifts Etsy store. If you'd like to support BourbonGuy.com, visit BourbonGuyGifts.com. Thanks!

Drinking Distilled: A User's Manual by Jeffrey Morgenthaler

You may have heard that last weekend, almost a foot of snow fell in the Twin Cities of Minnesota. I'm not suspecting that it made your local news, but the howls from the residents were loud enough that they were probably heard at least a couple states away. Now all my neighbors decided, even though the plows were staying home, that they needed to try to keep their driveway cleared of snow.  

I, on the other hand, had the good sense to realize that since the snow wasn't going anywhere, and the plows weren't going anywhere, then neither was I. Plus with the blizzard conditions outside, there was the off chance that if I put off getting the snowblower out that some of that nasty white stuff might just end up in the neighbor's yard. So instead of burning gasoline in a futile attempt to beat nature, I decided to curl up with a good book. Luckily, a good book had arrived earlier in the week. 

Drinking Distilled by Jeffrey Morgenthaler is a short, though highly entertaining look at drinking distilled spirits. The book is structured as to give advice to the drinker and is divided into four sections. "General Information," which covers topics from toasting to glassware to barfing is the first section. Following that is "What You're Drinking" which gives a little background various spirits and cocktails. It's entertaining, even if it does spread the misinformation that bourbon needs to be over two years old. The third and fourth sections are "When You're Drinking" and "Where You're Drinking" which combine to give advice, cocktails, and proper edicate for various times and places you might be having a drink.

All in all this is a fun book. It is a quick read (I did it in the course of one afternoon while ignoring the snowstorm outside) and extremely entertaining. Heck, you might even learn something...just not how long bourbon needs to age (for the record there is no minimum age for bourbon, though I really wish we'd follow along with the rest of the world and their three year minimum).


BourbonGuy.com accepts no advertising. It is solely supported by the sale of the hand-made products I sell at the BourbonGuy Gifts Etsy store. If you'd like to support BourbonGuy.com, visit BourbonGuyGifts.com. Thanks!