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!

A collaboration with Jim Beam: Budweiser Reserve Copper Lager

Hey, I redesigned the site! After having the same design through two different content management systems (the second of which I wrote CSS to look like a template on the first), I’ve decided that it was time to give the site a little facelift. Allow more room for images, get rid of a few dated design elements, things like that.

And now, if you are a reader of this blog who primarily reads it on your mobile device, you are now being treated to something that desktop readers have been (probably) ignoring for years. That would be the site’s tagline. I kept the same one for the first 5 years or so, until I notice that Josh over at the Whiskey Jug was using essentially the same one (we both started our sites about the same time and came up with it independently).

Since that discovery, I have decided to make things a little more topical. I couldn’t come up with just one that I wanted to use to sum up the site, so I change them up whenever the mood strikes me. For example, the current one is “October is a spooky time. Fortify yourself with a little bourbon.” Which means I will need to remember to change it at the end of October…

But it is also a great lead in to tonight’s review. I’m straying a little from the whiskey I typically cover tonight to talk about something that is “whiskey adjacent.” I’m taking about beer. And not just any beer, a beer that has been co-branded between Budweiser and Jim Beam. It’s not “barrel-aged” per se. The language that they use in the press release is “aged on Jim Beam bourbon barrel staves.” But some of the flavors of a barrel-aged beer do come through. Overall, it’s a respectable beer. I read somewhere that if it had been released under one of AB-InBev’s “craft” labels that people would be raving about it. I have to agree. This is a good beer and well worth picking up a six-pack to try. But, let’s get onto the more formal review, shall we?

Budweiser Reserve Copper Lager

Purchase Info: $13.99 for a 12-pack of bottles at Total Wine, Burnsville, MN

Details: 6.2% ABV. Aged on Jim Beam Bourbon Barrel Staves

Visual: Lovely copper color

Nose: Caramel, a light booziness, and classic Budweiser biscuity notes.

Mouth: Sweet with caramel and malt, nutty, a mild booziness. Notes of nuts, cooked rice and oak linger.

Thoughts: I’m going to admit something here. I do not hate Budweiser products. Even as a fan of craft beer, Bud Light is my “yard work beer” of choice. At the same time, I tend to dislike barrel-aged beers. They are typically too sweet, too strong, and too heavy for me to want to finish more than a couple sips. This splits the difference between the two. It is lighter than a typical barrel-aged beer but is much more flavorful than a Budweiser, even while retaining some of the Budweiser flavors. This beer just works. I like it. On Untapped I gave it a 3 out of 5, which is what I use when I like something, but am not is a real hurry to buy more when the amount I have is gone. As I said above, it’s worth picking up to give it a try.


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!

Angel's Envy Distillery Tour, Louisville, KY

On my last visit to Kentucky, I made a point to visit a few of the distilleries that had popped up in the last few years. It had been a few years since I had gone on a distillery tour (there are only so many distilleries that are worth touring) so I figured that they time had come to visit a couple newbies.

Upon entering the Angel’s Envy distillery, you are greeted at a desk, checked into your tour and invited to wander the gift shop until your tour starts. It really is a lovely gift shop with exposed brick, honey color wood, and black ironwork. There is a story about why the elevator in the back has the name Vermont American above it. Apparently parts of this building used to be a Vermont American plant.

Fun fact, my father worked for a Vermont American plant in northern Wisconsin making drill bits for many years before the plant was shut down and the jobs moved elsewhere.

The tour starts by taking the elevator under the Vermont American sign up to the cooking and fermentation area. The exposed brick of original factory is still a major design element, accented by the wood and metalwork from the gift shop.

The fermenters are closed fermenters, though they will open one up for you to look in.

If you turn around while they are describing the cooking and fermentation process, you get a nice look at their column still. More on that area later.

The mashbill for Angel’s Envy is (very coincidentally, wink wink) the same as Old Forester and Woodford Reserve. I guess it makes sense that it would be since Angel’s Envy was founded by the former Master Distiller of Old Forester, Lincoln Henderson. It was what he liked, knew, and reportedly the whiskey he bought to make the sourced version of Angel’s Envy that is currently for sale (aged stock from this distillery won’t be ready for a while).

After going through the cooking and fermentation area, we were taken to the still room. If you aren’t looking at the still, you will see a nice view of the Downtown Louisville skyline from the window.

The still area is dominated by the copper “Spirit Safe” style display. It was designed to be in the shape of an Angel’s Envy bottle and if all the computers go down, you could crack that thing open along the seam and stick a hydrometer in if need be.

After the still area, we made our way over to the barrel filling area. This is one of the tanks that hold the new make as it comes off the still. I liked the phrase stenciled on it. I feel like that would make a good tee shirt for me.

As you walk out of the barrel filling area, you will notice the barrels waiting to be filled. They do not have an aging area on site, so these will be trucked to another location to age after they are filled.

Here the tour steps a little out of order on the process. The bottling line is between the filling and dumping areas. It wasn’t being run very fast while I was there. Sounds like that might be a usual thing for them.

Of course, the thing that makes Angel’s Envy what it is, is the barrel finishing that the bourbon goes through before bottling. The aged bourbon is brought to the facility and put into barrels that had previously been used to age port wine. In this stage, they leave it for a relatively short period of time (think months not years) stacked on pallets. This step is done on site.

I love being able to see barrels being dumped. I’m not sure why but it always gives me a little thrill. We were lucky enough to catch them dumping some just as we left the barrel finishing area.

And of course the tour ended with a tasting. They only taste the standard Angel’s envy release. But they give you a generous pour (for a tour) before inviting you to put a message into a tube in their wall, buy a cocktail in the on-site cocktail lounge or wander around the tasting area.

The tasting area is dominated by a very large split log table. Two tables were carved from this one log that had been ripped down the center. It was an impressive sight. The tasting room followed the same honey wood and black metal work as the rest of the distillery. It was beautifully done.

I was super impressed with the Angel’s Envy tour. They were very transparent about both the sourced whiskey they are currently bottling as well as the stuff they are making now. I felt extremely welcome on the tour. It was entertaining and beautiful. All in all, I’d recommend this one.


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!