Open in the App Open in the App Open in the App
Get the key ideas from

Bourbon Empire

The Past and Future of America's Whiskey

By Reid Mitenbuler
12-minute read
Audio available
Bourbon Empire: The Past and Future of America's Whiskey by Reid Mitenbuler

Bourbon Empire (2015) takes you on an exciting journey through time, revealing the complex history of America’s famous corn-based whiskey. Learn how this tipple survived the dry period of Prohibition, numerous corruption scandals and competition from overseas spirits while making its mark in politics and society.

This is a Blinkist staff pick

“Pour yourself a glass of bourbon and read or listen to these blinks. They really give you a sense of the long and gritty history of this most American of spirits.”

– Erik, Editorial Production Manager at Blinkist

  • People interested in what makes a “true” bourbon
  • Students curious about the role whiskey played in American history
  • Bartenders, mixologists or anyone exploring the popularity of bourbon

Living in New York, Reid Mitenbuler writes about whiskey and US drinking culture for Slate, Whiskey Advocate, Saveur and The Atlantic. The Bourbon Empire is his first book.

Go Premium and get the best of Blinkist

Upgrade to Premium now and get unlimited access to the Blinkist library. Read or listen to key insights from the world’s best nonfiction.

Upgrade to Premium

What is Blinkist?

The Blinkist app gives you the key ideas from a bestselling nonfiction book in just 15 minutes. Available in bitesize text and audio, the app makes it easier than ever to find time to read.

Discover
3,000+ top
nonfiction titles

Get unlimited access to the most important ideas in business, investing, marketing, psychology, politics, and more. Stay ahead of the curve with recommended reading lists curated by experts.

Join Blinkist to get the key ideas from
Get the key ideas from
Get the key ideas from

Bourbon Empire

The Past and Future of America's Whiskey

By Reid Mitenbuler
  • Read in 12 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 7 key ideas
Upgrade to Premium Read or listen now
Bourbon Empire: The Past and Future of America's Whiskey by Reid Mitenbuler
Synopsis

Bourbon Empire (2015) takes you on an exciting journey through time, revealing the complex history of America’s famous corn-based whiskey. Learn how this tipple survived the dry period of Prohibition, numerous corruption scandals and competition from overseas spirits while making its mark in politics and society.

This is a Blinkist staff pick

“Pour yourself a glass of bourbon and read or listen to these blinks. They really give you a sense of the long and gritty history of this most American of spirits.”

– Erik, Editorial Production Manager at Blinkist

Key idea 1 of 7

Bourbon whiskey is the embodiment of the American spirit and storied history.

How do you like your bourbon whiskey? Served on the rocks, with a twist? Or perhaps just a shot after a long day at work? However you enjoy bourbon, know that it has a long, storied history as the drink of choice for the American people.

There are many reasons why bourbon is a uniquely American spirit.

While bourbon is technically a whiskey, this type of spirit can only be called “bourbon” if it meets the following conditions: It must be distilled in the United States; the grain mixture must be at least 51 percent corn; and it must be aged in new oak barrels.

These rules to protect bourbon’s unique character came about through careful lobbying by the liquor industry. In particular, Lewis Rosenstiel, head of one of America’s largest liquor companies, wanted to give bourbon a special classification to secure it as a distinctively American product.

Through this classification, Rosenstiel knew he could make bourbon a more desirable export product. He spent millions of dollars lobbying overseas, even sending every US embassy a case of bourbon!

In time, his efforts paid off. In 1964, the classification rules were made law and bourbon was on its way to international fame.

While politics made bourbon the spirit it is today, its history with American drinkers runs much deeper.

North American whiskey appears as far back as the seventeenth century when the fiery spirit was supplied to frontier soldiers fighting Native Americans. This whiskey was of questionable quality, but producers at the time weren’t concerned about quality ingredients or proper distilling procedures.

But as settlers began to move into the western territories, new and different corn and grains were discovered and added to the mash recipe. This certainly helped the flavor of this originally simple spirit: what once tasted like gasoline began to refine into what we know as bourbon today.

Thus, bourbon whiskey was on its way to becoming the “American native spirit.”

Upgrade to continue Read or listen now

Key ideas in this title

Upgrade to continue Read or listen now

No time to
read?

Pssst. Sign up to your secret to success: key ideas from top nonfiction in just 15 minutes.
Created with Sketch.