This is a very good beginner’s guide to understanding and, as the title suggests, enjoying bourbon.
Author Frank Flannery doesn’t get too deep into any of the topics touched upon, but the reader will come away feeling confident enough to join a bourbon conversation at a cocktail party.
We start with a brief history of bourbon and how bourbon is made. Then we get some tips on how to read a bourbon label. This is pretty helpful and not something you typically find in books like this. Note that Flannery states right at the start: “Depending on the bottle, a bourbon label might tell you a whole lot or very little.” I’ve found that the information I am most interested in when I’m shopping for a bourbon is generally not listed on the label (the rye content).
The chapter on tasting bourbon was also quite helpful. However, I do think that this is one of those categories one must really experience to understand. To talk about hints of cherry or vanilla or oak or cinnamon can be hard to fathom without having a bourbon in hand.
A chapter titled “Famous Bourbons” was a bit unusual. Flannery selects five brand names that are “Names You Know.” I only recognized four of them and, more importantly, I thought there were some big names left off the short list. But it was nice to get a brief background on these names, the tasting notes, and the mash bill for these. This is the information I’d like on all bourbons but many don’t list the mash bill.
The book also includes a couple of bourbon cocktails, but these are the most basic of cocktails. These are the drinks that every bartender should know how to make (and one is a drink I almost always order when I order a cocktail) but these aren’t fancy or ‘new’ bourbon drinks. Anyone familiar with bourbon has probably made one or more of these.
The biggest portion of this book, however … probably about 2/3 of the book … are pages for the reader to write in. Tasting Notes.
Go on your own bourbon tasting journey and fill in the pages. Brand name, distiller, flavors – with a tasting wheel!, a color chart (how rich is that amber color?), and prompts to describe the first sip and the third sip, and whatever else you want to say about the drink.
It’s a nice notebook to have, but that’s really what this is … a bourbon journal notebook, with a few, simple pages to help you know what you’re looking for. If that’s what you’re looking for, then this is really well done. If you’re looking for a slightly more thorough guide to bourbons, then you might want to thumb through this and see if this will work.
Personally, I liked the journal aspect, but I didn’t get anything new about bourbons in the informational pages.
Looking for a good book? Enjoying Bourbon: A Tasting Guide and Journal by Frank Flannery is more journal than guide, but that works just fine for me.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review.
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Enjoying Bourbon: A Tasting Guide and Journal
author: Frank Flannery
publisher: Voyageur Press
hardcover, 176 pages