Summer means vacations and for many people that includes a nice quiet evening of reading a book while lounging in the shade with a glass of Bourbon. Whether this is in a tropical setting or by the lake or even in your own backyard, it requires a good book. Here are some of my recommendations for your enjoyment.

  • The first book I would recommend is Barrel Strength Bourbon: The Explosive Growth of America’s Whiskey by Carla Harris Carlton. It is a very good overview of Bourbon, its history, and growth. She discusses the process of making Bourbon as well as how to taste Bourbon and the growth of Bourbonism, the word coined by Louisville’s Mayor Fischer for Bourbon Tourism. It is a fun read by an excellent writer. You will not be disappointed in reading this book. The book is well illustrated and indexed.
  • Next, summer also means enjoying food on the grill with a glass of Bourbon or a cocktail. To that end you should probably have some books on the culinary side of Bourbon. I have two that I find interesting. The first is Burgoo, Barbecue &Bourbon: A Kentucky Culinary Trinity by Albert W.A. Schmid. Schmid is an award winning author of cook books and this book will not disappoint his fans. It includes recipes for not only the title subjects but supporting foods such as breads and desserts. The recipes are easy to read and the food looks very good. The book is well designed with some photographs and an index.
  • The next book is from Southern Living and is titled Bourbon & Bacon: The Ultimate Guide to the South’s Favorite Food Groups by Morgan Murphy. This is a very attractive book filled with recipes and more. There are discussions on different foods such as bacon but also tasting notes for many popular brands of Bourbon. It is well illustrated and indexed.
  • Every summer reading list should have an old classic worth revisiting and in this list I have two classic books worth visiting again. The first is by the late Michael Jackson titled Whisky: The Definitive World Guide. Jackson was an authority on Whisk(e)y of all types and this books looks at all of them. Scotch, Irish, Canadian, American and Japanese are the major regions but he does look at whiskies from other countries as well. The reader should gain a greater appreciation of the role Bourbon plays in the world’s whisky culture after reading this book.
  • Another old classic is  Bluegrass, Belles, and Bourbon: A Pictorial History of Whiskey in Kentucky by Harry Harrison Kroll. This book was written in 1967 and is one of the earliest looks at Kentucky’s Bourbon industry. Kroll depended upon the distilleries and their marketing department for much of the history used in the book so it is not the most accurate source to be found, but he still has many interesting stories and photographs that cannot be found elsewhere. It is an entertaining book and you will be glad to have read it.
  • The last book I want to mention is not out yet but should be before the end of summer. It is titled The Law and Lawlessness of Bourbon by Brian F. Haara. Haara is a lawyer and writes a blog on legal cases involving the Distilling Industry. He has picked several of the most interesting cases and discusses them in some detail and how they changed the law in some cases and how the law changed the industry in others. After reading it my only complaint was I wanted more so it is hoped that there will be a volume two in the future. He does include tasting notes on some Bourbons at the end but that section feels like something the publisher wanted to add to drive up interest. I don’t think it was necessary as I feel this book will become a classic book in everyone’s Bourbon library.

I hope these suggestions will help you pick some good books to read this summer. Sit down with a good book and a tall glass of Bourbon neat and enjoy your reading while letting your Bourbon breath and change in the glass. There is no better way to spend a lazy summer evening.