This book is in its second edition, but a third edition is in the works. The author, Susan Reigler, worked many years as the restaurant critic, spirits writer and travel writer for the Louisville Courier-Journal newspaper, so it was only natural that she write this travel guide to Kentucky’s distilleries. Even the second edition is several years old and a host of new distillery experiences have opened since it was updated. Reigler is working on the third edition now and hopes to have it out by early next year – hopefully in time for the summer vacation season. However, the second edition is worth having if you are planning a trip to Bourbon Country. The information for the older distilleries is still accurate and it is nice to have telephone numbers and web addresses handy in one place. 

Reviving the chapter on Louisville is going to be a major project. New distilleries have opened and major brands like Old Forester and Michter’s have also expanded their presence in the city. Lexington too has expanded its distilling business in the last few years and there are more distilleries spread in the smaller towns across the State. I suspect that the next edition may have twice the content as the last edition. 

Kentucky Bourbon Country: The Essential Guide, Reigler, Susan, Photographs by Pam Spaulding. Lexington, Ky.: University Press of Kentucky, 2013. Contents, Introduction, Index, Photographs, Glossary. 222pp.

This book is a travel guide to the distilleries in Kentucky but is also much more. It is everything a person wishing to visit Kentucky to explore Bourbon needs to know. The book is very well organized with each region of distilling getting its own chapter. The book tells not only of the distilleries in the region but also other attractions that might be of interest and places to stay and eat while doing the exploration of the region. The color photography is well done and complements the text very well. The real stars of the show are the distilleries. Reigler does an excellent job describing the distilleries and their tour offerings. Offerings is the correct term since most distilleries offer more than one standard tour. These additional tours often require reservations in advance and may include a fee, but the book provides the reader with the requirements and even includes telephone numbers and websites where arrangements can be made.

The book is well organized and attractive. It is full of useful information about the distilleries, distillation and aging of bourbon and even some history. If it has one fault, it is the fault that all books of this type possess: time does not stand still and information changes. Distilleries can change tour times or even the tours themselves. Restaurants recommended can change ownership or close. These problems can not be helped, but Reigler has done an excellent job gathering information that is accurate for now and hopefully for several years to come. The book is indeed an “essential guide” for those traveling in Bourbon Country. A great addition to the Bourbon library.

Photos Courtesy of Rosemary Miller