The author of this book, Linda Ruffenach, is also the founder of “Whisky Chicks”, a group of women who love whiskey of all styles, but particularly Bourbon. This is a very good book for anyone who is just getting started learning about Bourbon whiskey. There are also many things of interest to the veteran Bourbon drinker. Ruffenach is well respected in the industry and retired Michter’s Master Distiller, Pam Heilmann wrote the forward to this book. Many of her friends in the industry also contributed to the book and Ruffenach is quick to give them credit when they did so. The book will appeal to Bourbon novices, mixologists and those wishing to cook with America’s spirit. It is fun to read and always interesting. 

How To Be A Bourbon Badass, Linda Ruffenach, Bloomington, Indiana: Red Lighting Books, 2018. Contents, Forward, Introduction, Acknowledgements, Illustrated, pp. 162.

Ruffenach has written a book that will appeal to people beginning to learn about Bourbon. The book is designed and written to appeal to the novice drinker, but still has plenty of interest to a person who has been drinking Bourbon for years. She starts by discussing her own journey into Bourbon appreciation. She then discusses the “Bourbon Basics”,  not only how Bourbon is made, but also such subjects as tasting Bourbon and pairing bourbon and chocolate. 

There are recipes for cocktails and food with Bourbon as an ingredient scattered all through the chapter and indeed, throughout the book. Ruffenach also offers tasting notes on some brands that are mentioned in the recipes. Her third chapter discusses subjects such as how to read the label on the bottle and flavors that can be found while tasting Bourbon. The chapter includes a flavor wheel as an illustration. 

The next chapter focuses on cocktails and recipes and the next on food and recipes. The book ends with a chapter that focuses on some of the younger members of the industry such as Caleb Kilburn, the Master Distiller at Kentucky Peerless Distillery and Jane Bowie at Maker’s Mark, who helped develop the Maker’s Private Selection program.

The book is a hardback cover and well-illustrated with a lot of color photography and other illustrations. There are plenty of photographs of the cocktails and food next to their recipe for those wanting to see what the finished product looks like. The chapters are well written and interesting to read with a little humor mixed in with the information. This makes it a very quick and easy book to read. 

The recipes are well written and easy to follow. Ruffenach always gives credit to those who helped her on a subject. There are many mentions of people such as Chris Zaborowski at Westport Whiskey & Wine liquor store in Louisville, as she discusses subjects such as single barrel purchases or tasting rooms. The one complaint I have is the lack of an index. It would make it easier to find particular recipes. How To Be A Bourbon Badass is a great book for those wanting to learn more about Bourbon. It is also a good book for those who collect recipes for both cocktails and food. It is a very good addition to a Bourbon library.

Photos Courtesy of Rosemary Miller