This book was written by Carlo Devito, who wrote a definitive book on Rye Whiskey titled The Spirit of Rye. The book reminds me quite a bit of Gary and Mardee Regan’s The Book of Bourbon and Other Fine American Whiskeys. It is organized in a similar manner and is equally well written. I do disagree with the subtitle of the book – I believe that the center of the whiskey renaissance is actually in Scotland where single malt Scotch whisky taught people that whisky could be enjoyed for its flavor in the 1980. I do acknowledge that Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 is the best-selling American whiskey in the world and has been for some decades.
Tennessee Whiskey: How The Volunteer State Became The Center Of The Whiskey Renaissance. Carlo Devito. Nashville, Tennessee, Cider Mill Press, 2023, Introduction, Contents, Index, Illustrations, 431pp.
This book is a well-organized and attractive book. It is organized in four parts – an introduction, Part 1- About Tennessee Whiskey, Part 2 – History of Tennessee Whiskey, and Part 3 – The Distilleries. The first part discusses the definition of Tennessee whiskey, how it is made and how to drink Tennessee whiskey. The second part is a well-researched history of distilling in Tennessee. The last part is what particularly reminds me of The Book of Bourbon and Other Fine American Whiskeys. What Devito did in organizing this section is to list the distilleries in alphabetical order, give the distillery a bit of a description that often includes a bit of history of the distillery, and then give a brief description of the products made at the distillery. All of this is good information to have if you want to make a trip to Tennessee to visit distilleries.
The book is well indexed and illustrated with many color photographs. The book does have an acknowledgements section, but is without a bibliography. It would have been nice to know what the sources were for his historical information. It is well written and easy to read. It is a shorter read than it looks because of the number of excellent photographs. There are also many “side bars” that tell of individuals working in the industry such as Master Distillers and Nearest Green, the African-American who taught Jack Daniel to distill.The book is an excellent addition to any distilling library. It is full of very good historical information and descriptions of distilleries. Like all books of this nature, I am sure that in ten years’ time, it will be out of date as far as distilleries are concerned, but still valuable as a historical reference as to what was going on in the distilling world of Tennessee in the second decade of the 21st century. This is a book that I consider a classic.
Photos Courtesy of Rosemary Miller