March 15, 2012

Bourbon Book Review: "Bourbon At Its Best: The Lore & Allure of America's Finest Spirits," by Ron Givens

Ron Givens is a drinks writer, and contributor to the New York Daily News, Newsweek, Time Out New York, and Drinks magazine. In "Bourbon At Its Best: The Lore & Allure of America’s Finest Spirits," Givens displays both his appreciation of bourbon and his to-the-point manner of writing.

"Bourbon At Its Best" does not take as an in-depth approach to bourbon’s story as other authors have. But that’s okay – Givens’ work serves as an impeccable introduction to bourbon and discusses the major players in the industry, historical facts and lore, and present-day whiskey production. Givens’ effort acts as a survey of bourbon, from how it’s made to how it’s enjoyed, and the reader’s feeling of satisfaction will come not from microscopic views of historical events but rather from an overall sense of why bourbon is America’s finest spirit.

The book is also very aesthetically pleasing, and includes several color photographs of people and places. These visual aspects add substantially to the enjoyment of the work, showing the reader images from modern day rickhouses to illegal distillation equipment from the Prohibition era. Givens also provides tasting notes and product information for over 50 bourbons, offers information about touring Kentucky’s distilleries, and explains numerous bourbon cocktail recipes. And, one of the most appreciated parts of the book talks about the American distilleries that exist today, matching to them the bourbons produced there – considering the handfuls and handfuls of bourbon labels you see on a liquor store shelf, knowing in what distillery each was made greatly helps you make sense of it all.

In "Bourbon At Its Best: The Lore & Allure of America’s Finest Spirit," Ron Givens gives you an extraordinary place to begin your appreciation of bourbon. Of course, the information is still fascinating to bourbon experts, but the book’s purpose is to provide direction in the bourbon world. Perhaps Givens says it best when he explains why his book exists: “to help you sort through a world of difficult, wonderful decisions” that is bourbon whiskey.


  1. Thanks for putting this book on my radar, Josh. I need to so some bourbon reading.

    What have you been drinking lately?

  2. No worries, glad you enjoyed it. More book reviews to come! And, I've been enjoying some Elijah Craig 12. One of my favorites for sure. I will be heading to the liquor store this weekend to re-stock some bare spots, so who knows what that will turn into....

  3. This book is impossible to find...any ideas where i can find a copy?!