Solid Look At History, Current Uses, and Future Of The Barrel. At just 240 pages or so – and just 14% or so of that bibliography, which is where the single star deduction comes in – this is far from a truly in-depth look at the topic. But as kind of a “Barrel 101”, this book really works. The majority of the text focuses on the various current uses of barrels, mostly dealing with the various forms of alcohol stored in them – everything from liquors to wines to even beers – but also delving into even, surprisingly, hot sauce. Shorter sections deal with the millenia-old history of the barrel and with its most modern incarnations and looking to what the future might hold for the technology.
Indeed, for what it is, the only truly glaring weakness here is in fact the dearth of a bibliography, clocking in at just about 14% of the overall text, when 20-30% is more typical in my extensive experience with nonfiction Advance Reviewer Copies.
Overall a quick, fun, and informative read that will give you yet more esoteric knowledge and trivia and thus expand your horizons just that much more. Very much recommended.
This review of Cask Strength by Mike Gerrard was originally written on June 18, 2023.
Seemingly Great History, At Least In Audible Form. Yes, I read the Audible of this – mostly on my commute to and from work over the month of October 2022, though I finished it after work on Halloween day itself. So I can’t speak to all the pictures and such that some complained about in the text version of this tale. And I also can’t speak to how well documented it is – the Audible version doesn’t exactly have footnotes. 🙂
With the above caveats though, I found the actual history presented here to be interesting and informative, though as others noted, perhaps a bit tedious in some spots (“bonded” is used long before it is clear exactly what this term means) and perhaps with some hand waving in other spots (the Whiskey Rebellion, and even Prohibition outside of its particular application to whiskey generally and bourbon specifically). It even manages to cover some of the more modern issues in the liquor business, at least through the mid-2010s when the book was originally published, including the GenX / Millenial shift away from whiskey and dark liquors to more vodkas and lighter liquors.
Thus, overall this truly is a strong history that anyone remotely interested in the subject (and not already well-versed in its history) will likely find informative and interesting. Very much recommended.
This review of Bourbon by Fred Minnick was originally written on November 2, 2022.
This week we’re looking at a solid story that also does a remarkable job of showing a truly balanced social examination. This week we’re look at For All She Knows by Jamie Beck.
Amazing Social Examination While Telling Solid Story. I gotta admit, when I first heard about this story featuring “a teen party with a tragic outcome”, I was a bit scared that Beck was about to go preachy. More than a bit, if I’m being perfectly honest. But I’ve come to truly appreciate her strength as a storyteller, and I knew that no matter how preachy she may have gotten, it was going to be a truly excellent story that allowed her to do it.
And yall: She didn’t get preachy. At all. Instead, what we get is a truly balanced, truly nuanced look at how even local politics and tragedies can tear even decades long confidante level friendships to shreds. What we get is two very realistic approaches to parenting – I’ve seen both even within my own family. What we get is two mothers fighting for their sons who happen to be on opposite sides of both the local political issue and the tragedy. And we see in depth the love and devotion each mother has to her son – and what each is willing to do to try to help.
Beck’s older books – romances – were still excellent stories, even if constrained by that particular genre’s (some would argue obsessive and insane) rules. Now unconstrained by those rules and able to tell exactly the story she wants to tell in exactly the way she wants to tell it, this already strong storyteller shows that she is truly a master of her craft. Very much recommended.