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American Still Life: The Jim Beam Story and the Making of the World's #1 Bourbon Hardcover – Aug 1 2003

5.0 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (Aug. 15 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471444073
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471444077
  • Product Dimensions: 11.9 x 2.3 x 26.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 558 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #879,457 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

How does a sour mash corn whiskey brand go from being a Kentucky family's "adjunct farming activity" to founding a corporation that ships over five million cases worldwide each year? Pacult (Kindred Spirits: The Spirit Journal Guide to the World's Distilled Spirits and Fortified Wines) extensively researched the story of the Beam family, which is just as much a 19th- and 20th-century American history. The young country's struggles with slavery, Prohibition and war, its sociopolitical maturation and its shift from an agricultural to an industrial economy all come into play. A prolific spirits writer, Pacult has an expert's grasp on the topic, which carries the book through its slow periods. Upstanding citizens to a man, the Beams don't always make for scintillating reading-no scoundrels, no scandals-and only Jim Beam's grandson Booker Noe, the refreshingly blunt, six-foot-four, 360-pound former master distiller, emerges as a character with any color. Trying to keep all the Beams straight might make readers feel like they've just downed a few shots of the bourbon itself. Most interesting is Pacult's examination of American popular culture and its effect on the bourbon business: how bourbon became declass‚ in the 1970s, the venerable spirit losing out to sexy newcomer vodka (and its inadvertent pitchman, James Bond), and how scotch whisky's rising popularity in the 1980s fueled the production of bourbon's answer to the single-malt, the small-batch bourbon. The book could use a few more colorful details, however, such as the bit about temperance activist Carry Nation and her ax attacks on taverns.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

How does a sour mash corn whiskey brand go from being a Kentucky family's "adjunct farming activity" to founding a corporation that ships over five million cases worldwide each year? Pacult (Kindred Spirits: The Spirit Journal Guide to the World's Distilled Spirits and Fortified Wines) extensively researched the story of the Beam family, which is just as much a 19th-and 20th-century American history. The young country's struggles with slavery, Prohibition and war, its sociopolitical maturation and its shift from the agricultural to an industrial economy all come into play. A prolific spirits writer, Pacult has an expert's grasp on the topic, which carries the book through its slow periods. Upstanding citizens to a man, the Beams don't always make for scintillating reading - no scoundrels, no scandals - and only Jim Beam's grandson Booker Noe, the refreshingly blunt, six-foot-four, 360-pound former master distiller, emerges as a character with any color. Trying to keep all the Beams straight might make readers feel like they've just downed a few shots of the bourbon itself. Most interesting is Pacult's examination of American popular culture and its effect on the bourbon business: how bourbon became déclassé in the 1970s, the venerable spirit losing out to sexy newcomer vodka (and its inadvertent pitchman, James Bond), and how scotch whiskey's rising popularity in the 1980s fueled the production of bourbon's answer to the single-malt, the small-batch bourbon. The book could use a few more colorful details, however, such as the bit about temperance activist Carry Nation and her ax attacks on taverns. (Aug.) (Publishers Weekly, June 16, 2003)

"...It's a fascinating glimpse of American political history..." (Drinks International, December 2003)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This book kept me enthralled for an entire weekend. A great look at a family that created an entire industry with a distinctly American product, Bourbon.
As the story of a facinating family, the author gently takes you through the many generations of the Beams without getting you lost in a morass of detail. You remain excited waiting for the next turn in their fortunes, and you get a wonderful look at the many personalities involved in building the Bourbon industry over time in the process.
When I think about the book from a business standpoint, Paul Pacult succeeded in conveying the patience and the passion these people have for their product, and how they manage to maintain that passion, literally over generations. In a world of managing quarter to quarter, the Beams are a refreshing change.
A very-well written, facinating look at a piece of Americana. I heartily recommend it.
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Format: Hardcover
Much like an inspiring Ansel Adams photo or a heart-warming Norman Rockwell illustration, Pacult instills (pun intended) the human side of the story in this fascinating view of Americana. I drink bourbon only on rare occasion, say after a wonderful dinner. But I love history... because good history is life! The first part of this title tells it all: "American Still Life."
This ain't just about makin' whiskey. Indeed, Pacult well knows what goes on inside those aging barrels, and he doesn't let the wine and spirits connoisseur down with the technical side, and artistic side, of making great bourbon. For me, this book is more about Jim Beam, the legend! Pacult does a wonderful job in bringing history - and the present day human condition - to life!
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Format: Hardcover
This book captures a truly unique American product, and a family that was integral to the creation of the industry. As I write this review, Booker Noe's death was just recently announced. The personalities of the larger than life characters like Booker are wonderfully captured within the narrative. Even if you're not a fan of bourbon (philistine!), you'll come away with a great appreciation for the definitive American spirit (both the drink and the people).
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