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The Art of American Whiskey

Noah Rothbaum's latest book chronicles 100 modern and historic whiskey bottle labels and photos

by David Graver
on 28 May 2015
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There's no spirit more storied than whiskey in the United States. From bootleggers to booms, and even its temporary (and tragic) decline, the history is rich. Author Noah Rothbaum has tapped into this with his latest book "The Art of American Whiskey." This stunning, informative hardcover contains 100 images varying from the iconic to the obscure—and it happens to be as much of an art guide as it is a visual history of whiskey. To top it all off, there are even era-appropriate recipes.

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"I had gone down to Kentucky for Maker's 46 and to do a tasting with Bill Samuels [of Maker's acclaim]. He picked me up at the airport in this old astrovan with no air conditioning and we are driving down—and Bill gets very excited about all things bourbon and whiskey—and he asked, 'Do you mind if we make a few stops?' and I said no," Rothbaum shares with CH. Samuels offered him an insider tour, which included a stop at Heaven Hill's Bourbon Heritage Center. There, while looking through their exhibition, he was struck with the idea for this book.

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Rothbaum spent a year and a half on extensive research and writing. "It turned into one of those things where you are calling in every favor and getting people to look into old archives, file cabinets or wherever they can scour—different state archives and the Library of Congress. Writing about spirits and cocktails is one of those things where, every time you think that you know everything, you realize how much there really is to know." This process led him down many rabbit holes, and he was able to uncover visual treasures and the facts behind them. The book, itself, is a treasure to whiskey lovers as well as those fond of art and graphic design, for those reasons and beyond.

"The Art of American Whiskey" is available on Amazon for $15.

Images reprinted with permission from The Art of American Whiskey by Noah Rothbaum, copyright 2015. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. (Dickle Jugs, p 15) Photo courtesy of Diageo (T.W. Samuels, p 21) Photo courtesy of Samuels Family & Heaven Hill Distilleries (Bourbon Falls, p 53) Photo courtesy of Heaven Hills Distillery

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