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Whiskey Book Review: More Mountain Spirits

More Mountain Spirits: The Continuing Chronicle of Moonshine Life and Corn Whiskey, Wines, Ciders & Beers in America's AppalachiansLast month I reviewed the excellent book Mountain Spirits by Joseph Earl Dabney. It was such an entertaining book that I jumped right into reading its sequel, appropriately titled More Mountain Spirits. The lengthy and descriptive subtitle of More Mountain Spirits is "The Continuing Chronicle of Moonshine Life and Corn Whiskey, Wines, Ciders & Beers in America's Appalachians." That's a mouthful of a subtitle, but it does get you thinking that maybe there's more to drink in them thar hills than just 'clear corn likker.'

In his second volume of moonshine history, Dabney does tell tales of apple cider, elderberry wine, tomato beer, and pumpkin gin. His descriptions of these concoctions make for interesting tidbits, and prove the point that folks will make booze out of just about anything they can get their hands on. However, as you read through the book you can tell that the author's true interest is still with corn-based (and later sugar-based) moonshine. He spends most of the book going into detail about corn whiskey, its production process, the men and women who make it and sell it, and the 'revenooers' who hunt the moonshiners in a comical game of cat-and-mouse.

Many of the anecdotes in More Mountain Spirits are simply elaborations or retellings from Mountain Spirits, but there's enough fresh information to make it worth a quick read. Especially informative is the in-depth section on different types of stills and various production processes used by moonshiners. There's even a step-by-step plan for building your own mini-still from scratch. The pictures alone make this book a priceless addition to your 'whiskey library.'

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Oh Taste & See: Old Overholt Straight Rye Whiskey

Rye whiskey is certainly having a moment right now with growing popularity among cocktail enthusiasts, and new brands hitting the market constantly. Today I'm tasting an old classic of the rye whiskey category that has been around, at least in name, for close to 200 years. Old Overholt Straight Rye Whiskey is a four year old, 80 proof, straight rye whiskey that, in my opinion, sets the standard for other rye whiskeys to shoot for. Originally produced in Pennsylvania, the Old Overholt brand is now made in Kentucky by Jim Beam, but is still happily distinct from the many other bourbons and ryes made alongside it.

At around $18 per bottle it's also a great bargain compared to many of the newer, over-hyped rye whiskeys on the market. In fact, I recently tasted Old Overholt back-to-back with Jim Beam's premium rye whiskey, (ri)1, which sells for $50 per bottle and I definitely preferred the more assertive bite and distinctive character of Old Overholt.

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Cooking With Whiskey: Cinnamon Bourbon Chili

This time of year nothing is better than having a nice hot pot of chili on the stove. Not only does it provide a quick and filling meal, but the aroma fills up the whole house. In fact, I think I like the smell of good chili cooking almost as much as I like eating it.

Over the past few winters I've almost perfected my recipe for a super easy, and super delicious pot of chili. I make mine in a Crock Pot slow cooker which will keep it warm for hours and makes for easy storage, but I'm sure you could just as easily make this recipe in a stove-top pot.

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More Four Roses Info

This article from today's Philadelphia Inquirer goes a little deeper into the history and mystique of Four Roses Bourbon that I mentioned in my last blog entry.

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Four Roses Distillery Tour

This year for Christmas I made the long drive home from Philadelphia to beautiful Western Kentucky. On the ride back I broke up the monotonous drive with a stop at the Four Roses distillery in Lawrenceburg, KY. I have always been intrigued by Four Roses' history and mystique. Not only is there a romantic story behind the Four Roses name (read the official version here), but also a unique history of at least 120 behind the brand. Four Roses was one of America's most popular whiskeys before prohibition. Then it was unavailable for more than 40 years in the U.S. before returning in the last decade and gradually regaining its place among America's top bourbon brands. During that time the Four Roses name graced all sorts of different whiskeys, but now the distillery is back to focusing strictly on producing classic Kentucky Bourbon.