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Whiskey Business: How Small-Batch Distillers Are Transforming American Spirits

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Discover the underdog story of the improbable rise of small-batch distilling in America. This bracingly written, fast-paced work traces the relationship of Americans to spirits such as bourbon, scotch, vodka, gin, and rum. And it presents the full story of a plucky band of entrepreneurs who disrupted the nation’s conception of how those libations could appear and taste—and Discover the underdog story of the improbable rise of small-batch distilling in America. This bracingly written, fast-paced work traces the relationship of Americans to spirits such as bourbon, scotch, vodka, gin, and rum. And it presents the full story of a plucky band of entrepreneurs who disrupted the nation’s conception of how those libations could appear and taste—and how much they could cost. Acitelli weaves the unlikely triumph of the small-batch distilling movement into other major trends, including a neo-Prohibitionism that nearly croaked the entire thing, America’s re-embrace of cocktails, and the twin rises of craft beer and fine wine. He also expertly delves into the controversies currently wracking American spirits, ones that threaten to tank the movement at the moment of what should be its greatest triumph.


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Discover the underdog story of the improbable rise of small-batch distilling in America. This bracingly written, fast-paced work traces the relationship of Americans to spirits such as bourbon, scotch, vodka, gin, and rum. And it presents the full story of a plucky band of entrepreneurs who disrupted the nation’s conception of how those libations could appear and taste—and Discover the underdog story of the improbable rise of small-batch distilling in America. This bracingly written, fast-paced work traces the relationship of Americans to spirits such as bourbon, scotch, vodka, gin, and rum. And it presents the full story of a plucky band of entrepreneurs who disrupted the nation’s conception of how those libations could appear and taste—and how much they could cost. Acitelli weaves the unlikely triumph of the small-batch distilling movement into other major trends, including a neo-Prohibitionism that nearly croaked the entire thing, America’s re-embrace of cocktails, and the twin rises of craft beer and fine wine. He also expertly delves into the controversies currently wracking American spirits, ones that threaten to tank the movement at the moment of what should be its greatest triumph.

30 review for Whiskey Business: How Small-Batch Distillers Are Transforming American Spirits

  1. 4 out of 5

    AnnieM

    Just what I needed, more useless information

  2. 5 out of 5

    Andy Dollahite

    The title is misleading as less than a third of the content is whiskey specific. The subtitle is better advertising. There are a few nuggets of interest, but on the whole it’s not likely to scratch the itch of a “craft” spirit enthusiast any more than reading Wikipedia.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Privette

    Way too much background on wine and beer for a book supposedly on the rise of small-batch american spirits. Seemed a little lazily organized and edited. Missed opportunity.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Luke Johnson

    In my opinion, there's a couple of fatal flaws to Whiskey Business. The first is that Mr Acitelli is writing a whole book on "small-batch" and "craft distilling" without any clear definition of those terms at all. I wouldn't say that is 100% his fault, as the industry in general seems to function without a legal definition of those terms and thus a vast majority of the whiskey talked about in this 2017 book is Makers Mark. I certainly don't consider whiskies that are so readily available to find In my opinion, there's a couple of fatal flaws to Whiskey Business. The first is that Mr Acitelli is writing a whole book on "small-batch" and "craft distilling" without any clear definition of those terms at all. I wouldn't say that is 100% his fault, as the industry in general seems to function without a legal definition of those terms and thus a vast majority of the whiskey talked about in this 2017 book is Makers Mark. I certainly don't consider whiskies that are so readily available to find across the US and even across the world "small batch", but again, without a clear definition it can pretty much call itself anything it wants. The second fatal flaw in my opinion is that Acitelli never really seems fully committed to distilling. Honestly, he seems more like a beer guy to me as he has written several books on the subject, which I have not read, not being a beer guy myself. Neither is the book solely about whiskey, as the books title led me to believe. There's large sections about wine, vodka, eau de vie (unaged fruit brandy), brandy, tequila and more. In most of these sections, Acitelli always seems to loop it back to beer and/or wine which are not distilled. For a book called "Whiskey" Business I was surprised to be reading about Absolut and Tito's, who make vodka. The book is too long in general - 352 pages - as so much of the book I just found irrelevant to small batch distilling. For pretty much every character in the book the author tells us where they went to college and what they studied, which rarely has a thing to do with distilling. If you want to tell me Dave Pickerell was in the military before getting involved in whiskey making that's great but do I need a full breakdown of his military career? I had the pleasure of meeting the man about a year before his death at an industry event and I still don't see its relevancy to his work with companies like Maker's Mark / Whistlepig / J. Rieger Co. Yes there's some interesting stuff and some relevant history but for me, so much of this book was just filler. I often found myself rolling my eyes much in the same way that I do when I hear Matthew McConaughey tell me that he and Wild Turkey's Eddie Russell have created a new small batch bourbon. Yes, McConaughey, I'm sure your role was extremely vital to the process. A lot of the distilleries I would of loved to have read more about get a passing mention where large, conglomerate owned distilleries get their histories told. If I ever get into beer, I'll probably give Mr Acitelli a second look but for right now, I'm going to stick with Michael Jackson and David Broom for whisk(e)y writing.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Chandler

    Most comprehensive collection of stories documenting the beginning and rise of the craft distilling. It goes beyond the fairly well known stories about Makers Mark and Absolut, and continues up to the present day trends, including the problem of successful craft distilleries amending their processes and techniques to increase volume and keep up with demand (think Titos). As interesting as it was, it was never engrossing. The author doesn't dive into the details of the various distillers he covers Most comprehensive collection of stories documenting the beginning and rise of the craft distilling. It goes beyond the fairly well known stories about Makers Mark and Absolut, and continues up to the present day trends, including the problem of successful craft distilleries amending their processes and techniques to increase volume and keep up with demand (think Titos). As interesting as it was, it was never engrossing. The author doesn't dive into the details of the various distillers he covers, providing a surface level knowledge that many who would pick up this book would already know. Beyond that, research for this book seemed to be based on interviews with other media sources available online instead of new interviews for the book. A couple of factual errors pop up. Put together, I get the sense that this book was put together quickly. The author is also overly protective of the craft distilling business and the dark side of the business: successful distillers that most likely are no longer producing a handmade, craft product, faux distillers that merely buy their alcohol in bulk from another distiller and rebottle it to give the impression that it was craft distilled (very common with craft whiskeys), and the fact that marketing and not quality is what allows for the these spirits to sell at high prices. Acitelli dismisses most of these issues, and an honest discussion on this would have really made the book special.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Crawford

    This book is fantastic - getting to hear the beginnings of multiple famous distilleries (like St. George) that I love is great. If you want a good overview of the origins of our modern spirits market, this is a great primer. The only downside to this very fun and accessible book - and the reason I gave it four stars - is because the author sometimes repeats the same information in successive chapters. After hearing about the spirits crash in the 80s for the fifth time in five chapters, I got pret This book is fantastic - getting to hear the beginnings of multiple famous distilleries (like St. George) that I love is great. If you want a good overview of the origins of our modern spirits market, this is a great primer. The only downside to this very fun and accessible book - and the reason I gave it four stars - is because the author sometimes repeats the same information in successive chapters. After hearing about the spirits crash in the 80s for the fifth time in five chapters, I got pretty exasperated. P.S. By the end I hope you hate Samuel Adams as much as I do.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Cat

    I've read better, but it wasn't too bad of a read. Just go in knowing it's not entirely about whiskey. I had hoped it was as I like reading about bootleggers who are now honest! Moonshine I've had was always tasty, but hard to come by! and it's nice to read about some of the folks going honest! I received a Kindle arc from Edelweiss in exchange for a fair review. I've read better, but it wasn't too bad of a read. Just go in knowing it's not entirely about whiskey. I had hoped it was as I like reading about bootleggers who are now honest! Moonshine I've had was always tasty, but hard to come by! and it's nice to read about some of the folks going honest! I received a Kindle arc from Edelweiss in exchange for a fair review.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Nicholas

    Goodreads win. Review to come An interesting read. I learned quite a bit. Such an interesting topic.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Robbie

  10. 4 out of 5

    Corey

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ben

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jacob Kiper

  13. 4 out of 5

    Douglas

  14. 5 out of 5

    John

  15. 4 out of 5

    Austin Goulding

  16. 4 out of 5

    Evan

  17. 5 out of 5

    Robert powers

  18. 4 out of 5

    ND Kalna

  19. 5 out of 5

    Lindsay

  20. 5 out of 5

    Mithun Gangopadhyay

  21. 5 out of 5

    Debbie

  22. 4 out of 5

    Douglas O'laughlin

  23. 5 out of 5

    Joel

  24. 4 out of 5

    Marc van Niekerk

  25. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Townsend

  26. 5 out of 5

    Mike

  27. 5 out of 5

    Terri Balside

  28. 5 out of 5

    Joe C

  29. 4 out of 5

    Kyhl Pearson

  30. 5 out of 5

    George

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