American Spirit by James Rodewald
Santa is never averse to sitting back in his big, comfy chair with a noggin of something to warm his insides (it gets damn cold up here). And he supports any trend that adds cheer to the season. So he has been a big booster of the craft distilling movement that has sprung up in the wake of the craft brewing upsurge a couple of decades back. Alas, Santa has been disappointed at some of the naughty boys (most are boys) in the “artisanal” booze business. Far too many of them are not distillers at all. Instead they buy tanker truckloads of generic whiskey or neutral spirits from huge, industrial distilling corporations, pour the hooch into quaint bottles and slap on labels with olde-fashioned typefaces that mislead consumers into thinking that they are buying lovingly made, local tipple. In American Spirit James Rodewald, former spirits editor at the late lamented Gourmet magazine (a tough job, but somebody had to do it), separates the phonies from the real McCoys through firsthand visits to and vivid profiles of more than twenty still masters across the country who are fully transparent about how their products are created. No “craftwashing” here, to use Rodewald’s expression. They are a merry bunch, all great raconteurs, who, even though their trade is now legal, maintain the swashbuckling attitude of bygone bootleggers. Santa raises a glass to each and every one of them. Ideal for anyone on your list who loves honest liquors and well-made cocktails—and a must for any small-batch whiskey aficionados. Hold on! What’s this? One final book in Santa’s bag. Back tomorrow.