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March 4 2015

The Bourbon Boom

I was contacted a few weeks ago and asked if I was interested in a guest blog post about the Bourbon documentaries as there has been a fair few of them recently.
Of course I said yes, and here it is.
Thank you to @MariaRamos1889 for writing this excellent post!

The Bourbon Boom:
5 Documentaries Showcasing America’s New Favorite Spirit

In recent years, craft liquor distilleries have sprung up across the country like so many small geysers spouting whiskey and bourbon. Bars designed to look like speakeasies, increasingly popular as well, serve dark spirits to younger and younger clientele – a growing number of them female. Programs such as Mad Men have also helped to bring old-school drinks like the Manhattan back in style. Given the mini-renaissance bourbon and whiskey are currently experiencing, it makes sense look at a few films charting their rise to new heights.

Rumrunners, Moonshiners and Bootleggers (2002)

When the production and distribution of alcohol was prohibited in the United States, bootleggers and criminals built an empire around the illegal rum-running industry. American history was forever changed, even after liquor became legal again. This History Channel documentary focuses on the secret history of American distilleries – many of which had their humble beginnings in someone’s uncle’s bathtub. Rumrunners, Moonshiners and Bootleggers includes rare footage and photos to help showcase America’s past and present relationship with illegal alcohol and focuses on how whiskey can and has been illegally produced for decades.

Addicted to Pleasure: Whisky (2012)

This BBC documentary explores the origin and history of Scottish whisky and the alcohol addictions that have arisen alongside it. Because urban life in Scotland was hard, the people turned to whisky to forget and avoid dealing with the difficulties they inevitably had to face. However, this came with a reputation that Scottish people still deal with today. Addicted to Pleasure: Whisky showcases this history and teaches us that there is a story behind this heavy drinking reputation and it isn’t just caused by lack of will power.

Bourbontucky (2015)

Bourbontucky is a new documentary from DirecTV’s Audience Channel that explores the traditions and processes behind the making of Kentucky bourbon. It explores Kentucky’s role in bourbon history, and interviews top-notch distillers and bourbon aficionados to give viewers a closer look into the culture of the Bluegrass State. Kentucky bourbon is more than just another hard liquor to these folks, their passion for grain alcohol borders on religious fervor.

Made and Bottled in Kentucky (2003)

Dating back to the 18th century, the story of Kentucky bourbon is almost as old as the state itself.  Made and Bottled in Kentucky dives the oldest bourbon-making traditions, charting its rise and fall from public favor throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. In addition to tours of old and new Kentucky distilleries, this documentary gives us interviews with some of the best – Kentucky’s premier historians, bourbon distillers, and industry leaders who tell us their own stories surrounding the Kentucky bourbon experience.

Great Scotch Whisky (2006)

This documentary gives us a tour on the history and process of distilling whisky in Scotland, proudly showcasing the hardworking Scottish spirit. Many have considered the making of whisky to be an “art form” and this is clearly seen throughout the documentary. Travel to Scotland in Great Scotch Whisky and learn about the remarkable traditions and values that are imbedded in the old tradition of creating whisky.

The cycles of popular culture can be fickle; how long whiskey and bourbon remain at the forefront of craft cocktails remains to be seen. However, no matter its airtime on television, or its popularity with the younger generations, whiskey and bourbon are ingrained in the fabric of America.
The tradition of whiskey and production and the families that preserve the love of the spirit are unlikely to go anywhere.


Maria is a writer interested in comic books, cycling, and horror films. Her hobbies include cooking, doodling, and finding local shops around the city. She currently lives in Chicago with her two pet turtles, Franklin and Roy. You can follow her on Twitter @MariaRamos1889.

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