Straight Bourbon: Distilling the Industry’s Heritage

“Bourbon is a legacy of blue grass, water and Kentucky limestone,” Carol Peachee tells me when I ask what makes Kentucky bourbon so prized.

Limestone? Water? Bluegrass? What’s that have to do with fine bourbon?

Turns out it’s quite simple. According to Peachee, the limestone filters the iron out of the water as it flows through the rock, producing a sweet-tasting mineral water perfect for making the greatest tasting liquor. Limestone, with its heavy calcium deposits, also is credited with the lush blue grass the state’s prize-winning horses gaze upon — making their bones strong.

It’s been a long time since I took geology in college, but I do like the taste of good bourbon and the sight of stately horses grazing in beautiful pastures and the more I can learn about it all, the better. Which is why I love Peachee’s entrancing photographs.

Carol Peachee

I first met Peachee, an award-winning professional photographer, when she was autographing copies of her latest book, Straight Bourbon: Distilling the Industry’s Heritage (Indiana University Press 2017; $28). Creating beauty as well as a sense of yearning, her books, including The Birth of Bourbon: A Photographic Tour of Early Distilleries, take us on a wanderlust journey of lost distilleries and those now re-emerging from the wreckage of Prohibition. At one time, Kentucky had over two hundred commercial distilleries, but only sixty-one reopened after the repeal of Prohibition in 1933. Now, as Kentucky bourbon becomes a driving force throughout the world, once barely remembered and long closed distilleries are being restored and revamped and are opening again for business.

Using a photographic technique known as high-dynamic-range imaging ― a process that produces rich saturation, intensely clarified details, and a full spectrum of light ― Peachee hauntingly showcases the vibrancy still lingering in artifacts such as antique tools, worn cypress fermenting tubs, ornate copper stills some turning slightly green with oxidation and age, gears and levers —things we would never typically think of as lovely and compelling.

Traveling with the Book

Keeping copies of her books in my car when I travel to Kentucky, I love visiting some of the places and sites she’s photographed.

Her passion for bourbon may also have come about, in part, because she lives in Lexington, Kentucky which is rich in the history of bourbon making (and, we should say, sipping).

To get a taste of how bourbon connects to the land, when in Lexington, Peachee suggests a stop at the Barrel House Distilling Co. including the Elkhorn Tavern located in the old James B. Pepper barrel plant. It’s part of Lexington’s happening Distillery District. But fine bourbon doesn’t just stop in Lexington.

“There are so many bourbon distilleries now,” she says, noting that the heritage of good bourbon making is more than the equipment and the water.

“The cultural heritage of distilling also lays in the human culture,” she writes in the Acknowledgements section of her latest book, “the people who learned the crafts of milling, copper welding and design, barrel making and warehouse construction and then passed them on through the generations down to today’s workers and owners.”

And now Peachee has passed them down to us so we can fully appreciate the art of distilling

Town Branch Bourbon Bramble

  • 2oz Bourbon
  • 3/4oz Fresh squeeze lemons
  • 3/4oz Simple syrup
  • 5 Fresh blackberries muddled

Shake with ice, strain and pour over fresh ice in rock glass with blackberry garnish.

Town Branch Bourbon Mint Julep

  • 2 oz Bourbon
  • 8 mint leaves
  • 1/4oz simple syrup
  • Dash of bitters

Muddle ingredients.

Add crushed ice with mint garnish and straw.

The above recipes are courtesy of the Lexington Brewing & Distilling Company.

Mindy Kaling announces first books for Mindy’s Book Studio

Mindy Kaling Selects Sonali Dev’s The Vibrant Years and Lauren Thoman’s I’ll Stop the World For Mindy’s Book Studio, An Imprint of Amazon Publishing

Mindy Kaling and Amazon Publishing announced the first acquisitions for Mindy’s Book Studio, a boutique story studio created to publish stories by emerging and established diverse voices and imagine books from page to screen. Selected by Kaling, best-selling author Sonali Dev’s hilarious and heartfelt novel, The Vibrant Years, will be the first to publish under Mindy’s Book Studio on December 1. The second book will be debut author Lauren Thoman’s clever coming-of-age mystery, I’ll Stop the World, set to publish in April 2023. Readers will have early access to both books a month ahead of publication through Amazon First Reads, as well as through Kindle Unlimited, print, and audio. Amazon Studios has first-look rights to adapt as feature motion pictures.

“There are so many talented women who are writing smart, juicy, funny stories, and I’m so excited that through Mindy’s Book Studio, I can help bring readers everywhere more books that reflect the diversity of our society,” said Kaling. “Sonali Dev’s The Vibrant Years and Lauren Thoman’s I’ll Stop the World capture the spirit of Mindy’s Book Studio. The Vibrant Years is a joyful and empowering read following a group of unconventional women trying to find themselves, and I’ll Stop the World is a whip-smart mystery with a vibrant cast of teenagers that gives off great ‘80s vibes.”

The Vibrant Years

Packed with humor and heart, Dev’s The Vibrant Yearsis a timely story about three generations of women who are done with being underestimated. Led by beloved rebel grandmother Bindu Desai, the three women set out on a journey of self-discovery, hilariously embracing their missteps, impulsive decisions, and cringeworthy dates that ultimately upend their lives for the better as they learn to live life on their own terms. Known for her Bollywood-style stories, Dev is an award-winning and USA Today best-selling author of eight novels, including the acclaimed Rajes series. Dev is represented by Alexandra Machinist at ICM Partners.

The Vibrant Years is a culmination of all the things I’ve always wanted to say about being a woman, and to have the immensely talented Mindy Kaling choose it as the first book for Mindy’s Book Studio is an actual dream come true,” said Dev. “The work Mindy has done over the past few decades has changed the landscape for diverse creators. Mindy’s Book Studio is another way she’s creating space for many silenced voices that need to be read, and I’m so honored and excited to be part of what she’s building.”

I’ll Stop the World

Told in alternating perspectives, Thoman’s electric debut novel, I’ll Stop the World, is a heart-pounding coming-of-age mystery. Exploring the power of friendship, forgiveness, and second chances, Thoman’s novel follows two teens from different worlds as their attempts to solve a murder leads to consequences that reverberate through multiple lifetimes. A freelance writer whose work has appeared in outlets including Parade and Vulture, Thoman is represented by Holly Root at Root Literary.

Lauren Thoman

“I love that Mindy’s Book Studio is focused on championing traditionally underrepresented voices in publishing, both for the readers who still long to see themselves in fiction and for the readers whose hearts will be expanded through engaging with new perspectives,” said Thoman. “I’ve been a fan of Mindy’s for a long time, and I am thrilled for the opportunity to work with her and the amazing team at Mindy’s Book Studio. I can’t wait to read the books Mindy selects for the imprint, and I’m honored that she picked mine to be one of them.”

Announced in February, Mindy’s Book Studio publishes fresh, vibrant, binge-worthy reads from emerging and established diverse voices. Amazon Studios has first-look rights to adapt the material as feature motion pictures, and Kaling holds first-producer option on adaptations. Coming soon, Kaling will also publish her debut novel and her next collection of personal essays with Amazon Publishing.

About Amazon Publishing

Amazon Publishing is a leading trade publisher of fiction, nonfiction, and children’s books with a mission to empower outstanding storytellers and connect them with readers worldwide. We publish emerging, best-selling, and critically acclaimed authors in digital, print, and audio formats.

About Amazon Studios

Amazon Studios is the home for talent, creating and producing Original films and television series for a global audience. Original series premiere exclusively on Prime Video, which is available in more than 240 countries and territories worldwide. Amazon Studios also produces and acquires Original movies for theatrical release and exclusively for Prime Video, in addition to producing Original content for Freevee, Amazon’s premium free streaming service.

About Amazon

Amazon is guided by four principles: customer obsession rather than competitor focus, passion for invention, commitment to operational excellence, and long-term thinking. Amazon strives to be Earth’s Most Customer-Centric Company, Earth’s Best Employer, and Earth’s Safest Place to Work. Customer reviews, 1-Click shopping, personalized recommendations, Prime, Fulfillment by Amazon, AWS, Kindle Direct Publishing, Kindle, Career Choice, Fire tablets, Fire TV, Amazon Echo, Alexa, Just Walk Out technology, Amazon Studios, and The Climate Pledge are some of the things pioneered by Amazon. For more information, visit amazon.com/about and follow @AmazonNews.