My first book, Bourbon Justice: How Whiskey Law Shaped America, tells the real history of Kentucky’s famous spirit by using only historic lawsuits between the early distillers. These old lawsuits not only expose long-lost facts, but they also reveal the historical shenanigans and maverick mentality that are part of bourbon’s rich heritage. It’s a fast-paced read because by using dusty lawsuits as the delivery method, I can tell stories instead of just reciting dry historical facts. The old litigation fights involving distillers are the perfect way to learn about bourbon and American history.
Reviews of bourbons mentioned in the text are strategically interspersed throughout the book to emphasize the historic plots. And I include a “Beyond Bourbon” feature to tie historic bourbon lawsuits to current-day commercials and advertising that we’ve all seen—and which caused problems for those brands because of law established by bourbon ages ago.
No spirit can tell the story like bourbon does because only bourbon is distinctively—and legally—American, as recognized by Congress in 1964. Bourbon barons epitomized the American dream; they aspired to greatness, were ruggedly independent, resourceful, and highly competitive. Bourbon law shows how American distillers flaunted the law when deemed necessary, lobbied for new consumer protection laws or self-interested protectionism laws, and strategically stretched and used laws to gain an advantage over the competition. This is more than just true bourbon history; Bourbon Justice tells the American story.
That might be why Wall Street Journal-bestselling author Fred Minnick wrote in the foreword “let me be clear: I cannot express how important this book is to bourbon history.” Or why acclaimed bourbon historian, Michael Veach, wrote on the book’s jacket that “Bourbon Justice uses a groundbreaking approach” making it “a classic work in the field of bourbon history and distilled spirits as a whole.”
Bourbon is the most dominant contributor to laws and customs that we take for granted today. From trademark law, to consumer protection, to the phrase “brand name,” to workplace safety reforms, and protection against illegal searches and seizures, bourbon led it all. And Bourbon Justiceis the only place to find it.