Made and Bottled in Kentucky - review

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Made and Bottled in Kentucky - review

Unread postby angelshare » Sat Nov 25, 2006 8:29 am

Unless we've overlooked it in perusing the "Library" forum, we noticed that there is one media offering that deserves its own thread but hasn't gotten one yet - Chuck's fabulous 1992 one hour documentary, "Made and Bottled in Kentucky." A recent viewing gave us new appreciation for how unusual and remarkable it really is.

Initially, the footage and narrative are predictable (though enjoyable) - some basic bourbon information that we've all heard or read dozens of times. However, the film quickly transitions into a series of segments that are anchored by fascinating interviews with bourbon industry/history leaders and icons. In doing so, the film walks a nearly impossible fine line of maintaining the interest of the enthusiast but remaining entirely accessible to the novice. We have yet to take a distillery tour or read a whiskey related article or book (including Chuck's later work "Bourbon, Straight") that handles this balancing act so deftly.

The interviews themselves are unusual in that either through expert guidance, editing, or both, industry leaders of the time (Jerry Dalton, Jimmy Russell, Owsley Brown II, and even Bill Samuels, Jr,) talk about the art and the history of the spirit without so much of the marketing-speak and gloss to which we have become accustomed in the new millenium of bourbon. Those of you who have been enjoying bourbon culture for more than a year or two (IE, most of you) will find the interviews particularly enjoyable. If Chuck ever decided to do a DVD edition of the Bourbon Country Reader, we could envision these types of interviews fitting perfectly with the "idiosyncratic" style of the publication. The whole is not greater than the sum of the parts, but Chuck expertly weaves the parts into a narrative that works.

There are many fun visual nuggets interspersed among the interviews as well. We particularly enjoyed seeing the cooperage and the pre-restoration Oscar Pepper (Woodford) distillery. The latter, though somewhat fleeting, gives the enthusiast viewer a sense of how much Brown-Forman accomplished between 1992 and 1996 with Labrot and Graham/Woodford.

There are a few things about the documentary a purchaser should know before buying-

1) Although nicely transferred (as Chuck points out in his DVD notes!), the footage is shot on video, not film.

2) This is a no frills DVD. There are no extras, no commentary, etc. You get the one hour documentary on a DVD, and that's it.

3) The enclosed DVD notes summarizing updates in the industry from 1992-2003 are similarly no frills. There are nine bulleted items (e.g., "United Distillers closed the Old Fitzgerald distillery shortly after we shot there in 1992") of significant change.

So, without the frills, at $26, is it worth the price? We say absolutely yes. This is a documentary you can screen as part of a tasting with seasoned enthusiasts or use to introduce a newbie to bourbon. Perhaps we could compare it to Chuck's review of the 21 yo Rittenhouse Rye - we're not sure where you can get anything else quite like this at any price. This part of our small bourbon library brings the history alive in a way that no book can. You can see and hear Mr. Sam Cecil and Booker Noe talking about bourbon - is that worth $26? $50? $100? Who can say? But, most importantly, it's a fun viewing that goes well with your favorite pour.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! Great work, Chuck!
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Unread postby bunghole » Sat Nov 25, 2006 3:07 pm

ima agrees with angleshare. I will say the material is dated, but worthwhile none-the-less. My favorite interview is Booker's story of Jim Beam giving him a Winchester Model 12 shotgun. I won't give away the story, but it has nothing to do with whiskey and everything to do with America as she should be.

I gave my copy away to a newbie by the name of MurphyDog, and haven't heard from him in years. "I hope that wasn't what done him in."

:arrow: ima :smilebox:
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Unread postby bourbonv » Wed Nov 29, 2006 1:00 pm

I agree that Chuck's video is a true work of art that will have great historical value as time passes. The interviews with people who have since passed away make it a valuable piece of history. It is worth every penny spent and I am glad that it is still available today.

Great review. Maybe some other members will follow your lead and review some of their videos from the distilleries or recorded from television. It would be nice to have a list of what is available in televised media as well as print.
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Unread postby OscarV » Wed Nov 29, 2006 4:51 pm

It has been 14 years since that video was made, next year ofcourse will be 15.
I wonder if we can coax Mr. Cowdery into making a sequel.
A lot has changed in the last 15 years.
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Re: Made and Bottled in Kentucky - review

Unread postby cowdery » Sat Jul 05, 2008 5:03 pm

I don't know why I didn't reply to this thread when it was posted, but thanks to Dave and Tina, and everybody else who posted.

As for a sequel, it has been discussed. The timing of the original was serendipitous, in terms of obtaining the necessary funding. That is what has stymied the couple of efforts I and others have made since. It's always about money.

One thing I am particularly proud of is that good, bad or indifferent, I'm the person responsible for how it turned out. Rarely have I had more complete control over a project. I am very grateful to the Kentucky Distillers Association, which provided most of the funding, for recognizing that they needed to keep their hands off of the production. I'll never forget Bill Samuels, when I made that pitch at one of the KDA meetings. His comment was, "we can't try to tell him what to do because I'll be the worst and if I can't tell him what to do, nobody can."
- Chuck Cowdery

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Unread postby Bourbon Joe » Sat Jul 05, 2008 9:57 pm

bunghole wrote:I gave my copy away to a newbie by the name of MurphyDog, and haven't heard from him in years. "I hope that wasn't what done him in."

:arrow: ima :smilebox:

Hey Linn,
I met Tom at the Gazebo in Bardstown I think it was last September. He was there with his wife. Nice people.
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Re: Made and Bottled in Kentucky - review

Unread postby VaderTime » Mon Aug 15, 2011 2:48 am

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