There’s no better summary of the book than this… “Dead Distillers is a spirited portrait of the unusual and storied origins of forgotten drunkenness.” Dead Distillers: A History of the Upstarts and Outlaws Who Made American Spirits is the second book released by Colin Spoelman and David Haskell, Co-Founders of Kings County Distillery in Brooklyn, New York. Kings Count Distillery is the oldest operating distillery in New York and the first since prohibition; a place to visit if you are in the area.
Through its 50 short entries, the book reads like a history of the United States through the world of Whiskey. From the East Coast’s Rye in the 18th century, through the whiskey rebellion, the Catholic migration to Kentucky, Prohibition, then to the downfall of the spirit in the mid-twentieth century and to the rise of craft cocktails now. The short biographies detail people that have had an impact on the distilled spirits industry from politicians, gangsters, lawyers, and people you and I have never heard of. Throughout the book there are several maps of cemetery’s that you can use to plot out your morbid trips of respect. There are plenty of interesting and surprising facts crammed into these short entries that make you yearn for more. At times, I feel like the book is a bit of a tease but then again I love history.
The next time you are in Barnes & Noble or on Amazon pick it up. There are many articles online about the history of Whiskey but none of them take you down the path that Spoelman and Haskell do. Cheers!