Some whisky isn't just whisky. Over the past 20 years or so, fine bourbons have become the American versions of French cognacs. Imbibers of high-end bourbons have been advised to sip them slowly, savoring their complex characteristics.
Kentucky is the birthplace of bourbon, declared by Congress in 1964 as "America's only native spirit." As much as bourbon connoisseurs love the fiery, amber-colored liquid, it's not likely that many of them will make the pilgrimage to Kentucky's bourbon country to tour the distilleries.
Perhaps the next best thing is "The Kentucky Bourbon Experience: A Visual Tour of Kentucky's Bourbon Distilleries," with informative text and dramatic photographs by Leon Howlett (Acclaim, $39.95, 192 pages).
Inside, we tour eight bourbon distilleries and get to know their heritages and bourbon-making techniques. Professional photographer Howlett adds drama with striking photos of the countryside surrounding the distilleries. This is a fine visual cocktail.
The bourbon-makers covered in the book are Barton, Buffalo Trace, Four Roses, Heaven Hill, Jim Beam, Maker's Mark, Wild Turkey and Woodford Reserve. Cheers.
More information: www.bourbonexperience.com.