Many of our readers have been lucky enough to attend one of Michael Veach’s famed Bourbon Academy events, including the one sponsored by Bourbon and Banter last November. These events are well-known and respected in the bourbon community and are designed to take you from relative bourbon novice to certified bourbon smarty all in the course of one day. But recently bourbon geeks have been encouraging Veach to develop a second class that dives deeper into bourbon history for those who have already passed Bourbon 101.
Luckily, Micheal Veach recently started working on a book that will look at significant people who helped shape the Bourbon industry of today, including an in-depth look at individual people and the Bourbons they created or are named for them.
This August he agreed to turn some of this research into the Bourbon Academy II. On August 23rd, I was one of the attendees at only the second of this class, held at the newly opened Hearth Room in downtown Cincinnati.
The class covered the lives and contributions of William LaRue Weller, E. H. Taylor, Jr, George Garvin Brown, Isaac Wolfe Bernheim, James E. Pepper and Julian P. Van Winkle while we sipped a bourbon or whiskey from each of these creators. Overall it was a fascinating day. I probably learned as much about bourbon history in that day as I have in the past two years. I did not realize that a German-Jewish immigrant created I. W. Harper, that E. H. Taylor was one of the driving forces behind the Pure Food and Drugs Act, or even that most of bourbon history is more about marketing than distilling.
In the future, Veach plans to shorten the class into an after lunch session of about four hours and for a lower price. If you have a chance to take the class in this form I would highly recommend it. My only complaint about my experience is that because I was taking an early and untested version of the class, I ended up paying the full day price for a class that ended early and I didn’t feel like I got my money’s worth. But since all proceeds go to the Filson Historical Society, I still consider it money well spent. Another word of warning – this class is really for bourbon or history geeks only. Veach is a fount of knowledge but he is a historian – not an entertainer. If you bring along a buddy whose interest in whiskey begins and ends with drinking, they will likely be bored.