While in Park City, Utah, I had the pleasure of meeting Author Jane Perkins. It was an honor to be welcomed into the Perkin’s home for an interview about her fascinating book.
Jane is co-author, along with Sherry Monahan, of the delightful and historically abundant book “The Golden Elixir of the West – Whiskey and the Shaping of America”.
Jane and her husband David founded High West Distillery which in 2008 became the first legal distillery in Utah since the 1870s.
High West brought us the splendid collection of bourbon/whiskey in
heritage bottles displaying distinctive labels such as “American
Prairie, Valley Tan, Double Rye, Rendezvous Rye, Campfire, The 36th Vote, and my personal favorite Yippee Ki-Yay”. Actually I lust after them all.
(The Consultants gathered to taste “Valley Tan” but we will discuss that later in the blog.)
Since Jane was born in Bethlehem (ok Pennsylvania) she is obviously an angel in addition to being a western historian and prolific writer. But “what drew you to distilling then writing about whiskey” I queried. Well, Jane glided me through a brief history starting with her heritage. Great Grandfather Duffy was involved in distilling and serving bourbon whiskey in Ireland. Jane did not exactly follow the family tradition since she was an avid scotch enthusiast. When husband David woke up with an epiphany to distill bourbon whiskey holding firm to the old west heritage and well carry on a bit on Jane’s ancestry. Jane a financial planner and David a bio-chemist, they stepped aside from their professional lives and relocated to Utah after an exhaustive search for a location rich in the legacy of the old west. And this draws us to the book…. Jane enthusiastically took on the task of researching authentic yet adventurous Old West names for the variety of Bourbons. This rendezvous with frontier history included finding a logo and uniquely shaped bottles to identify the remarkable spirits.
The Golden Elixir of the West is a championship rodeo of historical data, entertaining stories and significant events depicting Bourbon’s vital role in shaping the “Old West”. One intriguing example is found in Chapter three, with the revealing account of Mormon Leader Brigham Young and his collaboration with Whiskey during the settlement days of Salt Lake City. (1. I was raised. In Salt Lake City and do not recall learning any of these true accounts in school, 2. As a Mormon, I did not find this indubitable account disparaging but rather a lively episode of in our western history). And Jane’s research provided the name for a favorite Bourbon/Whiskey High West “Valley Tan”, pick up a copy and read on with a shot of Valley Tan or Double Rye. The book is usually available at “Dolly’s Books” in Park City or on-line. By the way, Jane and Sherry’s description of Bourbon vs. Whiskey is found in the Chapter Two and excerpts are found in this blog.
Thank you Ms. Perkins and Ms. Monahan for adding to our enlightenment on bourbon/whiskey. Oh and thanks again, Jane for the opportunity to get acquainted.