An Interview with Bill Owens, Editor of The Art of Distilling Whiskey and Other Spirits


Bill Owens teamed up with Alan Dikty to produce The Art of Distilling Whiskey and Other Spirits (Quarry Books, 2009).

It is a very handsome book loaded with beautiful photographs and illustrations.  It provides the reader with an introduction to distilling and how spirits differ.  The book also gives the reader a feel for the burgeoning small distilling movement in the U.S.

Bill is the founder of the American Distilling Institute, the mission of which is “to disseminate essential information regarding the art and science of distilling.”

We managed to nab Bill for a short interview.  He had just returned from Europe, where he spent three months visiting artisanal distilleries and cooperages.  Click here to listen to the interview.

And click here to take a closer look at The Art of Distilling Whiskey and Other Spirits.


An Interview with Todd Kliman, Author of The Wild Vine

In late October, we managed to get Todd Kliman on the phone. Kliman is the Food and Wine Editor of The Washingtonian magazine, and the winner of a James Beard Award.

He is a busy man, and we were lucky to land him to discuss his new book, The Wild Vine: A Forgotten Grape and the Untold Story of American Wine (New York: Clarkson-Potter, 2010).

This is not a mere wine book, one that blah-blahs ad nauseum about a grape and then launches into a series of winery reviews and tasting notes.

No, it is a narrative, and a multilayered one at that. Kliman’s book mixes history and travelogue.  It features a trans-sexual (really!) and a little-remembered grape (the Norton) that once was drunk widely in America.  Its motifs include David vs. Goliath, insiders vs. outsiders, the old world versus the new, treasures lost and found, and the quest for authenticity.

We quite enjoyed it; it is a fun read, and we encourage anyone who enjoys a good yarn to get a copy.

Please click here to listen to Todd Kliman discuss The Wild Vine and the Norton grape.  (Length 64 minutes.)

Readers who wish to learn more about Kliman should surf to

Those who wish to hear from Jenny McCloud, the proprietor of Chrysalis, a Norton-producing Virginia vineyard, should watch this video.

Finally, anyone who wants to know more about Missouri’s Norton wines can get started by surfing to


An Interview with Oz Clarke, Wine Writer

Oz Clarke. Source: Gary Moyes/Pavilion Books.

In June, Oz Clarke, the world-renown wine writer, visited the U.S. The indefatigable Clarke has not one, not two, but three new wine books on the shelves this year.

Clarke kindly pinched into his busy schedule.  We met at Urbana Restaurant and Wine Bar, which is located just off DuPont Circle in Washington, DC. Clarke was  a bit disappointed that Urbana didn’t feature local wines, but he quickly located a Virginia red and a couple of whites (from Italy and Sicily) for us to try. They were, respectively, good, good, and excellent. That’s Clarke for you.

The ebullient Clarke entertained editor Kevin R. Kosar for over a half an hour. He discussed what drew him into the world of wine (“girls!”), what keeps him so fascinated with wine (in short, its dynamism and Clarke’s restless passion for exploration), and what the three books are about (plenty!).

Please click here to listen to the 30+ minute interview, and below are links to Clarke’s new books.  (Note: The interview is a 30+ megabyte file, so it may be a little slow to load.  Rest assured, your patience will be rewarded.) Those wishing to learn more about Clarke should surf to

New Books by Oz Clarke:

Grapes and Wine: A Comprehensive Guide to Varieties and Flavours

Oz Clarke’s Pocket Wine Guide 2010

Let Me Tell You About Wine


12/2009 An Interview with Bill Samuels, Jr., Maker’s Mark Distillery

Bill Samuels, Jr., head of the Maker’s Mark Distillery of Loretto, Kentucky, was in Washington, DC today. Bill kindly made some time to sit with me at the Hawk n’ Dove bar, a beloved watering hole just a couple blocks from Congress. Bill then entertained about a dozen friends of yours truly.

Bill has been at the helm of the distillery for 35 years. Oh how times have changed. Maker’s Mark has boomed, going from 60-some thousand cases per year to over 900,000. We discussed the changes that happened at Maker’s Mark, and in the Bourbon industry generally.

You can listen to our chat by clicking here. Fair warning—it’s 20 minutes long and therefore a rather hefty 18 megabyte file, so your download may take a little time.