Bourbon and Bullets


Bourbon and Bullets

True Stories of Whiskey, War, and Military Service

John C. Tramazzo

Foreword by Fred Minnick

298 pages
28 photographs, 7 illustrations, 6 recipes, index


July 2021


$26.95 Add to Cart

November 2018


$37.95 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)

November 2018


$26.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)

November 2018


$26.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

American soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines carried whiskey at Yorktown, Gettysburg, Manila, and Da Nang. It bolstered their courage, calmed their nerves, and treated their maladies. As a serious American whiskey drinker, John C. Tramazzo noticed how military service and whiskey went hand in hand during his service as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Army. In Bourbon and Bullets Tramazzo reveals the rich and dramatic connection between bourbon and military service in America.

Although others have discussed whiskey’s place in military history, Bourbon and Bullets explores the relationship between military service and some of the most notable whiskey distillers and executives working today. American servicemen Weller, Handy, Stagg, Van Winkle, and Bulleit all experienced combat before they became household names for American whiskey enthusiasts. In small towns and big cities across America, veterans of armed conflict in Panama, Somalia, Haiti, Iraq, and Afghanistan cook mash, operate stills, and push the booming industry to new heights. Bourbon and Bullets delves into the lives and military careers of these whiskey distillers and tells the story of whiskey’s role on the battlefield and in the American military community.

Author Bio

John C. Tramazzo is an active duty U.S. Army officer and veteran of several deployments in support of the Global War on Terror. He is also an American whiskey enthusiast, Kentucky Colonel, and the founder of the popular blog Fred Minnick, a former U.S. Army journalist in Iraq, has written widely about the spirits industry and is the author of Whiskey Women: The Untold Story of How Women Saved Bourbon, Scotch, and Irish Whiskey (Potomac Books, 2013).


"Tramazzo has not only done his fellow servicemen proud, he has provided all of us with an original and valuable piece of work. This book doesn't simply connect bourbon to our military—It literally connects bourbon to the course of American history."—Brett Atlas, Bourbon & Banter

"This book is more than just war stories about famous distillers, though there are plenty of those as well. It's about the spirit of of America as told through the lens of distilled spirits as far back as the Revolutionary War, when whiskey was a standard part of rations. It's about dreams of better days ahead and honoring those who came before. Whiskey has always been a part of American culture, and this book is a perfect example of how that presence has changed over time."—Maggie Kimberl, Alcohol Professor

"Whether one imbibes whiskey or not, the uniquely American character of the men about whose service the book is dedicated to rises to the top and resonates with the reader. So, if you're a bourbon aficionado, pour yourself a finger or two of Maker's Mark, Blanton's or whatever—or a Diet Coke if you don't drink alcohol—and maybe fire up a good cigar. Then settle back for a little history from a different and unique perspective."—Col. Steve Patarcity, Association of the United States Army

"Enthusiastically concocted and meticulously researched."—J. Ford Huffman, Military Times

Bourbon and Bullets tells the sacrificial side of bourbon you don’t know: how whiskey makers gave their all in America’s wars, from Valley Forge to Vietnam and beyond.”—Lew Bryson, author of Tasting Whiskey: An Insider's Guide to the Unique Pleasures of the World's Finest Spirits

“If you are a bourbon lover, if you have an interest in the history of this country, sit down and read this book—a fascinating portrait of some of America’s military heroes and their connection to many brands of bourbon on the shelf today.”—Sally Van Winkle Campbell, author of But Always Fine Bourbon: Pappy Van Winkle and the Story of Old Fitzgerald

“The bourbon industry has long been filled with military veterans, but never have their valuable contributions been so finely documented until now. Captain Tramazzo’s investigative book not only weaves together these veterans’ military contributions but also provides an enlightening look at the impact they made on the spirits industry today.”—Mark Brown, president and chief executive officer, Sazerac Company

“I thought I’d seen every angle on the history of American whiskey. But John Tramazzo makes a compelling case for the role of soldiers, the military, and veterans in the story of America’s favorite spirit—and he wraps it up in a pretty good yarn.”—Clay Risen, author of American Whiskey, Bourbon, and Rye: A Guide to the Nation's Favorite Spirit

Table of Contents

Foreword by Fred Minnick
1. Bourbon and Bullets
2. Red Likker
3. War and Whiskey Persist
4. George Washington
5. Evan and Isaac Shelby
6. The Weller Family
7. Thomas Hughes Handy
8. Paul L. Jones Jr. 
9. George Thomas Stagg
10. Julian Proctor Van Winkle Jr. 
11. Elmer Tandy Lee and James B. Johnson Jr. 
12. Richard J. Newman
13. Thomas E. Bulleit Jr. 
14. David Steven Pickerell
15. Veterans in Craft Whiskey
Appendix: Happy Hour

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