Neat: The Story of Bourbon

Neat: The Story of Bourbon

Release Date: 
Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Running Time: 
75 minutes

The history of bourbon is as colorful as the warm amber hue the spirit embodies, and for those wanting to learn about its origins and distillation process Neat: The Story of Bourbon is a great place to start. It acts as a love letter to bourbon and will deepen your appreciation of of the spirit with every future sip.


I love to drink bourbon, but I will admit that my knowledge of it is extremely limited. Or I should say ‘was limited’ because Neat does a good job at explaining what bourbon is, from its origins in 18th century Kentucky to what makes it distinct from other whiskeys. Everyone interviewed in the documentary is first and foremost a lover of bourbon. From bartenders and master distillers, to business owners and collectors, there’s a wide range of people involved all along the process. My favorite person had to be Freddie Johnson, a third generation employee at Buffalo Trace. His passion for bourbon is infectious. I found it especially interesting when he was giving a tasting of “white dog,” the clear spirit that is then placed in white oak barrels for aging. I was fascinated at how he can trigger varying smells by pouring the spirit in people’s hands and then having them rub them together or air them out. I’ve never seen anything like it before.


What surprised me most about the documentary was the amount of time that goes into making bourbon. I’ve always known that it ages for years and years and that the higher the anniversary often means the higher the price, but to see it on screen was mind opening. One thing that hit me particularly hard was that the majority of master distillers who say started in their 20’s would only see two of their batches comes to full maturity over the course of their entire life! Only a rare few ever get to experience three. From the 70-year-old oak tree the barrels are made of to the years of aging they go through, bourbon is a spirit made for future generations.


I enjoyed watching Neat: The Story of Bourbon almost as much as I do drinking it. Sure, it might feel a little pretentious at times, but there’s no denying the work and love that goes into creating the spirit. I will certainly take the time to stop and think about that history the next time I pour myself a glass.

Matt Rodriguez
Review by Matt Rodriguez
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