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Canadian Whisky: The Portable Expert Hardcover – May 8 2012

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: McClelland & Stewart (May 8 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0771027435
  • ISBN-13: 978-0771027437
  • Product Dimensions: 13.9 x 2.9 x 20.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 481 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #160,982 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


WINNER, 2013 IACP Cookbook Awards – Wine, Beer, and Spirits

“This is an important time for Canadian whisky and this is an important book which isn’t just a story of a drink, but a story of Canada itself. It makes you want to get a bottle and a glass, pour yourself a stiff one, sit back and dive in. I’d suggest you do exactly that.”
—Dave Broom, author of The World Atlas of Whisky 

"The Canadian whisky industry has done itself no favours in recent years, content to be perceived as capable of only making bland ryes. Davin de Kergommeaux's book isn't just important, it's a game changer, bringing to life an extraordinary and evolving whisky industry. A proud, insightful beauty of a book."
—Dominic Roskrow, author of The World’s Best Whiskies and 1001 Whiskies to Try Before You Die
"After reading this book, I now understand there's a lot more of this spirit to explore, and de Kergommeaux has me excited to do so."
—Jason Wilson, spirits columnist, the Washington Post and author of Boozehound: On the Trail of the Rare, the Obscure, and the Overrated in Spirits
“This is the book Canadian whisky has long needed and richly deserves. Detailed, authoritative, and well-written, it debunks myths and sets records straight with grace and aplomb. There is no guessing, no speculation, and no producer hype, just facts, clearly and patiently explained. I’m delighted that we now have this tremendous resource.”
—Charles K. Cowdery, author of Bourbon, Straight
“While much has been written about other world whiskies, Canada’s national spirit has always been left in the shadows – until now. Davin has brilliantly captured Canada’s true spirit. He takes the reader on an engaging and informative journey of discovery, revealing the art, science, history, and passion of the whisky men behind Canada’s iconic elixir. Just like Canadian whisky itself, Davin’s book will leave you thirsting for another.”
—John K. Hall, Whisky Maker, Forty Creek Whisky, Ontario
"de Kergommeaux's excellent book opens the door to this magnificent land, its whiskies, and history. Superbly researched and written, it is a must have for the whisky lover. If you have not discovered Canadian whisky, yet, let Davin be your guide." 
—Rob Allanson, Editor, Whisky Magazine
“I’ve been looking for a complete guidebook about Canadian whisky for ages and Davin de Kergommeaux’s new opus is far more than I’d hoped for. In truth, it’s a book that’s blessed with superpowers: it will make any Canadian, even the most well-known brands, taste (even) better once you have read it, or even just thumbed through it for the first time! Essential reading...”
—Serge Valentin, Publisher of and contributor, Whisky & Fine Spirits France
"Canadian Whisky is truly unique, and Davin de Kergommeaux has captured a story that truly reflects whisky's place in Canadian history and culture. He's scored the hat trick all authors should strive for: detailed, informative, and entertaining. Canadian whiskies will always have a place on my shelf, right next to this book."
—Mark Gillespie, Executive Producer/Host, WhiskyCast: Cask-Strength Conversation 

About the Author

Davin de Kergommeaux is a certified sommelier and independent whisky expert who has been writing about, talking about and teaching about whisky for more than a decade.  His writing and tasting notes appear in Scotch Whisky Review, Whisky Advocate and on such websites as and  He is the Canadian editor for Whisky Magazine and publishes comprehensive notes about Canadian whisky on the website, The Association of Canadian Food Bloggers named de Kergommeaux's website the best wine and spirits blog of 2010, just 6 months after it was launched.  De Kergommeaux appears at whisky festivals from coast to coast in Canada and abroad and is a judge in a number of prestigious whisky competitions including the World Whisky Awards.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By WhiskyRob on June 10 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This little book may be portable, but make no mistake, it is chock full of fantastic info. Assuming you purchased this book because you have at least an inkling of an interest in Canadian whisky, then you most certainly will not be disappointed. Throughout the book are tasting notes for all the major brands across this great country, to the smaller, regional treasures. The author explains the history of Canadian whisky in great detail as well as describing the various process's that have been employed over the years to make such a uniquely Canadian product. If you have ever appreciated a shot of 10-year old whisky rolling across your tongue, exploding with flavors, then this book will not only enhance that experience for you in the future, but also make you very, very thirsty for the good stuff.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Gary Nijman on July 20 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Easily the best book ever written about Canadian whisky. Great historical background on all the Canadian whisky distillers and superb reviews of the whisky itself. Indispensable for the whisky enthusiast no matter what you like to drink.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Paul Spong on May 25 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Extremly informative, a different and sometimes surprising look at Canadian history. I've learned that Canadian whisky is unique amoung the world of whiskys, and well worth sampling.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Michael S Martin on June 18 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A fine bit of history that says as much about Canada as it does about our whisky. A book that should always be within reach to answer arguments.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 13 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Very interesting and informative even for a person who has already read several books about whiskey Oct. 17 2012
By Albert Esalnikov - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I find this book very informative and interesting. Many terms and concepts related to whiskey, not only Canadian, become clearer after reading the book. This is not the first book that I have read about the subject, but this book is a little bit more detailed than others and explains and touches many concepts and terms related to whiskey production and appreciation, that have never been touched by other books, as the Canadian whiskey is very unique and unusual, from the production and flavor profile points of view, in comparison to other major types of whiskey and requires a different approach for its assessment and appreciation. As a resident of Ontario, Canada, I see many new Canadian whiskey brands coming to the local liquor stores, or find different Canadian whiskey brands abroad, that had not been mentioned in the book, but the book provides a general guidance on how to approach Canadian (and other types of) whiskey, and an overall history of the Canadian whiskey heritage, so it can be easily used to approach and assess those newcomers.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
De Kergommeaux shines a brilliant spotlight on a vital area long overlooked June 24 2012
By Joshua G. Feldman - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Canadian Whisky - the portable expert fills an enormous hole in the high-end whisky Zeitgeist where the largest selling whisky in the USA lives. Canadian whisky constitutes over 1/3rd of the American whisky market, and has so since forever (perhaps the Civil War) by being smooth. However, "smooth" has become a dirty word in the new high-end movement and there hasn't been a voice for Canadian whisky pride until now. Indeed, until this title, virtually nothing authoritative has been written about this vast and important area. Canadian Whisky - the portable expert is a stunning achievement that is really three books in one: 1) a treatise on whisky, it's production, and how to appreciate it; 2) an economic and biographical history of the Canadian whisky industry: it's titanic industrialists, innovators, and entrepreneurs; and 3) a comprehensive set of tasting notes and distillery profiles. As such it is one of the most useful and complete books on a whisky segment that I have ever seen or, indeed could even imagine. And while the tone is authoritative and scholarly, the obsessive love and attentions to detail, plus the language of the epilogue makes it clear that De Kergommeaux is a partisan, a defender, of Candian whisky's particular and unique flavor profile and role in Canadian culture, life, and economy.

This isn't a book coming from some Canadian chamber of commerce type, however. Davin De Kergommeaux is one of the twenty-four Malt Maniacs - the elite group of whisky epicures who help mold and shape the culture and agenda of high end whisky epicurianism world-wide. Thus his whisky connoisseurship is impeccable and well predates his particular career as a blogger of and advocate for Canadian whisky. FYI - his blog, canadianwhisky[dot]org which has been around for a couple of years, is clearly the web's preeminent location for Canadian whisky reviews, news and scholarship. Since 2011 De Kergommeaux's position eminence concerning Canadian whisky was confirmed further by his appointment as Canadian Contributing Editor to Whisky Magazine.

Canadian Whisky is a fairly compact 300 pages. It begins with the elements of grains, water, and wood. Then it moves onto the mechanisms and methods of distillation, blending and aging. Next is flavor science, tasting, and epicurianism covered from glassware to flavor mapping. These sections on how to drink are brief but as solid a treatise on the subject as you'll find. Then De Kergommeaux spends the next hundred pages on "A concise history of Canadian whisky" - which consists of biographies of mercurial geniuses and titans of industry such as Gooderham and Worts, Thomas Molson, Henry Corby, Joseph E. Seagram, Hiram Walker, J.P. Wiser and Sam Bronfman. But this section is far more - it is the history of towns and whisky expressions both booming and long gone. It is a vigorous bit of investigative journalism into a secretive industry that is seldom documented well - if at all. This is the first time that this history has been told with anything like this kind of comprehensive reach and vision. It is a gripping achievement which will appeal to students of history and economics as much as whisky enthusiasts. It reminds me quite a bit of wonderful books of economic history such as Ron Chernow's The House of Morgan: An American Banking Dynasty and the Rise of Modern Finance. The book concludes with 100 pages profiling the nine distilleries of Canada: Alberta, Black Velvet, Candian Mist, Gimli, Glenora, Highwood, Hiram Walker, Kittling Ridge, and Valleyfield. Yes, all of Canada's titanic output of whisky comes from just those 9 distilleries.

Interspersed among the content, as color block side bars, are brief encapsulated tasting notes. Ultimately, this is the weakest part of the Canadian Whisky. Anyone who wants to read the full treatment of these tasting notes will have to visit canadianwhisky[dot]org as the full tasting notes do not appear in Canadian Whisky at all. This is really much more of a book about Canadian Whisky's history, production, and industry than a flavor analysis of the particular expressions. Nevertheless, this book has revolutionized my understanding and appreciation of Canadian whisky - not only because I now have a much fuller sense of the full segment and the universe of expressions being made (and that were made in the past). It's the depth of analysis of how Canadian distillers achieve their flavor profiles - and why they labor so hard to achieve them - than has really affected my comprehension and perspective. Most Canadian whiskies are blends. "Base" whiskies, typically distilled via column still at high proof, aged in extensively refilled barrels, and then diluted down to a greater extent than many other whisky traditions, are mixed with rye "flavoring" whiskies. Rye gives the character and the base whiskies bring sweetness and smoothness. Massive averaging and blending traditions assure consistency - but also another layer of smoothing. The incredible smoothness and soft finishes of Canadian whiskies are no accident. They are the achievement of a century of careful tuning to kill the bugaboo of 19th century raw whisky - roughness and the taste of youth.

Bottom line, every whisky drinker or student of any related field needs to read De Kergommeaux's Canadian Whisky - the portable expert. It is a towering achievement in the field of whisky writing and shines a brilliant spotlight into a huge, important, and yet almost totally overlooked subject.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
If you are even a little interested in whisky, you should read this book. June 6 2013
By kelson_atrian - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Canadian Whisky: the portable expert by Davin de Kergommeaux has been on my Amazon wishlist for the last bit of forever. The minute I heard about it, I knew I wanted to read it. This is a book that busts the many myths and misconceptions that most citizens of these United States have regarding Canadian Whisky. That "blended whisky" one we all know? Yep. Untrue. A blend of whiskies is not a blended-whiskey. Hiram Walker? Turns out there is more associated with that name than just those florescent liqueurs you see on the bottom shelf of the cordial section of most liquor stores. This is a book fully worth buying.

And if you buy today (or any day) as an added bonus: since those pesky Canadians keep most of the really good stuff in country and there are more tasty whiskies made in Canada than those of us in Middle North America have probably ever realized, Davin was nice enough to provide tasting notes in the book so that we are fully aware of just what we are missing out on.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Excellent Book May 21 2012
By Frogged - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is very thorough yet easy to read, a great overview of an under-appreciated product. The time is right for a definitive book that tells the story of one of the world's great whisky styles, and this is that book. Any whisk(e)y or beverage connoisseur should have a copy of this book.
All you need to know about Canada's Whisky May 30 2015
By Norbert - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Simply THE book on Canadian whisky. Especially American bourbon snobs who still haven't gotten the memo that the days of "brown vodka" are long gone (if they ever really existed) need to read this to understand how Canadians approach making whisky.
One minor detraction: The tasting notes are entertaining in their flights of verbose fancy, but practically pretty worthless. What on earth am I supposed to do with a "mealy, milky, enticingly mouth-watering temptation"? Or a whisky that "suggest(s) bacon and beans on an open campfire"? Or one of my favorites: "Hints of motor oil interrupt cinnamon toast...".