The "Ultimate" of the title is not in this case hyperbolic. And to say the book is encyclopedic, though this is true, is to put it in a category of many other voluminous books. With this book, its comprehensiveness, organization, and its visual content want to be stressed. It's a state-of-the-art reference with an art book appeal, though smaller. Left out on a counter or table, one seeing it is drawn to it out of curiosity and its visual promise. "State-of-the-art" applies because "spirits"--whiskeys, bourbons, rums, liqueurs, vermouths, cognacs, flavored brandies, fortified wines, and others--are not the defined group of alcohols many may assume. While many are ancient, new ones are coming up all the time from from the invention of distilleries and to meet changing tastes around the world. The text mostly by Domine who did the bulk of the research involving worldwide travel with ancillary chapters by others relates the origins and histories including migration of the older spirits; while with the newer spirits, many from recent decades with the mixing of cultures in globalization, developments in regional cultures, usually business activity, and marketing ideas are noted. All of this is accompanied by bountiful and diversified color photos on nearly every page. multishaped bottles of the numerous spirits, farm fields, close-ups of plants, distillery equipment, maps, vintage advertising, and multicolored cocktails are all parts of this.
The reader could be overwhelmed by the wealth of content and its colorful and informative detail but for the detailed Contents and five indexes of people, places, subject, spirits and producers, and cocktails. Some readers will find the three-page Glossary is helpful too as an introduction with its translations of foreign terms, names for pieces of equipment and bar utensils, and names for general categories of spirits.
The book brings the world of spirits to the same level of interest and appeal as outstanding books on wines and beers have. And as others have regarding wines and beers, many will be inspired to rewardingly explore this world with this authoritative, reliable work as a guide.