Whisky: The Manual Hardcover – Apr 8 2014
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Broom is a true world authority. Whisky Advocate The best whisky book ever - it makes every other book I own pretty much obsolete. -- Praise for Dave Broom's The World Atlas of Whisky Forbes
About the Author
Award-winning author and whisky expert Dave Broom has been writing about whisky for 25 years as a journalist and author. He has written eight books, two of which (Drink! and Rum) won the Glenfiddich Award for Drinks Book of the Year. He has also won the Glenfiddich Award for Drinks Writer of the Year twice and recently won the extremely prestigious IWSC Communicator of the Year Award.
Dave is editor-in-chief of Whisky Magazine: Japan, consultant editor to Whisky Magazine (UK, the USA, France, Spain), and a lead columnist on Malt Advocate (USA). He is also editor of the Scotch Whisky Review and a contributor to a raft of national and international titles including the Spectator, Mixology, and Imbibe (Europe). He is a regular broadcaster on TV and radio.
Over his two decades in the field, Dave has built up a considerable international following with regular training/educational visits to France, Holland, Germany, the USA, and Japan. His remit has covered consumer features as well as business reports. He is also actively involved in whisky education, acting as a consultant to major distillers on tasting techniques as well as teaching professionals and the public. He was also one of the developers of Diageo's generic whisky tasting tool, the Flavour Map.
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The book starts with an introduction dispelling common myths, such as that whisky should only be drank neat and that single malt whisky is always better than blended whisky. This introduction is followed by about 30 pages of detailed whisky history, from the 1200s to today, across several areas of the world, including Scotland and Ireland, America and Canada, and Asia. As an example of the level of detail, the history of Scotch whisky is further subdivided into at least five significant time periods.
Next, an "Essentials" chapter of about 15 pages discusses the importance of the various inputs and processes that go into making whisky: grains, smoke, water, yeast, distillation, maturation in wood, and whisky blending. After that, the "Mixing" chapter discusses the various mixers commonly used throughout the world: water, club soda, ginger ale, cola, green tea, and coconut water.
Most of the rest of the book describes individual whiskies and rates how well they pair with mixers. Each whisky was tasted with mixer and ice and rated from 1 to 5. The author states that his goals were to review more blended Scotch than single malt Scotch and to review only widely-available whiskies.
The author introduces a "flavor camp" categorization system for the three main categories of whiskies reviewed: Blends, Malts (including Scotch, Irish, and Asian whiskies), and North American whiskies. Blends and malts are categorized from being light and delicate to rich and fruity or even smoky. North American whiskies are categorized differently, based on whether the whisky is corn, wheat, or rye based.
Most of the approximately 100-page tasting section is a single-page profile of each whisky, including a photo of the bottle and a chart indicating the "flavor camp" and ratings of the whisky with each mixer. The whiskies reviewed include: approximately 30 blended Scotch, 30 single malt Scotch, 8 Irish, 10 bourbon, a few Tennessee and American rye, 10 Canadian, and 10 Asian (from Japan and Taiwan) whiskies. This is followed by a few pages on how to pair food with whisky and then a chapter on cocktails. The "Cocktails" chapter profiles 10 classic cocktails in-depth, each with about two pages for the history and recipe, including the Manhattan, Old Fashioned, Highball, Julep, and Sazerac. This chapter also includes a more condensed section of about 35 other whisky cocktail recipes.
Overall this is a great book for learning to appreciate whisky. More experienced drinkers would still learn much from the history and essentials sections while also learning about blended Scotch whiskies and mixers that are rarely or never discussed in other books. However, if you're looking for a comprehensive book of single malt Scotch whisky tasting notes, this does not try to be that book.
There's a short section on how whisky is made and how to taste it, but most of that text is devoted to telling you that however you want to drink whisky is great, and you shouldn't feel bad if you want to mix your new $120 bottle of Argbeg Uigedail with Capn Crunch and milk, if that's the way you like it. Oh, and if you want a whisky you SHOULD want a blend, since that's what 90% of the world apparently wants.
What this book doesn't do is actually celebrate all of the varieties of taste that individual whiskies can give you; it doesn't tell you that you can spend your entire life drinking whiskies and you'll always find a new taste, a new discovery, waiting for you the next day; instead of realizing that nowadays we're entering a world where whisky is akin to wine in that each producer is dedicated to giving you their best, most interesting product possible.
If Dave Broom were to write a book about wine, instead of learning about all the different varieties of wine there are, and celebrating that variety, it would instead be given over to recipes for punch and sangria and the wonderful advantages to the awesome sameness of boxed wine every night.
Dave Broom, if you don't like single malts or even the idea of different products from different distilleries, fine. But don't write a book dedicated to that idea and call it "Whisky: The Manual."
No, says author Dave Broom, unless the resultant mixture sucks. That's why he's sampled a hundred whiskies, including malts, blends, rye, bourbon, Irish, Canadian, Japanese and Taiwanese draughts, six ways each, so the reader won't have to. This isn't a book for purists: it's for nontraditional (read: young) drinkers whose tastes are still wide open to experimentation, though Broom manages to reinforce my long-standing prejudice that the best thing you can do with Canadian whisky is pour ginger ale in it. It's a book worth reading.