1.TASTING WHISKEY (Storey Publishing, 2014, 256 pages, ISBN 978-1-61212-301-1, $18.95 US paper covers) is by Lew Bryson, managing editor and feature writer for Whisky Advocate. It is a general all-purpose introduction to the rising tide of brown spirits now embracing and encompassing North America. More and more artisanal distilleries are making small-batch whiskeys, including rye, bourbon, and scotch. Sub-varieties in this insider's view cover those spirits of Tennessee, Ireland, Japan and Canada. The opening chapters roam through fermentation and distillation, styles, regions (with a chapter on Canada), craft whiskey, "dilution" (a great name for water and ice and cocktails), food pairing, collecting whiskey, and some resources plus a glossary. Bryson, who used to be a librarian, carefully marshals and presents his facts and figures, with graphs, maps, and photos. For example, in the Canadian chapter, he's got a flavour profile for various brands, tours of wineries with personal comments, sharp looking photos of the Distillery District and Glenora, and commentary on tax structures. The cocktail section deftly covers the basics of Manhattans, Old Fashioned, Whisky Sours, Highballs, etc. Collecting whiskey is for the rich, as are whiskey travel trails.
Audience and level of use: those interested in learning about whiskeys in general.
Some interesting or unusual facts: until 2011, Canadian whisky was the largest whisky category in the US. Even now, though, it took the combined bourbon and Tennessee whiskey to move past Canada. So Canada is still #1 if you separate bourbon from the pack. By using neutral American ingredients up to 9.09% of the final exported blend, Canadian whisky gets a tax break in the US. That's why it is cheaper there.
The downside to this book: there's a wealth of material in here that needs to be digested – so take your time.
The upside to this book: I can only quote a log roller – "I shouldn't say this is the only whiskey book you need, but it probably is" (C.K. Cowdery)
Quality/Price Rating: 90.