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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

DRINK BOOK OF THE MONTH: World Whiskey (DK, 2009)

WORLD WHISKEY (DK, 2009, 352 pages, ISBN 978-0-7566-5443-6, $25 US,
hard covers) has been edited by Charles MacLean, author of ten books on
whiskey (including the definitive "Scotch Whisky" and "Malt Whisky").
The writers include Dave Broom, Tom Bruce-Gardyne, Ian Buxton, Peter
Mulryan, Hans Offringa, and Gavin D. Smith. While it does not appear
that articles are actually signed, each writer has a mini-biography of
credentials. The books very similar to the late Michael Jackson's
WHISKEY; the definitive world guide, published by DK in 2005 with 288
pages. This is another "tell all" book, international in scope. It is
comprehensive and somewhat authoritative, with 167 pages on Scotland,
34 for Irish, 12 on Canada, 50 on the USA, 25 for Japan, 13 for the
rest of Europe, and six for Australasia. The writers clearly show the
impact of climate, water, heather, sea breeze, barley, peat, malting
techniques, distillation processes, type of wood used for storage,
maturation periods. General sections cover aromas and flavours, peats
and bogs, regions, terroirs – with lots of illustrations and diagrams.
There are short sections on whiskey cocktails (with recipes), and food
and whiskey pairing. But this is principally a directory to some of the
finest distilled grain-based spirits in the world (over 700 of them,
with 1200 colour photos). After the first 20 pages of general
materials, the country-by-country arrangement begins with Scotland, of
course. The guide to the major producers of single-malt scotch, small
batch bourbons, and pure pot Irish includes contact details and
reproductions of bottles. Tasting notes are also included. There are
five whiskey tours through Speyside, Islay, Ireland, Kentucky, and
Audience and level of use: wine schools, whiskey lovers.
Some interesting or unusual facts: "Islay's constant wind carries a
mist of sweet, salt-laden air, the whiff of the sea, the coconut aroma
of hot gorse, a hint of peat smoke and bog myrtle, and the smell of a
just-spent fire on the beach. All the notes you pick up in its malts
are there, floating in the Atlantic wind".
What I don't like about this book: it is hard to fault, but maybe a
pronunciation guide could have been useful. More maps would also have
engaged me.
What I do like about this book: good thick paper. There are tasting
notes and good descriptions of vatted malts.
Quality/Price Ratio: 91.

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