Spirits Books Roundup

A large part of my whiskey adventure consists of tasting, but there’s always an element of learning involved. I love to educate myself on all aspects of whiskey. Thank goodness for spirits books. Sure, there’s lots of information online, but books seem to have stricter editorial guidelines which means they can be trusted more. Having read a few spirts books lying during the pandemic, I wanted to share a quick blurb for each. Thanks to the authors and publishers for sharing review copies.


American Whiskey, the latest book from Whiskey Reviewer owner and Managing Editor Richard Thomas, is an exciting journey of our native spirit. On his website, Thomas is a whiskey nerd at heart, but remains a tough yet fair critic. In my view, that critical approach lends Thomas a higher level of trust when it comes to the age old question, “should I buy this whiskey?” It also serves him well in American Whiskey’s format, which showcases more than 300 whiskeys. Additionally, Thomas gives some background on the distilleries. And he’s not just looking at the big boys. American Whiskey also dedicates a large portion to craft distillers, the ever-growing segment of the American whiskey industry that receives some much needed attention. Though American Spirit may seem like a standard approach to the modern whiskey book, Thomas’s knowledge of the category sets this book apart.


Go ahead and toss our your cocktail books. Kurt Maitland’s Drink: The Ultimate Cocktail Book is here and should be your new cocktail recipe reference. Okay, don’t throw out your other books. The Whiskey Reviewer Deputy Editor put together a massive collection of cocktail recipes, history, and more. When I say massive, I mean MASSIVE. Maitland features more than 1,100 recipes. This is less a book and more a tome. Thankfully, the author breaks down all this information in a well organized, easy to read format. Maitland has an encyclopedic knowledge of spirits. I know this firsthand – he’s the person who got me into Scotch whisky. Every time he visits New Orleans and we get together for a dram, I learn something new about whisky. Seriously… every time. Drink accomplishes the same for cocktails. There’s something here for cocktail novices and industry veterans alike.


There are people who know bourbon and people who know bourbon. Peggy Noe Stevens and Susan Reigler fit in the latter category. Their new book, Which Fork Do I Use with My Bourbon, explores bourbon tasting, presentation, food pairing and more. This is interesting to me, as I rack my brain trying to think of a way to host a nice bourbon tasting. It’s gotta be more than just peanuts and crackers. Stevens and Reigler take a deep dive into the subject, getting as specific as place settings, decorations, and presentation. This book should be studied before you host your next bourbon tasting. Thank you Peggy and Susan for this. You’ve just brought my cocktail party to the next level.

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