Book Review

Book Review: Whisky: The Connoisseur’s Journal

France’s La Maison du Whisky, already world famous for its dedication to whisky, has just released a book for every whisky enthusiast’s shelf. The beautifully-bound Whisky: The Connoisseur’s Journal is part educational book, part history book, and part whisky journal.  Divided into five sections, Whisky is a great way to begin your whisky journey, whether you read and write in English or French.  Each page is divided into two columns, providing information in both languages.

The first section, “How to Enjoy Whisky,” contains tasting and nosing tips, as well as touching on subjects like glassware, aeration, and the addition of ice/water.  Experienced drinkers will know most of this stuff, but it’s addition here is aimed at novices.

“A Whisky Chronology” is basically a condensed timeline of important whisky dates, from its first recorded mention in 1494 to Kavalan Solist Vinho Barrique Cask Strength being declared the ‘best single malt in the world’ in 2015.

The next section, “A Whisky History,” goes into much more detailed lessons.  Different whisky types are covered here, from Scotch single malts to American bourbon.  Just like prior sections, this information is mainly for novices, but more advanced imbibers could always use a history refresher, especially while enjoying a dram.

The main event, so to speak, is the “Cellar Notes” section.  More than 100 pages of the book are devoted to whisky journaling, allowing you to take detailed tasting notes.  Whisky tasting notes are great to look back on, as whiskies slightly change over time.  Not to mention your tastes, which could minutely shift over the years.  There will be people that might purchase a book like this but never write in it.  Don’t make that mistake, folks.  A whisky journal’s sole purpose is to use it to record your tasting notes.  It’s like a great bottle of whisky – it does no good just sitting there.  Open it.  Savor it.  Otherwise, it’s just a bottle of liquor.

Lastly, Whisky concludes with a section entitled, “The World’s Finest Whiskies.”  In essence, this section is a distillery profile of sorts – location, founding date, types of whisky produced there, etc.  Additionally, La Maison du Whisky includes what it considers the ten finest whiskies released by each featured distillery.

I can’t recommend Whisky: The Connoisseur’s Journal with any more excitement.  It makes a wonderful gift for the whisky lover in your life as well as for those just starting out in their own whisky adventure.  The book’s list price is $24.95, but you might be able to find it online for a bit cheaper.  Hey, Father’s Day is just around the corner.  This book paired with a nice bottle of whisky… now we’re talking!

La Maison Du Whisky

Thanks to La Maison du Whisky for the advanced copy.  As always, all thoughts and opinion are my own.

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Book Review: Japanese Whisky by Brian Ashcraft

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While Japanese whisky is certainly experiencing worldwide popularity, it still seems rather unfamiliar with a lot of whisky fans. I get questions about the spirit all the time, and people are amazed at some of my responses. For example, people are surprised to know the Japanese have been making whisky since the early 20th century.

By the way, it’s NOT Japanese Scotch. There’s no such thing. The Japanese were certainly inspired by Scotch whiskies, but Japanese whisky is its own style.

Sigh… if only I could point people to a guide to Japanese whisky.

Enter author Brian Ashcraft.

Ashcraft’s Japanese Whisky: The Ultimate Guide to the World’s Most Desirable Spirit proves to be an extremely valuable source of information. Not only does Ashcraft cover the whisky-making process in great detail, he also dives a bit into Japanese drinking culture.

Japanese Whisky starts with a history lesson, providing more than just a glimpse into the whisky’s beginnings and evolution. I find Masataka Taketsuru’s journey most interesting. Being called the “Father of Japanese Whisky” suits Taketsuru quite well. You’ll have to read to find out why. The author’s look at Mizanura oak is especially fascinating. Ashcraft explains what it brings to the whisky maturation table and why it is rather rare these days.

The next section of the book profiles major Japanese distilleries, from Yamazaki and Hakushu to Yoichi and Miyagikyo, providing tons of historical information and distillery styles. As a bonus, Japanese whisky blogger Yuji Kawasaki provides tasting notes for more than 100 Japanese whiskies, categorized by distillery.

Japanese Whisky is the Yellow Brick Road on your journey of discovery into Japanese whisky. It will guide you into a great appreciation for the spirit. A favorite chapter of mine is entitled “What Makes Japanese Whisky ‘Japanese’?”. To me, it encapsulates not only the spirit of the book, but that of the whisky and its makers. It doesn’t get more in-depth than this, folks.

Japanese Whisky will be on shelves May 2018 for $19.99.

Thanks to Brian Ashcraft and Tuttle Publishing for the review copy. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Book Review: Canadian Whisky: The New Portable Expert

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Until fairly recently, I didn’t know much about Canadian whisky.  Anything beyond Crown Royal or Canadian Club was pretty much foreign to me. But thankfully Davin de Kergommeaux is here to help.

In the second edition of his popular book, Canadian Whisky: The New Portable Expert, de Kergommeaux caters to a wide audience, ranging from whisky novices to whisky nerds. Many whisky books feature a section explaining grains, fermentation, distillation, and aging. De Kergommeaux’s writing style provides a very detailed, but not intimidating, look at the whisky-making process. Those just getting into whisky will appreciate the ease with which de Kergommeaux writes.

History buffs will relish the book’s journey into Canadian whisky’s past. Starting with Canada’s first distilleries, de Kergommeaux follows how the spirit evolved to what it is now, highlighting key figures along the way. Readers also get treated to in-depth and intimate profiles of Canada’s eight major distilleries as well as new upstarts.

In addition, Canadian Whisky: The New Portable Expert features tasting notes for more than 100 Canadian whiskies. It’s welcome addition to those looking to expand their Canadian whisky experience, as the majority of the whiskies featured will likely be unknown to American drinkers.

Word’s out: the world is embracing Canadian whisky. That is thanks in part to people like de Kergommeaux, who travels the world to spread Canadian whisky love. De Kergommeaux’s immense passion for his country’s whisky is only matched by his vast knowledge on the subject. It is evident on every page of this must read book. Canadian Whisky: The New Portable Expert is THE authoritative guide to understanding and enjoying Canadian whisky. Highly recommended!

Canadian Whisky: The New Portable Expert is available now.

Thanks to Appetite by Random House for the review copy. As always, all thought and opinions are my own.