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.


Speyburn & Old Pulteney Livestream with Brand Education Manager Steph Ridgway

Review: Ardbeg Grooves Committee Release Single Malt Whisky

Ardbeg’s Grooves is the company’s limited edition release for 2018.  Though the 60’s flower power is in full effect in name and label, Grooves is named after the grooves left in the barrels staves after heavy charring.  Those barrels, ex-wine casks, only make up a portion of this expression.  The rest, I’m assuming, is made up of ex-bourbon casks.

We’re looking at the Committee Release, which is a higher proof version available in much smaller numbers compared to the general release.  In this case, Grooves comes in at 51.6% ABV and is available in very limited numbers for about $120.

On the nose, familiar Ardbeg characteristics are here in full force: smoked meat, earthiness, and some iodine.  Notes from the wine casks join in the melody, providing a sweet and fruity counterbalance.  The palate follows the nose, with sun-baked tobacco leaf and campfire smoke hitting your tongue first, followed by a wave of sweet berries, stewed apricots, spice and a slightly savory character.  Every now and then I can pick out a tinge of vanilla.  A bit more spice and toasted oak appear on the back palate and into the long, warming finish.  Hints of coal, candied ginger, fruity sweetness and burnt orange peel linger.

Fruit and smoke is one of my favorite flavor combinations in whisky, and Ardbeg Grooves fits right in. Though I really enjoy it, my wife didn’t, and prefers the more straightforward profile of Ardbeg 10-year-old. The standard release of Grooves should be hitting shelves soon. While I’d suggest scooping up that expression, if you happen to see the Committee Release, don’t hesitate. You’ll certainly be taken on a groovy journey. 9/10

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