November 20, 2005

Whiskey: The Definitive World Guide

Title: Whiskey: The Definitive World Guide
Author: Michael Jackson (not that Michael Jackson)
Hardcover, 336 pages
Typical Price: $40, but currently available at Amazon for $26 - Buy It Now

Whiskey: The Definitive World GuideThere's a whole big world of whiskey out there, and it can be overwhelming for the novice or intermediate drinker to choose among the different varieties. Will I like scotch, bourbon, rye, Canadian, or Irish whiskey? And among those, what brand should I buy?

We picked up Michael Jackson's book a couple weeks ago, and we've been flipping through it a lot lately. It's got tons of information on the history of the liquor and information about the different types by region, plus it offers tasting notes on the major brands of each region. As we learned from the Instant Expert's Guide to Single Malt, whiskey is a very subjective experience and one man's favorite drink is another man's toilet water. But it is nice to be armed with some comparisons when you do your own tastings.

From the Amazon product description:

The occasional tippler may be intimidated by all the nuances of fine whiskey; after all, there are just so many variables to consider. What is the local climate and geography of the distillery? What the kind of grain is used, and how is it prepared for fermenting? What is the shape of the still? What kind of oak is used for the cask, and how long is the whiskey aged? Jackson's collection of essays and photographs will teach newbies how to answer all of these questions, but it will gratify the most obsessive enthusiasts as well. Every step of the process gets its own explanation, and there are even essays on food pairings and cocktail recipes. The bulk of the book, however, is taken up by an almost encyclopedic compendium of distilleries from all over the planet, including Germany and Japan. Individually, each section is informative; but taken together, the sheer amount of information may make novices feel overwhelmed. This is not to suggest that Jackson's "definitive world guide" is to be avoided. Rather, like the drink it celebrates, it's best in small doses. So here's what you do: buy a bottle of your favorite scotch, rye or bourbon, and another bottle of one that intrigues you. Read about each distillery, then check out Jackson's brief and informative section "How to Nose and Taste." Then pour two fingers in a highball glass, put on some relaxing music, and enjoy the spirit of the spirit.
This is a nice, big hefty book that will look great on the coffee table of any whiskey enthusiast, and we know we like to take it down and thumb through it before our trips to the liquor store. We thought it was a good deal for less than $30 at Amazon too, and we recommend that any whiskey drinker who wants to know more about the intricacies of the beverage buy a copy(or at least receive it as a gift, hint hint).

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Posted by Jake Jamieson at November 20, 2005 11:57 AM
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