March 23, 2014

Whisky: The Manual [Book Review]

whisky-manual-dave-broom.jpgWhisky is one of the most popular spirits in the world, and everyone seems to have an opinion on how you should drink it. Even people who've never drunk a drop beyond Jack n Coke have no qualms about telling you how you should enjoy it. The myth is that you can't mix single malts with anything, even water, and if you try people aren't worried about looking at you like you've been kicked in the head by a mule. Even your buddy who's drinking Grey Goose and Red Bull will sneer at you if you want some ice in your Glenmorangie. Does that seem fair?

Dave Broom, author of Whisky: The Manual knows him some whisky. He offers all the details you could expect, from the materials it's made from to how it's distilled, assigns flavor profiles to different flavor camps, and makes it really easy to pick out what types you would like to drink, from blended or single malt Scotch to American whiskeys to Japanese offerings. He also breaks what many people think is the cardinal rule - he tells you what you can mix each with.

Broom chose five mixers to profile with each whisky - soda, ginger ale, cola, coconut water and green tea. While the first three are probably familiar to most bourbon drinkers, the concept of mixing whisky with the final two blew even our relatively open minds. There were some brands he recommended against mixing, and by and large we agreed with him, but we were also highly impressed with the combos we tried.

We had access to a few different types of whisky, so we picked up Broom's recommended mixers and got our science on. While we enjoyed Grant's Family Reserve mixed with cola, and were pleasantly surprised by Johnnie Walker Red with ginger ale, we were absolutely floored by the combination of Jameson and coconut water, which Broom highlighted as a must-try. Somehow these two drinks combined over ice became a thing to behold. Highly recommended.

TLDR: Dave Broom has made whisky accessibly again by separating it into flavor camps, profiling brands from all over the world, and possibly most importantly taking the fear out of mixing it. We're experienced drinkers and reading this book broadened our horizons exponentially. Add to that the cocktail recipes and plethora of additional information available in this book, it's worth the price of admission for even the casual drinker.

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Posted by Jake Jamieson at March 23, 2014 8:23 PM
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