As with fine wines, there is a social cachet in being able to "appreciate" a good Scotch. But how exactly do you learn this skill? This illustrated book offers the reader detailed, structured tuition on how to develop his or her palate for whisky. Readers are taken on a detailed tour of how whisky is produced, what each of its constituents and each of the stages of its manufacture bring to the final product. With this grounding, they are then introduced to the various chemical processes at work during distillation and ...
As with fine wines, there is a social cachet in being able to "appreciate" a good Scotch. But how exactly do you learn this skill? This illustrated book offers the reader detailed, structured tuition on how to develop his or her palate for whisky. Readers are taken on a detailed tour of how whisky is produced, what each of its constituents and each of the stages of its manufacture bring to the final product. With this grounding, they are then introduced to the various chemical processes at work during distillation and maturation that give each whisky its distinct characteristics. Using specific popular whiskies which readers are encouraged to have to hand as they work through the book, they are taught how to recognise what it is they are tasting and smelling, and how to describe this in the language of the experts. Armed with this knowledge, readers should ultimately be able to develop their own informed impressions of the whisky they drink, rather than receive them second-hand from books.
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The book does exactly what it sets out to do - introduce readers to the appreciation of whisky - and provides a real education in the process. The chemistry and whisky production aspects are elucidated in an engaging and clear style, with tidbits that leave the reader with the distinct impression, sometimes made quite explicit by the author, that they are being informed of something ignored by other whisky books and lightly suppressed by the industry. His approach is at times iconoclastic, perhaps even contentious, as when he blithely explains why whiskies are generally at their peak at around 10 to 15 years of age and that people who spend large sums on older whiskies likely don't have any idea what they are talking about. Throughout he is happy to reveal trade "secrets" (many of which were unknown to me, and I have read dozens of mainstream books on this subject over the years) and never flinches from unmasking some bit of mystique or marketing as mere hokum (I learned a thing or two from this material as well). His approach to the flavor profiles of whisky is, like many of the other books out there, a tad complicated on first glance - but hang in there for a couple of pages, because his is actually much clearer and more useful than most. Sadly, this book is currently hard to find at all, much less at a decent price. One to keep an eye out for in used book shops, as it is the best introductory text on whisky to date, with a wonderfully refreshing tell-it-like-it-is approach.
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