1001 Whiskies You Must Taste Before You Die
Universe Publishing, Dominic Roskrow, General Editor 2012
Okay, first of all this book is impressive for all the information it presents and the scope it tries to reach. In the Forward, it is stated that we are all “the tellers of tales and the listeners of stories”. The notion is put forth that each whiskey has a “golden yarn” to tell through each sniff and taste and that each reviewer has a unique way of interpreting that story and passing it on to us.
This book was put together in Europe, with contributors from around the world supplying biographies of each whiskey, their distilleries and tasting notes; over 20 writers contributed to the reviews and tasting notes for this book. As the editor states, most of the contributors are seasoned writers who have been discussing this subject for years. In addition, he has also brought in newcomers who, perhaps not having any words on printed media, are blogging or writing on websites devoted to this drink. As a side note, at least a couple of contributors’ names should be familiar to members of this site as they grace our pages with their thoughts.
Each whiskey is given a generous biography and a short set of tasting notes. There are never more than 2 whiskies described per page, so for each there is plenty of information given. As you might expect, much of the book is devoted to whiskey from Scotland; almost 60% of the book’s 900+ pages. But a good portion is also given to the United States with smaller sections on Ireland and Canada. Several small USA distilleries and their products are described that I’ve never heard of including folks who are making bourbon, moonshine, rye, single-malts, etc. All very interesting and it just makes the list of whiskies you’d like to try even longer.
Back to the scope, there are nearly 140 pages given to Japan, Europe and “The Rest of the World”. Through other reading, I was aware that Japan and India produced many whiskies (I’ve even had the opportunity to taste a Japanese single malt). It was very interesting to find out how many countries have distilleries making “whiskey”. Places as diverse as Pakistan, New Zealand, Sweden and Taiwan. Also of note, is that the term “whiskey” is becoming more flexible. What might be called “whiskey” in one country, might not be (allowed to be) called “whiskey” in another. The book also includes an alphabetical listing, a listing by country, a glossary of terms, a short bio on each contributor, picture credits and resources for further reading, so it has plenty to offer in addition to the whiskey info.
What’s the most interesting tidbit of information I’ve learned so far? That Liechtenstein, one of the smallest countries in the world, has whiskey production. That’s intriguing enough for me to want to try to get a taste. But the biggest thing I’ve learned (and I’m by no means near to having finished) is how little I know about all this. I’ve read about whiskey tastings, judgings, contests, etc. Those sound like great events to me and I realize that I’ll need to keep reading for the rest of my days.
Based on everything I’ve mentioned, I’d recommend this book. As I stated, I haven’t read the entire book, but I haven’t come across anything in it that makes me think it isn’t worthwhile. Hopefully all the facts are correct and current; for now I’ll assume they are and continue to enjoy the further education I’m getting. This book was a birthday gift to me so I don't have pricing information. I know that would also be a factor in a decision to read it.
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