For the distinguished gentlemen, drinking whiskey is more than just a pastime – it’s an art. If you find yourself lacking, or untrained in the art of drinking whiskey, consider the following book list as required reading material.
1. World Atlas of Whisky by Dave Broom – Dave Brown has already won the prestigious and much sought after Glenfiddich Award for Drinks Book of the Year twice for previous works on the subject. As the editor of Scotch Whisky Review and editor-in-chief of Whisky Magazine: Japan, he is more than qualified to top our list as best-all-around book on whisky. The strength of this book lies in the fact that Broom knows how to impart useful information, and keep even the dry parts of the word of whisky interesting.
Broom leaves you with a beautifully wrapped and wonderfully illustrated coffee table book that takes you through whisky production in Scotland, Ireland, and even Kentucky. (Watch out whisky snobs – he does go there.) He explains the differences between malt and grain versions, tells you how to taste, describes the major flavor components and provides maps done by flavors. He gives you concrete suggestions on trying new whiskies based on what you already like. Every top whisky producing country is explored in-depth, making for a long, but very comprehensive guide to whisky. Perhaps its greatest asset is that due to Broom’s writing skill the book is readable, despite the fact that it is meant as more of a reference work. If you are only going to buy one book on whisky, make it this one.
2. Peat, Smoke & Spirit by Andrew Jefford – The focus of this book is Islay, the small island off the Western coast of Scotland with more than half a dozen malt whisky distilleries. The book goes well beyond the production of whisky and introduces you to the history, geography and people of Islay. Far different from the rest of the reference type books on this list, its purpose is captured in the book’s subtitle, “A Portrait of Islay and its Whisky.”
3. The World’s Best Whiskies by Dominic Roskrow – This book is the newest to the list, but Roskrow isn’t the least bit green. One of the world’s foremost whisky authorities, he knows his stuff. Roskrow examines 750 whiskies from around the globe and combines the facts with a captivating narrative that will leave you turning pages late into the night. Add to the stories and tasting notes 300 stunning color photographs and you wind up with what could be considered required reading for the modern day student of the whisky world.
4. Malt Whiskey Companion by Michael Jackson – The format of this book by the late, great whisky author Michael Jackson is what lands it a spot on this list. Considered by many to be the first book of its type on the subject, this pocketbook provides a blend of general whisky information, tips on how to drink whisky, and facts and figures on distilleries as well as tasting notes. Recent editions have updated the information and the style, but it is still a classic when it comes to a complete whisky library.
5. The Making of Scotch Whisky by J.R. Hume & R.S. Moss – The oldest book on the list, this number was first published in 1981 to commemorate the centenary of the Bruichladdich distillery. It takes a peak into the Scotch whisky industry as it was in the 1980s, and even further into the past with information from a Scotch Whisky Industry Report on closed and long forgotten distilleries of old.
So there you have it – a short guide to get you started in the world of writings on the waters of life. There are hundreds of books on the topic – the vast majority of them worth your time if you’re a true whisky enthusiast. Now all you need to do is pour yourself a glass of your favorite whisky, find a comfy chair and delve into the wonderful world of whisky.