Whisky & Culture

What's New on the Shelf

What's coming up in the whisky book world
By Rupert Wheeler
As I am a huge fan of the printed book I was interested to read recently that the sales of ebooks has ground to a halt and that Waterstones (the biggest book retailer on the high street in the UK ) has reported that the printed book is on the bounce. Ebooks certainly have their place and I cannot fault them for their sheer functionality when going on holiday; but the printed book, especially when illustrated, takes some beating. Recently we have seen a number of titles come into the office that give an overall guide to all spirits, and the latest is Thinking Drinkers which we review below. It’s extremely well illustrated, and is a very good example of where I think the printed book beats the e-version any day.

Thinking Drinkers

Ben McFarland & Tom Sandham

ISBN 9781909342620

Bookclub offer: £16.00 plus P&P

(RRP: £20.00)

The Thinking Drinkers are two of the UK’s leading experts on alcohol. Together they wrote and performed ‘The Thinking Drinker’s Guide to Alcohol’ which debuted at the 2011 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Exploring the mantra ‘Drink less but drink better’ the authors have brought together fascinating facts and trivia on subjects such as the ‘Three Martini’ lunch, the origin of the word ‘teetotal’ and some frankly weird shenanigans around the subject of absinthe. Chapter topics range from beer and cider to wine and whisky. The whisky chapter is comprehensive in its coverage and even inlcudes a number of recommendations for both single malts and American whiskies. Fun and quirky illustrations highlight celebrated drinks, places in time and the drinks themselves.

Let Me Tell You About Whisky

Neil Ridley & Gavin D Smith

ISBN 9781862059658

Bookclub offer: £13 plus P&P

(RRP: £16.99)

There have been a lot of primer books about whisky in recent years, but not one with such detailed and all encompassing scope. The book assumes that the reader has no prior whisky knowledge and clearly explains the processes that go in to making whisky. In the opening sections, and using some lovely illustrations, the writers take the story of how whisky began and demystify some of the common myths about whisky. The writers also offer practical advice, useful when faced with a daunting shop full of malts and blends. There is advice on how to nose, taste and savour, how to organise a whisky tasting, which glassware to use, as well as a selection of classic whisky cocktails and advice on matching food and whisky. The book covers famous Highland malts, Irish pot still whiskeys and also other producing countries, ranging from Wales through to Taiwan.


Joel Harrison & Neil Ridley

ISBN 9781845339111

Bookclub offer: £12 plus P&P

(RRP: £14.99)

Today’s world of spirits is experiencing an explosive increase in craft distillers and pioneers of new distillates. It’s about men and women tearing up the rule books and creating new spirits with extraordinary personality. The book uncovers the best spirits. Very well researched with some great interviews.

Shackleton’s Whisky

Neville Peat

ISBN 9781848093904

Bookclub offer: £13 plus P&P

(RRP: £16.99)

Ernest Shackleton is best known for his heroic expeditions and rarely consumed alcohol. On his expedition to the Antarctica in 1907 he took with him 25 cases of whisky and in 2010 three cases of the whisky were recovered. Three bottles were returned to Whyte & Mackay where they were sent for near replication. This is their story.

Canadian Whisky

Davin de Kergommeaux

ISBN 9780771027437

Bookclub offer: £12 plus P&P

(RRP: £15.99)

This is a well researched and passionate book expounding the intricacies of Canadian whisky; often overlooked and dismissed by people. Davin has exploded that myth and he takes the reader on a journey of discovery, delving into production methods, tasting notes and the histories of the great companies and brands.