You know that feeling you get when you buy something only to later realize that you had already bought basically the same thing previously and a lack of research on your part is now responsible for making you feel a bit like a jackass? You know how no matter how good that thing is, there’s still that nagging feeling that you screwed up, or worse, been had, and that thing, which should be cool is always a little tainted? No? Well, if you want to give it a try, I suggest you buy a copy of the “Whiskey Eyewitness Companion Guide“ from DK Publishing, with Charles Maclean as Editor-in-Chief. Enjoy that book, it’s a decent, function-over-form addition to your whisky library. Ok, now pick up a copy of the James Beard Award nominated “World Whiskey“ from…DK Publishing, with...Charles Maclean as Editor-in-Chief. Marvel at how the introduction is nearly verbatim the Eyewitness companion guide! Thrill to the similar distillery descriptions and brief tasting notes! Revel in the knowledge that you basically now have a travel version and coffee table version of the same book.
A little disappointing, to say the least. Granted, maybe I did this out of order, I was given the Eyewitness Guide first, read it, enjoyed it and then later saw World Whisky tome in a book store and couldn’t resist the whisky-hued cover. Perhaps, if I’d first bought the hardcover World Whiskey, I might have figured out the duplicity and thought better of having both, but I didn’t. I guess there’s some merit to having both, I wouldn’t take World Whiskey on a trip to Scotland, but I might bring along the Eyewitness Guide. Still there’s something that rankles about having the two be so similar, with such good folks involved…it seems like an unfortunate money-grab on the part of the publishers.
So…book buyer beware, if you have one of these books, peruse carefully before buying the other, you may find it a tad redundant. Ok, now that the caveat emptor is out of the way, I feel unburdened enough to say that World Whiskey is a pretty nice hardcover on the subject of, well, whiskey…around the world. There’s a nice section detailing the general production of whisky and how to appreciate the stuff, including a great breakdown of the major flavor groups. Scattered throughout the book are sections that focus on pretty much every aspect of the whisky world, from peat to tasting glasses to bottles to maturation and casks.
The majority of the book focuses on the whiskies of the key whisky nations (Scotland, Ireland, US, Canada & Japan) as well as a good selection of other European, Asian and Australian spirits. Distilleries are introduced with concise historical info and short general tasting notes of select expressions. Several of the more prominent distilleries (Macallan, Bushmills, Yamazaki, etc.) are given expanded coverage and each of the nations have their own “Whisky tour” map and section. Beautiful photos run rampant throughout the book, large detailed bottle pictures, production pictures, distillery pictures…they all do a fantastic job of making one really thirsty, which, I guess, is the whole point. Any fan of whisky who does a fair share of reading about it as well as drinking it will recognize the writers of this project, Charles Maclean, Dave Broom and Ian Buxton among others do a great job of presenting the world of whisky as something to discover and explore. So, yes, World Whiskey is worthwhile book, perhaps not in-depth, detailed or up-to-date enough for rabid malt fanatics, but it is a nice book to have on the coffee table. A great gift for an aspiring novice or an established addict…just be sure they don’t already have the Eyewitness Guide...
(As always…yes, this book is probably available at Amazon, but if you have the time and money, please visit and purchase this book from your local independent bookseller instead.)
3 thoughts on “World Whisky – Book Review”
I’m curious just how different Dominic Roskrow’s next book will be from a text of this ilk.
Another really amazing picture book is Michael Jackson’s, Scotland and its Whiskies: The Great Whiskies, the Distilleries and their Landscapes. I enjoyed that when I read it and found myself feeling terribly homesick.
If you find it a burden to hold two very similar in content books, you could pass one on to your Dad for Fathers’ Day.
I have noticed the same thing. DK Publishing recycle much of the content in Wold Whiskey in various other “whisky” books they publish. THey just change the format, font, delete a few articles, throw in a couple different ones, and they think they have a new book. I think the ol’ greed factor is at work here.
Personally, I think World Whiskey is a poor tome because it is basically an industry type of glass advertisements bound for the reader. All the stock photos and tasting notes look like they came from the distillery. All the reviews are “glowing” with praise. Not suitable for the whisky reader seeking independent reviews. My humble opinion only.