At some point near the tail end of last year I started talking about adding Whiskey as a topic of this blog. I’m not looking to change focus, Craft Beer is still the main character, but I see this as an opportunity to learn, with more and more breweries barrel aging their beer it behooves me to learn what flavors are being imparted from the spirit that last resided in the oak. That being said, Whiskey is my first target, I know that brewers are using barrels that previously held other spirits, rum and tequila seem to be more and more popular but I need to start somewhere and Whiskey is more appealing to me and makes the most sense, a grain based liquor that in the most basic of terms, is just another step beyond beer.
The book Tasting Whiskey by Lew Bryson, was given to me by my wife for Christmas. I’ve been reading it a couple chapters at at time, digesting the info, picking up a bottle here and there to get a sense of the differences in whiskey styles.
The book is 15 chapters long, starting off with the basics, a brief history, how whiskey is made and aged and then how to taste whiskey. Once you’ve been versed in the basics of creation and consumption the book moves on to whiskey (or whisky) around the world, Scotch, Irish, American, Canadian, Japanese and Craft Whiskey. Each of these areas has a dedicated section that describes how they are made, aged, flavor profiles, and a smattering of personal stories from the author that keep this book from feeling like a textbook.
Later chapters in the book cover diluting with water and ice or making cocktails, pairings, and collecting whiskey.
At one point (read college) I was just as likely to mix booze and soda or juice as I was to grab a beer (not craft), I’ve moved away from mixed drinks over the years and honestly don’t remember the last time I had one, must have been a beer cocktail, but the Dilution chapter in Tasting Whiskey may turn me around on this, the 13 classic cocktails described sound like something I need to try.
The last chapter in the book, Collecting Whiskey, contains good information on how to properly store whiskey, it also discusses large collections and whiskey at auction. The storage info was great but I don’t see myself ever bidding on whiskey bottles the same way I don’t chase rare beers, personal preference really, it might be of value to more seasoned whiskey drinkers though.
Overall I found this book to be educational without becoming overwhelming. A distillation of Lew Bryson’s knowledge on the subject, mingled with personal stories to create a flavorful blend that can be enjoyed by both novice and expert whiskey drinkers. Tasting Whiskey will be a book I keep close at hand, a guide book on the whiskey path.