13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 27 May 2011
I can be short, this is a truly magnificent book. It is very informative. The whole process of barley (or other kinds of grain) being transformed into the end product, aqua vitae, is explained. The historic elements can be useful, but I found the elaborative descriptions of the different stages, for example the distilling, much more interesting. The illustrations really helped to make this book attractive, not only for experienced drinkers but also for more novel drinkers. The beautiful pictures made it much more easy for me to understand and imagine how things like peat, heather or oak can influence the whisky.
Every part of the world is included in this book, from Scotland and Ireland to Japan and Australia and even European countries like Poland. The history and specialty of the distilleries in the different regions of the world are described. More important several whiskies are described in the form of tasting notes, which can be very helpful if you're in search of a new whisky.
Another pleasant point about this book is the variety of authors that contributed to it, each with their own professional opinion.
I thought I knew my whisky, but this book shows that whisky is truly a drink with great complexity. I can recommend this book to everyone who enjoys whisky and who like to learn more about it. Read it the way I did, with a fine glass of your favorite whisky. You will appreciate your spirit of choice as you taste the past!
24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
Once you have browsed the pages of this book, a whole new world is opened up to the whisky drinker. Though by no means a connoisseur myself, I thought I was at least knowledgeable enough to tell a good one from a not so good one (is there any such thing as a bad one where whisky is concerned), or whiskey with an e as the Irish product is spelt.
Having in my time visited several of the smaller distilleries in Scotland, the most recent being Royal Lochnagar on the river Dee, near Balmoral, I though that I also knew some of the less well known, not to say obscure brands, but this book has an immense variety to choose from and certainly proves that the whisky available at your local pub or off-licence is merely the tip of the iceberg as far as whisk[e]y is concerned. Of course apart from numerous varieties from Scotland there are several varieties of whiskey common to Ireland, with Bushmills being probably the most well-known brand but of course there are many others, Tullamore Dew and Black Bush are just two more of a host of brands.
The book goes into great detail regarding the different types of whisky: Single malt, single grain and blended and the plus and minus points of the multitude of different brands. Many will be surprised to know that it is not only Scotland and Ireland that hold the monopoly on whisky. America of course produce their well know Jack Daniels and Jim Beam bourbons. Canada also produces whisky, as do places as far afield as Japan and India and surprisingly much closer to home, Wales.
The book tells the reader virtually everything they are ever likely to want to know regarding the history of whisky, e.g. the word whiskey is taken from an ancient Gaelic term "uisce beatha" which translates as "water of life". The book also goes into some detail of what gives a particular brand its distinctive taste and includes tasting notes for several key whiskies. The whisky industry is still thriving, even though many of the smaller distilleries have been brought under the umbrella of the multi-national brewing companies. For those who long to try something individual and different, it is still out there, you just have to look that little bit harder.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 26 December 2010
I bought this book as a present for Christmas for a family member (who enjoys whisky). It is a beautifully produced book with loads of information, pictures and diagrams etc. on the subject. Bought it at a very good price so I think it is a bargain. If you enjoy whisky, buy it. If you have a friend / relative who enjoys whisky and you are looking for a present for them, buy it.
7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Even knowing that he wasn't related to any similarly-named man that I'd ever heard of, the author's name almost put me off buying the book. The first Michael Jackson that I learned about was a computer person who devised some programming rules that I didn't like, to say the least, even though I never worked anywhere where I would have been required to apply his rules. Then there's the singer, who at least recorded SOME decent music. One of his albums, Off the wall, is brilliant but although he recorded some other good music, mostly I wish he hadn't bothered. All in all, then, the name Michael Jackson doesn't inspire confidence in me, but the author of this book shows that one should never judge somebody purely on their name. He writes authoritatively and clearly about whisky around the world. In this book, other contributors have also written a few pieces.
Although I am sure that Michael and the other contributors know far more about whisky than they are able to include in a single book, there is enough here to satisfy most people's curiosity. The first section (understanding whiskies) explains some of the basics and even includes a couple of pages about whisky in literature. Sadly, there is no mention of whisky in song although there would be plenty to choose from.
Next comes a section (aromas and flavors) explaining the factors that determine the differences between whiskies. Climate, geology, water, heather, sea breeze, seaweed, barley and peat all make their mark even before processing begins. The section continues by giving details of the distillation and maturing process and the factors that influence the final result.
The book then contains further sections describing whisky production around the world, with the 94-page section on Scotland being longer than the sections for the rest of the world added together. No surprise there, because Scotland is still synonymous with whisky. Ireland, Canada, America and Japan all get significant coverage with a mere six pages covering the rest of the world. Within these sections, information including the type of produced is given about distilleries still operating at the time the book was written, as well as some details of former distilleries.
Finally, there is a section titled enjoying whisky covering whisky cocktails, whisky with your meal and cooking with whisky. I confess that on the occasions when I've enjoyed cocktail drinks, they tend not to be whisky-based. I like my whisky neat or with water or ice.
If you enjoy whisky, even occasionally, and are interested in learning about the processes that create the drink, this book should provide you with exactly what you want.