Most helpful positive review
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An excellent & informative list of 101 whiskies for the average whisky fan
on 7 April 2011
First published in September of 2010, whisky connoisseur and enthusiast Ian Buxton's book `101 Whiskies to Try Before You Die' is a compact book (12cm x 18.5cm) offering advice, guidance and tips on a range of important and particularly tasty whiskies that the author (who is very much in the know) has compiled. The book is not aimed at the whisky collector or those with vast wads of cash rolling around their home. Instead this is a book for everyday folk who simply enjoy a good whisky.
The range of whiskies included in the book span across the globe; from Scotland to America, Ireland, Japan, Canada and even Sweden amongst other places. The whiskies are listed in alphabetical order, each with two pages allocated to each whisky.
On the first page you have a large colour photograph of the whisky, together with the name of the producer, the location of the distillery (not applicable if it's a blend), whether or not there is a visitor centre, the general availability (e.g. specialists, supermarkets, duty free etc) and a rough guide to the price.
The pricing guide is broken into five categories. These are:
(1) Under £25, (2) £25-40, (3) £40-69, (4) £70-£150, (5) Over £150.
In his introduction, Buxton admits that absolutely no whiskies over the £1,000 barrier even had a look in during the compilation of the book (thankfully!). Around half of the whiskies included are under £40, with an overall average price (after removing the three most expensive additions from the collection) of around £56 per bottle. Not bad! Furthermore, if you're feeling a little flush all of a sudden, Buxton assures us that you should be able to pick up a bottle of each of the whiskies in his list of 101 for a total of around £7,100 (best keep that little nugget of information from the wife).
This is certainly not the definitive list of whiskies. But rather it is a list of 101 whiskies to hopefully broaden fellow whisky lovers and enthusiasts experience of this beautiful and uniquely varied spirit. There's a surprising number of blends included in the list (well I was somewhat surprised anyway) - with 21 of the whiskies being blends.
On the second page of each entry, Buxton gives the reader a brief description of the whisky and its producer, with a little background information on its history etc. Then he gives some very readable tasting notes that don't fall into the trap of being too meandering and obscure (as is so often the case with whisky tasting notes). Indeed, Buxton gives very honest, understandable, identifiable and most importantly unpretentious points on the whiskies taste, flavour and depth. No nonsense whatsoever!
Whisky is after all a subjective drink. What is one person's Holy Grail is another's dishwater (admittedly not usually on quite such an exaggerated scale). Therefore, Buxton has purposefully avoided using any scoring or ranking of the whiskies detailed in the book. Instead, he details each ones merits, their own uniqueness and where they fit in (or not) with the world of whisky.
This truly is an invaluable and thoroughly interesting book. But be warned, it does entice you to delve a little deeper, and explore a little further into the world of this fine drink (for better or for worse)!
The book runs for a total of 224 pages, which includes a five page (explanatory) introduction by Ian Buxton, a basic and down-to-earth one page `How to Taste Whisky and Use This Book', and a final page on `Where to Buy'. Finally, the book itself is a high quality hardback, with full colour glossy pages throughout.