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A taste of scotch, Derek Cooper, Andre Deutsch, ed. 1989

This book is about the myths of whisky, its history and the whiskymen, like many books about Whisky. However, this book is not written as all these other books. Instead of writing a linear text, this book is entirely composed of citations (quotes). The citations have been well compiled and structured in such a way that it is easy enough for the reader to go through the book.

Rating: 3/5

Malt Whisky Almanac, Wallace Milroy, Lochar Publishing, ed. 1987.

This was one of the first tasting pocket books about single malt whisky written by one of the first “Expert” in single malt whiskies. The content is not up-to-date anymore, but it will interest the collector and the whisky enthusiasts by its tasting notes on the standard bottling of the whiskies from the 1980s and by the illustrations of the labels of that period.

Rating: 3/5

A nip around the world:  diary of a whisky salesman, M. Greenwood, Argyll Publishing, 1995.

This is the first of the two books written by M. Greenwood, salesman for Glenfarclas. This books is quite funny and entertaining, with short stories about his life and his experience and anecdotes about the whisky industry. A good book to read when travelling or at night before going to bed.

Rating: 3/5

Whisky, Aeneas MacDonald, Cannongate books, 2006 ed.

All the critics are positive about this book and I can only confirm it!

It is a well-written book, showing the nationalism of the (Jacobite) writer. Written at the same time as Neil Gunn’s book, McDonald (nom de plume of George Malcolm Thomson) share a similar view of the whisky industry. He is an ardent defender of the single malts and the pot still whisky and throughout the book one can notice his passion on that topic.

A very nice and enjoyable book, written by a man with a deep knowledge in whisky, which would compeal to any whisky enthusiast reader.

Rating: 5/5

PS: This book is a reprint from the original version published in the 1930s

The Scotch Whisky Book, Tom Bruce-Gardyne, Lomond Books, ed. 2004.

This is a very nice introductory book about whisky. It is very richly illustrated (colour photographs), the history section reads very smoothly with in-text boxes to present some famous characters (barons) of the whisky industry. Presentation of the distilleries is quite complete. Can only be recommended. Good quality/price ratio.

Rating: 5/5

The Making of Scotch whisky, John R. Hume & Michael S. Moss. Canongate, ed. 2000.

This was the first serious book about the whisky history and the making of Scotch Whisky. It was originally published in 1981 and revised in 2000 and it is richly illustrated with old black and white photographs. This book was written by historians and written as historians would write a book: very detailed and accurate. As a consequence, one needs to spend time the book to understand it. At the end of each chapter, a short summary or conclusion would have been welcomed. This book is still a reference for the whisky enthusiast interested in the details of the Scotch industry, and as such, it is not recommend for the enthusiast without prior knowledge about whisky.

Rating 4/5

Another Nip around the world, Malcolm Greenwood, Neil Wilson Publishing, 1997 ed.

This book describes the experiences and adventures of Malcolm Greenwood during his life as a sales manager for Glenfarclas all around the world. I do enjoy the life of the whisky men, but I find this one quite dull, with bits of unstructured short stories. Also, don’t expect to learn much about the secrets of the whisky salesmen. Sales techniques are never mentioned. The most interesting part of the book was the last pages on how to conduct a tasting session. The first book was more entertaining.

Rating: 2/5

Scotch whisky; An Illustrated Guide, J. Marshall Robb, W. & R. Chambers Ltd, 1950 ed.

At the time of its publication in 1950, this book was the first illustrated guide to Scotch whisky. It is a highly interesting little book, with a layout which is quite typical for that period (and sometimes slightly disturbing). It covers all the aspects of the whisky productions covered by more recent books, such as whisky history, law and production, but does also offer some unusual sections, such as legal standards and whisky analysis. The photographs from the 1940s are very interesting and of high quality. A jump back in time. It is getting very difficult to find this book, but if you can manage to get one, you will not regret your purchase.

Rating: 5/5

Brander’s Original Guide to Scotch Whisky; the Complete Introduction to Scotland’s malt Whiskies, Michael Brander, The Gleneil Press, 2000 ed.

This book was first published in 1975 and  it has been re-updated a few times between 1990 and 2000. The background of Scotch whisky and the Introduction to Scotch Whiskies is clear, concise and well written, but sometimes incorrect (e.g., the number of distilleries with floor maltings) and a bit old-fashioned. The directory section on distilleries is complete, but succinct (1 page per distillery) and the tasting notes limited mainly to 1 bottle per distillery.

Rating: 3/5

MacLean’s Miscellany of Whisky, Charles MacLean, Little Book ed., 2004.

A small and compact book covering all the different aspects of the whisky production, from the history to drunkness. This book is concise and shows the extend of Maclean’s knowledge of its industry. It is nicely and clearly written and any whisky enthusiast will discover something new in this book. The only regret is that this book was only 256 small pages. I can highly recommend it.

Rating: 5/5.

RAW Spirit: In search of the perfect dram, Iain Banks, Arrow Books, 2003.

This book is the journey of Iain Banks and his quest for the perfect dram. It is a book about Scottish life, its Whisky and its landscape written by a whisky drinker, but not connoisseur. Entertaining, diverse, you will appreciate this book if you are not only interested in whisky, but also in travelling in Scotland (and about some other things, e.g., cars). Would have benefited from being more focused on whisky, but interesting book to read after work.

Rating: 3/5

Still going strong: a history of Scotch whisky advertising, John Hughes, Tempus Publishing, 2005.

The title is misleading, as well as the text on the back of the page. Only a part of the whisky advertising is covered (the period between app. 1890 to 1960). The book does only cover the brands owned at one point by the Distillers Company Limited, the former name of Diageo.  Buchanan, Johnnie Walker, Haig, MacKenzie and Sanderson (the Whisky Barons) are well represented, but not a single word about equally famous brands such a Chivas or Cutty Sark. Concerning the term “history”, it should refer to the fact that this book is a collection of the advertisements of the major DCLs brand over the above described time period, since there is not a single sentence explaining the design or the concept of these advertisements. In conclusion, this book is a short history of the major DCL brands and a compilation of very high quality advertisements on a pleasant and clear layout.

Rating: 2/5 (for the text content); 5/5 for the graphical content.

Copyright © 2006 Patrick Brossard. All Rights Reserved


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