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Whisky Sommelier: A Journey Through the Culture of Whisky, Massimo Righi, Davide Terziotti, and Fabio Petroni, White Star, 2020

It is an introductory book, explaining the manufacturing process of whisky and its history, as well as showing a selection of distilleries, including some of their whiskies (from the distillery owner or by independent bottler). It includes also tasting tips, histories of famous brands, receipe for cocktails and a very nice section of dishes. The photographs are superb and the illustrations very well made.  It is rather well written and could be a very good introductory book about whisky and for the others, some good ideas of receipes.

Content: 4/5 for the beginner, 3/5 for the expert.
Photographs: 5/5


Everything You Need to Know About Whisky: (But are too afraid to ask), Nicholas Morgan & The Whisky Exchange, Ebury Press, 2021

When reading the title, I was rather skeptical, as I was scared of reading another generic introductory book about whisky. But browsing quickly through the book, with not a single diagram and photographs, this tells you that the book will be different.
 While there is not a single photographs, there are nice vectorial and colourful pictograms and images, giving a pleasant and unique feel. The book covers over 250 pages the whisky making process, whisky business, whisky collecting and a few other topics.  Each section reads very well and the knowledge of the whisky industry and history shines through all these lines. Interestingly, for someone who spend a few decades with Diageo, Nicholas is not afraid of speaking his mind, in particular in the business section.
Even if you have read many books on the topics, the style and the views of Nicholas are captivating and refreshing. One of the best recent book I have read. Highly recommended.

Rating: 5/5


Johnnie Walker Long Stride: The Story of the World's No. 1 Scotch Whisky, Canongate Books, Nicholas Morgan, 2021

No one was best positioned than Nicholas Morgan to write the book about Johnnie Walker, who was in charge of setting up the Diageo archives at Menstries. This book traces the history of the brand, from its foundation in a grocery shop at Kilmarnock to the leading global brand of Scotch whisky. The book is very well written, clear and easy to read, with the right amount of details. Not only it provides a very good description of the brand and its evolution over 200 years, but also the evolution of the whisky industry during that period. The book is descriptive without being an advertising booklet. I just wished that more photographs were provided, otherwise, an excellent book.

Rating: 5/5


The Highland Coast (HC700) Whisky Guide, Spirit of the Glen, Alastair K Rooney, 2021

The High Coast 700 is a 700 British miles long is a beautiful scenic road in Scotland, going through Orkney, Skye and the Highlands. It is becoming very popular, and Alastair wrote this book to help visitors to make this journey, suggesting places to see, restaurants and of course whisky distilleries to visit. The book is concise, with very nice maps and rich in useful advices to plan your trip (like driving on small roads with a large vehicle).

The book does not provide an exhaustive list of options, but proposes a nice suggestion. I like this option very much, as you do not need to spend hours to prepare your journey. His recommendations are made for a normal tourist, so that you can enjoy your time at the different stops, without rushing. Having been in most of these places, the selection made by Alastair is very good. I just wished it contained more photographs. Otherwise, an excellent choice if you plan to do the HC 700 or parts of it.

Rating: 4/5

Valentino Zagatti, The Unseen Collection,  Hans & Becky Offringa,  2019
Commissioned by the Scotch Whisky International, this book presents approximately 3000 bottles from the collection of Valentino Zagatti, the blind whisky collector from Italy who sold his whole collection to the Scotch Whisky International. Photographs are spread over 1208 pages in 4 volumes, with 1 more volume for the index. The quality of the photographs is excellent and completed by details of the bottle, including date of purchase and for each distillery, a short description of it. The binding and quality of printing is excellent and the whole collection weights a hefty 15 kg. As it is printed on a format close to A4, with several lines of text below each bottles, I find the photographs slightly too small to see the fine details, if you want to check details on the bottles. A good reference collection, but I wished there was more text about Valentino and research on the bottles. For sale at whiskyboeken.nl

Rating: 4/5



Malt Whisky Yearbook 2020, 15th Edition, Ingvar Ronde, MagDig Media 2019

With the disappearance of scotchwhisky.com this autumn, it is getting difficult to have solids sources of information about the whisky business, with exception of the press releases. As Ingvar mentioned to me a few years ago, the number of pages cannot be increased, as this would impact markedly the shipping costs. Therefore, the font size for some sections tend to shrink as editions passes, and the amount of distilleries is increasing. You just need to look at the first editions of this book and this version, to see how many new distilleries around the world have been created. Also, the list of formerly “lost” distilleries is shrinking, as many distilleries considered as lost, such as Brora or Rosebank are being revived. With regards to the Malt Whisky Distilleries of Scotland, it is rather impressive to read how many distilleries have or are being upgraded; with sometimes impressive production capacity increases. Concerning the articles, some are slightly philosophical, such as the one from Charles McLean about the relevance of whisky regions or the foreign ownership from Gavin Smith. Two articles are focused on innovation, either on the type of yeast (from Jonny McCormick) or more general (from Joel Harrison). Finally, one of the most interesting articles for me was the one on Supermarket Sweep from Neil Reidley, highlighting again the fact that some cheap whiskies sold by German discounters might not be necessarily cheap. Ingvar manages year after year to produce a book of very high quality, with in depth articles, allowing the whisky novice as well as the whisky experts to a have a reliable up to date and reliable source of information about the whisky distilleries and the current status of the whisky industry. I cannot recommend enough this book, even if you bought the previous version. You will be surprised to discover how dynamic is the whisky business.

Rating: 5/5

Malt Whisky Yearbook 2019, Ingvar Ronde, MagDig Media 2018

With the rapidly changing whisky landscape, the Malt Whisky Yearbook is a must have.  When going through this book, you realise how many new distilleries opened in 2018, not only in Scotland, but also in Ireland and over regions of the world. Due to weight constraints (with regards to shipping costs), the number of pages cannot be expanded. Thus, to account for all the new entries, the section on the world entries is more compact, as well as Japan. Maybe time to consider a “UK Malty Whisky Yearbook “ and a “World Whisky Yearbook edition”?
The figures from the past year are positive and not only sales, but also volumes are going up (slightly), which is positive, but the total production capacity is increasing at a faster pace.  There is a new part called “Whisky The Way I  See it” is a nice attempt so see the view of some personalities working in the industry. For the ones working in large groups, there is quite some corporate wording, while for some others, they speak freely about the future of the whisky. Interesting.
And I kept the best part for the end: the articles!
A section that I like usually a lot, but this year, I enjoyed it even more, in particular with an excellent reference article on the sherry casks by Gavin Smith, feel the whisky by Ian Wisniewky, as well the question about the Golden Age of Whisky from Charles Maclean and Ian Buxton, with regards to the general optimism of the industry, and the moderate growth in the facts.

A very highly recommended book for anyone who is trying up-to-date with the rapid changing whisky environment and a reference book that any retailer should have a hand reach.  Furthermore, you can get all the production details and sales projections in this book as well. An excellent value book. The Malt Whisky Yearbook is maturing well.

Rating: 5/5


Japanese Whisky: The Ultimate Guide to the World’s Most Desirable Spirit, Brian Ashcraft, Tuttle, 2018

Several books on Japanese whisky have been lately, and in terms of pages, with only 144 pages, it is the thinner book published so far on the theme. The layout is clear, with a nice semi-glossy paper. There are a large number of good photographs, while most are rather small, in order to fit to the book. The section on the Japanese whisky history read wells.  Only the leading distilleries are presented and the text is informative, with a fair number of tasting notes, but most of them from long sold out bottlings. I wish the tasting notes were slightly more detailed, as e.g., with the Yoichi, it is difficult the peatiness of the different bottlings tasted. In conclusion, a nice to read book, richly illustrated and a good introduction to the world of Japanese whisky, but do not expect to many details on the distilleries.

Rating: 4/5

Collecting Scotch Whisky: An illustrated Encylopedia, Emmanuel Dron, 2018

I was very curious about this book, as I have heard a lot about it before. I finally managed to get my copy at Limburg. The retailer showed me how to open the book. But even so, when I opened it, the binding was already damaged and the spine went lose at the second opening. Unfortunately, the binding of this book is poor and the case looks rather cheap, with no covering of the cardboard inside, as in all the other books I own.  The content is fortunately much better, with an impressive collection of bottles, including many that I have never seen before. In that respect, the work done by Emmanuel is impressive and the quality of the photographs very good. Layout is good to very good and the printing quality very good. For the bottles, the information is unbalanced between the brands, going through a rather comprehensive list of e.g., Cadenhead’s bottling, while it might be only some sentences on others. The amount of information on bottlers seems to be driven by Emmanuel’s interest and/or the amount of information gathered while preparing his book.

In addition to the impressive amount of bottles displayed, there are several interviews. The book starts by useful information on how to date a bottle and how to identify fake bottlings, with some case studies. While attention is made on the bottle inspection and C14 dating, surprisingly there is no mention of the chemical fingerprinting, used for instance, in the case of the recent Fake Macallan in Switzerland. The part on the bottle code is very interesting. Unfortunately, no reference is provided about the source of information.

In conclusion, it is the most comprehensive book on old bottles (prior to 2000) that I have seen so far, with an impressive amount of bottles displayed and high quality photographs. In addition, it contains for some companies (e.g., Cadenhead’s or Samaroli) a comprehensive list of bottlings, interviews and a good highlight on whisky identification. However, the quality of the binding is the worst I have seen so far, with no reinforcement whatsoever. For a book of this price (349 euros), this is disappointing and not acceptable.
Rating: 4/5 (5/5 for the content, 1 for the binding)

PS: The datation of the bottles is the result of the personal research made by Emmanuel, and not based on external sources.

  My Name Is Whisky - Single Malt Scotch Whisky, Simon Paul Murat,‎ Davide Terziotti, Fabio Petroni, MBookInternational, 2017 (EN)

The book is impressive by its size and weight; 40.6cm x 29cm, and over 3 kg. The quality of the print is excellent and the sharpness of the full size bottles (approximately 640) is excellent, suggesting the use of a professional medium or large format photographs. The portraits are of the same professional quality. The bottles are mostly collectors bottled from the 20th (1900-1999) Century, and include most legendary whiskies, amongst which many Samaroli. The book contains several poems, and the text is mostly composed of interviews of whisky distillers, bottlers and collectors. The questions to the interviewees are sometimes repetitive and the layout inconsistent, with sometimes spaces between the questions and sometimes not. In addition, I noticed several typos, unclear sentences and even legends in Italian, which is would not expect from a book at this price.
If you are looking for a collector’s bottling book, then it should be on your wishing list. If not, then you might be slightly disappointed.

Rating: 5/5 for the photographs, 3/5 for the text.


The Malt Whisky Yearbook 2018, Ingvar Ronde, MagDig Media Ltd

The last years, the whisky industry and the whisky world is moving at an accelerated pace, with e.g., the BenRiach Distillery and Co acquired by Brown Forman, Suntory taking over the Beam Company, new distilleries opening in Scotland, Ireland, Japan and all around the world.  It is tough to stay on top of all these changes and the Malt Whisky Yearbook is unique, as it is the only printed book revised yearly. The layout in the distillery section might not be the best (in particular with different font sizes in the text to fit the text to the page), but the content is the most accurate and comprehensive that you can obtain. I loved the Japanese whisky section written by Stefan Van Eycken, in particular the introduction, as he provides the historical context and the development of the whisky production in Japan, thus allowing better to comprehend better why stocks of whiskies are so low and why it is so hard to get these bottles. The world distilleries section is expanding on a yearly basis, as new distilleries are growing like mushrooms.

As a note, this section is not a comprehensive as the Scotch or Japanese section, and thus, you will not find information such as their production volumes.

The final section provides a comprehensive summary of statistics and market growth. Looking at these figures, one might wonder how the future will look like in a couple of years, if volume sales are not growing as expected…

Finally, the first section is a compilation of different articles from well-known whisky writers, with two articles, one on the stillmakers and new distilleries, that were particularly interesting.

In conclusion, the 2017 edition does not disappoint, and as informative as always. I like the month of October for many reasons, with one being the release of this book that I read with pleasure every year from front to back. A great addition to your library or as a present to friends. Well-done Ingvar! Maybe, you might consider adding a on-line supplement as for scientific articles, to provide all materials that you could not fit in the book? A must buy for any whisky enthusiast.

Rating: 5/5


Whisky Rising, the definitive guide to the finest whiskies and distillers of Japan, Stefan Van Eycken, Appleseed Press Book Publishers LLC, 2017

Stefan is amongst, if not, the best expert of Japanese whiskies and his website, Nonjatta is well known amongst all fans of Japanese whiskies. His expertise is shown in the first part of the book, with the history of whisky in Japan, including the frequent regulatory (i.e., taxes) changes that took place over time, and which provide a good understanding of the current situation. The second part provides a good description of the distilleries (current and past) in Japan. It is well written and presented in a clear way, with e.g., a comprehensive scheme to understand the distillation process at Fuji Gotemba or an inside view from the operations at Karuizawa before it closed. However, this part was slightly short of my expectations, as more technical details could have been provided. The Part 3 is about drinking whisky in Japan and provides a list of bar to taste Japanese whiskies, as well as some cocktails recipes and tasting notes of some very famous single malts, as well as the list of some iconic series (e.g., the Cards). The book is rather richly illustrated and printed on plain white paper. However, a rather disturbing frame has been added with some icons on the side, which distract more the reader more than anything else. In addition, some photographs would have benefited from a better contrast.
I learnt a lot from this book, especially about the taxes regimen in Japan and covers a wide range of topics. Very good. A book that will fit your bookshelf  with Japanese Whisky from Ulf Buxrud.

Rating: 4.5/5


Famous for a Reason: The Story of the Famous Grouse, Charles MacLean, Birlinn 2016

The first impression you get then your copies is delivered is the impressive weight: around 4.5 kg. It is now the heaviest whisky book I own. The number of pages is high (302 pages) and the format large (bigger than A4), with thick and heavy paper. No savings were made on the quality of the print, which is markedly better than the The Famous Grouse Whisky Companion. This book retraces the history of the Cloag Family and their whisky brand, the Famouse Grouse. While Charles MacLean goes sometimes quite deep in the genealogy of the Cloag Family, the book is very well written and provides a very good insight of the whisky industry from the late 19th century until today, including all the difficulties faced by a family owned company. The book is focused on the whisky brand, and only 1 page is written about the Glenturret distillery, the « home » of the Famous Grouse. While this book is richly illustrated with archives and photographs of bottles, there is not a single tasting note.  In conclusion, an excellent book with a remarkable work done by Charles MacLean, not for only the fans of the brand, but for any whisky enthusiasts interested in the whisky history.

Rating : 5/5

Whisky Erotico, Silvano Samaroli, The Whisky Library (Hong-Kong), 2017

Published initially in Italian, The Whisky Library in Hong-King had the good idea to translate this book in English. The print is with a soft cover and well made and with a pleasant modern font. Silvano Samaroli, the founder of the legendary Italian independent bottler Samaroli, who just passed away, wrote this book. One would expect from such a book to discover how he selected such excellent casks. In this respect, this book is somewhat short of my expectation. Little is provided about cask selection.
The first part is somewhat esoteric and metaphysical, before the book dives more into the whisky making, maturation and selection. The manufacturing process is well described and rather comprehensive and I share with him his views on the non-chill filtration and the craftsmanship. Somewhat contradictory with the age of the whiskies he bottled and the small leaflet provided with his bottles (The Selecting Art), which suggest an ideal age of bottling between 12 and 15 years of age, he writes in his book that the optimal age to bottle a whisky is 30 years. In addition, there are quite a few obvious mistakes, for examples, when he wrote that only 2 distilleries remain in Campbletown, but they now buy the grist and do not make their malt anymore. Since when Springbank stopped their own malting? This indicates that Silvano Samaroli had probably an excellent nose and taste, but his knowledge in the whisky making were not to that level. Thus my rating. Still a good read.

Rating: 3/5


C. Ask Whisky 2- The Stories Behind the Whiskies: Volume 2, Rory Mhor Nicoll, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform , 2014

A collection of short stories and anecdotes related about whisky. A book printed in black and white, with a poor layout and lacking a story line. I struggled to go through the short stories. There are better books of the style around.

Rating: 1/5

The art of whisky: A deluxe blend of historic posters from the Public Record Office, Jim Murray, Pro Publications 1998

A very nice collections of photographs of whisky posters from the Public Record Office dated between 1862 and 1912, including annotations from Jim Murray. It might not be very well known, but it gives a very good impression on the marketing from blenders and distilleries to promote their products. The photographs are excellent. I enjoy it. If this type of information interests you, then do not hesitate to buy it. Do not expect to learn too much historical information on the whisky industry during that period.

Rating: 5/5

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