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Goodness nose, Richard Paterson & Gavin Smith, Angel's share, 2008

The industry has been rather secretive, and the role of the blenders kept in the shadows. It is only recently that blenders are actively involved in the promotions of single malts. Richard Patterson, master blender at Whyte & Mackay, is the first to write a book about blending. Do not expect to find the recipe of the Whyte & Mackay blend or the exact percentage of malts in the different blends. This is a secret that companies will not divulge. This book is indeed an autobiography of Richard Patterson, and all the difficulties of the whisky industry during the 1980s, as seen from inside. If you had the pleasure of meeting Richard Patterson and/or attending one of his masterclass, you will recognize his touch in this book. The book is most interesting and worthwhile reading, however the quality of the print is rather average with the quality of the photographs closer to a book from the 1980s than from 2008.

Rating: 4/5


Whisky Encylcopedia, P. Hofmann, AT Verlag (German)

The book is most impressive, with its 600+ pages and its 3 kg. Peter Hofmann, the well know owner of the Angel’s Share whisky shop in Switzerland, has toured all the distilleries all over the world over the last years to capture in photographies and in text the details of all those distilleries. The pictures are of very good quality, although some shows JPG compression artefacts. Each distillery is presented over two pages; the content is rich and full of information. This is probably the most exhaustive whisky book published so far, easy to read, and a good acquisition for the seasoned as well the new whisky enthusiast, or anyone interested in whisky. This work is currently only available in German, but it is foreseen to be published in several languages, including English. A highly recommended and enjoyable book.

Rating: 5/5


The History of the Malt Distillers’ Association of Scotland, Ronald B. Weir, University of York, 1974.

This publication was the thesis work of R.B. Weir. In this study, R.B. Weir details the history of the “North of Scotland Malt Distillers’ Association, which was then changed to the “Pot Still Malt distillers’ Association” and later on to “The Malt Distillers’ Association of Scotland”. This association had as objective to group all the pot still distillers and to counter-balance the DCL company (former Diageo). The work in itself is interesting, but the difficult history of the association combined with a writing not as flowing as in his last book (The History of the DCL), reserves this work to readers interested in the historical development of the Scotch whisky industry.

Rating: 3/5


The North British 1885-1960, The North British Distillery

This book was published by the North British Distillery to celebrate its 75th anniversary. I found it rather disappointing, since nothing is mentioned about the history of the distillery, only the process of making grain whisky with some general information, but not very detailed. In my opinion, the only value this book has is the nice photographs from the 1950s.

Rating: 3/5


Scotch: its history and Romance, Ross Wilson, David & Charles Ltd. 1973

This book is well written and consists mainly of 3 topics: The romance of Scotch whisky, the industry during the World War 2 and the post war recovery as well as the legal aspects surrounding the whisky (fraudulation and the evolution of the law regarding the definition of whisky). The amount of details and information provided in these 180 pages is quite impressive. As such, the book might be quite annoying to read if you are not interested in figures, but if you like the historical aspects of the Scotch whisky, then you will appreciate it and learn something. Noteworthy is thar no descriptions of distilleries and brands are provided.

Rating: 1/5 for the “average whisky reader”, 3/5 for the “historian whisky reader”


Whiskey, Marc A. Hoffmann, Parragon, Inc., 2008

The presentation of this book is exemplary in terms of layout and presentation: bright, richly illustrated, and with high quality photographs. As a general book on whisky it covers the production process, a description of the world distilleries (i.e., not only the Scotch distilleries), as well as one tasting note per distillery. The content is quite well written, although some mistakes could have been avoided by a more careful proof reading. Surprisingly, no information is provided about the author, who should be either Swiss or German. Also, some precisions about the volume used (e.g., US or UK gallons) should have been defined upfront in the book.

Well, I enjoyed this book, but I find that more attention should have been payed to details.

Rating: 4/5


The Practical distiller: Or, a Brief Treatise on Practical Distillation, Greenwood Publishing Company, ed. 2002.

This is a facsimile edition of the original book published in 1718 and limited to 1000 copies, and was part of the wooden box accompaigning the Bruichladdich Enlightment bottle. The main interest of this book is to see the perception of the science of distillation in the 18th century, with many description mixing religious beliefs with scientific acts. The presentation is nice, but the interest for the whisky enthusiast will be quite limited, with the information outdated:

Rating: 2/5 For the historical and curiosity interest.


  The House of Haig, James Laver, John Haig & Co Ltd, 1958
This book retraces the history of the Haig family, an important family in the history of whisky. The first chapter of this book is dedicated to the genealogy of the Haig family. The next chapters are of more interest to the whisky enthusiast, since it shows the changes of the Haig family in parallel to the involvement in the whisky business. This book is quite pleasant to read, with limited illustrations, and it provides a view of the whisky industry shortly after the Second World War, from the side of one of the major whisky companies. Of note, this book contains (too ?) limited figures.
Rating: 4/5

The Life & Times of William Grant, Francis Collinson, William Grant & Sons Ltd, 1979

Many books have been written on distilleries and their founders. Most books written on distilleries and commanded by them tend to be romanced in order to glorify the distillery and to be used as marketing tools. In this book, the historical aspects of the Grant family, the Glenfiddich and Balvenie distillery have been more seriously and in depth examined than in most similar books. The writing style is pleasant, it reads smoothly and includes quite a lot of historical archives.

Rating: 4/5


Glenlivet, The Glenlivet distillery, 1964

The annals of the Glenlivet distillery resume the history of Georges Smith and the distillery he founded in 1824. It includes the historical development of the sales of The Glenlivet and the whisky production in the Glenlivet distillery.

A few drawings are including in this pleasant 40-page book.

Rating: 3/5

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