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advice for a beginning whisky connoisseur.

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advice for a beginning whisky connoisseur.

Postby mambypamby » Sun Sep 18, 2005 12:49 pm

does anyone have any good reads to recommend concerning the basic knowledge and how too of whisky? i have recently become interested in knowing more about my drink of choice and i would much appreciate a place to start.

cheers and thank you.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Sun Sep 18, 2005 2:32 pm

1) Whisky Magazine.

2) Michael Jackson's Malt Whisky Companion (lots of basics in early pages, then all the notes).
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Postby mambypamby » Sun Sep 18, 2005 5:51 pm

wonderfull.

i shall check those out immediatly.

cheers cheers.
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Postby Aidan » Sun Sep 18, 2005 7:09 pm

the most comprehensive book with tastings is Jim Murray's Whisky Bible. Dave Broom's book is also very interesting.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Sun Sep 18, 2005 10:21 pm

Aidan, do you think a beginner would find Murray useful? There must be some other good sugestions for the novice. I thought Jackson fit that bill. Haven't read Broom.

How pathetic is this? I'm posting from the airport while waiting for my flight... :oops:
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Postby Paul A Jellis » Sun Sep 18, 2005 10:27 pm

The best book I have read on the subject is Malt Whisky by Charles MacLean, a full and comprehensive guide to the wonderful world of whisky.
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Postby Aidan » Sun Sep 18, 2005 11:05 pm

Hi Mr Tattie

I think so, but, of course, I could be wrong. When it comes to bourbon, I am a beginner, and I find the section on bourbon very interesting and informative.

At the same time, I do think you should try things without the aid of such tasting notes, as it can sway your opinion.

In fact, maybe the best thing a beginner could do is just taste as many different whiskies as possible and come to their own conclusion before refering to anyone else's.
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Postby Frodo » Mon Sep 19, 2005 2:36 am

Hi Mamybypamby, and welcome to the forum. I think you'll find folks here easy-going, not snobby, and more than willing to engage in discourse about your "drink of choice".

I would recommend two types of books to get going.

1) Something about whisky in general - how it's made, what are the differences between different traditions of whisky making, how does wood policy affect flavours, things like that! For this type of book, I would recommend Whisky by Michael Jackson. It's current, recently published, and is edited (and partly written) by someone really well respected. One brief note, the chapters are written by different writers so MJ is a contributing writer and editor here.

I would second Mr Jellis' selection of Malt Whisky by Maclean. Very similar in terms of material covered to Whisky mentioned above, although the book is a bit smaller. It does have the advantage of being written by the same guy so the writing style may be more fluid. I didn't find this a problem in Whisky, but in any book with multiple contributors I would think this to be a risk. [Aidan - I think you're Bio says you're an editor. Any ideas on this?]

2) I would catagorize books here whose strengths are tasting notes. The two that get mentioned most often around here are Malt Whisky Companion (Michael Jackson), and Whisky Bible (Jim Murray). MJ's book has the initial portion describing (short version) the whisky making process - I don't have Murrays book to I can't comment on this. These books are good guides to give you an idea of what a paticular malt tastes like from another's perspective.

Of course the section on this website "whiskies of the world" do much the same thing and are updated constantly. They do not however contain any info about the distillery, usually only reviews on the product.

The only other recomendation I can make is Whisky Handbook by Dave Broom. This book tries to get past looking at whisky as a commodity and collects "snapshots" of interviews by people in the whisky industry about what they think of whisky and the process by which it's made. It reinforces the notion that whisky is made by people and is a craft as opposed to some routine industrial process. Well I'd better be careful here as this may lead to a debate of sorts :lol: .

Hope any of this helps.
Cheers
Frodo
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Postby Frodo » Mon Sep 19, 2005 2:39 am

MrTattieHeid wrote:How pathetic is this? I'm posting from the airport while waiting for my flight... :oops:


Not pathetic at all! Perfect time managment if you ask me!!!
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Postby Admiral » Mon Sep 19, 2005 4:41 am

Personally, I don't think you can go past Michael Jackson's Malt Whisky Companion.

Everything you need to know about production, factors influencing flavour, history, independent bottlers, etc, etc.....it is all there. Plus, you get a nice little description of each distillery. No other book quite provides all this in one small package, perhaps with one exception (* see below).

Jim Murray's Whisky Bible serves an entirely different purpose - namely to rate, score, and describe current bottlings on the market.

* However, Jim Murray's "Complete Guide to Whisky" (or something like that - I can't remember the exact title) does indeed go into the production side, and gives some background to each distillery. More to the point, it considers whiskies other than scotch, i.e. Canadian, Irish, and American.

Cheers,
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Postby Crispy Critter » Mon Sep 19, 2005 5:10 am

A good website for single-malt reviews is Johannes van den Heuvel's Malt Madness. However, do not go there for reviews on bourbon, blended Scotch, or Canadian whisky. :wink: :roll:
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Postby Aidan » Mon Sep 19, 2005 8:13 am

As drinking whisky is ultamately about taste, I don't think a book that rates, scores and describes current bottlings is a bad start. Also, the book does much more than that.


Anyway, for me, the interest in the history came about third on the list, after taste and methods of production.

A good idea would be to look at the regions. There was a thread here giving what people thought were the representative whiskies from each region. If you could try them, you'd have a good spectrum to start with.
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Postby Tom » Mon Sep 19, 2005 4:07 pm

An excellent starter book is Whisky Classified by David Wishart. It covers the production process and features the most common flavors in whisky and more importantly, how they get there. It also holds the standard bottlings of single malts and it dares to compare them. This book has been very helpfull and it is stuffed with usefull info.
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Postby Jeroen Kloppenburg » Tue Sep 20, 2005 10:10 am

Get "Malt Whisky" by Charles MacLean and/or similar books by other authors first if you are diving into Whisky for the first time. I think it really helps to understand HOW whisky is made first, beofre diving into the guides offering tasting notes. Although getting the guides by MJ and JM are also a good idea, I wouldnt just recommend those.

Also, "Peat Smoke & Spirit" is a good read that will explain more about how a whisky taste, and the workings of a distillery.

Just got back froma trip to Scotland myself, where I picked up a copy og "Whisky Miscelany" by Charles MacLean wich also dives a little more into the seperate subjects of whisky then the average whisky book.

Then there are a mutlitutde of good whisky websites as well where you can get a lot of good information from. Read the forum on this site (use the Search function well if you require any specific info!) as well.

Enjoy!
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Postby ikendal » Tue Sep 20, 2005 12:08 pm

wow what a collection of books and indeed I have not read most of them.

However I found Appreciating whisky by Philip hills
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/images/0007147139/ref=dp_image_0/002-1271824-4610420?%5Fencoding=UTF8&n=283155&s=books
one of the best reads ever!

I would appreciate other opinion, but as a novice myself it gave me an insight into tasting, nosing and chemistry.


But do not under any circumstances be confused into thinking Raw Spirit by Iain Banks - is anything about whisky. bad buy!

Ian
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Postby ikendal » Tue Sep 20, 2005 12:10 pm

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Re: advice for a beginning whisky connoisseur.

Postby patrick dicaprio » Tue Sep 20, 2005 1:55 pm

mambypamby wrote:does anyone have any good reads to recommend concerning the basic knowledge and how too of whisky? i have recently become interested in knowing more about my drink of choice and i would much appreciate a place to start.

cheers and thank you.


aside from jacksons book the best i have read is Hills' Appreciating Whisky.

Pat
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Postby Frodo » Wed Sep 21, 2005 12:48 am

If I had to chose one book it would be MJ's Whisky Handbook - if you are getting into malt whisky.
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