Not a member? - Register and login now.
All registered users can read our entire magazine archive.

Handbook of Whisky - Dave Broom

Are you looking for a rare book or would you like to review what you are reading?

Handbook of Whisky - Dave Broom

Postby patrick dicaprio » Wed Jan 12, 2005 6:26 pm

i was reading his Handbook Of Whisky: A Complete Guide to the Worlds best Malts etc. I think it is a poor book. The entire book is essentially a distillery by distillery account of the clash between computers and people, but done in a hamhanded, superficial way. there is really very little good info for enthusiasts.

Pat
patrick dicaprio
Silver Member
 
Posts: 298
Joined: Tue Jan 04, 2005 3:22 am

Postby JimHall » Fri Apr 01, 2005 12:39 pm

Pat

I hadn't seen Dave's book but I am surprised to hear that it was disappointing because he is such an interesting character and full of knowledge.
I will get it and start reading once I've finished Peat smoke and spirit, just so that I can form my own opinion.
JimHall
Bronze Member
 
Posts: 181
Joined: Wed Dec 15, 2004 7:51 pm
Location: Alloa Scotland

Postby Oliver » Fri Apr 01, 2005 4:12 pm

While I agree with some of your criticism on Dave's book, I find it was refreshing for someone to try and do something different with a whisky book --for once!

Broom's book tell us which distillery still actually employs people and which only use computers --no one else saw fit to let us know about this little development before, eh, Michael Jackson?

It was kind of interesting to find out that behind the fake antique label and silly verbiage, lies a large impersonal computer! They should put it on Highland Park and Craganmore: "Computer Made." :P

I think Dave Broom is perhaps the sole honest soul in his profession: one of the few tasters who for example, let his tastebuds do the job when reviewing the appaling Macallan replicas....but alas, it seems to be a lost cause since so many tasters are in the pockets of the distillery owners, they are bound to sink their teeths in him too-- sooner or later. :evil:


Cheers!

Oliver
http://www.maltresistance.blogspot.com
Last edited by Oliver on Thu Apr 07, 2005 3:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Oliver
Silver Member
 
Posts: 341
Joined: Sat Aug 03, 2002 1:01 am
Location: No Longer New Orleans, USA

Postby Deactivated Member » Mon Apr 04, 2005 5:44 am

The computer is a tool used by some distilleries to manage their distillations. Having toured all the Islays, I've seen some computerized, most not. I found the contrast very interesting, but they're all still doing the same thing. What's more, I don't have the impression that it has any significant impact on employment. It simply makes certain aspects of distilling more efficient and precise. I'm sure there are pros and cons, and I'm glad that many distilleries are resolutely old-fashioned (which I'm sure doesn't mean the same as it did a hundred years ago, anyway), but I don't see this as anything to get in a snit about. If you disagree, feel free to write me a letter about it. :wink:
Deactivated Member
 

Postby Oliver » Tue Apr 05, 2005 2:03 pm

MrTattieHeid: did you read Dave Broom's book? If you did, you'd know that of course computerization negatively affects the number of people working for a distillery!

That's one of the (perhaps the) central points of the book.

No need to write you a letter --again, just read his book. Check the Cranganmore entry (if memory serves welll) where only one guy and a computer manage the whole operation....

A example would be: "when do you make the cut?" Well, it can depend on experienced distillery workers and give out a more authentic product --or it can be done automatically by a computer program. It depends to some extent on what you are looking for, I suppose.

But as far as employment rate being affected by the use of computers --its a no-brainer!

Oliver
Oliver
Silver Member
 
Posts: 341
Joined: Sat Aug 03, 2002 1:01 am
Location: No Longer New Orleans, USA

Postby Deactivated Member » Tue Apr 05, 2005 4:04 pm

Oliver, you're right, of course, I haven't read the book and can't comment on what was written. I base my comment only on what I've seen in Islay, and to be dead honest I don't remember everything I saw in Islay. Nor do I know if what I saw is comparable to what is done at Cragganmore or elsewhere. But I would be curious to know exactly how many people, and which particular positions, have been made redundant in such operations, which typically don't employ all that many, anyway (e.g. the famous sixteen men of Tain). It has been stated to me more than once that the bulk of employment in the industry is peripheral, i.e. people who are not employed directly by and at the distillery.

As for "When do you make the cut"--you don't need three guys to decide that. It was in fact decided a long time ago. Presumably the computer makes the actual cut more precisely what you wanted in the first place.
Deactivated Member
 

Postby Oliver » Tue Apr 05, 2005 4:37 pm

Mr. Tattieheid wrote:

"Oliver, you're right, of course, I haven't read the book and can't comment on what was written."


So read it! Its a good and very different book! It will answer most of the questions you pose and correct some of the statements you made in your own post. :D

Cheers!
Oliver
Silver Member
 
Posts: 341
Joined: Sat Aug 03, 2002 1:01 am
Location: No Longer New Orleans, USA

Postby Durttbeag » Tue Apr 05, 2005 4:51 pm

WOW, This tread is getting interesting.
Based on all you comments I am going to buy Dave's book.

I am always wondering who is in the pocket of who when it comes to
Whisky reviews, M.J is soooooo well know, that I tend to read his book with a bit of caution. One writer I do tend to respect is Jim Murry, he is quite fearless and speaks his mind regardless of the enemies he may make along the way.

Well I'm off to the book store to get Dave's book.
P.S Would you enjoy your scotch less if you knew it was controlled
by a computer ???? I think if you did not know, you would not care.
The future is now! no choice!
Durttbeag
New member
 
Posts: 26
Joined: Fri Feb 04, 2005 3:46 pm
Location: Montreal

Postby Oliver » Tue Apr 05, 2005 4:59 pm

Hey Durtbeag,

I really like Broom's book, though I don't think he accomplished all he set out to do. though I really like the attempt.


You write:
"P.S Would you enjoy your scotch less if you knew it was controlled
by a computer ???? I think if you did not know, you would not care. "

And I agree, but the fact is that now, I do know (thanks to Dave for that :wink: )
And to be sure, knowing that some cost cutter replaced people with a computer does indeed interfere with my drinking pleasure.

I'd rather sponsor a company that favors people over computers anytime --providing they make a good dram of course.

Cheers!

Oliver
http://www.maltresistance.blogspot.com
Last edited by Oliver on Thu Apr 07, 2005 3:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Oliver
Silver Member
 
Posts: 341
Joined: Sat Aug 03, 2002 1:01 am
Location: No Longer New Orleans, USA

Postby Deactivated Member » Tue Apr 05, 2005 5:09 pm

Db, I would say to take them all with a good dose of Islay brine. The most important critic is you--only you know exactly what you like. Read them for guidance, but don't depend on any one. Cross reference is good, and the more different sources you have, the better.
Deactivated Member
 

Postby Deactivated Member » Tue Apr 05, 2005 5:18 pm

Computers are not infallible, of course. Note that the clock at the top of this page tends to run slow and doesn't change for Daylight Savings Time.... :P
Deactivated Member
 

Postby Durttbeag » Tue Apr 05, 2005 6:30 pm

Oliver

I agree with you, I would rather enjoy a dram knowing that there was
a human behind the switch than a microchip, why?... who knows.. it's all in your head.

Our reality is only what we belive to be real,
Ignorance can be bliss... :lol:

Durttbeag
Durttbeag
New member
 
Posts: 26
Joined: Fri Feb 04, 2005 3:46 pm
Location: Montreal

Postby Admiral » Thu Apr 07, 2005 4:19 am

Computers are not infallible, of course.


I wonder if the middle cut ever got hung whilst waiting for some poor sod to press control - alt - delete? :D
Admiral
Triple Gold Member
 
Posts: 2717
Joined: Wed Jan 08, 2003 2:01 am
Location: Australia

Postby Durttbeag » Thu Apr 07, 2005 2:04 pm

:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

Good one Admiral..ha ha ha ha ...
Durttbeag
New member
 
Posts: 26
Joined: Fri Feb 04, 2005 3:46 pm
Location: Montreal

Postby Admiral » Fri Apr 08, 2005 4:43 am

I can see it now....."Microsoft Distillery 2005".

Upgrade your old distillery software. But be careful with the mouse...Towser the Cat might get frisky.

(At this is point, Graham Chapman enters the room in colonel's uniform saying "Stop this, it's silly".)
Admiral
Triple Gold Member
 
Posts: 2717
Joined: Wed Jan 08, 2003 2:01 am
Location: Australia

Postby Jan » Wed Aug 02, 2006 8:35 pm

Found this book in a bargain basement and has now read it.

I can't really relate to the earlier discussions of computers - sure the subject is mentioned here and there, but not to the extent to be worth a discussion I think.

So here's my take on the book:

It's called "Handbook of Whisky - A complete guide to the word's best malts, blends and brands"

This is somewhat misleading, as A) it is not a handbook as such, B) it is not complete, C) I would hesitate to call it a guide, D) I don't even think it covers the best, as more than a few stellar malts are omitted.

This is what you will find in this book:
A very short section on whisky history and making.
The main part of the book covering a fair number of malts/distilleries with one or two pages dedicated to each. (Including tasting notes on selected expressions.)
Apart from single malts it also covers the major blends and world whiskies.

The malt part is actually enjoyable and different from most books of this type: While it does not describe the malts and distilleries in any organized manner, it's full of anecdotes and short interviews with distillery managers and workers, which makes it a good read.

I do not find it suitable for the novice as it lacks the structure and throughness found in the companion and similar books, but for the enthusiast is enjoyable - but do not expect to gain a lot of new knowledge here.

Cautiously recommended.

Cheers
Jan
Jan
Gold Member
 
Posts: 965
Joined: Mon Nov 01, 2004 9:15 pm
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark

Postby PuckJunkie » Wed Aug 02, 2006 11:08 pm

Oliver wrote:MrTattieHeid: did you read Dave Broom's book? If you did, you'd know that of course computerization negatively affects the number of people working for a distillery! [...]

Interesting how one's perspective changes the reading of things like this... I honestly spent a brief second wondering how in the world automating production could wind up entailing adding staff as well - and why distillers would do it in that case. But that's probably because a) I'm in IT, spending quite a bit of time on business process automation, and b) I've just started working on an MBA - where reducing staff is almost universally considered a positive thing. It wasn't until a brief second later that I realized "negatively affects" meant "reduces" in your original message.

As a consumer of scotch (in both senses of the word), I'm more interested in how automation affects the end product than in how it affects their staffing numbers. If there's an art that's missing in the final product and the product literally loses something when a certain process in production is computerized, then that's one thing. But if it assures consistency and reduces costs, I don't see it as a negative. Not from a few thousand miles away. I can see how a distillery employee might feel differently - much like I feel differently about code writing being outsourced to foreign shores.

Puck
PuckJunkie
Bronze Member
 
Posts: 176
Joined: Fri May 12, 2006 7:36 pm
Location: Dallas, TX USA

Postby Deactivated Member » Wed Aug 02, 2006 11:50 pm

Hey! Dredging up Oliver's posts is a capital offense around here! Excuse me while I take my blood pressure meds. :P

I'll add this thought--reducing staff and automating are concepts that far predate the advent of the computer. At Caol Ila, refurbished in the 1970's, one man sitting at the control panel can essentially run the entire distillery by himself. He doesn't need a computer; he just needs all of the controls in one place. A computer just makes it more precise and efficient. Improvements, whether one thinks they are improvements or not, have been made throughout the history of distilling, and will continue to be made. The effect on the end product will always be argued. Direct-fired stills, kilning over peat, use of different varieties of barley, etc all have their effect, and there will always be plenty of people to say the new is not as good as the old, simply because any difference will foster a difference of opinion. The only thing sure is that there's not a damn thing they can do about it. Relax and have a dram.
Deactivated Member
 

Postby PuckJunkie » Thu Aug 03, 2006 12:04 am

MrTattieHeid wrote:Hey! Dredging up Oliver's posts is a capital offense around here! Excuse me while I take my blood pressure meds. :P


My sincerest apologies - I didn't make the connection, and didn't notice the dates. In fact, I blame Jan for bumping the thread... and simultaneously forgive him because of his sterling work on the tasting threads. So we're good, right? ;)

Puck
PuckJunkie
Bronze Member
 
Posts: 176
Joined: Fri May 12, 2006 7:36 pm
Location: Dallas, TX USA

Postby Di Blasi » Thu Aug 03, 2006 2:06 am

I wonder if the computer programmer standing by to make sure it does its job even drinks the stuff the computer makes?? Is he really a distiller or a technician of some sort? Or maybe he really is a distiller that has found a way to increase his output at a lower cost? But making a computer- perfect whisky isn't as appealing to me as one made by humans, with all of its little imperfections and variations and differences, even if ever so unnoticeably slight....
Di Blasi
Cask Strength Gold Member
 
Posts: 3741
Joined: Mon Sep 05, 2005 11:16 pm
Location: Brussels, Belgium

Postby Deactivated Member » Thu Aug 03, 2006 2:30 am

Di Blasi wrote:I wonder if the computer programmer standing by to make sure it does its job even drinks the stuff the computer makes??


Why would he need to? Computers are tools used in all kinds of real-life applications. It isn't necessary for a programmer to be familiar with the end product, only to be responsive to his client. The measure of his success is how well he facilitates the client in doing what the client wants to do.

Di Blasi wrote:But making a computer- perfect whisky isn't as appealing to me as one made by humans, with all of its little imperfections and variations and differences, even if ever so unnoticeably slight....


This is one of the reasons I love places like Bruichladdich. But let's be honest, romance is not rational. And as long as there are casks, there will be variation and imperfection in whisky.
Deactivated Member
 

Postby Jan » Thu Aug 03, 2006 5:09 am

MrTattieHeid wrote:Hey! Dredging up Oliver's posts is a capital offense around here! Excuse me while I take my blood pressure meds. :P


Mr. TH, I can certainly see, why you feel that way - but to add my review to an existing thread on the book, seemed the right thing to do. It was not my intention to reopen the discussion!

Hope your recovery is swift and painless :wink:

Cheers
Jan
Jan
Gold Member
 
Posts: 965
Joined: Mon Nov 01, 2004 9:15 pm
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark

Return to Whisky Books

Whisky gift and present finder