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Whisky The Definitive World Guide - Michael Jackson

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Whisky The Definitive World Guide - Michael Jackson

Postby Lawrence » Fri Apr 29, 2005 4:28 pm

Has anybody seen a copy of "Whisky, the definitive guide to scotch, bourbon and whisky" by Michael Jackson?

In the North American market the book is called Whiskey........ which is odd.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Sun May 15, 2005 5:54 pm

I've got a copy and am reading it now. Some lovely photography and some interesting technical articles by other industry writers. Somewhat short on tasting notes about individual expressions, but I guess that Jackson's other book fills that gap. Well worth the £25
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Postby Tartan » Mon May 16, 2005 5:45 am

Lawrence wrote:In the North American market the book is called Whiskey........ which is odd.

Actually it's called "Whiskey The Definitive World Guide" (I'm curious though why it's available in Canada one month before the US :evil: :))

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Postby Tartan » Mon May 16, 2005 5:46 am

eelbrook wrote:I've got a copy and am reading it now.

Is it, by any chance, an updated version of his old "The World Guide to Whisky"?
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Postby Matt2 » Mon May 16, 2005 8:56 am

And you can buy it on this website :)

Buy it here....Whisky The Definitive World Guide
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Postby Lawrence » Wed May 18, 2005 11:36 pm

My arrived yesterday, no chance to go through it yet but soon, with a dram.
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Postby Lawrence » Tue May 24, 2005 1:42 am

I've now had some time to go through the book and I quite irratated to see that in the section on Scotland they refer to scotch whisky as whiskey. This is the most bizarre thing I have ever seen in a book on whiskies of the world.

And it is doubly irratating to see tha UK version titled Whisky, have they used the spelling Whisky for the Irish and American whiskies? :evil:
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Postby Tartan » Tue May 24, 2005 4:26 am

Lawrence, but is it a completely new book or just an updated version of the 1987 "The World Guide to Whisky", if you had a chance to read that one?
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Postby Lawrence » Tue May 24, 2005 5:01 am

It's a new book and new way to spell scotch whiskey. There are 8 or 9 co-authors also.
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Postby bernstein » Tue May 24, 2005 7:21 am

Your first posting made me curious, and I was tempted to order a copy for ‚summer-reading’. But your observation of its constant refering to ‘scotch whiskey’ annoys me deeply.

I don’t want to spread new conspiracy theories - we’ve had enough of them – but either it’s thoughtlessness of the contributors (very unlikely), an insane spellingprogramm at the lectorate’s office (well…) or the conscious attempt and very first step to equalize some big markets (e.g. North-America) by trying to equalize the overall brand-name of the product - some kind of whisk(e)y guinea-pig (mmmmrrrrh), either way, it shouldn’t have happened.

Does anybody already have had a chance to glimpse at the UK-version? Does it actually refer to 'irish/american whisky'? Maybe I should order a (UK) copy after all.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Thu May 26, 2005 4:09 am

I suspect that the error is the work either of an ignorant editor (it would be unsuitably cynical of me to suggest that that is a redundant expression) or a "helpful" production assistant (in olden days I'd have said typesetter). "See here, they spell it two different ways all through the book. I'll just save them some embarrassment."

Just for fun, I typed both "whisky" and whiskey" in an email and ran spell check. No correction or clarification whatsoever. I also tried "Scotch whiskey" and got the usual admontion about the word "Scotch" but no further correction.
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Postby old rarity » Mon Jun 06, 2005 2:27 pm

I haven't seen the book here yet (Toronto) but would think it unlikely Jackson and the editor were unaware of how exactly the term whisky/whiskey would be used in the different editions of the book. Probably a uniform solution was selected to simplify the preparation of the U.K. and North American versions; if so, and if this resulted in references to "Scotch whiskey" in the North American version, that doesn't bother me overly. While a convention has been established to spell whisky differently depending on where it is made, it is not absolute: a number of U.S. whiskies use the "whisky" spelling (e.g. Maker's Mark, Old Forester). In Britain usage varied as late as the early 20th century when the public inquiry into whisky (whether column grain spirit, as opposed to pot still spirit, could be called whisky) used the term "whiskey" to refer to Scots malt whisky. Personally I find the terminology issue of little interest. Everyone knows Jackson is a leading whisky writer and one can expect, I think, a high level of achievement in a book such as this and I am more concerned about its content. Preliminary reports seem very favourable (or should that be, favorable?).

Gary
Last edited by old rarity on Wed Jun 08, 2005 10:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Tue Jun 07, 2005 7:54 pm

Could it simply be that MJ and his publisher's recognise their "elite" readership?
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Postby bernstein » Tue Jun 07, 2005 8:20 pm

eelbrook wrote:Could it simply be that MJ and his publisher's recognise their "elite" readership?
Who's that?
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Postby Deactivated Member » Tue Jun 07, 2005 8:41 pm

Mr Picky sez that professional writers who can't be bothered to spell things correctly cast doubt on their own credibility. Had the book been written by someone without MJ's sterling reputation, I would quite naturally wonder if the fellow knew what he was talking about at all. If it's an intentional decision, it's a curious one, and a precedent; I know of no other books on whisky, least of all Jackson's, which do not make the proper distinction.
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Postby Mr Fjeld » Wed Jun 08, 2005 6:26 am

bernstein wrote:
eelbrook wrote:Could it simply be that MJ and his publisher's recognise their "elite" readership?
Who's that?

I actually agree with you! It may be of minor consern but it goes like this: If it isn't MJ then it's JM and when they're not into a little conspiracy with the Maltresistance blog then they are very much into SM or is it SMW, possibly SMS or whatever. However, I bet they're both member of the SMWS and all that. My brain can only learn a few things and tricks in a relatively long time, and to me SM can be two things; one of greatest looking cars of all time made by Citroen and Maserati - or it could be a sexual practice. To make matter even worse I have now learned that everything I know is wrong. Now I have to get familiar with vatting and blending and whatnot once more!

I'm not going to make a big thing out of this, but why is it so hard to write one or two words more when we love to write long posts anyway? There are lot's of new people joining the community and I bet it would make things easier for them if we cared to write the names in full. Damnit!

Or could it be that this post is a grumpy response to a leakage in my house today?

.....or was your question "who's that" a response to the "elite readership" ? .........


Skål!
Christian
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Postby bernstein » Wed Jun 08, 2005 7:08 am

Mr Fjeld wrote:.....or was your question "who's that" a response to the "elite readership" ? .........

Ehem, ...actually yes. :oops:

But I enjoyed your grumpy response anyway :D ! Indeed, it took me some time to get familiar with the world of whisky's code of conversation. And there's still a lot to become acquainted with.

Especially whisky.

By the way - what whisky will help you to get over with the leakage's aftermath?
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Postby Mr Fjeld » Wed Jun 08, 2005 7:28 am

bernstein wrote:
Mr Fjeld wrote:.....or was your question "who's that" a response to the "elite readership" ? .........

Ehem, ...actually yes. :oops:

But I enjoyed your grumpy response anyway :D ! Indeed, it took me some time to get familiar with the world of whisky's code of conversation. And there's still a lot to become acquainted with.

Especially whisky.

:oops: hehe! It was good getting it off my chest anyway :D
By the way - what whisky will help you to get over with the leakage's aftermath?

It's a good question! I'd say any whisky really as long as the water doesn't leak into my dram! I'd like to buy the Balvenie 21 Portwood and the 12 doublewood. Actually, if the plumber doesn't arrive today as he promised I'll go out and buy a double barrel as well - and we're not talking whisky this time!
But the sorry fact is that don't think I'll be buying anything this month due to the cost of paying for my motorcycle drivers licence, a helmet and gloves :(

Skål!
Christian
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Postby bond » Mon Jun 13, 2005 6:00 am

Getting back to the original topic, I got my copy of MJ's book this weekend. I find it quite similar to Charles Maclean's book on Malt Whisky, though this one is probably more lucidly written.

Was hoping for some serious dope on blended whisky but was disappointed to see only 2 pages devoted to the subject.
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Postby bernstein » Mon Jun 13, 2005 6:19 am

bond: Is yours the UK or US/CDN edition? Whiskey or Whisky?
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Postby old rarity » Mon Jun 13, 2005 2:28 pm

I just bought the book and it is first rate. It benefits, first, by Michael's very good writing for the parts he authored (Irish whiskey, Japanese whisky and some short sections at the beginning of the book). Even the parts he did not author seem to bear his stamp, so probably he edited or added to those sections; the effect is a pleasing unity of tone. Jackson has certain trademarks, e.g., the way he captions photographs, and this book shows he was never better at it. The use of photography is very effective; he was always good at integrating photos and maps in his writing but this is his best effort, I think. There is a great deal of hard information in the book, e.g. the Canadian section is excellent. The Canadian coverage is not as detailed as in 1987's World Guide To Whisky but back then the industry was more crowded and there were more brands. Stuart Ramsay authored this part and the U.S. section. There is the odd miss, e.g., the release by Barton of Ridgemont Reserve (initially called Ridgewood Reserve) is not mentioned. Probably one can put this down to the time lag between the research stage and publication. Also, I would have preferred to see a larger discussion of rye whiskey. Apart from that the U.S. section is very good and is complemented by coverage given to the growing microdistillery segment.

There are interesting chapters on cocktails, food and whisky (excellent work here by Martine Nouet) and a smooth essay on whisky and literature by Jefferson Chase who looked surprisingly young to me in his photo, from his articles in Whisky Magazine I had the impression of a much older person! I noted the comment on this board that only two pages are devoted to blended whisky. I agree with that (and have made a similar comment about rye whiskey), but we must remember the scope of the book: it now extend to the Antipodes, Japan and parts of Europe. There is only so much space...

There are many ways to look at whisky and I admire Jackson's way which combines precision of coverage (see e.g. his detailed description of Irish distillation techniques) with an urbane writing style. The man could write about anything (almost), I am sure, but we are fortunate he has chosen whisky!

A last comment is that the layout seems an updated version of the DK layout in the 1987 World Guide To Whisky. DK published the current book, too, so the design continuity makes sense particularly since Whisky is effectively an update of the 1987 book. I don't know anything about the technics of book design but it must be a complex business and those responsible did another great job on this book. It is like seeing a favourite auto of 20 years ago reissued in a similar but updated style (e.g., the new Mustang GT - Jackson has been called a writer of "muscular" prose so the simile is, perhaps, apposite).

Gary Gillman, Toronto
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Postby bond » Tue Jun 14, 2005 8:38 am

bernstein wrote:bond: Is yours the UK or US/CDN edition? Whiskey or Whisky?


Whiskey :evil:
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Postby Frodo » Sun Jun 19, 2005 10:40 am

I just got this book yesterday and had to paw through it this morning. Great book! Extremly good value (I got it for C$45).

bond wrote:Getting back to the original topic, I got my copy of MJ's book this weekend. I find it quite similar to Charles Maclean's book on Malt Whisky, though this one is probably more lucidly written.

Was hoping for some serious dope on blended whisky but was disappointed to see only 2 pages devoted to the subject.


I agree completely with Bond's assessment. It does "feel" alot like Mr. Maclean's book, but more in-depth and with concepts explained in greater detail including how the details relate to the big picture. Great use of "highlights" or sidebars on the side of the page where a concept alluded to in the text can be more fully explained.

Great pictures that illustrate concepts dicussed as well as cuttaway pictures/diagrams that show how the various mechanical apperatus work. For example, I've heard what Condensers and worm tubs are, but to see pictures of both gives me a better impression of how they work, how they're different, and how they affect the final product.

I've been reluctant to recommend a book for C$50 before, but not this time. Well worth the C$50!! Well-done Mr. Jackson and friends!

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Postby bond » Wed Jun 22, 2005 7:46 am

Have been spending a fair amount of time with the book and I think some of the other "side" topics could have been dealt with in greater detail to make the book more complete.

Apart from the disappointing cursory mention of blends (what the hell, they make up 90% of the industry), I believe more space could have been devote to, say, whisky and food. Also, recommendations on places to shop as opposed to mere listings.

Having made an attempt to write a wholesome whisky guide, half-baked sections are not in order, IMHO.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Sat Jun 25, 2005 4:41 pm

Yes, blends do make up the vast bulk of whisky sales. But is someone who spends £10-£12 in his local supermarket on a bottle of Teachers, Bells or Famous Grouse likely to shell out £25 on a whisky book? I think not.

Rather, I'm guessing that most (although I accept not all) likely purchasers of MJ's book will have a more serious interest in whisky and be predominantly single malt drinkers. Therefore, it makes sense not to focus on blends.

Of course, there are also a bewildering range of blends. So which do you feature?
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Postby Lawrence » Sat Jun 25, 2005 6:11 pm

Yes, it's a good book but I'm still choked about scotch whiskey for pity sake. I think I'll just have to bite the bullet and order the UK version from Amazon in the UK. :evil:
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Postby Deactivated Member » Sun Jun 26, 2005 2:14 am

Lawrence wrote:Yes, it's a good book but I'm still choked about scotch whiskey for pity sake. I think I'll just have to bite the bullet and order the UK version from Amazon in the UK. :evil:


...So you can read about Irish Whisky?
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Postby Lawrence » Sun Jun 26, 2005 11:46 am

...So you can read about Irish Whisky?


:D ( :evil: )
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Postby Admiral » Mon Jun 27, 2005 2:57 pm

There's really little that can be written about blends, apart from judging and scoring them.

The recipes are secrets; they are presumably tweaked each time to maintain flavour consistency; and there is no building or distillery attached to them.

It follows, then, that attention will be paid to the malt whiskies and the distilleries that comprise blends.

Cheers,
Admiral
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Postby old rarity » Wed Jun 29, 2005 1:14 pm

In response to the point whether the book may resemble the approach of a book of Charles Maclean's of some years ago, first let me state, I have much respect for Maclean's writing on whisky. His handbook of some years ago is most useful (still), for example. While I do not own his larger study referred to, I would point out Michael Jackson's World Guide To Whisky came out in 1987. Jackson's current Whisky is quite similar to the 1987 book in concept and design, in the sense e.g. of the countries being treated separately and being broken down into regions. The use in Whisky of maps and photography and the graphical design of the Index and other features also are reminscent of Jackson's earlier book although presented in an updated and improved form. Of course the book is different too, e.g. the essays interspersed on wood types and the food and whiskey notes at the end are new, and the type and organisation of the essays at the beginning of Whisky differ in many respects from the 1987 book. So if Jackson was inspired by anything when planning Whisky I think it was his own 1987 book not any other book. I.e., I think he intended to produce an update of the earlier work but in a way to make it something quite different, too.

The conjoining of different countries was a Jackson innovation (as far as I know) and contributed very greatly to how we look at whisky today, i.e., on a world scale using often a comparative approach. All this derives from that 1987 book (and Jackson did the same for beer earlier). I believe Whisky Magazine and Malt Advocate and the numerous whisky forums and websites would not be in the form they are today but for Jackson's seminal influence, first from that 1987 book and later from his more focused malt whisky handbooks. This is not to say Whisky is perfect, no book is, but it is very well done and a very valuable resource for the whisky fan. This is not to say also that other whisky writers - a number of whom are represented (and very well) in Whisky itself - do not offer their own very good takes on the subject, I have learned from all of them. I particularly enjoy Dave Broom, Charles Maclean, Jim Murray, and Philip Hills. I have not seen Hills' new book but I am sure it is very good because his earlier works were. Each person offers a unique look at whisky and each has something to say of value. I really feel the subject can hardly be exhausted, it is, as was pointed out, a constantly changing scene, for one thing, and there are many facets still to be explored.

Gary
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Postby Deactivated Member » Wed Jun 29, 2005 5:12 pm

Good points, Gary. If there exists indeed a truly definitive work on any subject, then you can be sure that subject is not very deep. We'd all like to think that's not the case with whisky. A great chorus is made of many voices.

And now, back to harping and nitpicking! This from Jackson's own Malt Whisky Companion, p32:

There is a misunderstanding that there are British and American spellings of this term. However, it is not the nationality of the writer, or the country of publication, that should determine the spelling. It is the type of whisk(e)y: thus Scottish and Canadian "whisky", but Irish "whiskey". American styles...generally favour the "e", but some labels dissent.

Too bad Jackson's editors don't read his books!
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Postby Lawrence » Wed Jun 29, 2005 7:35 pm

Good point!
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Postby bond » Tue Jul 19, 2005 11:06 am

eelbrook wrote:Yes, blends do make up the vast bulk of whisky sales. But is someone who spends £10-£12 in his local supermarket on a bottle of Teachers, Bells or Famous Grouse likely to shell out £25 on a whisky book? I think not.

Rather, I'm guessing that most (although I accept not all) likely purchasers of MJ's book will have a more serious interest in whisky and be predominantly single malt drinkers. Therefore, it makes sense not to focus on blends.

Of course, there are also a bewildering range of blends. So which do you feature?


Do not know about people willing to shell out the dough for a book but as a serious whisky enthusiast, I would certainly like to know more about blends. Besides some us (yours truly included) cannot afford drinking a malt(s) every day.

I have begun writing a set of articles on whisky in a leading magazine. One of the first requests was to write a piece on some of the leading blends. There were very few reference sources.

I agree that over a point of time, blends become less and less drinkable for serious malt drinkers. I for one, have begun warming up with beer (and substituting whisky with beer on the days I do not feel rich).

But I am still curious to KNOW about blends.
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Blends

Postby Wendy » Wed Jul 20, 2005 2:11 pm

Hi Bond,
Jim Murray has written a book titled, Classic Blended Scotch. It can be ordered through Amazon. It may be a good starting point as well as a helpful reference book to have on your shelf.

Congratulations on your wedding celebration.

Regards,
Wendy
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Postby Frodo » Thu Jul 21, 2005 1:25 am

I have classic blended scotch. Don't remember it much - not a really facinating read.

Congrats on the marriage thing!
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