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What do you look for in a book about whiskey?

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What do you look for in a book about whiskey?

Postby JCSkinner » Fri Sep 19, 2008 12:16 pm

I'm on the verge of writing a book at the moment (I've not signed anything yet, so there's still time to back out) and I began wondering what people would actually want to read in a book about whiskey, as opposed to what I would want to write about.
It's very possible the two aren't the same.
So without giving anything away about what I've got planned, I thought I'd ask people in here what they look for, generically speaking, in a book about whiskey.
Do you look for plentiful tasting notes, with marks out of a hundred for as many bottlings as possible? Or are you more interested in the history of distilleries? Perhaps you're keen to read about the technics of distilling? Or are you only interested in a particular region or distillery when reading about whiskey?
I know that the people in this forum are knowledgeable about their drams and therefore are perhaps more likely to be the most demanding when reading a book on the subject.
So I reckon that anything that satisfied people in this forum would likely be more than acceptable to the general reading public.
So, what do you look for in a book about whiskey?
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Re: What do you look for in a book about whiskey?

Postby JCSkinner » Sat Sep 20, 2008 2:26 am

Interesting responses, guys, for which I thank you.
There's some real food for thought there.
My initial response to Mello would be that the dating of such stats, not to mention their ongoing fluidity, would preclude against going overboard in that direction in a book.
But I don't see any reason against inserting a snapshot of the whisky market picture at a certain time if it were relevant to do so.
I feel that the trends over time might be more informative. And I also feel there's a really good article in that area to be done that could scratch a lot of that itch.
I'm open to a commission from Whisky Magazine in that regard if they're interested! In fairness, I don't mind who writes it, it's certainly an article I'd like to read.
Nick, I think we're on the same page in relation to the areas you mention. I don't know how much of that might make it into this book if I do agree to write it, though. The one thing I can say, is that the concept is original.
I'm still keen to hear anyone else's thoughts, though.
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Re: What do you look for in a book about whiskey?

Postby Sherried Malt » Sat Sep 20, 2008 2:49 am

JCSkinner wrote:So, what do you look for in a book about whiskey?


Something that came with a lot of samples would be very nice... :P
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Re: What do you look for in a book about whiskey?

Postby Muskrat Portage » Sat Sep 20, 2008 6:02 pm

I'm surprised some of you "wags" haven't resurrected the old "Scratch and sniff" whisky book witicism.

If I was looking for a new Whisky Book to add to my collection, based on your location in Dublin, something which explored the origins, development and export of whisky from Ireland to the rest of the world would appeal. Historically Ireland has provided not only protection to Chrisitanity but also has exported a large number of gifted people who have made a huge impact on the world. In Canada, D'arcy McGee was one of the architects of the amalgamation of Upper and Lower Canada. As a young man, he was sentenced to death and then transport by the British government as a result of his political views!

If you've read "How the Irish saved Civilisation", - that would be an interesting approach to the subject on whisky. Each chapter is a scholarly essay which deals with a specific timeline in the history of Ireland. You wouldn't necessarily be obligated to write each chapter, rather it would be written by experts in their chosen field and historical interest. You could edit and consolidate the work in conjunction with writing in your preferred period.

In the alternative a book on whisky during "the troubles" might pique interest. This is a time period which generally appears to be glossed over in some of the books I've read on Irish whisky. Irish whisky is a subject where I've not found a lot written on in any case, and I always enjoy a factual historical account of a subject.

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Re: What do you look for in a book about whiskey?

Postby photojonny » Sat Sep 20, 2008 6:14 pm

I'd love a 'behind the scenes' book about whisky. There are loads dealing with tastings, manufacturing process etc, but I'd love to know what goes on at the distilleries when decisions are made about releasing whisky - when is the right time; what age to release; how redesigns and relaunches are thought through; how decisions are come to for special editions; how they decided to bottle casks at 21yr old instead of 25, why they decided to fill those sherry casks instead of these port casks etc.

It would require interviews with those that work in the industry, but I think that kind of thing would be a lot more interesting than another rehash of all the other books out there.
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Re: What do you look for in a book about whiskey?

Postby irishwhiskeychaser » Sat Sep 20, 2008 6:20 pm

Plenty of glossy and tastefully taken pictures ....

..... we all know us whiskey enthusiasts are illiterate :P
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Re: What do you look for in a book about whiskey?

Postby Muskrat Portage » Sat Sep 20, 2008 7:57 pm

irishwhiskeychaser wrote:Plenty of glossy and tastefully taken pictures ....

..... we all know us whiskey enthusiasts are illiterate :P

...can't speak, keyboard grammatically neither.
:D
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Re: What do you look for in a book about whiskey?

Postby Deactivated Member » Sun Nov 02, 2008 9:23 am

Books about whisky:

Firstly I have to decide whether I want one which offers tasting notes, distillery information or just a fun read with stories and ditties.

If I decide on tasting notes, then I want something listed by distillery, including general house-style as well as notes on individual bottlings, OB & IB.
I also want a good format and some pictures of labels.

What I don't want or need are scores of whiskies.
Maybe I'm unique in this way, but scores do nothing for me.
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Re: What do you look for in a book about whiskey?

Postby Deactivated Member » Sun Nov 02, 2008 7:11 pm

I think that you're quite right to canvas opinions. But this Forum isn't perhaps the right 'target group' for your canvassing.

I say that because I think that the Forum 'stalwarts' seek a degree of detail that the average 'man in the street' would find a complete turn-off.

Are most potential readers really interested in knowing that Distillery A was owned by McKilts up to 1862, when it was sold to the McSporrans. I think not.

To my mind, two recent books have really 'hit the mark'.

The Malt Whisky Yearbook combines great, concise distillery disteries, generic tasting notes and fab photos. It's the complete package.

The Ardbeg 'coffee book' had simply stunning photography, good decent sized font, and enough detail on the distillery and its bottlings for even a hardened fan.

What turns me off. Two things.

First, out-of-date material - ie a publication in November 2008 that doesn't included whiskies issued in Spring and Summer 2008.

Secondly, the absence of photographs. After all, most whisky books are fairly dry tomes. They're not exactly steamy novels. So, there needs to be something to keep the reader's interest - not just 400 pages of font 8 narrative.
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Re: What do you look for in a book about whiskey?

Postby corbuso » Sun Nov 02, 2008 8:06 pm

JCSkinner wrote:I'm on the verge of writing a book at the moment (I've not signed anything yet, so there's still time to back out) and I began wondering what people would actually want to read in a book about whiskey, as opposed to what I would want to write about.
It's very possible the two aren't the same.
So without giving anything away about what I've got planned, I thought I'd ask people in here what they look for, generically speaking, in a book about whiskey.
Do you look for plentiful tasting notes, with marks out of a hundred for as many bottlings as possible? Or are you more interested in the history of distilleries? Perhaps you're keen to read about the technics of distilling? Or are you only interested in a particular region or distillery when reading about whiskey?

I tend to avoid the books about tasting notes (except the ones made before the mid-1990s) and prefer to make my owns :-)
In books, I try to learn more about the way that whisky is produced over the years (technical development) and the history of the people and companies who contribute(d) to the whisky,
Basically, I try to read everything I can...

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http://www.whisky-news.com
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Re: What do you look for in a book about whiskey?

Postby Deactivated Member » Tue Nov 04, 2008 9:04 pm

Loads and loads of pikchurs.
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