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Thursday, December 1, 2016

Book Review: Tasting Whiskey by Lew Bryson

By John Barecki

There is a multitude of books out right now that can help you to expand your knowledge of whisk(e)y. Many are specific to certain areas of production or are collections of reviews and distillery histories. The book Tasting Whiskey by Lew Bryson ($18.95) gives us information from all of the different areas of production, compiling the histories, processes, lore and tasting notes on everything from the very well known bourbons and scotch whisk(e)y producers to the up-and-coming independent/craft distillers and world wide producers. Bryson discusses many of the different facets of the whisk(e)y world, including what percentages of grains go into a straight rye whiskey compared to bourbon and what the term pure pot still means in Irish whiskey and the history of how it came to be.

Tasting Whiskey contains a few deep dives into specific distilleries from around the world and the wonderful bottles they produce. On top of that Bryson discusses some of the people that have been innovators in the whisk(e)y field and their contributions to it, and the information only grows from there. The author even breaks down the internal structure of the barley grain and what it contributes to the end product, as well as how different stills produce the spirit we all love. Also included is a chapter on the process of barrel aging and the chemical compounds found within the different wood types that add special touches to the smells and tastes of the spirit.

It is hard to sum up a verbal/visual overview of this book. It is a joy to read and the writing itself is comprehensive but not overbearing. Overall, Tasting Whiskey is the most up-to-date companion book for the novice and seasoned individual alike. The information contained within and the concise overview of the realm of whisk(e)y put it on par with offerings from celebrated writers like Michael Jackson and David Broom.

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