Back to Basics: Books

Back in the day, we used to read books to learn about whiskey. They were bound with paper, upon which information about whiskey was written. Books, as they were called, wouldn't be updated daily, didn't allow you to leave a comment, and once they were printed were often irrelevant and out-of-touch due to a quickly-moving marketplace. Some of my favorite books—Jackson's Whiskey, Cowdery's Bourbon, Straight—were written in a much different whiskey environment than today, so newcomers to booze might have to do a little extra research on the side. They're still great resources, but they won't necessarily tell you about many of the new producers who have popped up over the last decade.

Enter Lew Bryson. Lew is maybe my favorite Whisky Advocate writer because he usually writes about Four Roses Yellow, or some $20 bottle that he pounded while watching a football game. He and I have corresponded over the years via email, and we even met in person once (although since there are no updated photos of me online it took him about five minutes to realize who he was talking to). I love his easy, mellow, fun-focused, non-snobby approach and I think consumers—both old and new—will get a kick out of his new all-encompassing book: Tasting Whiskey. You'll notice they put a quote from Chuck on the front cover. It was actually supposed to be a quote from me, but they didn't think that "This is the best new fucking whiskey book on the fucking planet!" was appropriate, I guess.

And, without giving too much of his content away, Lew has fantastic reference images with easy-to-understand diagrams throughout each chapter. These pie charts of Bourbon mashbills are outstanding! They're just what I need to refresh my memory every now and again, while also providing a basic visual explanation for newcomers. But it's not just about Bourbon. There's Scotch, Irish, Japanese, and American coverage, as well as cocktail trends, craft producers, glassware, you name it.

In keeping with the theme of these posts, Lew's new book provides the basic framework for tasting, buying, consuming, and enjoying your whiskey. I've never had so much fun getting back to basics. 

You'll want a copy.

-David Driscoll

David Driscoll