There’s a whisky to suit every palate these days—and for those who like to read with a dram in hand, a whisky book to match. If you’re looking for new pages to turn, check out these recent and upcoming new whisky books, covering everything from single malt scotch, Japanese, and Australian whisky to moonshine and “whiskey hacks.”
Single Malt: A Guide to the Whiskies of Scotland
By Clay Risen
Following up on his widely acclaimed 2013 title “American Whiskey, Bourbon, and Rye,” Clay Risen delivers a definitive resource for lovers of single malt scotch. Written for an American audience, with “tasting notes that make sense to an American palate,” Single Malt offers guideposts for the thirsty and curious, detailing the histories, profiles, and main whiskies of every single malt distillery in Scotland currently selling bottles in the U.S. market. Risen’s introduction puts single malt scotch into its historical and contemporary context, and offers tips on the best way to enjoy whisky, how to organize a tasting, and what flavors and aromas are commonly found in a dram.
With more than 330 whiskies reviewed and a checklist so you can taste along at home, the book is a comprehensive companion for tastings, wish lists, deep dives, and introductions to new-to-you scotches. — Ted Simmons
By Aaron Goldfarb
Your mother may have warned you against playing with your food, but Whisky Advocate contributor Aaron Goldfarb encourages you to play with your whisky in this light-hearted tome that thumbs its nose at drinkers who take themselves—and their bottles—too seriously. Ever wanted to flavor your bourbon with bacon? Make jello shots with Pappy Van Winkle? Bathe in a tub full of whisky? Goldfarb will show you how.
The mission is to empower drinkers with the tools, and temerity, to do whatever they want with their whisky—and most of all, to have fun. With chapters devoted to blending, DIY finishing, smoking, and even “wasting” whisky, Goldfarb leaves no stone unturned in his quest to put the joy back into the bottle. The tongue-in-cheek writing is accompanied by equally irreverent photographs by Scott Gordon Bleicher, and a comprehensive roster of cocktails will help readers put their profane creations to good use. There’s even a recipe for making single malt lox (though no rabbi has thus far vouched for its kosherness).
If you’re worried that you—or someone you know—are becoming a whisky snob, this book should cure you pretty quickly. — Susannah Skiver Barton
Japanese Whisky: The Ultimate Guide to the World’s Most Desirable Spirit
By Brian Ashcraft with Idzuhiko Ueda and Yuji Kawasaki
Japan’s whisky industry is less than 100 years old—far younger than its peers in Scotland, Ireland, Canada, and the U.S. Yet Japanese whisky has managed to become both a desirable dram and a status symbol. How did it get to that point?
Author Brian Ashcraft—a longtime resident of Japan who has also written about Japanese culture—guides readers through the history of Japanese whisky, starting with early Western incursions into Japanese drinking culture and continuing through the first domestically produced whiskies and today’s booming distilling industry. Along the way, he provides cultural, political, and even religious context for Japanese whisky, authoritatively establishing it as a unique style unto itself. Ashcraft’s text is enlarged and complemented by captivating photography from Idzuhiko Ueda and independent scores for over 100 bottles from Japanese whisky blogger Yuji Kawasaki.
Supported by archival photos, interviews with whisky experts, and never-before-published information about distilling traditions and practices, this text is a must-read for those seeking to discover what makes Japanese whisky so unique. — Susannah Skiver Barton
Tasmanian Whisky: The Devil’s Share
By Bernard Lloyd
Although much of its production stays in-country and hasn’t yet been exported, Australia is a thriving whisky nation, replete with distilleries making malt and grain whiskies. The Island of Tasmania is a particular hotbed, home to over 20 whisky distilleries, all chronicled by Bernard Lloyd in the first-ever book on Tasmanian whisky.
Though American readers may need a dictionary to translate some of the Aussie vocabulary (or just reference the glossary in the back), this extremely comprehensive tome packs loads of information into its 370+ pages. The excitement of Tasmania’s whisky industry can be felt throughout, especially through the beautiful and illustrative photographs by Paul Brendan County. Lloyd categorizes Tasmanian whisky by its area of production, and also lists 20 traits of Tasmanian whisky that make it unique, such as the use of local peat, local barley, and Australian quarter (100 liter) casks, the practice of peating barley after malting, and the rapid maturation that occurs due to Tasmania’s climate.
Peppered with quotes from Tasmanian distillers and whisky pioneers, the book offers details about each of the state’s whisky distilleries and includes tasting notes for a number of expressions from each producer—at least, those that are old enough to have mature whisky to taste. It also includes a long list of bars and restaurants throughout Australia where readers can taste and purchase Tasmanian whiskies. — Susannah Skiver Barton
Moonshine: A Celebration of America’s Original Rebel Spirit
By John Schlimm
Although moonshine is by its nature a clear liquid, it has a colorful history, traced by John Schlimm in this 255-page volume that starts with the earliest years of the 13 Colonies and leads into present-day producers. Readers will learn the role the unaged spirit played in the American Revolution, early nation-building, Civil War, and other major events, and get to know the characters in the “Moonshine Hall of Fame,” many of whose names and stories have passed into legend. They’ll also come to understand the modern history of moonshining, from Prohibition to the birth of NASCAR.Schlimm’s comprehensive history is accompanied by a robust cocktail section that teaches readers how to create flavored infusions in the same tradition as moonshiners, and then how to use those infusions in a variety of mixed drinks. If you’re itching to try your hand at a Carolina DillBilly, Salty Bow Wow, or Moonrunner’s Manhattan, this book is for you. — Susannah Skiver Barton