American Whiskey, Bourbon & Rye

American Book
By Clay Risen

A Guide to the Nation’s Favorite Spirit

Finally a good pictorial guide to American produced whiskey to complement those available for Scotches!

A very well put together reference, this book is essential for the whiskey lover. Some would ask why someone would need this if they already happen to have Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible, as that book also covers all the whiskey in this book (or most, I haven’t done an exhaustive cross-check). Good question! If you were to buy only one whiskey reference, it would have to be Mr. Murray’s book just for its comprehensiveness. That said, this offering has plenty to offer those with at least one empty spot on their bookshelf. By focusing on a segment of the whiskey market, this book can go into the kind of detail that would make Mr. Murray’s book a multi-volume monstrosity.

First, it has a very informative introduction. It’s probably one of the best primers for the whiskey beginner. It hits all the important points, especially the “what’s make a bourbon?” question almost everyone I ever talk to asks. History, methodology, and technique all get thorough attention without dragging.

What to expect from the Whiskey Accounts
What to expect from the Whiskey Accounts

Next up is the “Whiskey Accounts” section, the heart of the book. The whiskeys are separated by distiller (or more accurately “Brand Name”). Each brand gets a small write up with a little history and contact information, including who the actual producing company is. Each specific expression gets its own little section including a photograph of the bottle, a very nice touch. From there we get the standard details: Nose, Age, Proof, Color, Body (a description of texture), Palate, Price, Rating, and a General section with important (or just interesting) notes.

In a departure from standard procedure, the whiskeys are rated on a four-star scale in half-star increments with a dreadful N/R (Not Recommended) designation. (So I guess it’s really a nine-point scale?)  The standard hundred-point scale (with decimals, so a thousand-point scale) is patently ridiculous.

In a very nice touch, the book ends with some good extras such as sources for further research (books, websites, etc.), a glossary, a checklist for you to mark off your progress, and an index.

A complete, thorough, and highly entertaining read.

297 pages