Whisky: The Manual

By Dave Broom

The book claims to be “The Manual” for whisky, and indeed it does cover a wide variety of topics, but it ultimately falls very short. The author is on a mission, and everything is sacrificed to the altar of his mission. As a result, this book tries to accomplish several things but winds up doing none of them well.

Actually, he has two missions. The first is to let us know (on multiple occasions) that it  perfectly acceptable for women to drink whisky *gasp!!!!!* One photo caption brazenly states, “If you try telling master blender Kirsteen Campbell that women can’t enjoy whisky, you’d better have your running shoes on.” Apparently women who drink whisky are violent. And fast.

His second mission is dedicated to letting us know that it is OK to mix whisky with other ingredients. Again *gasp!!!!!* The tagline for the book is way too long to quote in its entirety (a warning sign right there), but it ends with “Above all it’s about enjoying whisky in ways you never thought possible.” In fact, the majority of the book is dedicated to ranking over 100 whiskies as they taste with mixers such as water, cola, coconut water, ginger ale, and green tea. Of the 224 pages in this book, a full 50% is dedicated to this section. In his zeal to mix his whisky, the author never actually rates the whisky itself. Just a minor oversight. Although a few times he does let us know a particular whisky should be enjoyed without mixing.

Another 43 pages are dedicated to cocktail recipes, leaving a scant 59 pages to actually discuss whisky. That’s not much to cover its history, methods of distillation, and the world-wide proliferation of the spirit, especially when we are reminded, yet again, that women are allowed to drink whisky. I’m too tired to gasp.

Overall, there is some interesting information, but not well presented. For a book claiming to be “The Manual,” it is missing some truly basic information.  The newcomer to the whiskey glass reading this book would still have no idea what the difference between a bourbon and a scotch is, but they would at least know women are allowed to drink either. The veteran to the dram is left thinking, “so?”

It would have been much better to have called this the “Mixer’s Manual” or something similar. I know a friend who received this book as a gift, the giver under the assumption it was a book full of general information. Sadly, no.

If you are dying to know which whisky tastes good with coconut water this might be your tome. If your boyfriend refuses to let you drink whisky, let him read this (then dump him). If you’re looking for a good introduction to the spirit, not so much.

224 pages