Whisky: The Definitive World Guide – by Michael Jackson
If you’re looking for detailed tasting notes and a few pointers to choosing your next bottle of single malt, then this may not be the very best book for you. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a broad ranging introduction to the world of whisky, with lots of background information and historical data, then this might be the ideal choice.
Michael Jackson starts off in Scotland (where else?) and takes the reader on a worldwide tour, moving to Ireland, Canada, the USA, Europe, Australia and Japan – all of these countries have their own tradition of making whisky/whiskey. Jackson covers the development of single malt Scotch, blended Scotch whisky, bourbons and a variety of other whisky variants.
Each location is beautifully illustrated with large photographs, diagrams and sketches to make the information easy to absorb. Dorling Kindersley (DK) is the publisher and the illustrations and graphics really are stunning. Some of the scenic images of Scottish distilleries will have you planning your next golfing holiday.
Even if the author had limited himself to the whiskies of Scotland, it’s an enormous subject. Going worldwide means that there are some fairly broad brush strokes in parts – but the book is intended as a general introduction rather than a detailed examination of any particular aspect, and it works very well on that level.
There are a few tasting notes here and there, but they are a little sparse if you wanted to use them for selection purposes. However, the history of whisky, the impact of geography, ingredients and process on taste, what whisky to combine with different types of food, whether or not to use a whisky decanter and other general topics are all covered.
In short, it’s a great general introduction to the world of whisky. Beautifully illustrated, well written, educational and, above all, entertaining. Grab a glass of your favourite malt and leaf through a few pages each evening.