Editor’s Note: This book was provided to us as a review sample by Andrews McMeel Publishing. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
I fondly remember my introduction to whiskey; vigorously searching online for information, reviews, and recommendations. I would’ve loved to have Little Book of Whiskey to guide me through the basics.
Lynda Balslev, an award winning cookbook author, and food and beverage writer, put together this handy little book of all things whiskey. Balslev does a good job of chronicling the history of the “Water of Life” as it was known to monks who incorporated distilling techniques from Middle East travels, as well as the Scottish-Irish debate on who distilled it first, (uisge vs. uisce.) The section also devotes a nice rundown of the distillation process, from malting and mashing, to aging, with nice little illustrations to aid the reader through the process.
The book transitions through its sections with fun quotes, ranging from Irish proverbs, to quotes from Humphrey Bogart, to Hunter S. Thompson. Building on history, we get a nice breakdown on geography and provenance, and the different terms, flavor profiles, and styles that fall under the umbrella of Whisk(e)y, e.g. Scotch whisky, bourbon and rye, Irish, Japanese, etc.
Balslev eventually showcases her culinary side, providing a huge list of recipes incorporating whiskey. Everything from savory meats, soups, salad dressings, to desserts and syrups can benefit from our friend whiskey. Not forgotten is a section for classic cocktails that can use a whiskey riff, as well as some holiday classics. This detail rich section even includes handy metric conversion and equivalent tables towards the back for us Americans, who may stumble across recipes from abroad.
Overall, Little Book of Whiskey packs a big punch full of whiskey information, streamlined, and accompanied by great illustrations. Whiskey nerds may find much of it rudimentary, as it is geared towards beginners, however there is something for everyone; I look forward to trying some of the listed recipes.