Editor’s Note: This book was provided to us as a review sample by its publisher. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review.
Eight years ago, I began on the path of my whiskey journey. I came across an article featuring Heather Greene, and her title as “Whiskey Sommelier” sparked something within me. I then headed to my local library to gather books on whiskey, distillation, and tasting. In that stack of books I brought home was Greene’s hardcover debut of Whisk(e)y Distilled: A Populist Guide to the Water of Life.
Whisk(e)y Distilled is a detailed, yet simplified, guidebook to the world of whiskey. It has everything from the fundamentals to cocktails. The layout makes more sense to the hardcover copy versus the paperback copy, but what is lovely about the paperback edition is the photo sections are in color. The paperback edition stands out on the bookshelf with its bright red cover but is missing the “Whiskey Sommelier” herself like on the hardcover.
Aside from the different appearance, the paperback edition is great for taking with you on the go. All the information is the same. It may be all condensed, but the breaks in between the body of text is refreshing. Many books about distilling tend to be heavy handed and pack a ton of knowledge, which can be dry for the reader. However, Whisk(e)y Distilled provides that knowledge in a way that gives the reader a chance to remember what they are learning.
Many of us in the whiskey industry believe there is a whiskey out there for everybody to enjoy. Even if you think you are only a gin person, or solely a wine person, Greene shows the similarities between tastings. The Appendix is a handy table for the wine lovers, which lays out how to ease into the whiskey world. There is even a table of whiskey facts to help build your conversation skills and confidence in your newly found understanding of the spirit.
If you are a foodie and love whiskey, Whisk(e)y Distilled has a section on how to pair the two for a delicious meal. It may not be as detailed as Peggy Noe Stevens’ Which Fork Do I Use with My Bourbon?, but it has great tips and another handy chart. As for the cocktails, the original recipes are not all created by Greene. They feature some of the leading bartenders in the industry. As a Canadian, I am drawn to the “Canadian Sneak” with maple syrup.
Whisk(e)y Distilled: A Populist Guide to the Water of Life is a great book for beginners and hardcore whiskey enthusiasts alike. Anthony Bourdain, Jim Meehan, and Nick Offerman have praised Greene’s debut book— so do I. Hardcover or paperback, you cannot go wrong with this book. Almost a decade since it was written, it is a great reference to this day. I would suggest sipping on some Milam & Greene whiskey while reading.
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Courtney Kristjana is a leading whiskey taster in the country. She left a career in Gerontology after an article on Heather Greene inspired her to follow her passion for whiskey. She is studying to become a Master of Scotch and someday hopes she is nominated for the Keepers of the...