David Broom, author of The World Atlas of Whisky, a book I enjoy perusing for its cogent look at the many global iterations of this noble spirit, has just come out with a new book. The title alone caught my eye—Whisky: The Manual would seem to promise a complete course in becoming familiar with all of the ins and outs of production, regional differences and classifications that can make the exploration of whisky such a pleasure.
Indeed, the introduction and the first two chapters on the history of whisky and then the essentials that go into making it are clear and concise, and I recommend them to anyone looking to deepen their knowledge. But then the book goes off in a direction that I had not expected—very particular advice and instruction on how to blend whisky with five particular other liquids: soda water, ginger ale, cola, coconut water and green tea. From here, Broom proceeds to apply his critical analysis to a wide range of specific bottling broken down by country of origin.
Each of these occupies a single page and is accompanied by a chart that ranks the efficacy of blending the particular whisky with the suggested mixers. This approach is certainly unique, and from my travels, I am well aware that tastes vary dramatically around the world. Nor should there be a hard orthodoxy on how one should enjoy whisky. I’d wish you luck going to a bar in Spain and lecturing the patrons on the folly of mixing scotch with Coco Cola, a drink much favored there. I have tried some of these combinations at home and ultimately felt that I was regressing back to the time when I thought Jack and Ginger was the height of sophistication.
For those venturing on their first steps into the world of whisky, this might be a good gateway book. I found it a novelty, but until something better comes along, I am sticking with the books by the late Michael Jackson, those by Charles Maclean and Jim Murray’s annual Whisky Bible.