Monday, June 16, 2014

Booknote: Drink More Whiskey!

Daniel Yaffe, Drink More Whiskey! Everything You Need to Know About Your New Favorite Drink. San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books, 2013. ISBN: 978-1-4521-0974-9.

I enjoyed this book very much, and I learned a thing or two. For instance, though I knew about Japanese whiskey, Yaffe gives us a bit more to ponder as he discusses the fine traditions and attention to detail of the Japanese. He also mentions a brand or two to find and try out.

For someone wanting to learn more about whiskey in a casual and accessible style, this is a book for you. There are many books written about alcoholic spirits, but they are often written for hardcore aficionados and alcoholistas (yes, I am coining the term). I am nowhere near being a hardcore enthusiast. I do have some knowledge of wine passed down from my godfather. When it comes to whiskey, my learning journey is a recent one first sparked by a visit many years ago to a bourbon distillery while traveling back from an academic conference. Since then, I have visited a few more distilleries in Kentucky and Tennessee, including the pilgrimage to Jack Daniel's. This book definitely came at a good time to help me learn more about whiskey.

Yaffe writes in a very nice conversational style. He is an expert who is not a snob about being an expert. You know the snob I am talking about: the one who rolls his eyes and feels it beneath him to explain the basics to a mere peon. Yaffe is definitely not that guy. He takes us around the world of whiskey, explaining what makes each whiskey unique, discussing terms, and he does it all with a bit of light humor here and there. He also maintains a friendly tone throughout the book. One definitely feels that one can go get a nice bottle and share it with friends without worrying about picky details.

The book is designed to give you a good start. If you've never had whiskey before, this book may inspire you to try a good brand or two out. If you've sampled it, it may inspire  you to go deeper. It may even inspire you to travel the world some day. But if you are like me, and travel overseas is not in the budget, this book brings a little bit of places like Ireland, Scotland, and Japan back home.

The book is organized into nine chapters that go over basics, regions of the world, and further terms (this is the "Geeking Out" chapter for folks who really want to know more). In addition, the book includes a cheat sheet of terms and a bibliography for further reading. There are also some drinking suggestions and cocktail recipes so you can try out whiskey on your own or with family and friends. For Yaffe, his travels and experience with whiskey "has been a ton of fun- just the way drinking whiskey should be" (8). This book is a good step to promoting the idea of fun (but also responsible) whiskey drinking and exploration. I borrowed the book from my local public library, but it is one I would love to add to my personal collection. By the way, I also enjoyed the illustrations by Mary Kate McDevitt that add a nice playfulness to the book.

Giving it the full 5 out of 5 stars.

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