It will not only be a difficult task but also exceedingly monstrous on our part if we sit down and list all the 101 whiskies that Ian Buxton wants you to try before it is too late. For that, and the part where you find out why you should have these particular whiskies among the thousands that are available in the market today, you have to get your copy of the book. The only thing that you can get a fair idea about from this book review, is who Ian Buxton really is and perhaps a little bit of what this book is not.
Ian Buxton, a versatile man with years of experience in the whisky industry, is someone you trust when he talks or writes about whisky. He began working in the whisky industry way back in 1987 and started his own consultancy firm around 1991. Buxton was also former Marketing Director, working with one of Scotland’s famous single malts for the longest period of time while he was living in Perthshire on the ground where a distillery stood. But soon he moved to Malvern Hills, where he now lives and from where he explores whiskies across geographies.
He has won several honorary awards like the Keeper of the Quaich in 1991, rising to become one of the most powerful jury members of the Whisky Magazine's ‘World Whisky Awards', an annual award ceremony and creating the World Whiskies Conference, which he heads. He is a dedicated columnist for the Whisky Magazine and a regular contributor for The Malt Whisky Yearbook, The Tasting Panel, and Scottish Field among other journals and magazines. 101 Whiskies to Try Before You Die is not his only work. His 2002 bestseller Scotch Whisky: History, Hints, and Tips made him more popular than ever, resulting in several other collaborative works, for instance The Science and Commerce of Whisky was a collaboration with Paul S. Hughes and the Beer Hunter, Whisky Chaser: New Writing On Beer And Whisky In Honour Of Michael Jackson was a collaboration with Stephen Beaumont and Dave Broom. In 2006, he also reprinted Aeneas MacDonald's 1930 classic Whisky, adding only an introduction to the iconic work. 101 Whiskies to Try Before You Die was released in 2010 along with The Enduring Legacy of Dewar's and Glenglassaugh: A Distillery Reborn.
Although the book was released in 2010, it was only after three years that 101 Whiskies to Try Before You Die was revised and updated. Unlike several other whisky books that you come across, Buxton’s book is not a familiar list of award winning whiskies. It is not a list of the best available whiskies from around the world made in accordance to the opinions of self-proclaimed whisky connoisseurs. Rather, it is a simple guide to whiskies that all whisky lovers must explore and try out in order to gain the basic knowledge pertaining to whiskies. Hence he deliberately avoids mentioning obscure, ridiculously expensive, nearly unavailable, and supremely exclusive whiskies. Instead he talks about whiskies that are widely available and popular with people. He presents his readers with an eclectic selection of whiskies that are new in the market, that are old favorites, and a few unusual drams that are calling out to the multitude of whisky enthusiasts.
101 Whiskies to Try Before You Die decodes all marketing hypes and lists whiskies that are not bound by borders—meaning you will find various kinds of whisky from Sweden, Japan, Ireland, India, and definitely the islands and glens of Scotland. The other thing that warrants a mention is the style of Buxton’s writing, simple and unpretentious. Buxton is also honest in admitting that a few brands have produced more than one phenomenal whisky and has mentioned those in his book, for instance he has listed three whiskies from The Macallan. There is no digression from the whisky documentation into philosophy, methodology, history or product details. Although several people have criticized this, we think it is refreshing change from what we are accustomed to reading when we read a whisky book.