Malt Whisky: The Complete Guide

Author Charles Maclean needs no introduction among lovers of whisky. He has spent over 30 years researching, discovering and imbibing all that’s there to know about Scotch whiskies. If there’s a man in a bar, or no stage telling tales from Scotland, it is none other than Charles Maclean. Malt Whisky: The Complete Guide is just a slice of the man’s love for scotch whisky.

What’s All The Noise About?

The first time Malt Whisky was published in 1997, it was a whisky lover’s holy grail. So much was the book loved  that publishers released the book in six languages. It was also short-listed for the prestigious Glenfiddich Award for the best drinks book of the year. Two decades later, its revised version still remains a popular whisky literature on the bookstore shelves. Compact in size, this handy little book is the perfect companion for a tourist in Scotland who desires take a peek at Scottish distilleries. Malt Whisky: The Complete Guide is a treatise used by many as a reference to the world of single malts.

A quick flip through the book proves why it has attracted non-fiction readers. Aside from the gripping text, the 150 and more photographs capture even a teetotaller with its compelling visuals. Images allow the reader to journey through an unforgettable saga of the windswept Scottish sceneries, large kilns, washbanks, stills, casks, and bottles. The book makes for an impactful and lasting read.

Leafing Through

Malt Whisky: The Complete Guide begins with an exhaustive history lesson on malt whisky, spanning 35 pages and covering years from 1450 through 2010. After the fascinating narrative, Maclean takes the readers through the whole malt production process – chronicling its distillation procedures. It gives some interesting insights, like ‘contemporary sensory scientists estimate that maturation can account for between 60 and 80 per cent of the flavour of malt whisky’. Those interested in how whisky gets its complex flavours will find it enthralling to read how each ingredient added at a particular stage of the distillation process imparts a specific taste in the end product. Maclean says, ‘the wood makes the whisky’ and we couldn’t agree more!

As every malt enthusiast knows, ingredients are not the only contributor to the whisky’s flavour profile. Geography and grains matter as well. Maclean segments whiskies into the different geographies and discusses their diverse nuances.

If a novice has ever Rick Rolled while drinking whisky, Malt Whisky: The Complete Guide is a saviour. Even if you have never had a dram, the book’s lowdown on how to discern flavour subtleties and appreciate the complexity of a wide spectrum of whiskies will make you sound like a pro. The next time you are enjoying a dram at a bar, knowledge acquired from the book will help you discuss the aromas and palate like an expert.

Malt Whisky: The Complete Guide is a must-have for everyone visiting Scotland, who wish to know where their water of life come from. The book enables them to plan their trip using its colored maps of the different whisky-producing regions in the country. Maclean towards the end of the book has given a comprehensive directory of distilleries in the country, arranged in alphabetical order. In addition, the reader will find a guide to help visitors tour around the distilleries. Once there, the reader can again refer to Maclean’s articulation about the tasting notes of a selection of whiskies. His training from the Scotch Whisky Research Institute in the “sensory evaluation of potable spirits” more than equipped him to master tastes and flavours.

Maclean does not just stop at empowering the drinkers. Whisky investors and those who are unable to decide which liquor to purchase can use the buying tips given at the end of the reference section to make informed decisions.

Finally, the whisky periodicals and websites recommendations is a good conclusion to the already exhaustive account of the malt.