Scotch Whisky: A Liquid History by Charles MacLean

In an interview with an online publication platform, Charles MacLean revealed that it took him almost five years of full time research to complete his signature volume, ‘Scotch Whisky: A Liquid History’. No wonder, the book minutely captures every bit of history accompanying whisky in Scotland, its uses in perfumery and medicine and the vast role it plays in politics, agriculture and exports.

Being a traditional spirit with roots tracing back to almost 2000 BC, whisky boasts an intriguing past which is worth exploring. Perhaps, this is what prompted Charles to pen down a book that would provide readers with an opportunity to peek into the annals of the ‘water of life’.

The author sets the tone with a short, yet highly gripping prologue on the history of Scotch whisky which hooks the reader straightaway. Gradually, he follows up with more hard facts and figures pertaining to whisky distillation, regional differences and the ways to appreciate a dram. The book presents an amazing amalgamation of anecdotes and intensive research points which are sure to amaze anyone on the lookout for hard core facts on whisky. Starting with the citation of the first written reference of whisky distillation in Scotland in 1494, the tale steadily unfolds decade after decade over a span of five centuries, tracing the evolution whisky from a countryside cottage craft to a worldwide sensation which it is today. The stories are accompanied with several intricate and beautiful illustrations, including classic 18th century engravings of copper stills and modern color images of distilleries and their scenic setting among mountains and lochs.

In this book, the author sticks to a rather lively narrative by being poignantly romantic. At times though, he seems overwhelmed in retrospection while reveling Scotland and its people – the fearless smugglers, the hardworking farmers, the humble salesman and the smart businessmen who conspired together with all their skill and zeal to make whisky the most loved spirit on the world stage. Their love and devotion for whisky reflects well through the eyes of the author and this is something that makes the book a must read for the ones seeking an overtly personal yet perceptive viewpoint on the spirit.


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