Dave Broom, our man from Glasgow, who took up the responsibility of tracing the map of the whisky producing regions of the world with his “The World Atlas of Whisky,” in an effort to guide all whisky enthusiasts, had written another brilliant book on whisky. Published four years after his well-celebrated “The World Atlas of Whisky” in 2014, “Whisky: The Manual” only gained popularity among whisky connoisseurs and scholars. But “Whisky: The Manual,” almost philosophical in talking about the nature of whisky, or popular debates on the qualities of single malts and blends to best practices of drinking whisky is a must-read for all.
Broom starts the book with a general history of the spirit, of how it expanded from the British Isles to the New World and then to Japan. He then goes on to talk about a few nearly unbelievable anecdotes. Had it not been for him, we were unlikely to know that decades ago, back in the 1970s whisky producers had considered dying whisky pink in order to attract more women to drink whisky.
The beginning of the manual discusses several technicalities involved in the process of making whisky. Broom extensively talks about ingredients, equipment, and production processes before going into the very interesting topic of popular mixers. From Coke and coconut water to tea and milk, Broom says exactly what he thinks about some mixers being popular and some underrated, or why the popular ones are popular and how they work. It is here that he says, “This may be the most important thing I say in this book: water is your friend.”
However, the bulk of the book is titled ‘How to Drink’ and Broom begins the section by defining 11 distinctly different flavours. This is to make his readers identify which ‘flavour camp’ their favorite whisky falls under. For instance, the Macallan 18 falls under M3, which means that this exquisite scotch is rich and fruity, owing to the 18 years of aging in an ex-sherry cask. He then goes on to rate a little over 100 renowned global whiskies, be it blended, single malts, bourbons, Tennessee, Irish, or Japanese. He rates them on the basis of camps, also giving five-point scores on which mixer goes well with them. The Macallan 18, if rated that way, goes well with soda, just like a number of Japanese whiskies, given that the cocktail ‘whisky highball’ is extremely popular in Japan. But at least in the case of the Macallan, Broom asks all his readers to avoid pairing it with ginger ale, green tea, and Coke. The ‘How to Drink’ section is an extremely well thought of and excellently executed idea. It lets all his readers to not only identify their existing favorites, but also discover new ones on the basis of the existing ones before suggesting what more to do to make them enjoyable.
It’s easy to guess what section could follow the previous one. It is here that Broom talks about how to pair whiskies with food, or the other way round. Finally, he offers a good number of recipes for both classic and cutting-edge cocktails, and it is with this, we believe, Broom made 1,000 more followers. As opposed to “The World Atlas of Whisky’s” coffee table approach, “Whisky: The Manual” is a standard novel-size book, which is easy to carry around, more readable, and enduring.
Broom’s wisdom, wit, and command over the language are enough reason to read “Whisky: The Manual,” even if you have never been too keen on whisky. Chances are that after you have turned over that last page, you will pour yourself a dram or two.