10 of the best books for whiskey lovers
Wouldn’t it be great to consider yourself an expert on all things whiskey at the end of this downtime? To fully appreciate the nuances and complexities of the flavors, notes, and aromas? Sure, anyone can consume whiskey, but the second best (and probably better for your liver) way to understand why the drink has become a globally-celebrated booze staple is to read about it. While you could sign up to train under a legendary malt master, these authors have already done the enviable work of getting in the trenches, tasting, researching, visiting distilleries and more to find out how whiskey has been around for 500-plus years. Whether you’re looking to learn new cocktail recipes, the difference between certain types of whiskey or the rich history of Bourbon, make this the year you become a bonafide whiskey connoisseur. As an added bonus, these 10 whiskey books will help you understand what you enjoy by setting you up for a solid understanding of what specific qualities and characteristics make for a good whiskey .
For a one-stop-shop to everything a whiskey enthusiast needs, A Field Guide to Whisky is your ultimate pocket companion. You’ll learn the basic ingredients needed for whisky (or whiskey!), how it gets its flavor, current trends and more all in an easy-to-read question and answer format. It’s distilled (see what we did there?) into a compact guide that includes tips, trivia, zingy quotes, geographical maps and lists of distilleries.
Light on wisdom but heavy on entertainment, Whisky, Wit and Wisdom combines jokes, quotes and stories from inside the wonderful world of whiskey. It even includes anecdotes from some of the industry’s biggest names. Beyond entertaining stories, you’ll get a unique glimpse into whiskey culture, the industry and people who dedicate their lives to discovering the art of this glorious brown spirit.
Voted the Best New Spirits Book by the 2017 Tales of the Cocktail’s Spirited Awards and one of the “Best Books About Food of 2016” by Smithsonian Magazine, Bourbon tells how this beloved spirit is ingrained in American culture as much as baseball or sweet corn. Minnick’s book delves into the early history of bourbon including how it was brought to the new world and its effects on everything from politics to pop culture.
It’s easy to see why Hacking Whiskey was named a 2019 Best New Book Finalist by the Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards as Amazon describes it as, “not your ordinary whiskey book, it’s a collection of ingenious ideas and shortcuts to help you temper your whiskey to greatness in the privacy of your own home.” You’ll get weird and delightful ways to use whiskey and recipes, including marijuana-smoke-infused whiskey and cereal milk bourbon punch. We challenge you to find a more fun and entertaining book as this one.
Name a more respected whiskey industry insider than Jim Murray? We’ll wait. His annual Whiskey Bible is the gold standard when it comes to whiskey literature and boasts knowledge on well-over-20,000 different whiskeys. The 2020 volume includes over 1,000 ratings in Murray’s non-pretentious style of writing making this a must-have for every whiskey fan’s home bar.
As longtime editor of Whisky Advocate and author of the definitive guide Tasting Whiskey, Lew Bryson has been one of the most influential voices in whiskey. He’s been writing about (and imbibing in) spirits for the past three decades and he brings that knowledge to this newly minted Whiskey Master Class. You’ll learn everything there is to know about why whiskey tastes the way that it does along with information on barreling, ingredients, climate, etc.
If you’ve given virtual whiskey tastings a try, up your next home gathering with Whiskey: A Tasting Course, which is a hands-on book that will help you discover your own personal tasting style. Through a series of guided at-home tastings, you’ll learn how to use all five senses to discern the colors, aromas, notes and flavors of your favorite libation.
If there was just one phrase that sums up Daniel Yaffe’s book, it would be “more please.” As the description states, “this is not your grandaddy’s whiskey book,” and that’s a vast understatement. You’ll read through a smattering of stories, anecdotes, histories and recipes all with the intention of urging you to enjoy more of your favorite booze. Drink More Whiskey is the reference for those want to discover the provenance, styles, differences in quality, and ideal uses of whiskey in a fresh, fun-to-read format.
Can you imagine back in the day when you couldn’t buy whiskey at the store and if you got caught making or buying it, you could be imprisoned? Dead Distillers tells 50 different stories about whiskey pioneers, rebels and outlaws who were bootleggers making whiskey iconic long before it became popular. The stories include photos, maps, infographics and newspaper clippings making it an ideal coffee table book or sidekick while tipping a few back.
Of all of Minnick’s writing accomplishments in the world of whiskey, none are as impactful as Whiskey Women. This book explores the often overlooked but vital role that women have played in producing whiskey around the world. You’ll peruse through an important examination of liquor history and read about a number of inspiring female industry trailblazers.
Learning the history and ingenuity that went into the various types of whiskey adds another level of appreciation to the whole experience. If you’re looking for an easy way to be introduced to and find unique types of craft whiskey, check out RackHouse Whiskey Club. RackHouse scours the U.S. looking for the best distilleries with the most interesting stories to curate a unique subscription box filled with full-sized bottles of hard-to-find small batch whiskey. We’re building a community of premium craft whiskey drinkers and you’re invited. Join us!