Anthony Dias Blue traces the history of spirits in this book. In the introductory chapter, he tells us the origin of the word “spirits” along with a brief history of distillation process. In the subsequent chapters, he gives us a lot of background information on various spirits like Vodka, Aquavit, Gin, Rum, Tequila and Whisky. He aptly concludes his book with tips on how to build a well stocked bar in your home.
Each chapter deals with a particular spirit and is well structured. Anthony begins each chapter by what constitutes the spirit. Then he explains the history of the spirit before he meticulously writes about the distillation techniques associated with it. He gives us tasting tips and also how to make the spirit if you are in the mood to try out this at home. The famous brands associated with the spirit are also profiled in the chapter. Before concluding the chapter, Anthony also shares the notes compiled from the various tasting sessions. He also rates the various offerings from different brands using two criteria – starred rating for taste and “dollar”ed rating for price. The author dedicates more pages to explain Whisky. He distinguishes between Blended Whisky, Scotch Whisky, Irish Whiskey with a “e” and also American Whisky.
The structure and style of writing helps in understanding the spirits intimately while making this a brisk read at the same time. The distillation process is explained in layman’s terms which make the reader appreciate the science behind this in a new light. The tasting notes at the end of each chapter adds to the volume of the book. But it gets tedious for someone who is only interested in the history and the process as there are numerous pages dedicated for this. But the tasting notes can be skimmed to check where your favorite choice of brand offering stands in the world of tasting. It also assists you choosing the perfect collection for your next party if you intend to impress your guests.
Pick up this book if you love spirits.
PS: There is a fine line between loving spirits and being addicted to spirits. For the latter, this book will not make sense.
Picture Courtesy: http://www.harpercollins.com