I’ve recently discovered a unique new whisky book in which readers of this blog might be interested. Discovering and Mastering Single Malt Scotch Whisky, by Sébastien Gavillet, is a good example that there can, in fact, be additions to the whisky genre that truly make a difference.
Discovering and Mastering Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Baere & Uvae Publishing Company
© 2014, 240 pages
In his introduction, Gavillet explains this work “ … is not a replacement for the many superb publications already in print, rather it is meant to be a companion.“ He further explains his aim is to provide readily understandable information for the newcomer to single malt Scotch, as well as to provide additional insight for the well-versed student of the category.
He has deftly accomplished this aim with a well-organized and extensively researched offering. For instance, within the first 60 pages, Gavillet uses fresh, succinct and crystal clear descriptions of the well-trod territories of definitions, categories, and production then, a fascinating review of whisky regulations from the 1500s and a compendium of early mentions of the term aqua vitae in Scottish records through the 1600s.
One of the several outstanding strong points of the book includes the graphics, photos and charts. None is overdone, and each is used to amplify or expand an explanation or description in a clear way. Another noteworthy addition is the use of Endnotes following each chapter. These additions cite further reading, websites, or other references for the more serious reader.
In his section, “Mixology and Single Malt Scotch Whisky”, Gavillet spans the time of King Midas (c 700s BC), through the contributions of Jerry Thomas, the father of American mixology, in the 1860s to today’s cocktail culture. The last chapter in the book is a Scotch whisky glossary. Again, the author’s superb organizational skills and tight writing style make “old hat” material fresh. Equally well-researched is the Index of Water Sources. Here, nearly 200 water sources are listed, including a few surprises. It was interesting for me to learn that Loch Ness water is used at Glen Albyn distillery.
Mr. Gavillet came to my home over the holidays to enjoy a selection of rare and older malts during my series of Christmas Whisky Tastings. The evening was rich with whisky talk and mutually-shared experiences in Scotland and beyond. Another guest put his take-away from the evening into a haiku. From my friend Todd in Arizona:
The taste of sea spray;
The aroma of moist loam;
The flavor of life.