Although my personal whisky library includes over 150 books, almost all on single malt Scotch, there’s always room for one more. Hans Offringa’s new (© 2017) compendium, “A Field Guide to Whisky” is such an addition, and it is outstanding.
Through nine chapters, several additional sections, and over 300 pages, this guide succinctly and clearly provides comprehensive information for the whisky novice while at the same time is a great refresher for established whisky aficionados. One of my favorite features is the “ Who was …?” snippets describing the contributions of luminaries such as Charles Doig, Robert Stein, the “Big Five” Scotch blenders, Evan Williams, and many more.
Whisky Trivia, Investing in Whisky, the Future of Whisky, including trends like maturing the liquid to loud music, and international purchases resulting in strange bedfellows: a giant Scotch company purchasing a boutique Bourbon distiller, and a tequila company buying an Irish distillery, are fun and interesting additions.
Highlights pertinent to beginners include recommendations of brands to try, based on categories such as A Good Place to Start, Beyond Bourbon, World Whiskies, and All Time Favorites. The whisky and food pairings section gives suggestions for combining specific whiskies with chocolate, fish, vegetarian, meat, cheese, etc. A favorite golden nugget of advice is the one about the whisky scoring system (100 is extraordinary; 70 is ho hum): the only score that matters is yours, and may be very different than that of a “professional” or whisky writer. Amen!!
“A Field Guide to Whisky”, by Hans Offringa is published by Artisan, a division of Workman Publishing Company, New York. ISBN 978-1-57965-751-2.