Top Picks

Book Review: The World Atlas of Whisky by Dave Broom

© by Dave Broom, used with permission from Octopus Publishing.

Coffee table books disappear after you have children. They migrate to the top of bookshelfs, safe from grubby little destructive hands. I haven’t even owned a coffee table for years; what’s the point, when anything you place on it is fair game or a juicy target for all manner of toddler projectiles? That does not mean however, that you no longer have or collect the glossy, interesting, picture filled conversation pieces that are good coffee table books. They just no longer take pride of place in front of your favourite recliner, since your living room became a battlefield.

The World Atlas of Whisky by Dave Broom is the ultimate coffee table book for the whisky enthusiast, whisky curious or whisky pretentious. This hard back, slip covered (would last five seconds with my kids) tome, is just as hefty as any encyclopaedia, world atlas or reference book you would have seen as a kid, before the Internet made them obsolete; it even has maps! The main difference is this book is devoted solely to the wondrous world of whisky; how it is made, how it smells and tastes but mostly, where it comes from.

The book begins with a primer on what whisky is that covers all the main areas you would expect from a book about whisky. It isn’t the best introduction to whisky that I have read and can be a little hard to understand if you are completely new to the topic, but it does a reasonable job. Other than the maps, the unique aspect of The World Atlas of Whisky is the introduction of Flavour Camps and the Single Malt Whisky Flavour Map.

All the whiskies mentioned in this book are placed into one of five distinct camps (or four for North American style whiskeys) that group the whiskies together based on their flavour profiles. These are Fragrant & Floral, Malty & Dry, Fruity & Spicy, Rich & Round and Smokey & Peaty. There are also four other Flavour Camps that are specific to North American style whiskeys, namely Soft Corn, Sweet Wheat, Rich & Oaky and Spicy Rye. This is a very handy system for learning what style of whisky you like. If your favourite whisky falls into the Fruity & Spicy group, you can easily find other whiskies with similar flavour profiles that you may also enjoy. Likewise, if you dislike a specific whisky you can look up other similar whiskies which you may prefer to avoid for the time being.

The Single Malt Whisky Flavour Map (a collaboration between Dave Broom and Diageo Scotland Limited) builds on the Flavour Camps, presenting the information visually by placing specific whiskies onto a quadrant chart. Each example whisky is represented as a dot (colour coded by Flavour Camp) and its position on the chart determines its flavour characteristics. Towards the top is Smoky and towards the bottom is Delicate. The further left the lighter the whisky is, the further to the right, the richer the whisky is. It is an excellent system and highlights a few areas where the Flavour Camps cross over.

But this is an Atlas after all, and it would not be an Atlas without maps and The World Atlas of Whisky has many. The main purpose of the maps is to show the reader the locations of the over 200 distilleries detailed in this book. I am planning a whisky distillery trip to Scotland in 2018 and this book will no doubt prove invaluable. It covers Scotland in greatest detail, further breaking down the country into recognised whisky regions and then splitting these regions where required to provide sufficient detail and separation of some of the more densely populated areas. Ireland, Japan, the USA, Canada and the rest of the world are also covered but the level of detail is not quite as exhaustive as Scotland of which almost half the book is dedicated to.

You could quite easily just flip through the book and admire the photographs 

The photography throughout this book is spectacular, from stunning landscapes to the glistening copper stills within distilleries and warehouses full of whisky barrels, to detailed close-ups of ingredients or the finished products. You could quite easily just flip through the book and admire the photographs. They complement the written words and the highly detailed maps perfectly helping to create a very high quality complete package.

Lastly but not least, each distillery featured on the maps is given an introduction, often with interesting snippets of information from key figures such as master distillers and tasting notes of a selection of their whisky expressions including New Make, which is the freshly distilled spirit prior to being placed in barrels for ageing. I found it quite interesting to see the evolution of the New Makes across a series of tasting notes for each distillery. It is also handy to have consistent language across all the tasting notes within.

This is the second edition of The World Atlas of Whisky and was published in 2014. I would expect a new edition to be released in the next couple of years. If you are a whisky enthusiast, I cannot recommend this book enough and if you are looking for the perfect give for the whisky lover in your life (other than whisky) look no further than this exceptional whisky reference. Just keep it away from grubby little fingers.

Purchase from:

Note about Affiliate Links: If you make a purchase by following one of the above links, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. If you do this, thank you for your support and I hope you enjoy the product.


0 Response to "Book Review: The World Atlas of Whisky by Dave Broom"

Post a Comment

Powered by Blogger.