Whisky is one of the most complex types of spirit with endless variations and amazing craftsmanship. Whether you are just starting your voyage of discovery or you are already an experienced connoisseur, a good whisky or bourbon book can help you increase the tasting experience and bring you new tips and insights. Keep reading for our top-15 whisky and bourbon books. And remember; “There’s no such thing as a bad whisky. Only good and even better whisky”.
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The Fascinating World Of Whisky, Scotch, Bourbon, and Rye
Success has many fathers and likewise, the noble spirit of whisky has many names and origins. Even though it’s made from just three natural ingredients; grain, water, and yeast, there are endless variations. The craftsmanship going into the distilling process has traditions going back hundreds of years. Still, new distilleries are popping up all over the world expanding the product offering continuously. It’s said, that whisky is just as different as people – each with its own unique personality. Some are loud and direct while others are elegant and subtle. Some, you might not like from the start and some, you’ll learn to love.
The Difference Between Whisky and Whiskey
When looking at a glass of whisky, you will not be able to determine the difference between a whisky and a whiskey. Instead, you need to take a look at the bottle. The difference between whisky and whiskey comes from the origin of the drink. While whisky is referring to a drink made in Scotland, Canada, or Japan, whiskey is referring to a drink made in the United States or Ireland. To keep things simple, we use the word whisky in this article, but you will see from the titles below, which exact areas the books are referring to.
Finding The Perfect Guide With a Whisky or Bourbon Book
To guide you in the world of whisky, scotch, bourbon, and rye, a good book can be extremely helpful as well as keep track of your own notes, remarks, and personal favorites. In our list of the 15 best whisky and bourbon books below, you will find everything from comprehensive guides to concrete tasting instructions and suggestions. In addition to diving into the fascinating history of whisky and bourbon, we also recommend you to read concrete tips on which distilleries to try, which glasses to use, and how to serve the best whisky. Enjoy!
1. Whiskey, A Tasting Course:
In Need Of a Whiskey Tasting Guide?
Whiskey, A Tasting Course is actually a tasting handbook – perfect for everyone looking to increase their knowledge and experience. With 20 step-by-step whisky tastings and clear infographics, you are guided to discover your own personal whisky style. In addition, you’ll get familiar with the full spectrum of whisky aromas and flavors and find out how to best engage all your senses. This is a great guide to increase your whisky confidence and at the same time discover additional elements of the beloved spirit!
Hardcover: 224 pages
2. The Bourbon Bible:
Seeking Bourbon Answers and Higher Powers?
If you’re more into the sweeter bourbon, maybe the Bourbon Bible has all the answers you have been looking for. Written by Eric Zandona who is a spirits specialist at the American Distilling Institute you get everything you need to know about bourbon. You also get tips for 100 of the finest bourbons, flavor profiles, and recommendations. After reading this you will know the key things to understand when buying a bottle. As the author says; “The Bourbon Bible is the ultimate guide to the ultimate drink”.
Hardcover: 224 pages
3. A Field Guide To Whisky
Take Your Whisky Knowledge To The Next Level
With A Field Guide to Whisky you can become a whisky expert. First, the one-stop guide includes all the information a whisky enthusiast needs – from ingredients and flavors to production and brands. Secondly, the content is distilled into 324 short entries covering the basics to more advanced and detailed information, tips, and recommendations. As you even get 230 color photographs, this is also an illustrative guide.
Hardcover: 320 pages
4. World Atlas of Whisky:
Going For A Trip Around The World?
The World Atlas of Whisky is everything you need for traveling around the whisky world! You get detailed maps, samples of single malts from Aberfeldy to Tormore, great blends from Bushmills to Yoichi, and the best of the bourbons and ryes from Barton to Wild Turkey. You also get detailed descriptions of all the key Scottish distilleries around the globe and even 28 colorful maps of their location. All you need after this book is to go traveling!
Hardcover: 336 pages
5. Whiskey Master Class Book:
Want To Graduate From The Whisky Masterclass?
Hardcover: 256 pages
6. Tasting Whiskey:
Looking For Insider Tips For Tasting?
The Tasting Whiskey: An Insider’s Guide to the Unique Pleasures of the World’s Finest Spirits lets is a comprehensive guide to the world’s greatest whiskeys. You’ll discover how unique flavors are created through variations of ingredients and different distilling techniques. With advice on how to collect, age, and serve whiskey as well as suggestions for proven food pairings, you’ll be inspired to share your knowledge and invite your friends over for a delicious whisky tasting party.
Paperback: 256 pages
7. The Complete Whiskey Course:
Tasting School in Ten Classes
With The Complete Whiskey Course, you will enroll in a comprehensive tasting school where you graduate after completing 10 classes. The renowned book is written by whisky educator Robin Robinson and is furthermore a heavily illustrated guide. Across the ten robust “classes,” you will learn whisky history, how it’s made in different countries and regions, how aging and finishing work as well as the basics of “nosing” and tasting. You also get recommendations for the best offerings from new and historic producers as well as themed tastings organized by bargain, value, special occasion, and splurge price categories. For your graduation, you should organize your own tasting!
Hardcover: 304 pages
8. American Whiskey, Bourbon & Rye:
Curious About The All-American Favorites?
The second edition of American Whiskey, Bourbon & Rye is the A-to-Z dictionary of American whiskey. You get information on more than 330 whiskeys. Each of them with a brief history of the maker, along with its location, followed by a full account of each bottling, including details on age, proof, nose, color, body, palate, price, as well as an overall rating. Furthermore, you get a glossary of terms, a selection of top whiskeys by value and ratings, a handy checklist, and two helpful indexes. With this book, choosing the perfect American whiskey, bourbon, or rye has never been easier!
Hardcover: 400 pages
9. Guide To Becoming A Whiskey Know-It-All:
Want To Sniff Your Way Into Becoming A Whiskey Connoisseur?
The Essential Scratch & Sniff Guide to Becoming a Whiskey Know-It-All is unlike other publications a funny kid-style book! In this case, you only need 22 pages to get to know whisky thanks to three simple categories of grain, wood, and place. With humorous illustrations and scratch-and-sniff scents (vanilla, sandalwood, grass, and more) you get to discover your personal preferences. You also get a language label and Map to Your Desires included with the book. This is for the child in you…who also loves whisky.
Board book: 22 pages
10. But Always Fine Bourbon:
Looking For A Legendary Bourbon Story?
But Always Fine Bourbon is the story of the Stitzel Weller Distillery, which, for a large part of the 20th century was known for making one of the finest bourbons in the world. In this book, you get the tale of the Van Winkle family. It’s the story about the legendary “Pappy” Van Winkle who was part of an era when businesses were still run by larger-than-life men who had other priorities than maximizing the bottom line. If you are interested in bourbon or Kentucky, this is a great story of the American dream complete with large photographs.
Hardcover: 211 pages
11. Hacking Whiskey:
In Need Of A Book Out Of The Ordinary?
This is certainly not your ordinary whisky book! With Hacking Whiskey you get introduced to smoking, blending, fat washing, and other whisky experiments. You’ll get numerous ideas as well as shortcuts to help you take your whisky experience to new heights. Author Aaron Goldfarb is a whisky geek and in this book, he is “reporting from the field” with tips, recipes, and insider secrets about the weird yet delightful ways in which whiskey is being used today. For example, you get special features on how to make cheap homemade blends taste fancy, and infuse whiskey with marijuana smoke. This will for sure spark some whisky creativity!
Hardcover: 264 pages
12. Bourbon Curious:
Curious About Bourbon?
In Bourbon Curious: A Tasting Guide for the Savvy Drinker, award-winning whiskey writer Fred Minnick creates an easy-to-read interactive tasting journey. As a result, the book groups bourbon into four main flavor profiles: grain, nutmeg, caramel, and cinnamon and helps you find your flavor preferences. Furthermore, you get tasting notes for more than 50 bourbon brands and suggestions for bourbon cocktails. Finally, the author also busts some bourbon myths by unraveling mysteries and exploring distiller secrets. This is a book to celebrate a true fascination with bourbon!
Hardcover: 256 pages
13. Charles MacLeans Whiskypedia:
In Need of Scotch Authority?
With the Whiskypedia: A Compendium of Scotch Whisky you get a compendium of scotch curiosities. You will learn about bottles of scotch, including orbit bottle labels, whiskey green labels, as well as information about individual distilleries. The book is the first comprehensive source of the flavor and character of every malt whisky in Scotland. Furthermore, it’s written by Charles MacLean, who is “a world authority on malt whisky” and shares his wisdom with the reader. Furthermore, you get John MacPherson’s stunning photos to compliment the text. Nothing less than a tribute to Scotland!
Paperback: 384 pages
14. Whiskies To Try Before You Die:
Looking For The Ultimate Whisky Bucket List?
101 Whiskies to Try Before You Die is a different whisky guide. Here, you don’t get a list of the best whiskies chosen by some hotshot whisky guru. Instead, you simply get a guide to the 101 whiskies that enthusiasts must seek out and try in order to complete their whisky education. And the list is made from both old favorites, stellar newcomers, and unknown brands – all in an affordable price range. This is the book for you who likes to decode the marketing hype and get straight to the point!
Hardcover: 224 pages
15. American Whiskey:
Want to Celebrate American Whiskeys?
In American Whiskey, Kentucky-born, internationally recognized whiskey expert Richard Thomas guides you through the American whiskey renaissance. Consequently, you get over 300 expressions of whiskeys ranging from traditional to innovative bottles from across the States. The comprehensive book of 544 pages is both for newcomers as well as experienced collectors. You get historical insights, interesting interviews with master distillers, regional chapters, as well as hundreds of photos. This is for the serious (and happy to read) American whiskey lover!
Hardcover: 544 pages
What’s the difference between whisky, scotch, bourbon, and rye?
What is Whisky?
Whisky or whiskey (depending on its origin) is a distilled alcoholic beverage made from fermented grain mash (barley, corn, rye, or wheat). Furthermore, it’s typically aged in charred white oak casks for the distinctive brown color. Therefore, the whisky category has endless differences in color, taste, and smell.
What is Scotch?
Scotch is a whisky that must be produced in Scotland. It’s a distilled alcoholic beverage made from mostly malted barley. In addition, it’s aged in oak barrels for three years or more and has a smoky flavor. The most common way to drink scotch is “neat” (without ice) or on the rocks (with ice). A good tip for drinking it neat is to add a few drops of water because it helps reveal the flavors.
What is Bourbon?
Bourbon is a distilled alcoholic beverage made from corn. In fact, the grain mash must be at least 51 percent corn to fall under the Bourbon name. By law, the mixture is also required to be stored in charred oak containers. No additives are allowed! Bourbon is known to have a more sweet flavor with notes of e.g. caramel or cinnamon.
What is Rye?
Rye can be two things. It’s either American whiskey distilled from at least 51% rye and aged for a minimum of two years. Or, it’s Canadian whisky that may or may not actually include rye in the mash. Finally, it has a full body and spice (closest cousin is bourbon) and is also well suited for cocktails.
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