Saturday, 24 August 2013

Book Review: Canadian Whisky

My 'well thumbed' copy with my only bottle Canadian whisky in the background
I hadn't even considered Canadian Whisky at the beginning of my whisky journey, but what did I know back then? I had started on a 'malt crusade', but was only buying whisky from the supermarkets, and although reading anything I could find, was mainly reading the brand websites.

Towards the end of my first year I bought a couple of books when I desperately needed some guidance. One of them was Ian Buxton's 101 Whiskies To Try Before You Die, and it was Ian's book that opened my eyes up to the vast catalogue of great tasting whiskies from around the globe. Listed in it were two Canadian Whiskies, which immediately went on my list. His follow-up book, 101 World Whiskies listed a further four. I needed to find out about Canadian Whisky.

Twitter has made a huge difference to my whisky knowledge. With the #whiskyfabric woven across the globe (go on, search that hashtag on Twitter) Canadian whiskies have been traded with friends across the pond and I have made some steps towards checking off the ones from the list, as well as discovering some new expressions chosen for me through these trades.

It was during my first virtual journey into Canadian Whisky (with the help of #whiskyfabric founder @whiskylassie and @BruceFraser who traded the necessary samples to start my tasting trip) that I found out about Davin de Kergommeaux and his Canadian Whisky website and was about to publish his 'portable expert', Canadian Whisky

Then at the beginning of this year I was asked if I would like to take part in a four part whisky tasting with the author, and a copy of the book would be sent my way. The book duly arrived and was enthusiastically read.

Davin takes readers on a journey through the history of Canadian whisky, the book being divided into five sections, which seems to cover all bases incredibly well. 

Starting with the key ingredients and the 'substance' of Canadian Whisky, we're then told how it's made in great detail. This is followed by a section on how we should be tasting it and why it tastes the way it does. 

The fourth section is a concise history with the rich folklore surrounding it, and the final section introduces the nine current distillers of Canadian whisky.

Davin has put his heart and soul into this book, and it has been a fabulous read. The history has been extensively researched and learning about the pioneers of the industry has been fascinating; of the English and German settlers bringing their distilling skills with them to their new home, of the rise and fall of the distilling dynasties as whisky went out of fashion towards the end of the last century, leaving just nine distilleries today from the twenty two registered in 1976.

However this isn't just a book describing the history of Canadian Whisky, throughout the book Davin has posted tasting notes for Canada's top one hundred whiskies.

This book (and the Canadian whisky I have tried to date) has certainly whetted my appetite for more. Unfortunately reading Davin's tasting notes is a bit of a tease as Canadian whisky is not (yet) widely available outside of Canada (they seem to be keeping it all for themselves!) There are a few brands available at the well known British whisky websites but I'm sure with the increasing interest more will be available in the very near future, and as it does, I'll be ready, with my portable expert!

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