In the populist tradition of Andrea Immer, New York City's first female whiskey sommelier translates today's hottest spirit for a new generation of imbibers Whiskey is in the midst of a huge renaissance. Ten years ago, the United States housed sixty-nine craft distillers; today, there are more than four hundred. Exports of Scotch whisky grew 12 percent just last year. Sales are skyrocketing, and specialty bars are popping up around the country, from New York City to Chicago to Houston. Yet whiskey drinkers - especially novices - are more confused than ever.
Over the past decade, whiskey expert Heather Greene has been bombarded with thousands of questions, including: Can I have ice in my whiskey? Why is it sometimes spelled "whisky"? What makes bourbon different? As New York City's first female whiskey sommelier, Greene introduces audiences to the spirit's charms and challenges the boys' club sensibilities that have made whiskey seem inaccessible, with surprising new research that shows the crucial importance of "nosing" whiskey. Through lively tastings, speaking engagements, and classes such as the popular "Whiskey as an Aphrodisiac," Greene has been demystifying whiskey the way Andrea Immer did wine a decade ago.
In this lively and authoritative guide, Greene teaches listeners about whiskey and encourages them to make their own evaluations. Peppered with wry anecdotes drawn from her unusual life - and including recipes for delicious cocktails by some of today's most celebrated mixologists - Whiskey Distilled will be enthusiastically greeted by the whiskey curious as well as by journeymen whiskey drinkers thirsty to learn more about their beloved tipple.
"With every passing day, the peril of sounding like an idiot when talking about or even referring towhiskey grows. Don’t let it happen to you. You should know this stuff. With Whiskey Distilled, Heather Greene makes it easy for you. She makes it deeply enjoyable. And her comprehensive, essential guide to what you need to know about whiskey will make you want to start drinking whiskey immediately." (Anthony Bourdain)
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Informative and Easy Going Down: A Nice Blend.
There are some critical reviews here, and after listening I'm skeptical about the motivation behind them. This book is very informative and covers a lot of whiskey/whisky basics as well as some light chemistry and physiology subject matter. These concepts are all important if you want to understand how to think about whiskey (USA!) in any depth.
I did notice this book reminds me in some specific ways of some other print books which I read while listening to this one. For example books by Charles Maclean and Michael Jackson. Some of those books are longer and perhaps more comprehensive, and Greene may have borrowed from or been inspired by them (I'm not sure whether her articles pre-date those writings).
However there are only so many ways to approach this information so repetition is to be expected, and this book is the only one available on Audible, so I'd highly recommend it if you're interested in listening to this subject.
Greene does a good job of sprinkling in anecdote and entertainment along with an easy to understand breakdown of whiskey distillation and varieties. I learned a lot from this book. I already notice that I can pull quite a bit of information from a bottle label that would have passed over my head before. I'm confused by some of the other negative reviews which misrepresent Ms. Greene's self-promotion which is minimal. I think that criticism reflects the reviewer's bias which I'll elaborate on below.
Okay.., Tavia Gilbert's reading isn't Shakespeare, and it's not even Ian McKellen. However, while sing-songy, it's not that hard to listen to at all.
I probably wouldn't have paid any mind to her cadence if I hadn't read the other reviews first. I reconsidered getting this book after reading the reviews and listening to a sample. It did take some time to grow accustomed to her style, but that's true of every new reader.
Once I became absorbed in the subject, I didn't notice any peculiarities related to Gilbert's presentation, which I think is high praise for an audio book reader.
I'm suspicious some of the other reviews hide a touch of misogyny and gentleman's club exclusivity under their surface. Greene finds it necessary to justify a woman writing on this subject, which might seem unnecessary until you read the reviews here. Unfortunately I feel the same justification may be needed for the narrator. I get the impression some people don't think a woman can read this material. Sure, it's not a super serious reading, but this subject is supposed to be fun and I don't need a depressed Sean Connery to help me understand the intricacies of Scotch.
I have no idea if Gilbert reflects Greene's personality or her intended tone. However, I have no issue with Gilbert's reading, and I wonder whether the critical reviewers finished the book, or quit as soon as they had something nasty to say?
Finally, if you're the type of person who dislikes too much "book-learning", a criticism of one of the other reviewers, I question what you'd get from a 7 hour book on a single subject in the first place? That's not even to mention how strange it is to complain about book learning in a review on a book site regarding a book about learning. The science and physiology are very simple and not a primary focus of the book, but they also in no way detract from the book.
I rarely write reviews, but I enjoyed this very much and wanted to be sure that some of the other things said here didn't dissuade future listeners. Sláinte and Cheers!
- D. W. Callahan
Buy the hard copy, skip the audio!
This book provides a great primer (not PRIME er, see comments below on narration) on whiskey, from how it's made to how to taste it to how to get started with your whiskey collection. I loved the content of this book.
Fascinating stuff about the importance of the nose in tasting, especially snippet on how whiskeys basically taste the same if one's nose is plugged.
Not unless I'm in the mood for a romance novel.
The content of Ms. Greene's book is great. It has a fantastic introduction to whiskey tasting and making, with very helpful suggestions on how to nose and taste whiskey; how to build a bar; food and whiskey pairings, etc. But the narration...oh boy. Ms. Gilbert's tone is that of someone narrating a Jane Austen book, not one about whiskey. Seriously, parts of it are like listening to a romance novel. Nor does she appear to know much about the topic. I’m not saying she should be an expert like Ms. Greene in order to narrate, but she should at least have some familiarity with the topic – including pronunciation. I had to rewind to make sure I heard this right (wrong), but she actually pronounced “Ancient Age” as “Ancient Egg”. And Bardstown is now Bardston? Really? And doesn’t primer with a long “I” refer to paint? (Although it was sure helpful to have the proper pronunciation of Dutch cheese in there. “Mr. Darcy, do stay for some HOWduh and sherry!”) My advice: Skip the audiobook and pick up the hard copy. This soundtrack will drive you to drink.
- P Boz