13 Best Whiskey Books: Buying Guide and Review

Whiskey is a bar staple, don’t you agree? A bar isn’t and will never be deemed a bar if there’s no whiskey. If you have a bar without this iconic beverage, what is even the point when the bar doesn’t have one of the most popular liquors in the world? Whiskey has been around and it has always been an all-time favorite since forever. Whiskey is distilled throughout various parts of the world, but the most popular would have to be Scotland, Japan, Ireland, Canada, and the United States. The origin of the process of distilling dates way back 2000BC, but the process was only used for perfumes and aromatics, but it wasn’t until 1405 that the first record of whiskey was written. Up until this day, it still sits on its throne.

Whiskey is indeed an interesting drink with an interesting history. It’s easy to gulp down a glass of whiskey but to fully appreciate this work of art, you need to know what needs to be known about whiskey. There are plenty of ways to make this possible, you can visit a local distillery, you can see and talk with experts and master distillers, or you can even visit or move to Scotland to be even closer to whiskey’s heart. You can do that or you can just purchase a book and be educated on whiskey, saves you time, effort, and money, you can even read while enjoying a glass of whiskey!

Considering that the origin of whiskey and today’s time is already a long stretch, for sure, you can find countless whiskey books. Whether you’re looking for a book to help you know whiskey’s journey and rich history, the process of producing it, recipes, and various concoctions, kind or its culture, there is definitely a book for you. Below is a list of the best whiskey books we reviewed to recommend to you. 

1.The Complete Whiskey Course: A Comprehensive Tasting School in Ten Classes

This book is ideal for anyone who aspires to become a connoisseur and it’s a great read for all whiskey lovers out there. The book is divided by classes, with each class focusing on a specific topic. The book contains almost everything you need to know about whiskey, the history, the differences of whiskeys from different countries, the process of aging and finishing, how to nose and taste whiskey, and a lot more. The thought and ideas are relevant and are interpreted in easy and comprehensive words for better understanding and you can see a lot of pictures for a better visual presentation. 

Written by Robin Robinson (no, not the news anchor) in 2019, this 295 pages book is touted as “a must-read for aspiring connoisseurs and a refresher to seasoned whiskey lovers” by the Whiskey Advocate. Called the “water of life”, Robinson illustrates how a cimple whiskey (by the looks of it) but it’s more complex than we know. He is a renowned whiskey educator and has been teaching in various capacities, either as a professor or a lecturer. In 2014, he was awarded with the Icon of Whisky Award by the Whisky Magazine, the magazine’s highest commendation for brand ambassadors. 

Pros 

  • High-end binding and paper stock
  • Great content
  • Knowledgeable but entertaining
  • Detailed information
  • Includes colorful visuals (images, charts, graphs, etc) to make it more appealing
  • includes a lot of tips and a glossary of terms.

Cons

  • Binding may be detached from the cover

What customers are saying about the product:

Movie Reviewer states that the book is an amazing guide to understanding whiskeys. It was laid out beautifully, the photos were fine, and the charts are very helpful. (1st photo)

JulesAron says this book is perfect if you are planning to buy one book about whiskey. It is comprehensive and such a good read. (2nd photo) For Sole&39;sAmazon, he is so happy with this book that he bought a second one to give to his dad. 

Why we think this is a great product:

The content isn't just informative and detailed, but it is also mixed with a bit of humor which makes it more engaging. Plus, the high-quality materials make it a great deal as it is sturdy to last a long time. 

Who should buy it:

The book would be perfect for everyone who dreams to be a connoisseur or any person who would love to read and learn about whiskeys. 


2. Tasting Whiskey: An Insider's Guide to the Unique Pleasures of the World's Finest Spirits

Tasting Whiskey highlights the “Big Five” in the whiskey industry - Scotland, Ireland, USA, Canada, and Japan. Written by Lew Bryson, award-winning author with 6 books to his name, he is an authority in beer and spirits. He wrote 4 regional guidebook for breweries, taking a total of 242 breweries and brewpubs around New York City, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware. Tasting Whiskey is his first book on the subject published in 2015. He just published his second book on whiskey, also in this list, just this year. 

The book includes fun infographics that make the hard concept of distilling whiskey easier to understand even for newbies. It also features vintage artworks depicting the influence of whiskey over the years. This small book of 256 pages is a great resource for anyone who loves whiskey. It might even convert non-whiskey drinkers.

Pros 

  • Informative
  • Well-written
  • Easy to read
  • Well-researched 
  • Detailed
  • Humorous 

Cons

  • The book cover may be scratched and damaged 
  • Pages may be bent and wrinkled

What customers are saying about the product:

KenJr found the book really good. He thinks it's a must-read, it is very informative and well-written. He highly recommends the book. James thinks the book is worthy of 5 stars. He states the 2 parts of the book, the recipes, and the do's and dont's which he finds helpful to remember. He also recommends this book to anyone interested in whiskeys.

Why we think this is a great product:

It's an easy way of teaching people about the history and traditions of whiskey, the book doesn't show any dull parts as the topics are interesting and funny. It is detailed and well-researched, hence you can trust what is written on the pages. 

Who should buy it:

It is great for anyone who is interested to learn all about whiskeys. The book will definitely not disappoint.

3. 101 Whiskies to Try Before You Die (Revised and Updated): 4th Edition

The book written by Ian Buxton contains 101 whiskeys that anyone who loves whiskey should try. If you haven't tried everything that is inside this book, then your whiskey education wouldn't be called complete. Buxton himself has been working in various whiskey-related capacities for more than 25 years as a marketing director and consultant to distillers, built distillery visitor centers, created a major industry conference, and authored books and articles on the topic. 

Each of the 101 whiskeys featured in this book, arranged alphabetically for easier browsing, had a page dedicated to it with a notes section where you can record your whiskey experience by adding your notes on the colors, nose, taste, and finish of the whiskey. It also provides space for where and when you tasted this particular whiskey. It’s like having your diary to follow your whiskey journey. It also provides a link to the producer’s website if you want a closer look into the whiskey before you decide to buy it. Buxton made the book concise and straight to the point, but you get all the basic information you need - history, where it was made, its flavor profile, and the approximate price at the time the book was written. 

Pros 

  • Makes the perfect gift for whiskey enthusiasts 
  • Interesting content
  • Great selection

Cons

  • Small book
  • Small print

What customers are saying about the product:

Domonique J purchased the holiday gift and she found it very entertaining. She says it's a great guide if you want to know more about whiskeys. (1st photo) Villam says it’s a great gift for whiskey fans. It’s also small, so it’s easy to bring along for whiskey-tasting tours. 

Why we think this is a great product:

The book includes a wide variety of whiskey recipes, you won't ever have to drink the same drink every night. It offers amazing content, you will find the book informative and enjoyable. 

Who should buy it:

Those who are looking to try various whiskey recipes and it would make a great gift for a loved one. It is a bit small, so you might need to consider that one. 

4. The World Atlas of Whisky: New Edition

Take a trip around the world with Dave Broom as he journeys through top whiskey-producing countries and continents, taking more than 150 distilleries in a closer look. Broom is an award-winning author, whiskey expert, editor, and contributor to various print and online magazines. Two of his 8 books won the Glenfiddich Award for Drinks Book of the Year and he also won the Writer of the Year award from the same awarding body twice. He had spent more than 20 years as a journalist and writer.

This 336-page book is a concise guide that includes maps, distillery pages, tasting notes, and terminology pages. It is a very good resource for those who want to learn more about whiskeys, their origin, where the malt was sourced, and almost everything you need to learn are packed into the pages. It also includes flow charts to understand how to make the malt and some of the more common whiskeys, flavor maps for the different types of whiskeys. It explains how to take notes when tasting whiskeys. This is a truly lovely read for whiskey lovers and newbies alike.   

Pros 

  • The photographs are pretty
  • Organized details
  • Informative
  • Comprehensive 

Cons

  • Some received no book cover
  • The letter is too small
  • Not packed well

What customers are saying about the product:

Dr. Science read the book cover to cover which expanded his horizons. The book inspired him to open his doors to new styles. He says the book will help you manage your money when buying whiskey. A. Cole bought this book for her husband, she hoped that the book could help her husband narrow down his selection of scotch. Her husband loved the book. 

Why we think this is a great product:

The book focuses more on whiskeys all over the globe. The information you get in this book is well organized and it is easy to understand. The photographs are always there to make the book more interesting. 

Who should buy it:

If you're looking for a book that especially talks about different kinds of whiskeys in different countries, this book is for you. 

5. Jim Murray's Whiskey Bible 2020: North American Edition

Update your whiskey world every year with the annual Whiskey Bible by Jim Murray. He started this annual update in 2003 after writing 8 other books on whiskey in 11 years. He won the Glenfiddich Whiskey Writer of the Year award three times, but he claims that one of his greatest achievements is taking a major role in giving new life to the Ardberg distillery in Islay, Scotland when it closed in 1996 after being in the business since 1798. Fortunately, it was reopened in 1997 with the help of Murray.

To make these books, Murray and his team of researchers scour the world for the best whiskeys then grading it on the following criteria: nose, taste, finish, and balance, each criteria getting 25 points for a total of 100. Murray himself tastes the whiskey. Over the years, Murray helped to introduce new and obscure whiskeys around the world with 20,000 total whiskeys tasted since the inception of this book in 2013. In this year’s edition, Murray listed 1792 Full Proof Kentucky Straight Bourbon as the finest whiskey for 2020 followed by William Larue Weller 125.7 Proof - 2018 Release and Thomas H Handy Sazerac Rye 128.8 Proof – 2018 Release. You will also find the winners for other categories. 

Pros 

  • Contains plenty of information 
  • Detailed
  • Handy reference guide
  • Forthright evaluation 

Cons

  • Content can be repetitive

What customers are saying about the product:

Avid reader says his/her favorite part of this book is that it covers the free world whiskey. Kristaninefive says the book consists of numerous great quick references across plenty of whiskeys.

Why we think this is a great product:

The book attracts a big audience and is known as an influential book. It is informative regardless of the book's size. Everything there is to read here is not pretentious. 

Who should buy it:

This book is for those who need a whiskey guide. Reliable information can be found inside.

6. The Bourbon Bible

Bourbons never go out in style. Eric Zandona takes you to an adventure in 140 of America’s best bourbons. Published in May 2018, it is available in hardcover and Kindle version. Zandona is an author, editor, and contributor to 6 books on distilled spirits and is currently the Director of Spirits Information for the American Distilling Institute (ADI).

In 2019, the book was nominated in the top 10 for Best New Book on Drinks Culture, History, or Spirits in the Tales of the Cocktail’s Spirited Awards. This 244-page guide will run you through 140 of the finest bourbons in the world, their flavor profile, and how to best drink these bourbons. It also includes 20 tried and tested bourbon cocktail recipes you should drink even once in your life, but we’re sure you’ll love them that you will drink them for life. 

Pros 

  • Detailed
  • Contains information about a lot of brands
  • Great gift
  • Amazing recipes inside
  • Comprehensive

Cons

  • Some parts are hard to read

What customers are saying about the product:

Afifield, a purchaser, enjoyed learning from this book. It educated him more about the bourbon's history. He thinks the book is sold at a reasonable price and you can find a lot of bourbon brands and types in the book (1st photo).

Slsneb purchased the book and it has helped her bourbon bar. She now knows a lot about the products they use and what products they should use.

Why we think this is a great product:

You can learn a lot about whiskeys in this book, it contains various topics that are well explained, easy to comprehend, and leaves no questions unanswered. Moreover, you can find interesting whiskey recipes inside.

Who should buy it:

Anyone looking for information about whiskeys. It provides a lot of knowledge of whiskeys. 


7. Imbibe! Updated and Revised Edition: From Absinthe Cocktail to Whiskey Smash, a Salute in Stories and Drinks to "Professor" Jerry Thomas, Pioneer of the American Bar

Written by David Wondrich and read by David Colacci for the audio CD and Audiobook version, this book is also available in Kindle and hardcover versions. Wondrich pays homage to the father of the American bar, Jerry Thomas, whose far-reaching influence inspired Wondrich to write this book that contains some of his humorous anecdotes. 

A few months after it was published in Nov 2007, the first edition of this book won the James Beard Award for Best Wine and Spirits Book category in May 2008. The James Beard Award is an annual award presented to culinary professionals in the United States. The revised edition now comes with new recipes and more historical content, you can now read about the origins of the first American drink. It also includes more details about spirits in the 19th century and more notable cocktails. The book also includes a collection of 100 drinks and 20 new recipes created exclusively for this book. 

Pros 

  • Great historical content
  • Delicious recipe selection
  • Easy to read
  • Impeccably researched 
  • Interesting content

Cons

  • Some claim it's not a page-turner
  • Some find the recipes irrelevant 

What customers are saying about the product:

Just Bob was delighted with the book's historical background content, recipes, and how to's. It is a good and easy read. C.F. says the book was amazing, so amazing that she thinks the research took years to finish. She thinks the prose is excellent and the book includes everything. 

 


8. A Field Guide to Whisky: An Expert Compendium to Take Your Passion and Knowledge to the Next Level 

Written by Hans Offringa, author and media expert, had spent more than 30 years of his life as a writer and presenter for everything whiskey. 

His book, A Field Guide to Whiskey is a complete and comprehensive guide that answers almost anything you ask about whiskey. Learn how whiskeys are made around the world, how their quirks and imperfections became their character, but mostly trivia on the different whiskeys. It’s a short but informative take but together we will learn how Scotland, Ireland, the USA, Canada, and Japan made it to the “Big Five” of the whiskey industry. If you are new in whiskey-making, this is a good place to start since you’ll learn everything from choosing the grains to how they are distilled and bottled for the market. 

Pros 

  • Well made
  • Sturdy
  • Elegant design
  • Comprehensive 
  • Informative
  • High-quality materials 

Cons

  • Some may say it lacks information 

What customers are saying about the product:

Karen F. comments that the purchase was a great decision, the book is crafted very well and it is sturdy. The bulleted/numbered format surprised her, but considering the amount of information it holds, it's all right. (1st photo) Lex Nai thought the book was the perfect gift for her boyfriend. It looks elegant on the outside, and also holds a lot of interesting topics inside. Their guests started buying the book too after they saw it in her crib. (2nd photo)

Why we think this is a great product:

The book is sturdy, you can really tell it'll last for quite a while, you can let your friends borrow the books without having to worry about its condition. It boasts an elegant exterior that would look great as a display in your bar or kitchen or you can give this as a present to a loved one. The content is just as amazing as its design. 

Who should buy it:

This would be great for whiskey enthusiasts. If you know someone who loves whiskeys, you know what to get them for their special days. 

9. Bourbon: The Rise, Fall, and Rebirth of an American Whiskey

This book by Fred Minnick takes you back to the 1700s to the culture, history, and politics that shaped bourbon when the Irish, Scottish, and French settlers in the USA started to make distilled spirits. Learn how it survived the Prohibition, its fall and rise through the years, its struggle to be a name on its own. Minnick also pays homage and credit to the persons who fathered this liquor that symbolizes America despite its roots. It comes with more than 100 illustrations and photos to show the poignant journey of one liquor that’s ingrained in the country’s history of fighting for freedom, even in the form of liquor. The book is available in Kindle, Audiobook, hardcover, and MP3 CD format on Amazon.  

Fred Minnick is an authority on this field having served as a judge in many whiskey competitions and has been responsible for a lot more that is related to whiskey. As a bestselling and award-winning author with 7 books under his belt, Minnick started his career in wines and spirits in 2006 as a freelancer, but has moved on from writing articles to publishing his magazine in 2018. 

Pros 

  • Informative 
  • Easy to read
  • Well-researched
  • Interesting content 

Cons

  • It gets dry
  • Unorganized 

What customers are saying about the product:

Ramman thinks the book was great, he finished reading the book quickly but enjoyed it. He suggested getting the book if you're looking for your first American Whiskey book. J. Victor states that the book was researched thoroughly. The book is dense, rich, and worthy of a second read. He recommends getting the hardcover book. 

Why we think this is a great product:

The book focuses on the in-depth history of whiskeys, and it is very interesting and informative. The detailed knowledge you will get from reading this will definitely help you out.

Who should buy it:

This would be better for people who can still understand books, despite a rough transition. It is also great for anyone curious about whiskeys.

10. Bourbon Empire: The Past and Future of America's Whiskey

Bourbon Empire is a book about whiskey, politics, and history. The book includes the origins of popular alcohols such as Jim Beam, Maker's Mark, Evan Williams, and more. The book digs deeper into the unique forms of spirits. It’s almost satirical, less-than-serious take of the history of bourbon is a refreshing method of presenting an otherwise boring topic to the more experienced reader. It also hooks the newbie who wants to learn what the cryptic headings may be hiding, making it a real page-turner. However, for the average reader, it can get boring as it gets pages upon pages of no illustrations to break the monotony, but it just shows how the author is serious with this book. It is available on Kindle, hardcover, paperback, and Audio CD format on Amazon. 

The author, Reid Mitenbuler, has two books to his name with a third still in the works. He has been a contributor to many publications in the years of his career before he began writing his books. 

Pros 

  • Contextualized history
  • Extremely knowledgeable 
  • Entertaining 

Cons

  • Gets dull at times
  • Can get confusing 

What customers are saying about the product:

PWB highly recommends this book after he got it on Amazon. He also shares his conversation with the author on the author’s website (photo below). Kurt, another Amazon customer,  loves it because of its contextualized take on the history of bourbon that you cannot read anywhere else. The author is knowledgeable without being high-handed and inconsiderate of the readers.  

Why we think this is a great product:

This book is knowledgeable and it offers different content. You can learn a lot about whiskey, big names, and history, the book is mixed with some sly humor. 

Who should buy it:

Those who are interested in learning the detailed history of whiskey and also big brand names.

11. Whiskey Master Class: The Ultimate Guide to Understanding Scotch, Bourbon, Rye, and More

This small paperback written by Lew Bryson is packed with overflowing information in its 256 pages. Bryson has been writing about beers and spirits since 1995 and has moved up the ranks to be the managing editor of Whiskey Advocate for 19 years before moving on to write for other publications and focusing on his books. Since then, he has written 4 regional guidebooks on the breweries of Pennsylvania, New York, Virginia, Maryland & Delaware, and New Jersey. In 2008, he won the Michael Jackson Beer Journalism Award for the Trade and Specialty Beer Media category and has served as a judge in various beer and spirits competitions in the US. 

The book takes you into a journey of the different stages of making whiskey with a short introduction to the different whiskey types in the market nowadays. The book is punctuated with colorful photos to break the monotony of the texts. It is also rich with trivia about whiskey without being overly trivial.  

Pros 

  • Easy to understand 
  • Conversational tone
  • Informative

Cons

  • Cheaply bound
  • Some may find it dry

What customers are saying about the product:

Erik Kluever states that the book consists of enjoyable and expansive content. He thinks it is solid gold and every page adds to your whiskey IQ. Another Amazon customer says the book is informative and credits the author for doing a great job of explaining the complexities in simple sentences. Overall, the customer found the book enjoyable.

Why we think this is a great product:

It gives out the same information more easily and effectively, the conversational tone will make the readers understand the book better. There is a lot you can learn in this book. 

Who should buy it:

Those who take pleasure in reading about whiskeys, distilleries, and the process of making whiskeys. 

12. American Whiskey, Bourbon & Rye: A Guide to the Nation's Favorite Spirit

Clay Risen has no small feat under his name being the editor of the New York Times of the op-ed section and also contributes to mainstream magazines like Times, Smithsonian, Metropolis, Fortune, and The Atlantic. He also wrote for Architect until the short break, he took to write this book, American Whiskey, Bourbon & Rye: A Guide to the Nation’s Favorite Spirit which was published in 2013. He went back to writing for Architect and has made iconic contributions since.  

This groundbreaking book is in its 6th printing with more than 100,000 copies sold, making him an authority on the history, business, and diversity of US spirits. The 392 pages of this book, touted as the bible of American whiskey, lists 338 whiskeys in alphabetical order. The information for the whiskeys include their age, proof, nose, color, body, palate, price, and overall rating. It makes choosing the right whiskey a lot easier. It is available in hardcover format on Amazon. 

Pros 

  • A detailed account of the popular brands
  • Gives out an honest opinion
  • Informative
  • Great history content

Cons

  • Some say the book lacked pages
  • Uses small print

What customers are saying about the product:

LoneSailor thinks this a very cool book with everything you need on the different whiskeys, it’s a beautiful hardbound and given its very affordable price, he thinks of getting more copies for his whiskey-guzzling buddies (1st photo). Azarette C. Diaz commented that the book was nice, in perfect condition, very informative, and it's a great conversational book. (2nd)

Why we think this is a great product:

This book features plenty of information about different content. You can expect an honest evaluation of big brands and it also features a detailed history. 

Who should buy it:

This is for people who are not just looking for a fast read. The book has a lot of topics and this is also perfect for people who love bourbon and rye. 


13. Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey: An American Heritage 

The author, Micahel R. Veach made the book focus on the real story of bourbon. He started with the Whiskey Rebellion of the 1790s through the Civil War, Prohibition, the Great Depression, until now. It includes all the specific details of how bourbon became the popular drink we know today. The book even features century-old photographs and images of licenses and vintage tools, giving the book the look of authority, not to mention the history packed among the 141 pages of this short, concise but rich book. Aside from the images, Veach took direct quotations from a large compilation of documents related to the topic and also included highlights in the lives of influential people behind the success of Kentucky bourbon and historic places related to distilling this spirit.    

Pros 

  • Good read
  • Informative
  • Detailed
  • History content is amazing 

Cons

  • Fewer pages than advertised
  • Dry writing
  • Disorganized 
  • Short read

What customers are saying about the product:

RWK thinks the book is interesting, well-written, and factual. She states that this book would be perfect if you love bourbon. MaxandRob loves the book, they think the product is perfect for bourbon and whiskey lovers. But let's not forget about American history. They highly recommend the book.

Why we think this is a great product:

This is great for its historical content, it includes a lot of details, and doesn't leave any information relevant. 

Who should buy it:

If history is what you're looking for, this book is for you. It gives you more impeccable knowledge about the history of whiskeys. 

Conclusion

Whiskey is a complex and powerful drink, it's a classic. It's not far from possible that every person who has tasted whiskeys gets curious. That's what those books are for. If reading about whiskeys made you want one, here are some recipes you can try. Click here.

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