Canadian Malt Maniac Davin de Kergommeaux has done it again! After launching his highly acclaimed website dedicated to Canadian whisky, he continued his quest to make the world familiar with this drink by writing a book about it.
If you are a whisky drinker living outside Canada, chances are that your knowledge of Canadian whisky is limited to the three big brands with global exposure – Canadian Club, Seagram’s and Crown Royal. But Canadian whisky is more than cheap supermarket booze best drowned in ginger ale.
Not only on the shelves of whisky shops but also in book shops, Canadian whisky has been leading a life in the shadow of Scotch, Irish or bourbon whisky, usually in the form of being mixed up with bourbon or with a few extra pages at the end of a general whisky book between Japan and the rest of the world. This book wants to put an end to this miserable situation.
The first thing you notice after opening is that this really is a book made for reading and not for casual browsing or use as a reference work. There are no tables, no ‘fact sheet’ boxes, no colourful artsy pictures making you want to book a trip to the country at once. It is straightforward writing, occasionally interrupted by tasting notes and underlined with tinted black and white pictures. The design is strictly monochrome in a ‘whisky’ colour and has a decidedly 1960s ‘retro’ feel. The tint of the pictures is a bit on the dark side, though, sometimes making it difficult to see details.
Canadian Whisky is essentially a history book. Wrapped by a detailled explanation of how whisky is made in Canada and short but intense portraits of the country’s nine big distilleries, it is telling us the long and almost forgotten story of this spirit often only called ‘rye’, and the story of the people who made it, begining in the late 18th century. Along the way, plenty of myths and misconceptions about Canadian whisky are debunked, and the small distilleries having opened in recent years are not forgotten either.
Even though it only makes up a third of the three-hundred-something pages, the history part is where the heart of this book is beating. Only when we understand the history we can put the present situation into context. Canadian whisky is not only a brand tag for the portfolios of global conglomerates, and its heritage is far richer as to be reduced to Al Capone smuggling booze into the USA during prohibition.
This book is essential reading for anyone interested in whisky beyond Scotch and bourbon. Reading it makes you want to sip these whiskies that are so hard to come by in other parts of the world. Hopefully this book can contribute to change this.
336 pages, hardcover, available at amazon.com