Page: previous , next


A Family of Spirit:  William Teacher and his descendants in the Scotch Whisky Trade 1830-1975, Geoffrey E. Cousins, Wm Teachers & Sons Ltd, 1975
A rather hard to find book published to celebrate almost 150 years of Teacher.  This book retraces the history of William Teacher, his descendants and the development of Teacher Highland Cream over this long period. The style is rather elaborate and pleasant, close to the journalistic writing style of that period. Illustrations are limited but of very high quality. Concerning the content, we are rather far from the book of Helen Arthur, with emphasise on the people behind the company, their backgrounds and motivations.  One side of the book that I appreciated very much is the details on all the aspects of the whisky business, including a description on the evolution of the bottling process, logistics issues, and all the technical aspects regarding the design of the Craigpark facility.
In conclusion, a well-written and very informative book narrated from the human side of the business.
Rating: 5/5


Scotch Whisky: Top Single Malts, Doug McIvor, PRC Publishing Ltd, 1998

This books covers very succinctly the whisky production process (over 1 page) and features a selection of 43 single malts from 43 different distilleries. The layout is most pleasant, with photographs of the bottles from excellent quality as well as a very short history of the distillery presented. The amount of information is thus limited, as well as the interest of this book.

Rating: 3/5 (5/5 for the quality of the photographs, 2/5 for the usefulness of the information).


The Famous Grouse, A Whisky Companion: Heritage, History, Recipes and Drinks. Ian Buxton, Ebury Press, 2011

The Famous Grouse is one of the latest whisky books of the best selling blended whisky in Scotland. The first 20 pages of this book cover the history of the brand and the whisky making process. A catalogue of the Famous Grouse whiskies follows it and 70 following pages are a collection of recipes (cooking and drinks).
The historical section is well written, rather succinct and the quality of the limited archives could have been of better quality.  This is a book difficult to rate, since its interest to the whisky connoisseurs will be rather limited. On the other hand, this book should appeal well to the visitors of the Famous Grouse visitor centre at the Glenturret distillery, who wants to take a souvenir from their trip and to prepare some original recipes since the text is very easy of access.

Rating: 2/5 for the whisky connoisseurs, 4/5 for the occasional or regular drinker of blend and/or Famous Grouse


Glenfarclas 175, Ian Buxton, Angel's Share, 2011

This book was published to celebrate the 175th anniversary of Glenfarclas, one of the finest Scotch single malt. With its fine leathered and embossed cover, the first impression is a book of very high quality. This is rapidly confirmed after the first pages, with its elegant, refined and spacious layout, making the reading comfortable, complemented by sumptuous photographs. The content recounts the history of the Grant family and Glenfarclas distillery, or as written in the book “ A family firm or a family business”. This history is strongly linked to the general whisky business up and down, in particular the Pattison’s crash in 1898, the equivalent of the 1929 Stock Market crash for the whisky industry, one of the favourite topic of Ian Buxton. The second milestone was the non-filling orders of the DCL 1969 that showed the dependency of the company on the blending market. This event led to the development of Glenfarclas on the single malt market. The next sections are dedicated to the people making the whisky, the brand and some personalities attached to Glenfarclas. Of note, this book does not include an exhaustive list of bottles released so far.
In conclusion, an excellent book, written with passion and beautifully illustrated. A book to savour with a fine glass of Glenfarclas whisky, fairly price considering its qualities.

Rating: 5/5


The Complete Book of Whisky, Jim Murray, Carlton books, 1998 (print).

I was not a great fan of the earliest editions of his whisky bible and after an initial overview of the pages and identified that some photographs were mixed (e.g., between Glendronach and Brora/ Clynelish), I was expecting the worst.  But for once, I was glad to see that my first impression were wrong. His comments about the quality of some products might be rather extreme (e.g., about Glen Keith: Uninspiring and worth a miss), but the layout of the book is pleasant, bright, with the content covering all the World whiskies at the end of the 1990s, with a rather strong emphasis of the US whisk(e)ies (40 pages in total). The section about Scotland was most interesting and could have been expanded (76 pages on Scotch malt distilleries). Jim Murray is indeed a very knowledgeable man and mentions several observations that I have never seen in any books (e.g., the replacement of some sections of the stills at Laphoraig by stainless steel elements painted copper). The style is pleasant to read and I enjoyed this book pretty much. An up-dated and expanded version of this book would be very much appreciated.

Rating: 4/5


Whisky, A connoisseur’s Guide, Dave Broom, Carlton Books, 1998

Over 96 pages Dave Broom tried to cover the world whiskies (Scotch single malts & blends, Irish, American and Canadian whiskies). The book shares a similar layout to World’s Guide of Whisky of the late Michael Jackson and includes a fair number of large pictures. Considering the number of pages, the amount of text and information is very thin and thus of limited interest.

Rating: 2/5


Cutty Sark: The Making of a Whisky Brand, Ian Buxton et al., Birlinn Ltd, 2011

Edrington recently purchased the Cutty Sark whisky brand from Berry Bros & Rudd and when reading this book, I had the impression of reading a fashion and promotional book. The images are of excellent quality, and the layout closer to a fashion than whisky book, very much like the latest advertisements of Cutty Sark, full of bright colours. Sometimes, these striking graphics are almost too much. The sections about the making of the blend and Captain Bill McCoy were very interesting. Not often, a company is that opened regarding the composition of their blends.  This book left me rather puzzled, since there was a strong emphasis about the quality of the malts and on the “mixability” of the whisky. So what is the point of selecting high quality whiskies when the aim seems to produce an ideal blended whisky for cocktails?

Rating: 4/5

  Caol Ila Distillery 1846-1996 - A Photographic Celebration, W. Peters & Son, 1996.

This small booklet was published in 1996 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Caol Ila distillery. This is a compilation of black and white photographs of the distillery, its life and its staff. Profits from the sales were given to local charities. The quality of the images can be considered as good for the 1990s. Most of the images are coming from private collections and a short description is given below allowing the reader to get a fairly good impression of the evolution of the distillery over time. Considering that very few photographs from the old Caol Ila distillery (pre-1974) are still in existence, this booklet has a very important value for anyone interesting in the Caol Ila distillery.

Rating: 2/5 for the quality of the images, 5/5 for its historic value.


Knockando: Man’s Art-Nature’s Mystery, Andrew Langley, Good Books for Justerini & Brooks Limited 1998.
This small booklet of 48 pages retraces the history of the Knockando distillery, one of the core malt of the J&B blend and one of the best selling malt of the group at the end of the 1990s. The history of the distillery is well documents, thanks to the excellent research of A. Langley and the text reads very well. There is a fair amount of black and white as well as colour photographs to faciliate the reading of this book. It is a well written booklet, still available at some of Diageo’s visitor centres (e.g., Cragganmore) for the ones wishing to learn more about one of the less known distillery of the Diageo group. I only wished more technical details (e.g., capacity of the stills) were provided.
Rating: 4/5


The Book of Bourbon and Other Fine American Whiskeys , Gary Regan & Mardee Haidin Regan, Chapters Publishing Ltd, 1996
Considered by some whiskey enthusiasts as the reference on Bourbon and American Whiskey, I was keen on reading this rather hefty book. With a exception of a couple of colour photographs, most illustrations are in black & white and the layout (including font) slightly old fashioned. Once you have passed these first impressions, then you will find the true value of this book: an in depth, detailed and very comprehensive book about the history and production of American whiskeys, including bourbons, as well as details about the brands, the distilleries, tasting notes as well as section about cooking with whiskey. Not being very familiar with the history of American whiskey, I found this book extremely helpful, in particular to understand the differences between the evolution of the American whiskey industry and its Scotch counterpart. In Scotland, distilleries might have changed of owner, but in the USA, brands, recipes or distilleries could be sold independently, e.g., a distiller could sell its brand, but not the distillery or a distiller could sell a distillery but not the recipe. Highly recommended.
Rating: 5/5

Copyright © 2011 All Rights Reserved