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The Bronfmans: The Rise and Fall of the House of Seagram, Nicholas Faith, Thomas Dunne Books, 2006
This book retraces the success story of Sam(uel) Bronfmans, the most successful whisky businessman of the 20th Century, as well as the fall of the company he created: Seagram. Mr Sam started in the Hotel Business, as all his family, before turning into the whisky business 1910, where he became quickly successful thanks to his acute business flair and by smuggling whisky first within the Canadian states and then latter with the USA during the prohibition. The prohibition made him immensely rich, acquired distilleries, bottling facilities and created several brands such as 7-Crown. In 1940, he expanded further his activities in the wine spirit and expanded its whisky activities to the next level when he acquired Chivas in 1949. Seagram continued to expand and prosper under his management. However, starting with his son Edgard, the next generations of Bronfmans did not have the same business skills as Sam and the situations started to decline, before Edgar Jr triggered the fall of the house of Seagram when he decided to move full speed in the films and electronic media business in the 1990s, by acquiring MCA/Unversal and then merging with the megalomaniac Jean-Marie Messier to create Vivendi. This book is very well written, with an excellent investigational journalistic work of Nicholas Faith and if you want to learn something about the whisky business during the prohibition and/or about the House of Seagram, then the first part of this book will definitely interest you.
Rating: 4/5


Scotch whisky: As tasted by Bill Simpson [and others], etc, Macmillan ed. 1974.
Published in 1974, this is amongst the first book about whisky with coloured illustrations. Covering a wide range of subjects, from production to tasting and cooking, this book offers a comprehensive view about whisky. Each chapter was written by a different author and expert, therefore the quality of the different chapter is variable. The chapter about blending by Donald Mackinlay was particularly well written, while the chapter about tasting by Hugh MacDiarmid was rather disappointing since over the whole chapter, no a single line about the taste of whiskies or how to taste them was present.
Out of date, this book is of limited interest to the modern whisky enthusiast. However, the numerous photographs from the early 1970s illustrate the changes in production and processes over the last 35 years.
Rating: 3/5


Peat, Smoke and Spirit: The Story of Islay and its Whiskies, Andrew Jefford, Headline Book Publishing, 2004.

This book is a portrait of Islay and its distilleries. Superbly written, highly addictive, the 400+ pages reads as smoothly as an Islay single malt. If you plan a visit distilleries in Islay, this is a must to have. Even if you cannot go there, you will travel to Islay, visit the distilleries, feeling the magic atmosphere of Islay and being part of the history of Islay, and its inhabitants, the Illeach, just by reading it in your armchair. Probably the best written whisky book. Try to find some space on your bookshelf for the remarquable work of Andrew Jefford. Simply magical, even if illustrations are very scarce.

Rating: 5/5


Scotch and Water, Neil Wilson, Lochar Publishing, 1985.

First book of Neil Wilson, leading to Lochar Publishing, this is a rather unknown whisky book. Maybe not as lyric as the book of A. Jefford (see above), it is richly illustrated by old photographic archives and provides some very interesting information about the history of the distilleries of Islay, Jura, Skye and Tobermory at a time of crisis for the whisky industry (1985). A remarquable investigatonial work has been provided by N. Wilson, not only about the distilleries but also about these beaufiful Hebridean Isles. A highly recommended book to anyone interested in the Island whiskies.


Rating: 5/5


Port Ellen, Distillery and Maltings, John A. Thomson, Diageo, 2007
This little booklet of 20 pages covers the history of the Port Ellen Distillery and Maltings, as well an introduction on the maltings process. The history of the distillery and the maltings is succinct, illustrated by a few photographic archives from Diageo, but will appeal to any Port Ellen aficionados.  This booklet was given to the visitors of the Port Ellen maltings during the previous editions of the Islay Whisky Festival (Feis Ile) and therefore availability is very limited.  It would be much appreciated if Diageo would decide to make their publications (e.g., DCL Distilleries of Brian Spiller) more widely available .
Rating: 4/5


The Eight Ages of Justerini’s 1749-1965,  Denis Wheatey, The Dolphin Publishing Co. Ltd. 1965
Justerini and brooks, the London firm is known by the whisky drinker for the J&B Rare whisky, one of the most best selling whisky. Little is known about the whisky and I was hoping to find historical information about the history of this whisky brand. Unfortunately, J&B rare is only mentioned in one single sentence on this book. Furthermore, very little information about the firm is provided, but a lot about the history of Britain between 1749-1965. The book is correctly written, but without much details. It is difficult to find less interesting books about whisky.
Rating: 0/5


Whisky in Your Pocket: A New Edition of Wallace Milroy's the Original Malt Whisky Almanac, Wallace Millroy & Neil Wilson, Waverley book, 2010

When I purchased older versions of the Malt Whisky Almanac by W. Millroy, it was mainly for the labels present in the book in order to date some old whisky bottles, without really reading the content. It was time to correct this.As mentioned by the author, this is a beginner book and the objective is well met. This book is compact, presenting a concise but very well written description of the whisky process as well as well as the products from different regions of Scotland and Northern Ireland. The layout is very pleasant and the printing quality excellent and more detailed than the previous editions. Every distillery is presented on 1 page as before, but slightly more detailed.
If you are looking for a well-written and compact beginner guide, then you might consider this one for your future purchase.
Rating: 5/5


The Best Collection of Malt -Part Two Whiskies and Whiskeys, Valentino Zagatti, Formaggrafica Edizioni, 2004 (EN/IT)

This is the second volume, complementing the first volume of V. Zagatti with his most recent acquisitions, with mainly bottles from the 1990s, as well as whiskey(s). Much less pages and less structured than the first volume.
Rating: 3/5 (for the general public) and 4/5 for the whisky collector.


Malt Whisky Yearbook 2011, 6th Edition, Ingvar Ronde, MagDig Media Ltd, 2010.
Same authors as the 2010 edition, same numbers of page, same concept and structure (presentation of the distilleries, tasting notes, Distillery Manager’s interview, review of the year, articles by leading whisky specialists, etc), so why change a winning formula?  If you want to stay up to date with all the changes in the industry on a yearly basis. This is the one. I really like it and even if the distilleries did not changes a lot over the last 12 months, the profile is changed every year, so I keep reading it from the cover page to page 274.
Rating: 5/5


The House of Sanderson, Ross Wilson, Wm Sanderson, 1963
Written by one of the first whisky writer, this book retraces the history of the Leith whisky firm Wm Sanderson Ltd, known for its world famous brand “Vat 69”. This book reads well and as indicated by the title, focused on the House of Sanderson. Unfortunately for the whisky enthusiast, information about the distilleries owned by the Sanderson firm (e.g., Royal Lochnagar, Glenkinchie, Glengarioch) does not exceed more than a few lines or paragraph. On the other hand, mention to VAT69 is numerous, but rather superficial. In conclusion, it is a well-written book, but if you are interested about the whisky side of the House of Sanderson, the level of details might disappoint you.
Rating: 3/5

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