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Book Review: The Way of Whisky

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Let’s face it. Japan is a fascinating place, and so, too, Japanese whisky. As the popularity of the latter continues to skyrocket, more and more books on the subject are hitting the shelves (as evidence, see our last book review). Well-known spirits author Dave Broom was an expert on Japanese whisky long before it became trendy, and his latest effort, The Way of Whisky, showcases his decades-long passion with this fascinating spirit.

Before we even get to what’s inside, I have to say that The Way of Whisky is a sexy book. There are few, if any, whisky-related tomes that I would recommend showing off on a coffee table, but this one is the exception. Its zen-inducing photography (courtesy of photographer Koehi Take) should be appealing even to those with zero interest in whisky. But then this book is more than just a whisky book. The aim here is clearly that a reader not only learn about Japanese whisky generally but also understand its linkage to the culture and craft of Japan.

The book reads like Mr. Broom’s personal travel journal across the country’s various distilling regions, from Yamazaki in the south to Yoichi in the north. He writes with an expert voice, having clearly visited these places many times before, but the details still come across casually with plenty of humorous asides that make the book’s more serious moments all the more revelatory. While not a detail-dense discovery book, there are plenty of cultural and travel-oriented vignettes interspersed throughout its pages highlighting everything from Tokyo bar life to the seasonality of flavor. Those passages serve as a unique complement to the real whisky meat of the book which features detailed distillery histories, remarkably candid exchanges with distillers and blenders, and thought-provoking tasting notes. The Way of Whisky is an entertaining and surprisingly meditative exploration of whisky in Japan and probably does more than any other book out there to explain what makes Japanese whisky uniquely Japanese.

A / $25 [BUY IT NOW FROM AMAZON]

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Drew Beard

Drew Beard is a contributor and social media editor for Drinkhacker.

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