The Connoisseur’s Guide to Whisky by Helen Arthur – review

Wine, and French wine in particular, has a high profile but what of the Water of Life? The Connoisseur’s Guide to Whisky tells the story of the other world famous and much celebrated drink. Whisky is revered and collected in the same way as fine wine and is enjoyed for its depth and character.

Connoisseur’s Guide to Whisky This amazing volume is a comprehensive directory of over 100 whiskies, including Scotch single malts and blended whiskies. This isn’t a guide to Scotch; it encompasses whisky from the United States, Ireland and Japan. You’ll learn how to taste whisky and appreciate the differences between, say, Irish and Scotch which are many and distinct, even to my unpractised palette!

There are many who will think that the author, Helen Arthur, has the best job in the world. Her whole career has been spent in alcohol! She has penned, amongst many others, The Single Malt Whisky Companion, one of the world’s bestselling books on the subject. Whisky Water of Life won the Best Spirits Book in the World Award 2000. Both these are published by Apple Press.

Helen was made a member of the Keepers of the Quaich in 1999. This was in recognition of her work in promoting “the advancement, standing and reputation of Scotch Whisky”. I know you are too shy to ask what a Quaich might be, so I’ll put you out of your misery and tell you that it’s a special kind of shallow two-handled drinking cup or bowl. It derives from the Gaelic “cuach” meaning a cup. OK, so I looked it up!

There are more whiskies listed in The Connoisseur’s Guide to Whisky than you are likely to find in your local supermarket and each of the 100 or so entries is detailed, giving history, owners, location, contact information, colour, nose and taste, in fact there is everything you could ever want to know about any particular whisky apart from who designed the label! Helen even tells us if there is a visitor’s centre. Now there’s a thought!

The Connoisseur’s Guide to Whisky lists some unique distillations. Klochoman on Ilay produces New Spirit which is clear. The first bottling will take place in 2010 when the spirit will be four years old. Helen reckons this one shows great promise.

Helen Arthur has presented a marvellously illustrated catalogue of world whiskies that any connoisseur would love to own.

The Connoisseur’s Guide to Whisky
Author: Helen Arthur
Published by: Apple Press
Price: £12.99
ISBN 978-1-84543-275-1


Drinks book review by Chrissie Walker © 2018