Dominic Roskrow and Gavin Smith’s ‘The Whisky Opus’ (with the help of Davin de Kergommeaux and Jürgen Deibel) is a book that looks firmly to the future. And what a future. Whisky is currently at the height of its popularity with distilleries opening at a rapid rate on every continent except Antarctica.
This isn’t, however, an exhaustive account of the world’s distilleries – that would need a book twice the size – but it gives a great account of how whisky is changing in a world that can’t get enough of the stuff. It details both the established regions (e.g. Scotland, Ireland, Canada, Japan, the US) and those that are rightly starting to gain recognition in the whisky world, such as India, Switzerland, France and Australia (which gets its own 14-page section).
Whilst eschewing the usual pages’ worth to what whisky is and how is it made – although these are covered in just enough detail for the newbies – The Whisky Opus instead seeks to answer some of the pertinent contemporary questions about, for instance, where whisky is going, its challenges, how should it be drunk, what makes it unique and why oak barrels are so important. And, rather than relying on the authors to make these judgements, it asks a range of senior figures from the whisky industry, such as distillers, brand directors, and others whose job it is to predict and slake an increasing world thirst for the stuff. Anybody who’s ever used Dorling Kindersley’s reference books will surely rate them as just about the cleanest and most beautifully thought out and presented reference books on the planet. The Whisky Opus continues in that vein.
Included are selected tasting notes for some standard and more esoteric expressions, giving a taste of the kinds of whiskies currently available from each documented distillery. No doubt some will gripe about the omissions (quite a few of the smaller or more blend-oriented Scottish distilleries only get a sixth of a page each). But, in fact, such brevity allow the authors to go into more depth on, frankly, far more fascinating subjects than minor or closed Scottish distilleries. In their place are documented newer distilleries that only the hardcore whisky enthusiast will ever have heard of, such as the Roseisle, Bosch, Langatun, Belgrove and Tuthilltown distilleries. With his own ‘World Whisky Review’, there is simply no-one better to document this new whisky world than Dom, who has been promoting and fighting the corner of the smaller distillers for some time, culminating in his setting up of the Craft Distillers Association.
This is a perfect coffee table book that you can dip in and out of at will. And, as you’d expect, there are some great whisky tales here too. If you are interested in whisky, where it is at the moment and where it is going, then you need to buy it. Currently on sale from amazon for £22.66