I've written nine books in 20 years, three of them updated editions of Pennsylvania Breweries, my first book. But all of my beer/brewery books are at least ten years out of date, and I would not advise you to buy them. Really.
The books you should buy are my two whiskey books. Want to know all about whiskey: all types, the history, production, how to taste it, how to make cocktails? You want Tasting Whiskey. If you're ready for the next level, my "master class" on how flavor and aroma are actually created in whiskey, you'll want my new book, Whiskey Master Class.
Whiskey Master Class (February 2020, Harvard Common Press) is my new book, about the creation of whiskey flavor and aroma. It stems from something master blender Dr. Bill Lumsden (who was good enough to write the book's foreword) said to me once. "If the barrel gives a whisky 50 percent of its flavor . . . that just means that the other 50 percent doesn’t come from the barrel." I've been looking for that full 100 percent ever since, and this book is the result. I tried to include everything that creates whiskey flavor: grain, yeast, water, malting, peat (and other smokes), distillation processes, barrel choices, warehouse construction and placement, age, climate, blending, bottling, packaging, the controversial intangibles, and of course, the people who make it. It's all in there, the stuff that makes your whiskey taste the way it does, written in my bar-side manner that will make it all easily understood. That's the plan, anyway!
Get more: pre-order!
I know it's not coming out until February, but you should consider pre-ordering it before February 18. If you do, you can get some bonus content that will only be available to people who pre-order: a couple pages on making whiskey with a beer mash that didn't make the book due to word count issues, and a dozen more illustrative tasting notes. Read all about how to pre-order and get that extra content here!
Some advance comments on Whiskey Master Class:
“As far as I’m concerned, everything Lew Bryson writes is pretty much a master class—deeply informed, as clear as white dog straight from the still, and as brightly illuminating as the August sun beating down on a rickhouse roof.”
—David Wondrich, author of Imbibe! and Punch
“Lew uses a cozy, conversational style of writing that makes the reader feel as if they are sitting in front of a quiet fire with an old friend, enjoying the perfect dram. It makes Lew’s technical explanations feel less like an impenetrable fog of science and more like a welcome footnote.”
—Todd Leopold, Leopold Bros. Distillery & Malthouse
“Like all great educators Lew wears his knowledge modestly and dispenses his deep wisdom with a deceptively light touch. His is one of the great voices in the whisky world. Listen to it.”
—Dave Broom, author of The World Atlas of Whisky
“Lew is a true whiskey guy. His many years in the whiskey business and his insatiable thirst for knowledge ensures his fans and readers continue to gain great insights and understanding. Lew makes drinking good whiskey great!”
—Colum Egan, Master Distiller Bushmills Irish Whiskey
Order Whiskey Master Class from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, independent bookstores, or Books-A-Million. Canadian readers: here's Amazon Canada and !ndigo.
Tasting Whiskey (2014, Storey Publications), despite coming out in 2014, is mostly definitely not out of date, thanks to not being review-based. It is a look at every aspect of whiskey of all kinds: history, geography, how it's made, how it tastes, whiskey cocktails, food pairing, auctions and collecting, and other whiskey information resources. And yes, despite the 'e' in Whiskey, it covers Scotch, Irish, Canadian, American (bourbon, rye, Tennessee, etc.), Japanese, and the world of craft whiskeys.
Some comments from folks in the business:
"Takes on the whiskey world in down-and-dirty details, from production to tasting. With maps, infographics and flavor profiles for iconic bottlings, alongside Bryson’s smart, straightforward text, Tasting Whiskey is both accessible to novices and compelling for the expert.”
— Wine & Spirits
"Whether you're a novice drinker or a malt connoisseur, Bryson has something to teach you — and you'll enjoy every word."
— Clay Risen, author of American Whiskey, Bourbon and Rye
"An instant whiskey classic that will make all whiskey geeks smarter than their friends."
— Fred Minnick, author of Whiskey Women
“I shouldn’t say this is the only whiskey book you need but it probably is.”
— Charles K. Cowdery, author of Bourbon, Straight
Order Tasting Whiskey from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, independent bookstores, or Books-A-Million. Canadian readers: here's Amazon Canada and !ndigo.