Book Review: Whiskypedia

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By Richard Thomas

When it comes to Scotch whisky experts, they don’t come as august or as understated as Charles MacLean. His list of honors and accomplishments is a long one, including being named as a Keeper of the Quaich in 1992 and then elevated to Master of the Quaich in 2009. Most are familiar with him from his playing the whisky expert in the 2012 film Angels’ Share (an alter-ego role, really, since MacLean essentially played himself) and through his books.

One of those is Whiskypedia, one of the strong candidates for the book every serious Scotch nerd should have on his bookshelf. As the title implies, it is an encyclopedia of Scotch whiskies, specifically single malts, so describing it is simple. The first 50 pages are spent on how to taste whisky and how it is made. The remainder of the book is an alphabetic guide to the several dozen malt distilleries in Scotland, with each entry delivering a general history, interesting factoids, and notes for the core single malt of that distillery.

Even on this basic, Scotch whisky 201 level, most of us can only command this information for a favorite short list of distilleries. That is where having a handy, concise and clearly written compendium becomes a necessary accessory for anyone making the move from casual drinker to enthusiast. Charles MacLean’s Whiskypedia has that base covered.

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