For us, whisky is about a lot more than just the liquid in the glass. Great whisky accompanies great stories, and brings memories of good times with friends over a shared bottle of single malt. Whether it’s meaningful conversations going on late into the night, or travelling to that far-flung windswept Scottish coast to visit that out-of-the-way distillery, every whisky fan will have their own stories attached to their favourite drams. And what better way to extend your enjoyment of whisky outside of the glass and transport yourself to another place than with an excellent book?
Whether you’re looking for the perfect gift for the whisky lover in your life, or simply to round out your own collection, we’ve put together this handy list of essential whisky books that are a must read for any whisky drinker.
The World Atlas of Whisky
Dave BroomA Great Whisky Book: The World Atlas of Whisky
Whilst being a thorough source of information on roughly 200 distilleries around the world, where this book really excels is in grouping their whiskies by flavour. Dave Broom (along with help from Diageo) splits each whisky into a different flavour category, such as “fragrant and floral”, “malty and dry”, “fruity and spicy”, “rich and round” and “smoky and peaty”. This is a useful resource for both beginner and connoisseur alike, to discover new whiskies along similar lines to one previously enjoyed.
Iain BanksGreat Whisky Books: Raw Spirit
Iain M. Banks was a well known and loved science fiction writer, but he also released many non science fiction books, including this homage to whisky, without the “M.” in his name.Raw Spiritbegins with the premise of lots of whisky (which there is, and very fine stuff too) and turns into a semi-autobiography about motorcycling and driving around Scotland, living very well indeed, and life in general. There’s enough about the various distilleries he visits to keep a whisky nerd occupied, while also being a very entertaining read in its own right.
Get Raw Spirit.
Charles MacleanGreat Whisky Books: World Whisky
Whisky writer and Keeper of the Quaich Charles Maclean describes in detail over 650 global whisky brands in this compendium of world whisky. This is the ultimate reference book for every style of whisky, delving into production methods and history as well as describing the differences between categories. Another essential book for both experienced whisky drinkers and new converts.
Get World Whisky.
The Whisky Distilleries of The United Kingdom
Alfred BarnardGreat Whisky Books: The Whisky Distilleries of The United Kingdom
Along a similar vein to Raw Spirit, this book was written after Alfred Barnard attempted to visit every distillery then operating in the United Kingdom. What makes this more impressive is it was first released in 1887, when there were 167 distilleries in England, Scotland and Ireland, and travelling between distilleries then was nowhere near as easy as we might find it today. It took Barnard two years to visit all of them, and this is a wonderful snapshot into whisky history and a must read for any history buff.
A Glass Apart: Single Pot Still Whiskey
Fionnan O’ConnorGreat Whisky Books: A Glass Apart: Single Pot Still Whiskey
Irish whiskey fans will love this book, which delves deeply into the history and story of Ireland’s spirit. Fionnan O’Connor has spent many years researching, examining and teaching about Irish whiskey, and imparts this passion and knowledge in an easy-to-read way. Learn about the many ups and downs of Irish whiskey history and what makes it so special.
Get A Glass Apart.
Chasing the Dram: Finding the Spirit of Whisky
Rachel McCormackGreat Whisky Books: Chasing the Dram: Finding the Spirit of Whisky
Rachel McCormack, broadcaster, writer and panellist on The Kitchen Cabinet, injects her signature wit and warmth into this interesting mix of whisky related anecdotes, history, distilleries, and a topic not widely written about - how to use whisky in food. Scotland has a fantastic foodie culture and world class whisky, and yet it’s not often we see the two mixed. Read it for the mouth-watering recipes, and keep reading for the infectious passion with which McCormack writes.
Get Chasing the Dram.
Dominic RoskrowGreat Whisky Books: Whisky Japan
A comprehensive guide of everything related to Japanese whisky. Dominic Roskrow pulls back the curtain to a category of whisky that is, at once, both fiendishly sought-after and notoriously misunderstood. Learn about the history and genesis of whisky production in Japan, the key players and the smaller, niche producers, and who is doing what where, with beautiful photographs and illustrations. There’s even a travel guide complete with bar recommendations and cocktail recipes.
Get Whisky Japan.
Great Books for Whisky Lovers
Do you have any favourite whisky books that aren’t on this list? We’d love to hear about them!
And, if you like exploring unique whisky, consider joining the whisky tasting club. Or, if you're looking for the perfect gift for a whisky lover, why not add on one of our whisky boxes for them to sip along while they read.
We write to our members a few times a month, and we try to make the emails interesting for any whisky fan. You can get those emails bysigning up here.