cover image American Whiskey, Bourbon & Rye

American Whiskey, Bourbon & Rye

Clay Risen. Sterling Epicure, $24.95 (298p) ISBN 978-1-4027-9840-5

New York Times editor Risen (A Nation on Fire: America in the Wake of the King Assassination) turns his attention to domestic whiskey and its many incarnations in this accessible and useful reference. Opening with an overview of the spirit and its variations (all bourbons are whiskey, but not all whiskeys are bourbons, for example), Risen explains the distillingprocess, the aging and how it affects the flavor of the end result, as gives a brief history of whiskey in America. He then reviews more than 200 American brands currently on the market, ranging from staples such as Jack Daniel’s and Jim Beam to boutique bourbons such as Black Maple Hill Small Batch Bourbon, one of the few to receive all four stars from Risen. He offers takes on the excellent whiskies, and doesn’t hold back while describing the bad (“Drinking George Dickel No 8, I can’t get away from the thought of Robitussin poured over cornflakes”), lending authority to his assessment of an overwhelming number of choices. The book will help whiskey lovers single out the good-to-great, but Risen also offer suggestions for lower tier whiskeys like Evan Williams that are perfectly fine for mixed drinks. (Nov.)