cover image Single Malt: A Guide to the Whiskies of Scotland

Single Malt: A Guide to the Whiskies of Scotland

Clay Risen. Quercus, $29.99 (318p) ISBN 978-1-68144-107-8

Similar in tone and approach to his 2013 American Whiskey, Bourbon & Rye, New York Times deputy op-ed editor Risen covers everything in this entertaining and immersive guide to one of the world’s favorite liquors. The volume is organized alphabetically, with Risen offering brief but specific tasting notes for more than 330 single malt whiskies (blends aren’t covered) , along with profiles of distilleries, price ranges, and ratings. What sets Risen’s work apart from similar references is the specificity of his reviews: Aarberg An Ora, for example, displays “a burst of menthol and wood char up front, followed by milk chocolate, grilled meat and sea salt.” Not all reviews are glowing: Bladnoch’s Samsara receives two out of four stars, but Risen notes that it’s “overpriced and under-polished” for the price. Risen’s entries go deep, enabling readers to find the bottle that’s right for them or a friend (recommendations for budget bottles, introductory scotches, and gifts for aficionados are included), even if it’s from Trader Joe’s, which he gives one and a half stars. Regardless of where the whiskeys fall on the single malt spectrum, Risen and his tasting panel have created a definitive reference on the topic. This is a must-have guide for novices and aficionados alike. [em](Oct.) [/em]