Author Fionnán O’Connor has assembled a beautiful coffee table style hardcover book entirely about the magic of Irish single pot still (previously called Pure Pot Still) whiskey. Long-time readers will be familiar with my high regard for such whiskies, especially Redbreast 12 and Green Spot. The book is lavishly photographed, runs 256 pages, and is of sturdy, professional construction.
Fionnán (aka Finn), a native of Ireland, served as brand ambassador for Bushmills under Diageo, and has taught and consulted widely on whiskey. In fact, Finn is indirectly responsible for my own discovery of the joy of whiskey. My brother-in-law took Finn’s The History and Appreciation of Whiskey elective at Berkeley, and then shared his newfound love of whiskey with me. Man, where was that class when I was in school?
The book covers the appreciation of whiskey (in general) with a nod towards the particulars of Irish single pot still. It then goes into deep detail about the production and maturation of whiskey as it pertains to the unique process of this Irish national treasure. (If you didn’t already know, single pot still Irish whiskey is made from a mash of various grains including malted barley which is distilled exclusively in a copper pot still. This makes it similar, but different, to Scottish single malt whisky.) Following this is a spotlight of each single pot still whiskey produced for the retail market (including independent bottlings and one-offs). These are divided by distillery and include lengthy tasting notes (no ratings) and information about the provenance and availability of each. In the author’s words,
“It’s worth repeating that there aren’t really that many of them. What’s left from the past can be difficult to find and, although the future looks brighter than it has in a century, what’s bottled at present is still relatively slim. … that’s also why this book seemed worth writing in the first place and I can only hope that that same narrowness of scope might offer me a little more room to give each of these tipples the attention they deserve.”
The majority of the book is a scholarly analysis of the history of the spirit and the steps that led to its revival and promising future as a category unto itself, with a nod to new distilleries in the planning or construction stages.
Despite only having 18 reviews on Amazon (17 five-star and 1 four-star), the book has sold out its first run. Amazon US and local retailers may still have some copies available. The second print run in 2017 will be paperback, so if you love or are interested in Irish single pot still whiskey and want the definitive work on the subject in hardcover, now’s your last chance. Sláinte!