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. In the author’s own 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.”
If you’re intimidated by the world of whisky appreciation and want a whimsical crash-course, or if you’re trying to think of a fun gift (Last-minute Christmas gift? Yes!) for a whisky lover who doesn’t take it all too seriously, this is an excellent purchase. If you think this will teach you about whisky via scent, you may be disappointed.
The book, as its introduction insists, is not a “best of” list, nor any kind of awards show in print. Mr. Buxton has chosen whiskies that he believes every lover of brown spirits should, at least once in their life, sample.
…that makes it my “desert island” whisky book, and the one I would recommend anchor any whisky lover’s library. If Dave Broom’s World Atlas of Whisky were a dram, I would definitely award it with a “Must Have” rating.
It is also not a deep-dive in any area of whisky appreciation, and thus will not appeal to enthusiasts who already know a good deal about the making and enjoyment of whisky. However, as a coffee-table book or introductory text about Scotch whisky, it is an excellent resource for beginners or casual drinkers, and the photography alone is a good reason to flip through the book a few times.
At its best, “Wort Worms & Washbacks” gives you the impression that you’re sitting across a table from John, sharing a few drams and talking about the “good old days,” and who could ask for more from such a book?