101 Whiskies to Try Before You Die

Ian Buxton’s new book is nigh!
“101 Whiskies to Try Before You Die”

A fun and accessible guide to completing an education in whiskey from a man who knows his hooch.

Avoiding the deliberately obscure, the ridiculously limited, and the absurdly expensive, whiskey expert Ian Buxton has scoured the shelves of the world’s whiskey warehouses to recommend an eclectic selection of old favorites, stellar newcomers, and mystifyingly unknown drams that simply have to be drunk.

This witty, focused, and practical guide is not an awards list or a list of the 101 “Best” whiskies in the world in the opinion of some self-appointed whiskey guru. It’s simply a guide to 101 whiskies that enthusiasts really must seek out and try—love them or hate them—to complete their whiskey education.

What’s more, it’s both practical and realistic as it cuts through the clutter, decodes the marketing hype, and gets straight to the point; whether from India or America, Sweden or Ireland, Japan or the hills, glens, and islands of Scotland—here are the 101 whiskies that every whiskey enthusiast needs to try.

Pre-order now.

Hans Offringa Reviews 99 Drams of Whiskey

Listening to people who are passionate about and understand the finer nuances of flavors and aromas is always an enjoyable pastime for me. When they write about it with panache and humor, taking you on a virtual tour in their perception of the world of whisky, it is even more agreeable. When you have turned the last page, you crave for more.

This is what I felt after having finished 99 Drams of Whiskey, subtitled The Accidental Hedonist’s Quest for the Perfect Shot and the History of the Drink.

Kate Hopkins is a celebrated food blogger and columnist. Her website Accidentalhedonist.com bears testimony to that. Time Magazine considered it one of their 50 Coolest Websites. I am glad she decided to dedicate an entire book to my favorite drink, instead of using her blog, releasing snippet by snippet over time.

On the dust jacket’s blurb Kevin Erskine, aka Mr. Scotchblog, nails down this book perfectly in one sentence, “part travelogue, part distillery guide, and part history book.” It seems the author slips in and out of history as easily as she and her spiky travel companion slip in and out of planes and cars on their quest for the perfect shot.

Seemingly, since the historical parts are very well researched. The avid whisky reader might recognize many facts, but the way in which the author intertwines Irish, Scottish, Canadian and American whisky history is unique and a dram good read.

The tasting notes, placed in separate insets throughout the book, illustrate Kate Hopkins’ vast knowledge about flavors and her experience in verbalizing what our senses discern. The way in which she characterizes the drams tasted is sometimes wickedly funny. The travelogue part of the book serves literally as a means of transport between places visited, history retold, people interviewed and whisky savored.

Any complaints? Well, due to tight planning and bad weather in Oban, the travel companions couldn’t make it to Islay. I would have loved to read about encounters with Jim McEwan and Mark Reynier or one of the other great storytellers on that tiny but influential whisky island. Kate, please go back, don’t limit yourself to Islay but visit the other island distilleries as well. Then write a sequel: Savoring the Scottish Whisky Isles. Oh, and don’t forget to take Krysta with you!
Hans Offringa

Whisky & Jazz

Hans Offringa let me know over the weekend that his new book, “Whisky & Jazz” has been released. I’m looking forward to picking this up…as it brings 2 of my favourite things together.

It could only be better if it were to be called “Whisky & Jazz & Pizza”.

Jazz was born in a whisky barrel. — Artie Shaw

The Charleston Mercury and its parent company, the Evening Post Publishing Company, are pleased to announce the publication of Whisky & Jazz by Hans Offringa. Mr. Offringa, an international whisky expert, wrote Whisky & Jazz in Charleston with the editorial assistance of Jack McCray, noted jazz historian, jazz columnist for the Post and Courier and author of Charleston Jazz (Arcadia, 2007).

Hans Offringa ingeniously connects ten famous jazz musicians with ten excellent single-malt whiskies. The result is a collection of ten unique blends, each carrying a blue note as well as a tasting note, presented in a “sippin’ and tasting guide. The historical context in which jazz and whisky are placed makes this a publication that will appeal not only to whisky aficionados but also to those who love history and (jazz) music.

The images in the book are primary the work of Gijs Dragt, an award-winning designer and artist from the Netherlands. Mr. Dragt designed Whisky & Jazz and took the photographs of Scottish countryside and several of its distilleries. He and Mr. Offringa have worked together as a team on books and journal articles. The collaboration is part of a 30-year-old friendship.

Gijs Dragt paints stories with his camera, whereas Hans Offringa uses words to tell the legends and myths behind distilleries that make the King o’ Drinks. Together they make beautiful books, matured in friendship like a single-malt whisky takes time to mature in the cask.

The book touches many cultures. In particular, it honors the Deep South’s African-American contributions to creating jazz as the American music. It also showcases the European connections to whisky and the artistic elements of the man who has captured all of this in photographs.

This is Mr. Offringa’s second book in a series on how the senses mix with whisky; the first was A Taste of Whisky. He is the author of more than a dozen books, most about whisky. Widely sought as a speaker, he and his wife, Becky, write a fortnightly column for the Mercury as “The Whisky Couple.” The Charleston Mercury is the only newspaper in the world to have a regular column solely devoted to the enjoyment of whisky, so it is most appropriate that the Mercury is marketing and publishing Mr. Offringa’s book.

Since the Atlantic Ocean forms in the cultural capital of the South, Charleston, shouldn’t the ultimate pairing of American music and European whisky be published in the Holy City? The Mercury thinks so, too. In addition to being available at many retail outlets in the Lowcountry, the book is for sale online via www.charlestonmercury.com.

Jazz is not background music, it sets the mood, it opens the mind. A glass of malt does the same. So does this book. Thanks, Hans!Dave Broom, whisky journalist

Beer Hunter, Whisky Chaser

A new book is being released on March 27th featuring  writings about beer and whisky to honour the memory of the inimitable Michael Jackson.

Many beer lovers considered Michael as one of the foremost authorities on the topic – while an equal number of whisky drinkers considered Michael to be THE authority on whisky. Michael was arguably the most influential writer on beer and whisky in recent memory.

The book is being published by Classic Expressions and includes contributions from contributions by Stephen Beaumont, Julie Bradford, Dave Broom, Ian Buxton, John Hansell, Charles MacLean, Hans Offringa, F Paul Pacult, Roger Protz, Lucy Saunders, Conrad Seidl, Gavin D Smith, and Carolyn Smagalski.
All of the writers contributed the work without fee and all profits from the sale of the book go to benefit the Parkinson’s Disease Society of the UK.

Renowned Drinks Writers Collaborate on Charity Project to Honour Michael Jackson
Leading international writers on beer and whisky have joined together in a unique project to celebrate the enduring legacy of celebrated drinks writer Michael Jackson (65), who died in August 2007 having suffered from Parkinson’s disease for over a decade.  They have each donated a piece of new writing to Beer Hunter, Whisky Chaser that will be launched on 27 March 2009 in London to raise much-needed funds for the Parkinson’s Disease Society of the UK.

An excerpt from the introduction by Ian Buxton:

The news of Michael Jackson’s untimely death spread rapidly through the worlds of whisky and beer. Amongst those who knew him there was a sense of shock, but scarcely of surprise: his illness, borne with stoic dignity for so long, had visibly progressed. The deterioration of his health was painfully obvious and, on several occasions prior to his death, he had seemed gravely ill.
So news of his death was a shock, but not a surprise. Within an hour the plan for this book had formed, yet I did not act for some while on the initial impulse. There were others more qualified, I reasoned, others who knew Michael better, others with greater resources. I knew also that there would be other plans: a Memorial Service, perhaps, and commemorative bottling of his favourite beers or whiskies.


Michael suffered from the debilitating effects of this dreadful disease with grace and true Yorkshire grit for many years. It is fitting, then, that all profits from the publication of this book will be donated to the Parkinson’s Disease Society of the UK. To this end, I add particular thanks to you, the purchaser, for buying this book. You may never see the good that this has done, but it is appreciated and valued more than you can know.


Whatever your tipple, savour it with the knowledge that Michael Jackson is by your side – a reliable, robust and modest guide whose memory and influence lives on.

John Hansell, drinks writer and publisher of Malt Advocate tells me:

Michael was my mentor. I wouldn’t have chosen this career path if it weren’t for him. He was also my friend. He stayed at our house. He loved our cat (more than I ever will!). After press events we would sneak out to a local pub and have a pint or two together and just chat about anything. I miss him dearly.

Gavin D. Smith is one of the world’s leading (and prolific) whisky writers with 19 books, he’s also contributing editor of Whisky Pages:

It’s both a pleasure and a privilege to have been asked to contribute to this volume of essays. I feel I’m in distinguished company! It seems a great way of commemorating Michael and celebrating his immense contribution to drinks writing. I think he would have liked the idea of a book of new material such as this, and there’s a marvelous variety of topics and styles for the reader to enjoy.

Stephen Beaumont, Beer writer and scribe of World of Beer adds:

I thought it a great honour to be invited to contribute to this book, and was particularly happy to be allowed to expound upon a topic — the contextualization of taste — which I think Michael would have appreciated. Electing to publish a collection of writings on beer and whisky, rather than memories of Michael, was also a stroke of brilliance, I thought.I have not as yet seen all the essays, but I certainly know or know of all the authors, and expect that “Beer Hunter, Whisky Chaser” is going to make for some damn good reading!

The book will be available on March 27th (Michael Jackson’s birthday) on the Classic Expressions site and soon at leading whisky retailers, independent brewers and other outlets, priced at £12.99 (UK), €14.99 (Europe) and $18.99 (USA).

The Winners of the Rebus Book Package

A few hundred entries. 5 winners. I’ve already sent your names & addresses to the publisher who will send the books directly to you.


Roberto Di Fazio
Ontario, Canada

Dan Lehmann

Owen Salava
Alberta, Canada

Dave Bessom
Virginia, US

Cory Booth
Minnesota, US

Last Day to sign up for the Free Books Drawing

The title says it all…


You have until 11:59 pm (EST) to email your interest. Sorry. If you indicated interest in the Comments, you are not eligible.

(People have to learn to read :))

Ulf Buxrud's Japanese Whisky

Andrew Webb, in the comments of another story, asked about the availability of Ulf Buxrud’s new book.

I have a copy and will review shortly, but here is a message from Ulf on the best place to buy…

The book has been out for a while. Latest public presentation occurred at the Stockholm Whisky Trade Show and Paris Whisky Live.

Sukhinder (Whisky Exchange) is adding the book to his web page for book orders. It took a bit longer than expected. Should be up next week.

For order via Amazon;  go to Amazon.com  NOT I repeat NOT Amazon.uk or other local Amazon pages. The price is US dollars 60.


Malt Whisky Yearbook – '09 edition

The 4th edition of what I have referred to as “an indispensable guide – attractive, well done and packed with information” is just about to be published. If it’s as good as past years (and I have no reason to believe it won’t be) it should be at the top of your Whisky book purchases again.

Whisky enthusiasts all over the world look forward  to the Malt Whisky Yearbook every autumn. It is now time for the fourth edition – Malt Whisky  Yearbook 2009. The Yearbook is again fully revised and packed with new and up-to-date information  on whisky distilleries from all over the world. Once again, distinguished whisky profiles such as Charles MacLean, David Stirk, Gavin Smith, Ian Buxton,  Dominic Roskrow and Walter Schobert contribute with initiated features penned exclusively for the Yearbook.

Malt Whisky Yearbook 2009 lists hundreds of whisky shops, whisky sites and new bottlings. A comprehensive summary of the whisky year that was and all the latest statistics is also included.

A new feature for this year are nearly 200 tasting notes by two well-known whisky profiles, David Stirk and Dominic Roskrow, describing the flavour of single malts from all working distilleries in Scotland and Ireland.

Finally, with more than 500 colour photographs (most of them new since the last edition), Malt
Whisky Yearbook 2009 is as much an essential reference guide as a book to read for pleasure.

Due to be published on October 1, 2008, and should be avaiolable on Amazon once again.
Number of pages; 276
ISBN 978-0-9552607-4-2
Recommended retail price in UK; £12.95
Contact; ingvar.ronde@magdig.com

Free Books? Yes Indeedy.

I was recently contacted by Hachette books who asked if I’d be interested in giving away five of the  John Rebus books by Ian Rankin.

What’s the Scam? Nothing. I am NOT getting paid to do this, nor is this a paid placement (But I DID get my own set of books), I just like you guys to share in the wealth. I THINK they are trying to promote the books in the New World, so this offer is just open to those living in Canada & America.

What’s the connection to The Scotch Blog? This month, they are publishing EXIT MUSIC, the last book in the Rebus series.

Rankin is a Scottish writer whose main character, Inspector John Rebus is one of the most well-known characters in the UK. He’s also a great drinker on top of being a solver of crimes. Every book has multiple scenes in his favorite bar: The Oxford Bar in Edinburgh. Brits are so mad about him that they have an Inspector Rebus walking tour in Edinburgh, there’s a TV show, etc. He’s a bit less well-known in the U.S.  over here.

SO, in honor of Rebus’ exit and his love of the finer things in life, I wonder if you would be interested in hosting a giveaway of some of Rankin’s books on TheScotchBlog.com.

What’s the catch? Nothing. Send me your name and address. I’ll pick 5 of you randomly, pass your details onto the publisher, and the books will show up at your door. Each of the 5 winners will receive ALL of the books below.

PLEASE NOTE: I will not give any information about anyone but the winners to the publisher. The “lottery” goes until September 30th, at which point I’ll do the drawing.

About Ian Rankin & John Rebus

Ian Rankin has been writing about Detective John Rebus since 1985. Here’s your chance to win five Rebus novels, including the final installment in the Rebus series, EXIT MUSIC. For 20 facts about John Rebus, visit: http://www.hachettebookgroupusa.com/5E96883746864A399F40D454E9F129F3.htm

When a former soldier and recluse murders two 17-year-old students at a posh Edinburgh boarding school, Rebus immediately suspects there is more to the case than meets the eye. Army investigators show up to snoop around the scene of the crime, and links between the killer and a local group of “Goths” (a morbid clique of black-clad teens who listen to heavy metal music) begin to surface. But just as Rebus finds himself in the thick of the murder inquiry, he’s threatened with suspension from the police force: a man who had been menacing his partner and friend, Detective Sergeant Siobhan Clarke, dies in the same house fire that has left Rebus with horrible, painful burns. Rebus is immediately suspected of foul play. Now Rebus is faced with two harrowing missions: He must get to the root of the boarding school killing even as he tries to clear his own name.


Inspector John Rebus has confronted Edinburgh’s most hardened criminals, its bloodiest crime scenes, and its most dangerous backstreets–but nothing could prepare him for what he finds on Fleshmarket Alley.
In the city’s red-light district, men go to live out their fantasies, and women with no other choice sell their bodies to make a buck. It’s a neighborhood of lost inhibitions, scruples, and dreams. In its seediest clubs, refugees seeking asylum in Scotland are subjected to the whims of the most ruthless characters in the crime world–men Rebus knows all too well.

With his singular knack for making crime captivating, Ian Rankin delivers his most explosive mystery to date, fulfilling the promise millions of readers in the United Kingdom and America have seen throughout his accomplished career.



Like Edinburgh inspector John Rebus, the resurrection men of the title
are treading on thin ice–they’ve all been sent to a short course at
the Scottish Police College because they’ve failed in some way,
generally “an issue with authority.” Rebus has been known to have
issues of that nature before, which only boosts his credibility with
the other cops in attendance, suspected by their bosses of being on the
wrong side of the fence, on the take, or even guilty of murder on
several previous occasions. The dour Inspector’s agenda aims to bring
the higher-ups proof of the so-called Wild Bunch’s nefarious
activities; in the process, his own conduct in the old case he and his
college classmates must rework and revisit comes under scrutiny. A
solid police procedural whose protagonist, the hero of 14 other titles
in this internationally acclaimed serie, continues to grow on readers who are just discovering him.


The leaders of the free world descend on Scotland for an international conference, and every cop in the country is needed for front-line duty…except one. John Rebus’s reputation precedes him, and his bosses don’t want him anywhere near Presidents Bush and Putin, which explains why he’s manning an abandoned police station when a call comes in. During a preconference dinner at Edinburgh Castle, a delegate has fallen to his death. Accident, suicide, or something altogether more sinister? And is it linked to a grisly find close to the site of the gathering? Are the world’s most powerful men at risk from a killer? While the government and secret services attempt to hush the whole thing up, Rebus knows he has only seventy-two hours to find the answers.


It’s late in the fall in Edinburgh and late in the career of Detective Inspector John Rebus. As he is simply trying to tie up some loose ends before his retirement, a new case lands on his desk: a dissident Russian poet has been murdered in what looks like a mugging gone wrong.
Rebus discovers that an elite delegation of Russian businessmen is in town, looking to expand its interests. And as Rebus’s investigation gains ground, someone brutally assaults a local gangster with whom he has a long history.
Has Rebus overstepped his bounds for the last time? Only a few days shy of the end to his long, controversial career, will Rebus even make it that far?


12 days of Scotchmas: Classic Expressions


Ian Buxton & Neil Wilson want to offer The Scotch Blog readers a 10% on either (or both) of the 2 published Classic Expressions books:

Reminiscences of a Gauger
by Joseph Pacy (1873)

With a new introduction and commentary by Ian Buxton

Published price (copies 76 – 300) : £50 (plus carriage)

» More Information about ‘Reminiscences of a Gauger’

Smuggling in the Highlands
by Ian MacDonald (1914)

With a new introduction and commentary by Gavin D. Smith

Published price (copies 76 – 300) : £50 (plus carriage)

» More Information about ‘Smuggling in the Highlands’

To receive the discount:

  • You must pay using PayPal
  • Enter the promotional code FOKE when prompted on PayPal, which will give you the discount
    • Though the individual book pages say the price is £50, when you
      go to the payment box (PayPal) you will see the price reduced to £45.
  • The code will work until December 31st, so it’s a great way to spend your Christmas gift money.


This is NOT a paid promotion.