Smith, Gavin D.
A to Z of Whisky
Wilson Publishing LTD, ISBN 1-897784-66-X, GBP 7.99, First Published 1993, 213
Pages, 21,5 x 14 cm, Paperback
WHISKY is not only the world's most consistently successful and popular drink, it is also one of the oldest having been around in one form or another since the first millennium. However, documentary records only commence in Scotland in 1494 when it was distilled as a spirit known as aqua vitae. Its growth since then has been better detailed and over the last 500 years a complete lexicon has developed in line with whisky's increasing sophistication and worldwide popularity.
The A to Z of Whisky is designed for whisky enthusiasts, lovers of Scotland, academics, journalists, amateur historians, broadcasters and researchers who need to have all the relevant facts and references about whisky close to hand. The entries cover every possible aspect of the spirit (including the American, Canadian and Irish derivatives) from aftershots to wart, and include those curious terms which often crop up in the world of whisky, such as:
angels' share: A distiller's term for what accountants in the trade more prosaically refer to as
'maturation losses', and the excise authorities allow for a maximum loss of 2 per cent per year. The term is not exclusive to the whisky business, also being current in French brandy-distilling circles. 'During maturation there is a significant reduction in the quantity and strength of the whisky from the 1200 (or 68.5 per cent alcohol by volume) at which the law requires newly-distilled spirit to be filled in casks. This is due to evaporation and the loss of alcoholic vapour through the porous wooden casks, this lost whisky being known as 'the angels' share' (Morrice, 35).
Writing in 1985, Bell observes that 'In fact, something like 20 million gallons of whisky (just imagine that as 160
million bottles!) evaporate into the atmosphere every year. Which may explain why visitors find the air of Scotland so delightfully invigorating' (p.20).
'l cannot recommend it too highly,' Charles MacLean, whisky writer and author of the Mitchell Beazley Pocket Whisky Book.
Gavin D.Smith is a freelance Journalist who specialises in horseracing and whisky. He lives in Grasmere, Cumbria.