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David Daiches, Scotch Whisky: Its Past and Present

6/2008 DAVID DAICHES, SCOTCH WHISKY: ITS PAST AND PRESENT (LONDON: ANDRE DEUTSCH, 1969)
Usually, we review only new books. Here, though, we have reason for an exception. Daiches (1912-2005) was an interesting character — a Jewish Scotsman who was, as the New York Times described, a “prolific literary biographer, historian, essayist, critic and poet, he was a former director of the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at Edinburgh University and a professor emeritus and former dean of the School of English Studies at the University of Sussex.” This book provides a terrific introductory history to Scotch, how it is made, and how the industry evolved. The writing is superb, and Daiches unabashedly calls out the industry’s farceurs and dispels their hokum. For example, after recounting the elaborate justifications that whisky-makers provided for adding caramel to color the whisky, Daiches wrote, “I think this is nonsense, and contributes to the rubbish about whisky colour that is perpetrated in whisky advertising.”

We came across this book some months back while rooting about in a used bookstore. What a happy find. (Rating *****) You have a good shot at purchasing a used copy by surfing to here and here.

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