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99 Drams of Whiskey: The Accidental Hedonist's Quest for the Perfect Shot and the History of the Drink

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3.31  ·  Rating Details  ·  222 Ratings  ·  48 Reviews
Kate Hopkins knew there had to be more to whiskey than using it as a mixer. She had an unquenchable thirst to learn more about “the drink” and set out on an ambitious itinerary researching its history. Combining comprehensive research with informal narrative, Hopkins entertains and educates the readers on whiskey’s place in the history of the world. She visited historians ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published May 26th 2009 by St. Martin's Press (first published 2009)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 604)
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Matt
Feb 17, 2012 Matt rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
In reality, I give this book 2.5 stars, but because my wife recommended it to me, I rounded up.

I love whiskey and I jumped at the chance to read more about it in the hope of learning more. And I did learn more, it just wasn't as much as I had hoped to in 270 pages.

Hopkins does one thing really well throughout this book: she's a natural storyteller. While she tries too hard to be funny at times, the genuineness in her stories tend to balance that out.

What she does not do well is cover history. Th
...more
Leslie Hickman
I found this to be a complete delight. There are some reviews that really put this down, I have a feeling they might be a whiskey snob. I actually am not a fan of whiskey, yet after reading this book I might have to try it again. The descriptions of the whiskeys were playful and actually was giving me a memory that I could identify. Very delightful read that hinted a bit about history & culture but mainly a trip full of delightful memories as well as some self-discovery. A really fun read.
Julia
The book was okay. At times, I wish that an editor had been a little more harsh, if nothing else to remove the incorrect homonyms, sentences that were obviously rewrites of the ones following them (which hadn't been removed), and things like that. The factual/historical sections often repeated information from earlier in the book, and made causal claims that had me wincing. My main problem with the book, however, was simply the writing style. The author is a blogger - a well-known one, from what ...more
Katy Wight
Nov 05, 2009 Katy Wight rated it really liked it
Part travelogue, part history book, part shopping list.

A thoroughly enjoyable account of a journey through the distilleries of Ireland, Scotland, the US and Canada with alternating chapters on the political and social history of the drink. Scattered throughout are useful reviews and tasting notes that will ensure this book has a permanent home on my reference shelf.
Alexandra
Feb 09, 2016 Alexandra rated it liked it
This book provided a fun light-hearted introduction to whiskey. It follows two women who are seeking the history and meaning behind the ascetics of the drink. While I throughly enjoyed the first half of the book (Ireland & Scotland), I found the latter half to end American and Canadian whiskeys on a somber, biased note. This wouldn't bother me so much except the author devotes an entire chapter to "whiskey snobs" and touts philosophy such as, "Drink what you enjoy." Whether consciously or un ...more
Tim
Jan 06, 2010 Tim rated it really liked it
Kate is a very funny writer, and has done her research on whiskey. If you enjoy the drink, you'll enjoy this book. Fun descriptions of various distilleries around the world coupled with a very interesting history. Her descriptions of the whiskeys she tastes on her journeys are classic. A fun, quick read.
Tristan
Feb 08, 2010 Tristan rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
A really nice intro into the whiskey world. A mix of travel writing, tasting notes and history.

Some of the travel anecdotes are a little boring, but the research and pontificating on whiskey culture are interesting.

This book may lead to an expensive whiskey habit.
Caitlin Jellybean
Jul 19, 2012 Caitlin Jellybean rated it really liked it
99 Drams of Whiskey was so fun! I feel like I learned a lot about this most loved beverage and was inspired to pick some up myself to try it on its own, rather than in a whiskey sour as usual. It was a tad slow at times, but Hopkins was a charming narrator so it wasn't too bad.
Jyn
Jun 23, 2009 Jyn rated it really liked it
Shelves: fun
I really enjoyed this book. Unlike other books on history, this isn't a dry read. History is laced with a girl field trip spanning several countries drinking whiskey.

A very fun read and you learn a lot about the making and types of whiskey.
Darcie Kileen
Feb 04, 2010 Darcie Kileen rated it liked it
If you are an amateur whiskey drinker (raises hand), this is a good place to start. A little history + travelogue of whiskey land + descriptions of whiskey = good introduction to a drink that I want to have right now.
Carolyn
Jun 15, 2010 Carolyn rated it really liked it
Light but education travel-log/whiskey tasting journal following the history of whiskey across Great Britain, Ireland, Scotland and North America. If nothing else, I'm inspired to replicate the itinerary!
Tom
Jun 08, 2009 Tom rated it it was amazing
Shelves: booze, travel
the perfect vacation book! So we go to Ireland, Sctoland, Canada and the U.S. in search of the perfect dram! A Fun book, lots of good info. The only problem? She didn't go to Islay!
Philski
Feb 03, 2014 Philski rated it liked it
While she may have consumed 99 drams, we didn't hear about more than maybe 15 of them.

Going back and forth between historical writing, third person writing and first person writing was annoying. I understand she was trying to explain history and relate her personal travels with her friend but there was no rational breakup between the three, you could experience all three styles in the same chapter multiple times.

That being said I did take three whiskey recommendations from book. Don't expect it
...more
Rita
Aug 24, 2009 Rita rated it really liked it
What a wonderful book. Not only is it a great idea for a vacation, to visit whiskey distilleries, but it is a great history of the whiskey making and distributing.
Skot Nelson
Dec 27, 2014 Skot Nelson rated it it was ok
Not so much a Whiskey book as a book about tours of Whiskey facilities. The title is incredibly misleading: there are nowhere close to 99 drams in this book, and that's a mercy because you can get to the end more quickly as a result.

The writing here is the problem: it seems like Hopkins couldn't decide whether to write a travelogue, a memoir or a history of whiskey. She instead decides to shove all three into every chapter and the result is a mess.

The trip to Tornoto she describes is a particula
...more
Sarah
Feb 08, 2010 Sarah added it
Absolutely loved this book. Fascinating glimpse into the world of whiskey, with enough detail to keep your attention, but not overwhelm.
Brian
Sep 13, 2009 Brian rated it really liked it
Made me want to drink some Whiskey! (OK,lots of things make me want to go drink whiskey...)
John
Feb 23, 2010 John rated it it was amazing
Let's just say that this booked turned my passing taste for whiskey into an insatiable thirst.
Erica N
Apr 01, 2012 Erica N rated it really liked it
Great book to read in preparation for a trip to Ireland as well as Kentucky, Scotland...
Jan Colt
Jan 02, 2010 Jan Colt rated it really liked it
Perfect armchair travel and drinking book for a home-bound vacation.
Mike McSorley
Jul 17, 2010 Mike McSorley rated it really liked it
Fun to read. Good reading on a trip to Ireland.
Jeff
Dec 22, 2010 Jeff rated it liked it
Better than I had predicted.
Beth
Jul 29, 2015 Beth rated it it was amazing
It is amazing the things you walk by in life and don't realize the history that lies behind it. That is the case with whiskey. I walk right by it in the store not realizing the long history of it. That it got it start in Ireland and then Scotland or the other way around. Its beginnings in the USA and Canada. The difference between the types of stills, single malts and blends. To color or not to color. Drink it neat or with water. The bottom line is, whatever way you like it. This is a very well ...more
Jeremy
Jun 05, 2012 Jeremy rated it it was ok


Based on the subtitle I thought this book would be 2 parts travelogue and 1 part history, but in reality those proportions are reversed, much to the book’s detriment. For confirmation of my assumption, I asked my wife, who said that based on the cover and subtitle she would guess the book would be 70% travel and 30% history.

The 70% that’s about the history of whiskey is dry and not so well written. The 30% where the author describes the various distilleries she visits and the inserts breaking do
...more
Elizabeth Hunter
It's a little surprising how much I enjoy reading about whiskey, when it is not my favorite spirit, by a long shot. Thanks to having read a couple of other books on the subject in the past year and having visited Scotland and Ireland, much of the first half of this volume was a retread for me, but worth reading because it included more of Hopkins' blogger-style humor than the back half. That second part discussed whiskey-making in the US and Canada and was new information, although presented wit ...more
Keith
Aug 09, 2010 Keith rated it liked it
The author (Kate Hopkins) and a pal (Krysta) tour the world learning about whiskey. Or, to be more accurate, they tour the major players in the whiskey world---Ireland, Scotland, Canada and the United States. This book is the result.

The book alternates between two narratives---The first is the travelogue, with anecdotes about the many distilleries they visit, the people they meet, the whiskey they drink, and so forth. The second narrative is the history of whiskey, which Hopkins does a great jo
...more
Donald Rycroft
Dec 28, 2012 Donald Rycroft rated it really liked it
My father: do you want to read that book about whiskey?
Me: no, I am note really interested, - thinking it would be some sort of treatise.

Then I read the first few pages and was hooked.

Kate Hopkins is a good story teller. I like the advneture of discovery to get to the roots of whiskey. While I am not a whiskey drinker generally, I have been known to have a scotch or rye on occasion. This book was an excellent light read into the history and evolution of the drink. I liked the light tone.

The on
...more
Amber
Nov 11, 2010 Amber rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: No one.
Shelves: non-fiction, food
As someone who loves food and food history books this book was such a let down. Most of the history was very very dry and reworked from other books in an unimaginative way. Furthermore, her travels were repetitive, I understand the idea behind going to several different distilleries, but she didn’t reinvent the stories of them at all and made little to no mention about other people she encountered as fans of whiskey. I love travel books and I love food history books and this one is for sure one ...more
McLean
Aug 21, 2013 McLean rated it did not like it
I set this book down in frustration several times, each time eventually convincing myself I should give it another try.

In retrospect, my first instinct was right. This is an entirely worthless book. It's riddled with factual errors. And the writing is unimaginably dry, broken only by the occasional overly-forced attempt at cheap humor. But I could forgive poor writing if the book contained interesting or useful information. Sadly, this is so incredibly not the case. The author shows a complete l
...more
Ann
Dec 13, 2010 Ann rated it liked it
Fun read with a decent amount of information about the history and making of whiskey. I liked the way the book was structured, with a short bit of fact, an anecdote from the research trip and a review of the whiskey tasted. The anecdotes are fun and the whole book has a casual, friendly feel.

However the book suffers from Kate Hopkins not really doing much on her tour of the whiskey world by doing anything but going on distillery tours. Talking to a barrel maker, or even a bartender or two would
...more
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“The farmers of western Pennsylvania laid the foundation of the American whiskey industry.” 2 likes
“Whiskey is many things to many people, but at the very root of its popularity lies the story.” 0 likes
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