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Whiskey: A Global History

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  83 ratings  ·  16 reviews
A Manhattan or a Sazerac; neat, on the rocks, or with a splash of soda—no matter how it’s served up, whiskey is synonymous with the poet’s inspiration and the devil’s spirit. Be it bourbon, rye, corn, Irish, or Scotch, whiskey has an infamous and celebrated history from a sometimes lethal, herb-infused concoction to a high-quality, meticulously crafted liquor.

Hardcover, 144 pages
Published October 15th 2010 by Reaktion Books (first published 2009)
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Apr 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, food
Park of Reaktion's Edible series. Like all the books in the series, it's a brief, but fairly comprehensive history of whiskey. I've read a longer and more in depth book about whiskey, and if that's what you're looking for, this one won't satisfy. But if you just want a brief introduction to the subject, this is the book for you. And since I'll take pretty much any book about any foodstuff, brief or in depth, I loved it. It's nicely illustrated, too, which makes it a nice book just to look throug ...more
Aug 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011, own, cocktails, whiskey, 2016
A great overview of how whiskey is made, and the spirit's history in the major whiskey-producing nations (Scotland, Ireland, and the United States). It has an easy, conversational tone and tries to cover the subject in very broad strokes--it is NOT a tasting guide; it is NOT a guide to Scotches; it is NOT about how to distill your own. But if you're just looking for a bird's eye view of whiskey and how to explain the difference between bourbon and rye, then this is the book for you.
Colin Dodds
Aug 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
Kevin Kosar's Whiskey: A Global History is a definitive guide to the spirit-how it's made, where it comes from, its mysterious history, how it shaped the identity and destiny of nations. It will tell you everything about whiskey except what, exactly, it did to your twenties. The book is a masterful guide to whiskies of all sorts, scotch, bourbon, Irish, Canadian and American. It is detailed and informative without being pedantic, and entertaining without straying off topic. From the cloudy parti ...more
Tara Brabazon
Oct 17, 2014 rated it liked it
This is a solid contribution to the Reaktion Books "Edible Series." While the Champagne volume is more successful, Kosar is able to review the distinctive, but also intertwined, histories of whiskey in Scotland, Ireland, Canada and the United States. Recent histories of micro-distilleries are also addressed.

The alignment between the wets and the dries - the drinkers and the regulators - is carefully considered in this short history, along with the impact of both prohibition and regulation.
Jan 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
A very quick and interesting read, in fact you can probably consume this in the same time it takes to enjoy a nice scotch.

Kosar, doesn't go the typical route of describing tastes or, as he says, giving into the PR from large distilleries of the virtues of whisky. He takes times to break out the different processes and ingredients of whisky by geography --America, Scottish, and Irish.

Great introductory read.
Nov 29, 2013 rated it liked it
Short, simple, and to the point, this book gives a quick crash course in the history of whiskey. Nothing spectacular here, but I still learned a few things in it. Read it if you want a place to start out in your quest to understand whiskey.
Luke Alonso
Jan 12, 2014 rated it liked it
Fun and light history of whiskey. I learned a few things and picked up some extra knowledge to drop in bar conversations.
nice smaill overview of Whiskey. Kosar talks about how it started, how it is made and the main Whiskey producing countries. I think I will have a wee dram or two with it!
William  Owens
A Quick Read

This was a quick read but lacked depth.There was little mention of taste and would have been a better read if the author had included some personal information about preference.
Collin Huber
Feb 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Kosar provides a simple yet thorough overview of whiskey, both its history and development. Rather than focus on one region or style, he devotes individual chapters to Scotch, Irish whiskey, and American whiskey. In addition, he includes chapters describing the process and different styles of whiskey. A helpful and enjoyable read.
Kevin Kosar
May 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
Shelves: written-by-me
“‘Whiskey,’ at 144 pages, is the perfect primer for the person who wants to quickly learn the basics.”—Jason Wilson, Washington Post

“Kevin Kosar might be the most thoughtful boozehound you’ll ever meet.”—Todd Kliman, Washingtonian magazine

“This is a great book for the someone looking for information and the history of whiskey. It is a very informative and an entertaining read for both the casual and serious student of distilled beverages…. I think it would be a great book for teaching people abo
Jan 31, 2013 rated it it was ok
This is a very basic history of whiskey that, while interesting, is very macro in scope. The editing is poor and distracting - typos exist and some writing is labored when it doesn't have to be. The net effect is that it was hurried.
Feb 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is a very good primer for readers just getting into whisky. It does not go into very much detail on any topic, but still contains plenty that is of interest. It is also highly readable and goes fast.
Nicholas Kalogeresis
Jun 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
Nice book- good overview of the whiskey world if you're new to this spirit. Nice writing style.
John Orcutt
Dec 30, 2010 rated it really liked it
Fantastic little overview of the origins of whiskey - and why there were no "good old days" for the beverage. Who knew that politics could so dramatically shape what we drink today.
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I am the author of: Ronald Reagan and Education Policy (2011); Failing Grades: The Federal Politics of Education (2005), Whiskey: A Global History (2010), and Moonshine: A Global History (2017).

I have written for The Weekly Standard magazine, New York Times, Washington Monthly magazine, Washington Post, Public Administration Review, and various journals and newspapers.

I blog and edit at AlcoholRev

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