101 Whiskies to Try Before You Die is a whisky guide with a difference. It is not an awards list. It is not a list of the 101 'best' whiskies in the world in the opinion of a self-appointed whisky guru. It is simply a guide to the 101 whiskies that enthusiasts must seek out and try in order to complete their whisky education.
Avoiding the deliberately obscure, the ridiculously limited and the absurdly expensive, whisky expert Ian Buxton recommends an eclectic selection of old favourites, stellar newcomers and mystifyingly unknown drams that simply have to be drunk.
The book decodes the marketing hype and gets straight to the point; whether from Canada, India, America, Sweden, Ireland, Japan or the hills, glens and islands of Scotland, here are the 101 whiskies that you really want. Try them before you die - Slainte!
I am not a whisky connoisseur, but I do love having a dram, and am glad to say that I have tasted a few on the list. In this book the author takes you on an international journey through different whiskies that he thinks an aficionado should drink. There are lots of styles from different countries and he covers all the different tastes that different people should like, what I like most is that he does not score them or tells you what are the best as he says that taste differs, and he also includes some that does not suit his taste. The book is well written with each whisky getting two pages with a picture of the bottle, and it is full of humor and great insights into the big world of whisky, also useful is the author's tasting notes at the end of each whisky. This book was released in 2012 and is a bit dated in the world of whisky as there are many new whiskies that came to life after its release, but I will definitely look into his 4th edition that was released in 2019, as should all whisky/whiskey enthusiasts. Great read and highly recommended!!
101 World Whiskies is, initially it seems, very like the extremely well regarded tome Ian Buxton wrote a few years prior, 101 Whiskies To Try Before You Die, which did so very much to fan the flames of Scotch appreciation in its current renaissance of popularity. Ian Buxton is a distinguished writer of many books, articles, and columns in top whisky magazines such as Whisky Advocate. He's the kind of guy who knows absolutely everybody and is one of the folks who gets invited to taste and describe those $20,000 bottles that mortals like us never taste. As for the "101 Whiskies" books, these are both excellent works that, paradoxically, move me alternately to flights of delighted appreciation and spitting fits of wrath and rage as will become readily apparent. Both of these books are more collection of profiles and brief tasting notes than conventional 'whisky books'. By that, I mean that many common features of whisky books are absent. There are no ponderous chapters on whisky philosophy, production details and methodology, or history, and only a brief one paragraph on "how to drink" with no instructions on deciphering your own palate such as maps of the tongue. All this stuff is almost inexcusably omitted (or refreshingly so, depending on your perspective). Also missing are detailed history chapters that explain the roots of an industry, or even very detailed histories of various distilleries. You also will not find extensive and carefully written tasting notes. Buxton, indeed, sometimes omits tasting notes altogether; sometimes for the most important distilleries listed. An example is Highland Park, where Buxton not only fails to give us any tasting notes at all - he also cannot be pinned down to a recommended expression either - otherwise a firm rule throughout the book(s). I mean, if it's 101 whiskies you HAVE to taste before you shuffle off this mortal coil you should have 101 of them. Instead Buxton suggests, in the case of Highland Park, that we just have "all of them" - a suggestion he acknowledges as patently absurd even within that very chapter given the explosion of limited collector's releases and the fact that the 50 year old expression he depicts on that chapter's front retails for £10,000. This last part is particularly galling given that he assured us in the introduction that he would give us a tour of whiskies for drinking and that absurdly priced drams £1,000 and up flatly wouldn't be considered. Tasting notes, when actually provided, are often inexcusably brief - although I'll readily grant that what little is there is usually spot on. Furthermore, you don't get any scoring or rankings at all. Each chapter is illustrated with frontally nude bottle shots and nothing else - no illustrations of distilleries or images of the faces of the personalities mentioned. Images of lovely barley fields, castles, and malting floors are totally MIA.
But this isn't what really burns me up. What really gets me mad and confused and toss the book to the floor in a rage periodically are the facts that Buxton 1) doesn't like peat - but appears guilty enough of this that he includes a number of peat monsters ***in case YOU do***. 2) Sometimes includes whiskies he hasn't even tried or that don't even exist yet! 3) includes items that aren't even properly (ie legally) whisky. 4) Seems to evangelize major blends that I'm busy ignoring because I'm a whisky snob and look down my nose at major manufacturer blends in favor of rare single malts and interesting craft whiskies. To give you a taste of what I'm talking about let's look at # 1: Bakery Hill Cask Strength Peated Malt from Australia. Fascinating stuff. However, as Buxton readily admits, he hasn't actually tasted it. He provides us some tasting notes from the cut sheet. **Bam** - sound of book (Kindle, actually) hitting floor in a rage. How about # 78: Buffalo Trace, White Dog - Mash #1. Wow, a fascinating unaged new make that doesn't qualify as a Bourbon because it's new. It's technically whiskey - in the old sense of our colonial forebears. Well, if Ian Buxton is putting this in the 101 Whiskies you MUST try before you DIE he probably thinks it's pretty damn well good, right? Not so fast. I'm going to actually quote Mr. Buxton on this one:
"Apart from the curiousity value, though, what do you actually use this stuff for? Well, enterprising cocktail experts have been mixing it into some innovative and truly unusual cocktails where the very high strength has some value and, er, that's about it."
"Rather than buy a whole bottle yourself (even allowing for the fact that it comes in a half-bottle size), you might want to consider buying this with friends and using it to kick off a tasting session. Nothing will more clearly demonstrate the role of barrel aging and the impact of good wood on whisky. After which you can quickly move on to the proper stuff!"
**BAM** (sound of kindle hitting the floor in a rage... again... poor little e-book reader). There are so many amazing whiskies, and Buxton is having me buy something that's maybe good for cocktails (like gin or vodka) but isn't so fine on its own (as new make) so I should plan on splitting it with friends rather than own a whole bottle. Is this just me or is this august gentleman looking for a kick in the shins?
Now, where was I? Oh yes, you absolutely must read 101 World Whiskies. Why? because it is a superb profile of where the world's malt whisky distilling scene is headed at the current moment. Interesting and worthy new malt whiskies are coming out of crazy places such as Holland, Germany, France, South Africa, the USA, Australia, England, Spain, Belgium, Canada, Ireland, Japan, Wales, and even (this may shock you) Scotland. Buxton describes scores of distilleries and expressions I've never even heard of - and I follow this stuff somewhat avidly. Buxton does more than list these revelations, he describes their context and why, exactly, you want to taste them. Why you need to, in fact. He does so with merciful brevity, an infectious good cheer, and a friendly aspect often missing from enthusiast's narratives. This is one part of the magic of "101 Whiskies To Try Before You Die". He makes you fall in love with a new whisky on virtually every page. He very quietly fills you with a passion for the malt and its people and its houses both great and small. He attacks your biases, (seemingly no matter what they are) yet he evangelizes the whisky topics I, personally find most vital: whisky tastes better bottled at higher strength, for example, and the less messed with the better.
But 101 World Whiskies isn't simply a catalog of obscure and weird drams. It's far too varied. Rather it's a catalog of what you should want to try - and why. And, yes, there are tons of weird obscure drams you've never heard of - but there are also tons of mainstream blends you may have been too snooty to desire lustfully (I certainly was). Buxton fixes that. There are some non-whisky items here too, a liqueur and a whisky fruit/spice infusion. Buxton leaves you lusting hard for those too. Indeed, it's this quality if inciting interest and lust, all without hyperbole or rants or volume of any kind that is on the whole, rather remarkable.
Did I mention that each short chapter is exactly the right length to enjoy while "using the facilities"? This "bite size" aspect makes reading Buxton feel a lot like feeding from your favorite bag of chips ("crisps" if you come from one of the countries where people drive on the wrong side of the road - like Ian Buxton). 'Once you pop', so to speak, 'you can't stop'. And you emerge revitalized and incredibly aware of a whole brave new world, with such wondrous drams in it. There is a special talent in being able to convey a great deal of information in a very small number of words. Buxton is a master at it. His brief profiles tell you a tremendous amount, almost without you realizing it. He has an ability to pack a dense amount of information into few words but have it feel breezy, conversational, and, above all, friendly.
Recently Steve Urey (Sku) wrote about the end of whisky's 'Golden Age' on top American whisky blog "Sku's Recent Eats". His point was that the explosion of popularity of whisky has resulted in prices shooting through the roof, and hard to find expressions becoming unobtainable. There's also the question about the loss of complexity in the flavor profiles of whiskies over the past few decades because of mechanization (or perhaps deliberate choice) - such as the one I frequently wrestle with on my blog cooperedtot.com as described in the Dramming.com article "Has Whisky Become Better, Worse, Or Just Different?" These discussions can lead to a sense of loss. The implications of these narratives is that the epicurean opportunities of the Whisky world are becoming diminished. 101 World Whiskies is an antidote to these feelings. Reading Buxton fills me with a contrary "sense of gain". There is a huge world of new whiskies, and new expressions, and even new flavor profiles and some of them are really good. And there is more of this new good stuff going on than you knew about, or even had hopes of in your secret heart. And, furthermore, this new good stuff is coming from all over, including established brands and even stuffy mainstream blends that you wouldn't think of at all in searching for what's new. Reading Buxton makes me feel that the golden age is yet to come. This optimism creeps in many parts of the lovingly detailed descriptions in many areas of the book, such as Whisky Castle from Switzerland, where Ian's prose waxes into the beauty of true affection. In this radiant light the true impact of 101 Whiskies becomes apparent: an almost seditious expansion of whisky's world view. This isn't Ian Buxton's invention, but with this book he has taken up the mantle of an evangelist for a kind of positivism about the future of whisky.
But, wait, there's more. In a subtle and almost sneaky way, the biggest and most disruptive aspect of Buxton's 101 Whiskies books isn't the text narrative, factual content, or editorial perspective. It's the selections themselves. In choosing a set, Buxton is making an argument. As it is, the argument is as personal and subjective as an argument can possibly be. Buxton bends over backwards to say so in the introduction and at various points. However, Buxton isn't making his decisions lightly and it shows. He is carving a set and they stand like the stones of Stonehenge - individual and hewn - but in a common configuration and forming a common whole. This common whole, that you don't immediately see until you've read and understood and thought about the set of selections, is a powerful statement about how to appreciate whisky. In this aspect 101 World Whiskies stands head and shoulders above its brother and emerges, in my opinion, as an important book. Buxton wants you to be rounded. He wants you to be worldly. He wants you to transcend your own limitations and the blinders of preconception that hinder virtually every community of drinkers I've ever come across. That is the special genius of this book. This is why I picked up my kindle off the floor and resolved to grab a bottle of Buffalo Trace White Dog Mash #1 - tail firmly planted between my legs - and take my medicine. I know that if I follow Buxton down all these paths I will grow as a whisky drinker. It's a little bit like the part in Karate Kid where the master has the kid picking up the coat over and over. The logic isn't immediately apparent - but one day it's going to be the margin of glory and honor.
So buy 101 World Whiskies. Buy it as a bathroom read. Buy it as an excellent shopping list. But most of all buy it to have Ian Buxton lead you to become bigger inside. Buy it to have Ian Buxton fill your heart and your sails with the joy of discovery and the delicious anticipation for what is yet to come.
I haven't tried many of these...so far just 6 of 101. So far.
1- Aberfeldy, 21 Years Old 2 - Aberlour, a'bunadh 3 - Amrut, Fusion 4 - AnCnoc, 16 Years Old 5 - Ardbeg, 10 Years Old 6 - Ardbeg, Uigeadail 7 - Asyla 8 - Auchentoshan, Classic 9 - Balblair, Vintage 1989 10 - Ballantine's, 17 Years Old 11 - Basil Hayden's 12 - BenRiach, Curiositas Peated 13 - Benromach, Organic 14 - Bernheim, Original Wheat Whiskey 15 - Black Bottle 16 - Black Grouse 17 - Bladnoch, 8 Years Old 18 - Blue Hanger 19 - BNJ, Bailie Nicol Jarvie 20 - Bowmore, Tempest 21 - Bruichladdich, 12 Years Old Second Edition 22 - Buffalo Trace 23 - Bunnahabhain, 18 Years Old 24 - Bushmills, 16 Years Old 25 - Cameron Brig 26 - Caol Ila, 12 Years Old 27 - Chivas Regal, 25 years old 28 - Clynelish, 14 Years Old 29 - Crown Royal 30 - Cutty Sark, Original 31 - Cutty Sark, 25 Years Old 32 - Dalwhinnie, 15 Years Old 33 - Deanston, 12 Years Old 34 - Dewar's, 12 Years Old 35 - Dewar's, Signature 36 - Eagle Rare, 17 Years Old 37 - Elijah Craig, 12 years old 38 - Glen Breton, Rare 39 - Glenfarclas, 21 Years Old 40 - Glenfarclas, 105 41 - Glenfiddich, 18 Years Old 42 - Glenfiddich, 30 Years Old 43 - Glenglassaugh, The Spirit Drink That Dare Not Speak Its Name 44 - Glenglassaugh, 26 Years Old 45 - Glengoyne, 21 Years Old 46 - Glenmorangie, Quinta Ruban 47 - Gordon & MacPhail, Glen Grant 25 Years Old 48 - Green Spot 49 - Hakushu, 18 Years Old 50 - Thomas h Handy, Sazerac Rye 51 - Hedonism 52 - Hibiki, 17 Years Old 53 - Hibiki, 30 Years Old 54 - Highland Park, 18 Years Old 55 - Highland Park, 21 Years Old 56 - Highland Park, 30 years old 57 - Highland Park, 40 Years Old 58 - Isle of Jura, Superstition 59 - Jameson, 18 Years Old Limited Reserve 60 - Johnie Walker, Black Label 61 - Johnie Walker, Blue Label King George V Edition 62 - Kilchoman 63 - Knob Creek 64 - Lagavulin, 16 Years Old 65 - Laphroaig, Quarter Cask 66 - Longrow, CV 67 - Mackmyra 68 - Maker's Mark 69 - Mellow Corn 70 - Monkey Shoulder 71 - Mortlach, 16 Years Old 72 - Nikka, All Malt 73 - Oban, 14 Years Old 74 - Old Pulteneny, 17 Years Old 75 - Redbreast 76 - Scapa, 14/16 Years Old 77 - Sheep Dip 78 - Smokehead, Extra Black 79 - Speyburn, Solera 25 Years Old 80 - Springbank, 10 Years Old 81 - St George's 82 - Talisker, 10 Years Old 83 - Talisker, 18 Years Old 84 - The Balvenie, PortWood 21 Years Old 85 - The Balvenie, 30 Years Old 86 - The Dalmore, 12 Years Old 87 - The Glenlivet, 21 Years Old Archive 88 - The Glenrothes, Select Reserve 89 - The Macallan, Sherry Oak 10 Years Old 90 - The Macallan, Sherry Oak 18 Years Old 91 - The Macallan, Fine Oak 30 Years Old 92 - The Wine Society, Special Highland Blend 93 - The Spice Tree 94 - The Tyrconnell 95 - Tobermory, 15 Years Old 96 - Van Winkle, Family Reserve Rye 97 - Wild Turkey, Rare Breed 98 - Woodford Reserve 99 - Yamazaki, 12 Years Old 100 - Yamazaki, 18 Years Old 101 - Yoichi, 10 Years Old
notes 1 - Have it, not yet opened it 8 - Their "Three Wood" is pretty nice 20 - I've had the Bowmore Islay 12 year, too much peat for me 24 - a bit too much peat for my taste 29 - a bit too sweet 46 - I much prefer their "Lasanta" or even "Nectar D'Or" 59 - Have only tried the age unspecific version 60 - reminds me too much of their "Red Label" 64 - Ugh. Not for me at all, I loathe anything that is "smoky", and too much peat 74 - Have only tried the 12 year old. Didn't like it. 95 - Not bad
A nice, concise guide to whisky without a lot of gibberish about the history and making of whisky. Just a page (and a picture) for each of Ian Buxton's choices, with some basic facts (often humorous and occasionally snarky). I liked the variety. It includes not just single malt Scotch, but blends, American ryes and bourbons, Japanese and other world whiskies. I doubt I will ever try all 101, but I found a few recommendations that I want to try. Clearly written for a UK market, so I don't know what the general US availability is on these.
4 stars for the book, but only 2 for the Kindle version that I read. The font was muddy, with some very faint letters making it difficult to read, and I could not enlarge the font. What you see is what you get. Buy the book.
Book Description: 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. Sláinte!
It is not a list of the 101 'best' whiskies in the world.
It is simply, as it says in the title, a guide to 101 whiskies that enthusiasts really should seek out and try—love them or hate them—to complete their whisky education.
The author has selected 101 whiskies from around the world representing a range of tastes and styles. There are single malts and blended whiskies, bourbons and ryes, whiskies from major producers (Scotland, Ireland, the US), and from places you wouldn't expect (India, Sweden).
Buxton comes across as straight-foward and honest. He tells you what he likes about the whiskies, and also what he doesn't like. Not all of these drinks are his personal favorites. He also includes a bit of history and local color about many of the items, as well as the to-be-expected descriptions of their taste.
Buxton also wants you to actually have a chance of trying these whiskies, so he avoids limited bottlings and other hard-to-find items. And most of the items are affordable, too (although he does include a small number of whiskies that will set you back $500 - $1000 per bottle---such as a 40 year old Highland Park).
By my count I've had 14 of the whiskies described here. This book has given me a number of ideas for new things to try. Only 87 more to go!
Let's make one thing clear: I hate whiskey, but I love this book. I'll leave it to the other reviewers to tell you why it's an entertaining and excellent reference (which it is), but here's what you really need to know: it's funny. Yes, funny. Under the heading for Revel Stoke Spiced Whiskey,for example, Buxton describes the distillery location as "A blend with some stuff in it". A whole new geography of drinking obviously awaits you here. For the Johnnie Walker Diamond Jubilee Whiskey, the location is listed as "What do you care? You're not getting any." He does however relent and tell you it's to be found in the Cardhu Distillery in Speyside.. This is not to say the book ain't a great drinking reference; despite the fact that I only quoted some of the bits that made me laugh, the whiskies are listed alphabetically by country location, and each page has a little space for your own tasting notes below his. It's a great read for the stories behind the booze as well.
I thought it might be prudent to stop, having tried 100, not wanting to shuffle off this mortal coil just yet! Anyway, this is a terrific book for anyone who enjoys whisky, or indeed, whiskey. A guide to 101 whiskies that enthusiasts should seek out and try, according to the author Ian Buxton, an eclectic selection of some of his favourites, some stellar newcomers and some mystifyingly unknown drams. Some of my own preferences are here: Aberlour Highland single malt, Ballantine’s 17 YO blend, Bowmore single malt from Islay, Bushmills Irish single malt, Dalwhinnie 15 YO Highland single malt, Glenfarclas 105 cask strength, Hibiki 17 YO blend from Suntory, Japan, Wild Turkey Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey...... Still leaves many to chose from in years to come (I hope!)
I will certainly carry this pocket size book with me on any future travels. Never know what I might find...
Este libro de Ian Buxton (@101whiskies) fue uno de los regalos de mi esposa y, se ha vuelto -de manera peligrosa-, un To Do List. Actualmente (julio 2017) puedo decir que he probado 23/101 con dos más en camino (Clynelish de 14 años y The Singleton of Glen Ord de 12 años).
Me sorprende la cantidad tan variada de drams (49) que podemos conseguir con relativa facilidad en México, (estos dos últimos que vienen en camino son algo complicados de conseguir en UK) por lo que el challenge de los 101 parece algo que podré conseguir en algunos años.
El libro me acompañará sin duda en todos mis viajes ya que no puedo evitar viajar sin tomar.
Ah sí, el libro: muy bien documentado, divertido y procurando ser tan amplio como incitante al descubrimiento. No tengo nada malo que decir de este.
This is a book I may never finish and the clue is in the title. I saw the author speak at the Pitlochray theatre and his knowledge of whisky and the industry is extensive. This is an unpretentious and practical guide for enthusiasts who, to use the authors words, are "real people". The whiskies he enumerates are for the most part accessible by cost and can be sourced. He deliberately excludes those ridiculous ones in Lalique crystal decanters or similar at fantastic prices.
I will delight in ticking them off over what years are left to me and as the author inscribed in my copy "101 count them, enjoy them and live long". I'll drink to that - Cheers !
Great... Will point you in the direction of some great drams. Not a rating system book that will will frustrate you with rating scores out of 100 that make insignificant sense when comparing completely different types whiskies. Humorous writing pointing out the numerous contradictions and hypocrisies of the scotchy world. Generally realistically attainable bottles. This book will will keep you busy if you are in the mood to try lots of different stuff from lots of different places (or better yet, get the book 101 world whiskies to try if that is your thing). Cheers!
Great style of book, would they be my 101 whiskies probably not, some are firm favourites others I've not tried or don't like. What I like is the fact it's not the "best" it's just 1 mans opinion with honest taste notes and a dedicated space on each page for personal notes. I've decided to try ad sample as many on here as possible before I die like the book suggests. I'm doing well as over the years I've tried just under half of them.
The premise of this book is good. Not a list of the 101 best whiskies but a guide to 101?that you should seek out and try. The problem is that he goes and spoils that by focusing heavily on scotch and recommending various expressions of the same whisky e.g. 3 versions of The Macallan.
It's interesting but it could have been so much better if he done what he said he was going to do.
Good book with a wide range of whiskies. Appreciate that Ian included my favourites such as the Ardbeg, Kavalan and the Japanese one's. This book explored and gave me new insight to some others which been added to my wish list to keep my eyes on during my travels.I have a different opinion regarding the Swedish mackmyra but I shall try it again to see if my old brothers can convince me. Slante.
In this book Ian Buxton discusses a wonderful range of the possible, the rare, the almost mythical & the downright impossible to find whiskies. He does this with a knowledge & insight that by being tempered by a wonderful sense of humour doesn't come across as all worthy, in fact it's like having a great discussion with someone knowledgeable & with a wicked sense of the absurd.
While I might not agree with all of the choices, it's still a great guide to whiskies worth trying at least once. I have deep respect for sticking to "no limited releases" rule and focusing on widely available bottles of whisky.
Really good choice of 101 whiskies, of all types and price ranges. While I might have a personal preference to substitute author's choice for a different whisky here and there, it's still a very solid list well worth going through.