The best books to learn about whisky & whiskey

Hans Offringa Author Of A Field Guide to Whisky: An Expert Compendium to Take Your Passion and Knowledge to the Next Level
By Hans Offringa

Who am I?

Hans Offringa has written 25 books about whisky in one way or another, among which the international bestseller A Field Guide to Whisky. He has been contributing editor of Whisky Magazine and American Whiskey for a number of years, and is a Keeper of the Quaich, Kentucky Colonel, Lifetime International Ambassador of the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, Founder of International Whisky Day, Honorary Ambassador of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, and Patron of the Whisky Festival North Netherlands. Together with his American spouse Becky Lovett Offringa, who is co-author and contributing photographer to at least ten of Hans’ books, he conducts tastings and presentations.

I wrote...

A Field Guide to Whisky: An Expert Compendium to Take Your Passion and Knowledge to the Next Level

By Hans Offringa,

Book cover of A Field Guide to Whisky: An Expert Compendium to Take Your Passion and Knowledge to the Next Level

What is my book about?

In A Field Guide to Whisky, published by Artisan/Workman, NYC, Hans accumulated his vast knowledge of whisky and whiskey worldwide, built up during more than 30 years of research, visiting over 150 distilleries and interviews with many people who make the stuff. In 320 pages, attractively set up as a comprehensive Q&A, you will find almost anything you may want to know about whisky, with and without the “e”.

A Field Guide to Whisky is lavishly illustrated with hundreds of images and photographs, mostly taken by The Whisky Couple themselves.

The books I picked & why

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Scotch Whisky: A Liquid History

By Charles MacLean,

Book cover of Scotch Whisky: A Liquid History

Why this book?

Charles MacLean MBE is without any doubt the number one expert on Scotch whisky in the world. His writings are always a joy to read. Charlie, as he is known by friends and family, has a penchant for history and pouring it in highly entertaining sentences, avoiding facts like figures cluttering up the story line. He has been researching and writing whisky books & articles since 1981, and shares his enthusiasm and knowledge by giving talks and tastings around the world, by leading ‘whisky expeditions’ in Scotland and by presenting training programmes and Masterclasses for whisky companies, clubs and individuals. Without wanting to pay short on his many other books, Scotch Whisky: A liquid history, is a seminal work.

The Way of Whisky: A Journey Around Japanese Whisky

By Dave Broom,

Book cover of The Way of Whisky: A Journey Around Japanese Whisky

Why this book?

Dave Broom is an all-round drinks writer and presenter, not limiting himself to Scotch only. He has written a score of books on various libations and is also considered a rum connoisseur. In fact, he is also one of the true experts on Japanese whisky. His The Way of Whisky not only captures the spirit of the drink but also the spirit of Japan, in a tender, almost poetical way. In his recently released road movie The Amber Light he takes his audience through the world of Scottish Whisky in his inimitable manner, which makes him such a great presenter. The Weegee accent is never far away and makes his talks even more enjoyable.

Malt Whisky Yearbook 2021: The Facts, the People, the News, the Stories

By Ingvar Ronde,

Book cover of Malt Whisky Yearbook 2021: The Facts, the People, the News, the Stories

Why this book?

Ingvar Ronde, a Swedish whisky connoisseur, writer, and publisher, surprised the whisky world with the first edition of The Malt Whisky Yearbook back in 2006. It became a classic instantly and has seen 15 updated editions so far. The MWY is an unmissable guide for professionals and whisky aficionados alike, fully packed with information about malt whisky distilleries around the world, images, figures about the industry, essays by foremost whisky writers, and tasting notes on the side. It is the only whisky book that always travels with me, wherever I go.

A Long Stride: The Story of the World's No. 1 Scotch Whisky

By Nicholas Morgan,

Book cover of A Long Stride: The Story of the World's No. 1 Scotch Whisky

Why this book?

Historian Dr. Nicholas Morgan, Nick for intimi, was instrumental in setting up Diageo’s archives during his more than 30-year long career in the whisky industry and that is only one of his many accomplishments in this particular field. In the three years before he retired, he studied the history of the best-selling whisky brand in the world: Johnnie Walker. The result is an excellent book that explains how the making of whisky grew from a cottage industry in the Highlands to the multi-billion dollar industry of today. He uses the JW brand as an ‘example par excellence’ and explains once and for all in a clear and expressive way why blended whisky is so important and remains the key player in the whisky world, notwithstanding the fact that from a publicity point of view the emphasis on Scotch mostly falls on single malts (that ‘only’ represent roughly 12% of the market).

Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition

By Daniel Okrent,

Book cover of Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition

Why this book?

A classic work by Daniel Okrent, at one time the first public editor of the New York Times and managing editor of Life Magazine. This 470-page tome describes in detail the great rift in the history of American whiskey, also known as ‘The Noble Experiment’. If you want to understand how it was possible that an entire nation the size of the United States of America went ‘dry’ in 1920 with the acceptance of the 18th Amendment to the Constitution of the USA for that, this should be your ‘First Call’. The book doesn’t end sadly, on the contrary, in 1933 Prohibition was repealed, with the invoking of the 21st Amendment. Before Last Call Mr Okrent published four more books, among which Great Fortune, shortlisted for the 2004 Pulitzer Prize on History.

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in whisky, Scotland, and drinking?

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Whisky Explore 20 books about whisky
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Drinking Explore 9 books about drinking

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Peat Smoke and Spirit: A Portrait of Islay and Its Whiskies, The World Atlas of Whisky: More Than 200 Distilleries Explored and 750 Expressions Tasted, and Single Malt Murder if you like this list.